Jackeline Montalvo – CUP Fellow Spotlight

What is your occupation and how did you come to work in this field?
I am the Director of Marketing & Communications for Ballet Hispanico, the nation's first and oldest Latino dance organization, founded in 1970. I am responsible for developing and implementing marketing, sales, institutional branding, and audience development strategies for the organization's professional dance company, school of dance, and community arts education programs.

Formerly I was an editor and publicist at Random House, where I was part of the team that grew the Vintage Español imprint into one of the leading U.S. Spanish-language book publishers.  The opportunity to work with authors such as Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz and National Book Award winner Carlos Eire is an experience that I will always treasure.  I reached a point in my career, though, where I became interested in mission-based organizations and delivering greater social impact for the Latino community.  Having experienced first-hand the transformative power of the arts (my childhood experiences as a dancer, actress, singer, and writer shaped much of who I am today), it seemed only natural to transition into arts administration.  At Ballet Hispanico I have the chance to impact communities through the lens of my two greatest passions: the arts and my Latino culture.

What is the biggest challenge of your work?
The biggest challenge is setting priorities. Our organization is flourishing under new artistic leadership and the opportunities for added exposure through increased performances, touring, events, and programs are multiplying. When you work with a modest staff and resources, though, it is important to contextualize those opportunities and discern the ones that will get you closer to your long-term goals.

What is your proudest achievement?
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico and left my entire family to go to school and work in the U.S. I am very close to my family, so it is not a decision that I take lightly. My proudest achievement is the collection of dreams that I've pursued and attained while on my own: my Harvard education, a fulfilling career, a stimulating and tough-as-nails city that I call home, and wonderful friends. Each success gives purpose and meaning to the sacrifice of being away from my family. That I have achieved any of this is a testament to the strength that they instill in me even from miles away.

What leaders, thinkers or doers do you admire most?
My parents are the clearest picture of integrity and selflessness. The importance of giving back to the community and serving others started with their example, both in and outside the home. I also admire Tina Ramirez, who founded Ballet Hispanico towards the end of the Civil Rights Era. Tina's conviction that the Latino voice is essential to the cultural panorama of this country fueled a mission that has shone brightly for 43 years and touched the lives of millions of people.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I see myself playing a leadership role in creating impact for the Latino community through the arts and/or education.

What is one thing you’ve learned from the CUP Fellows Program that you would pass along to young people who want their careers and lives to have an impact?
It's not enough to show up--you need to speak up.  I was fortunate enough to have a father, teachers, supervisors, and mentors who made me feel that my voice and opinion matter and can add value to a conversation. I pass that feeling on to others whenever I get the chance; it is one of the greatest gifts you could give to anybody.