Latin Times Magazine had the pleasure of catching up with
Susan Plasencia recently – Susan is one of our 2019 Latina Movers N Shakers! Latin Times Magazine: What part of Florida do you live in – are you from Florida? If not – what brought you to Florida? LTM: What part of Florida do you live in – are you from Florida? If not – what brought you to Florida?
Susan Plasencia: I’m from Los Angeles California, if you count my first 3 months of life. The earthquake of 1971 scared off all the Cubans (my father included). So here I am. In earthquake safe and beautiful Orlando, Florida.
LTM: Tell us about where you were born and raised and where your family is from?
Susan Plasencia: I was born in LA to a Cuban Refugee who arrived in the 60’s and a Puerto Rican Flamenco dancer from New York. By the time I was born, my father had managed to pay for and bring his other 12 family members from Cuba. It was the first time in almost a decade they were all in the same city. The revolution had turned Cuba into a Communist Dictatorship forcing many Cubans to flee and seek political asylum in other countries. Just three days after I was born, a 6.5 earthquake hit California rocking the world of the newly arrived Cubans. We were initially all moving to Miami (earthquake free zone) but on the ride over here, my father, Rene Plasencia saw potential in Orlando. He purchased a middle class home in what was then a middle class neighborhood in South West Orlando. I remained there for 25 years. At that time and up until the 80’s, Orlando’s Hispanic community consisted of mostly Cubans.
My father afforded my mother, Norma Plasencia, the opportunity to raise us without having to hold down a job herself. She made sure my brother and I were active and well cared for. I was a part of the Girl Scouts, Menudo Fan Club, went camping, joined the Westridge Junior High School’s Dance Team, attended church regularly, was a part of Catechism classes and had many wonderful friends.
Having been fortunate enough to be at my father’s side; I am a witness to the rise of the Hispanic Community in Orlando. He was the first to hold a Latin dance and festival in Orlando. He was the first to raise the Puerto Rican flag in a public space in Osceola County. He founded the Cuban Society of Orlando and what is now the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando. He was involved strongly in the political arena and social spaces of our community and I was lucky enough to have been witness to it all.
LTM: Tell me about what you do for a living
Susan Plasencia: I make something out of nothing while providing a service or entertainment to the community. Since 1992, I have been a part of the family business; Rene’s Productions and we specialize in special events. For the most part, we create, plan and roll out concerts and festivals. The most popular festival in Central Florida is “Festival Calle Orange Downtown Orlando” now in its 21st year. We shut down 10 city blocks and erect 3 large, action packed sound stages. Vendors all line the streets while International performers grace the stages. My most recent concert was “Don Omar” at the Sands Bethlehem Casino in PA.
I’m also a Grassroots Political Consultant and I created a firm in 2012 which provides staffing for political campaigns. Up until my entrance onto the political scene; all other Grassroots firms came from out of state or didn’t provide transparency to the client/politician. My entire staff is from Florida, we understand Florida and my client has
LTM: Tell me about what organizations you are a part of
Susan Plasencia: I’m not a part of any organization. Never have been. I help people when I can. I give to people when I can. My name or business isn’t ever highlighted in that aspect. I give anonymously or help because it’s the right thing to do and not for bragging rights. It’s just that simple.
LTM: Tell us about the biggest highlights of your career.
Susan Plasencia: Here’s the interesting thing. I work to live not live to work. I would define myself as Mom and Grandmom vs. Campaign Manager of ….. , Producer of …………. So if I had to speak about the biggest highlight of my career, it was working with my grown children and their father in producing the Don Omar concert in Pennsylvania. These are the most trusted people in my circle. They are hard working and know exactly what to do. Also, traveling with me to the concert were my two teenage grandchildren and their teenage cousin. To them, I’m just an old fogy. Trying to change that, I gave them backstage access, they watched the soundcheck/rehearsal, met Don Omar, provided them suites at the casino hotel and were even a part of his event video posted on social media. Although I received lots of love, at the end of the day I’m still the Old Fogy.
LTM: As a Latina leader in community, business or other…what has been your biggest challenge and how have you been able to overcome it
Susan Plasencia: My biggest challenge is overcoming people’s insistence that you can’t have it all. You can do it all. At the end of the day, what does “all” mean to you? I accomplish what I set in my mind to do.
LTM: What is your favorite type of musica and what is your favorite song?
Susan Plasencia: Country music and my favorite artist is Carrie Underwood. Her performance of “How Great Thou Art” at the CMA’s was spectacular. I’m also a fan of the 80’s Freestyle music with my favorite artist being George Lamond.
LTM: IF you can go back to let’s say 18-21, what are some of the pivotal decisions that you have made that you would do differently.
Susan Plasencia: I wouldn’t change a thing. It made me who I am today. If anything I would offer myself advice. Don’t keep up with the Jones. Be economically frugal and enjoy life more, it goes by fast.
LTM: What do you think some of the best career choices are for young Latinas
Susan Plasencia: If you want to be a business woman, do it. Technical education is the best way to go if you’re looking to work for yourself or another. These jobs are in high demand and if you go to a public Tech School you won’t have any student loans to pay off.
LTM: Tell us about what kind of projects you currently have going on
Susan Plasencia: I’m currently working with the Mega chain of radio stations in Pennsylvania to open up the market for Hispanic Festivals and Concerts.
LTM: What can we expect to see from you in the future
Susan Plasencia: The future is unwritten. God has given me opportunity on top of opportunity. I just walk through the doors he opens.
LTM: What is your comida favorita
Susan Plasencia: OH my goodness, you want me to name just one food I like? Why stop at one? I like Mofongo, Naan with homemade garlic hummus or cilantro garlic sauce, Fettuccine Alfredo, Pulpeta and anything on the grill.