Latin Times Magazine had the pleasure of catching up with Jackie Espinosa recently -Jackie 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?
Jackie Espinosa: Kissimmee Florida (central Florida) 29 years ago – since 1991. I was born and raised in New Jersey, raised in a Puerto Rican Home with my maternal grandparents.
LTM: Tell me about what you do for a living
Jackie Espinosa: I own several businesses in the heart and soul of Downtown Kissimmee. All of our 7 businesses are owned and operated by our family. By this, I mean my husband, my kids, and me personally. Nonetheless, we have amazing staff and team players that play a major role in the success of them. By trade, I am a full-time mortgage and real estate broker. By life coincidences, I help manage and promote our two local restaurants. For fun and variety, I overlook the administration of our family dance studio and event center.
LTM: Tell me about what organizations you are a part of
Jackie Espinosa: I am currently a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association, the Democratic Woman’s Caucus, The National Association of Realtors, the National Dance Council of America. Currently, I chair the Kissimmee Main Street Board, and I also chair Historic Downtown Kissimmee Leads group for Metro Orlando. I am currently serving as a volunteer at the City of Kissimmee Affordable Housing Committee, and my most informative board at the moment is the City of Kissimmee Planning Advisory Board. I believe in being involved, at all levels. Meaning as a community business and as a voice for our latino and non-latino members.
LTM: Tell us about the biggest highlights of your career
Jackie Espinosa: Owning a successful mortgage company since 1995 and adding a mortgage education segment to our company have certainly defined me in business. Nevertheless, opening a ballroom dance studio and raising my children with a balance of business and rhythm have certainly outdone my own expectations of going full circle. My most gratifying moment was when I was awarded the Boriken de Excelencia Award in 2011 for their very first year they offered this award. I was nominated for a Business award but was given the Lifetime Achievement Award of excellence which covered Business Entrepreneur and The Arts. A fusion that I love so dearly.
LTM: As a Latina leader in the community, business or other…what has been your biggest challenge and how have you been able to overcome it
Jackie Espinosa: Challenges come daily to all latinos or Latinas. We have to work harder to raise the bar. We have to demonstrate that we are not like the rest, we want better, not more, just better. As a Latina – I want to be that role model. The role model that shows an everyday girl, a mom, a wife and a dreamer. I dared to dream and above all – to focus on my goals. I surround myself with like-minded individuals that think ahead and think of positive change. I love people, simply put, I love people. I think it takes a VILLAGE to get to another level, therefore, that village you surround yourself with is so important. I believe we are put on this earth with a purpose, and that is a purpose to serve. The rest will flow; it just happens. It’s a universal law.
LTM: How important is being a Latina to you.
Jackie Espinosa: Latina is who I am; I am strong enough to know my weaknesses. Smart enough to know the battle has just begun. And Resilient enough to fight the battle. I also understand clearly my roots, my upbringing and the heart we must have to make it. Being Latina to me represents breaking stereotypes and raising the bar paving the way for the Latina woman that will come after me. Understanding that I am a steward of what God has graced me with. I clearly understand that my role as a Latina is to leave a legacy of excellence. That when Latinas see me, they see possibilities, but also that when another race sees me, they see the great strength we as Latinas possess inside. I want to be that Latina voice that we as women need to hear and need to embrace for excellence and for strength when our knees shake a little. I want to be that voice that resonates within when we reflect and say, “she made it, so can I”.
LTM: What is your favorite type of musica, and what is your favorite song?
Music is something I enjoy, not just one type but all types. Diversity is everything. I love me some good old fashioned Salsa, but I also enjoy the melody of my boleros. I love rock and roll, and I enjoy a little blues. Music is like us – diverse and engaging.
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.
Jackie Espinosa: The only thing I might have done differently was enlisted in the marine corp. All else I can say with certainty I have no regrets. Why the Marine Corp? because I love our military men and woman. I was not able to enroll at such an early age for health reasons of my grandma and granddad that raised me so I studied and created a life for myself and for them. A life I have enjoyed thoroughly.
LTM: What do you think some of the best career choices are for young Latinas. Jackie Espinosa: In Florida, I would certainly recommend the medical field. It is an ever-changing industry, and the demands are vast. Mental health providers are definitely a necessity. As a second choice, Civics, we need great leaders, women with drive, and purpose. Women with conviction and willing to state their case when needed.
LTM: Tell us about what kind of projects you currently have going on:
Jackie Espinosa: Currently, I am working on changing a little of the scenery in Historic Downtown Kissimmee. This means I am making some noise with these two restaurants we now own and we want people to know Kissimmee is more of a destination than a drive-thru city. I understand the needs of our local community, of our people fleeing the wrath of Hurricane Maria from our island. I understand the drastic change in this city, and therefore, I feel I can certainly be a good voice or representation for our community. I filed to run for City Commission Seat no. 5 which holds the title of Mayor for the City of Kissimmee for 2020 and hope to represents our citizens with dignity and respect. As far as business, we keep growing our different areas of business in the finance and real estate world and through our other businesses, we are seeing the fruit of our labor as our daughters run with the torch and grow our entertainment businesses such as our ballroom dance studio since 2008 and our event centers.
LTM: What can we expect to see from you in the future:
Jackie Espinosa: I would hope to represent the city of Kissimmee as its new Mayor in 2020. A positive change for all. A dignified representation for our citizens. A voice for not just the Latino community but for all. A voice of diversity and a unified spirit. A Voice of Change.
LTM: What is your comida favorite
Jackie Espinosa: incredibly enough Pizza – I love me some good brick oven Pizza.
LTM: What famous person do you most identify with and why:
Jackie Espinosa: Famous? Sonia Sotomayor, I admire her for her resilience. Her dedication to excellence. She is an Associate Justice to the Supreme court of the United States. She was appointed in 2009 by President Obama – first Hispanic and Latina justice. She is from the Bronx, and both parents are Puerto Rican. Yes, SI SE PUEDE.
LTM: What did I miss? Tell me something you want us to know!
Jackie Espinosa: Well, my heart simply wants everyone to understand that regardless of our professionals’ accomplishments as a business owner – my greatest accomplishment has been raising two amazing young women. They are full of heart, drive, and passion for life. They are my biggest reward from above. My oldest also blessed me with the biggest gift of love, my grand-love. My little princess. I do what I do, for them.