2020 Top Florida Latino Lideres Award Recipient
Rene Placensia, Jr., is a Latino Mover N’ Shaker from Orlando, Florida.
Latin Times Magazine: What part of Florida do you live in – are you from Florida? If not – what brought you to Florida? Where is your family from? Rene Placensia, JR: I was born in Orlando, Florida. My mother was born in Puerto Rico and my father was born in Cuba.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell me about what you do for a living. Rene Placensia, JR: I have spent the greater part of my life as a high school teacher at Colonial High School in Orlando. After teaching there for over 15 years, I won my election to serve in the Florida House of Representatives, where I am currently finishing my third term.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell me about what organizations you are a part of. Rene Placensia, JR: I serve as the Chairman of the subcommittee on Workforce and Tourist Development. I was also appointed by the Speaker of the House to serve on the Talent Development Council and I was appointed by then-Governor Scott to Serve on the Southern Regional Education Board.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about the biggest highlights of your career. Rene Placensia, JR: The biggest highlight of my career was leading our boys cross country teams at Colonial to two consecutive state championships. As a lawmaker, my biggest highlight has been working with my wife to help pass laws that help families impacted by Autism.
Latin Times Magazine: What has been your biggest challenge and how have you been able to overcome it? Rene Placensia, JR: I see my biggest challenges as my strengths, as well. My biggest challenge has been others doubting I could be successful. Throughout my life, I refused to listen to those who would tell me that I couldn’t do anything. Every time I had a goal, I believed I could accomplish that goal regardless of what others would say.
Latin Times Magazine: How important is being a Latino/Hispanic to you Rene Placensia, JR: One’s identity is critically important. When I was growing up in Orlando, there wasn’t a very big Hispanic population. I grew up in a home, and surrounded by family and friends, where very little English was spoken. My father taught me to be proud of where my parents were from, but was quick to remind me that I was blessed to have been born in the greatest country in world. I feel fortunate to feel the connection I have with my ancestors and am excited to raise my newborn daughter teaching her about our family’s culture and making sure she learns to speak Spanish by the example her mother and I set for her at home.
Latin Times Magazine: What is your favorite type of musica and what is your favorite song? Rene Placensia, JR: My favorite type of music is country music. My favorite song is anything by Brian McKnight.
Latin Times Magazine: IF you travel back in time, where/when would you go -and/or what are some of the pivotal decisions that you have made that you would do differently? Rene Placensia, JR: If I could go back in time, I would have loved to experience what it was like when the 13 British colonies of North America were fighting for their independence and created the United States of America. There is nothing in my life that I would have done differently.
Latin Times Magazine: Being an Inspiration to others, what wisdom can you give young Latino/Hispanics? Rene Placensia, JR: I believe that life is so much simpler than we make it out to be. Happiness and success are simple and not measured by how much money you make or how famous you become. To me, there are three important things I focus on. The first thing is to love and believe in yourself. If there’s something you want to do, believe that you can do it. The next thing is to work hard. Once you set out to accomplish something, work as hard as you can to succeed. The last thing is to treat others with kindness and respect. We all share in the human experience. We are all struggling with something at different stages of our lives. As we go through our daily routines, we should remember to be kind to others. You never know when your kindness is exactly what someone else needed to get them through their day.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about what kind of projects you currently have going on. What can we expect to see from you in the future? Rene Placensia, JR: Florida, much like the rest of the country, is seeing a shortage of workers through most industries. I am currently working, alongside others, on identifying policy changes that can have a significant positive impact on our labor market.
God willing, I will continue serving our great state as a member of the Florida Legislature.
Latin Times Magazine: What is your comida favorita Rene Placensia, JR: My favorite food is pizza.