Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) took over Navy Pier for their 2011 annual conference. Hundreds of social media pioneers, bloggers, and activists and over 100 speakers attended the three-day bilingual conference, which focused on public service and leadership. Gozamos was presente, checking out all the inspiring, innovative work LATISM tweeps are doing to make a difference in Latino communities. While the whole conference rocked, here are a few highlights:

1. Dolores Huerta
The legendary Dolores Huerta had the passionate crowd riled up with her no-holds-barred talk on the state of politics today. Huerta called for unity among Latino communities, support of the LGBT community, and action against the anti-brown sentiment across the country. Huerta left no stone unturned–she even surprisingly weighed in on the debate over the controversial Cecilia Munoz. Her straightforward, unapologetic speech drew wild applause and cheers from the crowd. Unforgettable.

2. Sessions
The sessions, which were divided into three tracks (public service, education, and business) were a time to shine the spotlight on tweeps’ social media strategies and success stories. A few examples of the many powerful sessions that occurred during the three-day conference include experienced bloggers, such as Migdalia Rivera and Angelica Perez, sharing their do’s and don’ts for connecting with brands and encouraging the audience to protect their blogs and know their worth. Immigration activists, including Chicago’s own Immigrant Youth Justice League, Dream Activist, and the Immigrant Archive Project, discussed how they integrate social media with grassroots activism and how they use technology to spread their message. Univision moderated an education panel with PBS Kids and Sesame Workshop about transmedia in education and its influential role in engaging students. Gozamos also moderated a panel on plugging youth into new media with RadioArte, Aspira, and Rooster Communications.

3. Meeting Tweeps IRL
One of the biggest highlights for me was getting to meet the people behind the tweets, including @ergeekgoddess, @tonytorero, @ohhellsnah, @followthelede, @juanofwords, @salmendoza, @bcockman, and @cheryl_aguilar to name a few. Several folks graciously sat down at the Gozamos table to chat about the conference, their blogs, and the issues they most tweet about. We livestreamed the interviews (shout out to @carlosqc and @tonantzin18th for tweeting in) which you can catch here.

4. Everything else. Seriously.
LATISM was a lovefest. Nothing will make you feel more proud of your community. The Education Townhall with White House reps; the inspiring winners at the LATISM Awards Gala; the showcase on award-winning, bilingual pre-K programs developed in Chicago Public Schools; electrifying entertainment coordinated by Chicago’s own Sound Culture; the tear-jerking surprise keynote that brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “Si Se Puede.” Most of all, the strong presence of powerful Latina leaders in social media and at the helm of the LATISM movement. It’s Latinas who started this and keep it going! Orale!

LATISM11 had tons of moments that breathed life into the 140-character tweets that weave a narrative about our communities. Seeing how many dedicated Latinos are putting their tweets into action showed the power of social media and the power of our community.

A special thank you to @mzelma, @ergeekgoddess, @soylamar, and @anarc for organizing such an amazing event. See you next year at LATISM 12 in Houston!

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