Monica Medina

Monica Medina has spent 40 years in public media from Seattle, where she met Beth, to San Diego, and including a three-year stint in Station Relations at CPB, Washington, D.C. She spent more than 25 years at KPBS where she began her work spearheading major outreach campaigns and initiatives for children and families, including participating in a media literacy training for her first DEI-related initiative, KCET’s Puzzle Place Workshops for childcare providers. In 2009, Monica was asked to take on DEI for KPBS. In this capacity, she created new programs, such as Community Conversations, designed to educate our audience and staff on issues impacting our diverse neighborhoods. She also attended countless DEI events throughout San Diego and found opportunities for management to make presentations to diverse organizations. Monica has served on the boards of the California Diversity Council and the San Diego Asian Business Association. In addition, she assisted in developing initiatives to help staff gain insight into San Diego’s diverse communities. Today Monica is getting ready for the next chapter of her life, reinventing herself in retirement. With a B.A. from Brandeis University and a Master’s in journalism from the University of Maryland, she is looking forward to life as a freelance writer, embracing her passion for the written word. She has two grown children, Joshua and Sarah, and enjoys taking walks with her two dogs. She also is a long-time aficionado of theater, improv and piano.

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1984: The Year I Discovered "Diversity, Equity and Inclusion"

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As futuristic as it once sounded, thanks to the novel by George Orwell, the year 1984 didn’t stand out because of a dystopian society. Instead, I remember it as the year I experienced my first diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) moment, long before I’d ever heard the abbreviation or the term uttered. There was not a mention, not a peep. If I had heard it, I would not have known what it meant.

In 1984, I was more than 20 years away from focusing on DEI at KPBS in San Diego. When I encountered the topic, I felt frustration and resentment. Not because I took it as a personal affront, but because it left me having to complete someone else’s work. 

I attribute these feelings of discontent, in part, to being an American-born Venezuelan, having spent most of my childhood living in Queens, a borough of New York City. While my brothers came and went as they pleased, my family did their best to raise me to be a proper daughter with many of the restrictive traditions by which a Venezuelan female needed to abide. This included chores on Saturdays and church on Sundays. 

In 1984, I was in the fifth year of my career at KCTS, public television in Seattle. I had recently hired Beth, a student from the University of Washington, who was majoring in communications and eager to learn. Beth was amiable and appeared to be a good fit for our department, and, though I didn’t see it then, I’d eventually come to see that Beth was an activist, more socially aware than I was, with a mind of her own. What’s more, she wasn’t shy about knocking down established norms of the day. Whereas exhibiting such behavior went against everything I believed in.

Unlike Beth, any mind of my own that I might have possessed had been molded and shaped by my parents’ careful oversight and by the mores of the day. Let’s not forget that in addition to being a Latina, I was a Baby Boomer. This meant that, like most girls my age, I was raised on TV shows about sweet, loving housewives who wore pearls while vacuuming and baking pies. I’d see films starring Doris Day, who’d always get her man, and I was encouraged to “play house” in kindergarten while the boys played at being firefighters and astronauts. What’s more, my imaginative play consisted of my Barbie doll marrying Ken over and over, and mindless hours drawing in bridal coloring books. 

Feminism might have been in full swing, but I found myself choosing the traditions of being female in America against the backdrop of the feminist movement. I was firmly and decidedly a product of my culture and generation.

Enter Beth.

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