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Meet Tony DelaRosa of Tony Rosa Speaks in Central to North Miami

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tony DelaRosa.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
California by chance, Miami by Choice — I’m a perpetual transplant trying to find truth within my roots and a place to stay rooted. I grew up in San Diego, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Boston, and now Miami. I’ve moved mostly for work and for love. Yes Love. I have a deep passion for building bridges across lines of difference and a deep love for my wife – Stephanie Jimenez. We met as teachers through Teach for America (TFA Indianapolis). We’ve moved back to Miami because she wanted to be close to family in South Florida, and I wanted to escape the white death that is New England winter. And the rest has been history.

In Miami, by trade, I’m an educator of educators. I coach 27 teachers at TFA Miami-Dade, which impacts close to 3,200 students per year between Miami Shores to Miami Gardens. One of my favorite aspects of this team is that I get to specialize in two things that I geek out about: 1) Diversity-Equity-Inclusion (DEI) training & 2) Communications.

*Teach For America is a leadership pipeline that trains leaders and places them in the most underserved schools in the US with the mission to close the opportunity gap for our kids.*

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
When you design your dream job, it’s never easy. My biggest struggle is that I’m tied to many different side hustles that are hard to let go of. One of my brainchildren and side hustles has been Pulse Poetry, which is a national youth spoken word poetry network. I started this program with a few colleagues in 2013, and it has grown with me from being an after school club in Indianapolis to a program that prepares youth to present at places like Harvard, Yale, and Ted Talks. Now that Tony Rosa Speaks has launched, being able to let go of power, and transfer more of the heavy lifting to someone else, is the ultimate move. This is also not exclusive to me. I’ve seen many leaders struggle at letting go of power. This is called power-hoarding, which isn’t good for any organization. It stifles potential growth and creates unnecessary tension between staff members. I keep trying to remind myself that one chapter ends so another can begin. With Pulse Poetry, I don’t intend on being the face of this program, but I do intend on supporting where I can to ensure that the quality of programming isn’t sacrificed. This is where I’m both struggling and learning.

Please tell us about Tony Rosa Speaks.
My company is Tony Rosa Speaks. I specialize in anti-bias and anti-racist (ABAR) consulting, as well as in motivational speaking. I’m most proud of doing this work as a Filipinx & Asian American. There aren’t enough of us that do this work due to systemic and personal issues, which means that our narrative is usually not accounted for in anti-bias work. My hope is to broaden the scope of activism so it includes Asians and Pacific Islanders who have been and are integral to our collective struggle for liberation as people of color.

My competitive advantage is that I come from a lens of education and coaching. So when it comes to consulting, I’m able to toggle through my coach and consultant hats, which is necessary for ABAR work.

For my motivational speeches, I’m known for my engagement techniques. I use two tools: 1) spoken word poetry and 2) my teacher hat. Using spoken word poetry allows me to pierce through any barriers my audience may bring in because I share a slice of my own truth and vulnerability with them. It activates the emotional intelligence of my viewers. Coming from an education background, I am also able to use tips and tricks from my teaching toolbox to help sustain engagement and break the normal power dynamic from talking-to-someone to talking-with-them. Thus, my speeches can feel like a dialectic, where multiple truths and opinions can surface, and a collective understanding moves forward. Doing this makes storytelling so much more fun and practical.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Here’s a list of programs and people I’m grateful for regarding my work:

1) University of Cincinnati Racial Awareness Pilot Project (RAPP), for inducting me and building my foundations in ABAR work.

2) Judonne Hemingway, who got me involved in ABAR work in Indianapolis. She taught me how to transfer what I learned in RAPP to urban education.

3) Tracie Jones (my Harvard auntie). I come to her when I think I’m selling myself too short.

4) Dr. Christina Villarreal, who pushed me to interrogate my Filipinx identity. She is literally #goals.

5) Justin Vistro and the entire East Meets Words crew who created the first-ever Asian American & Pacific Islander
artist sanctuary where I was able to sharpen my spoken word poetry.

6) Philjay Solar who is a super-connector. If I’m in New England, it’s probably because I’m performing at an event that he organized or connected me to.

7) Teach For America Miami-Dade, the entire staff team is very supportive of what I do, and they push me to clear and concise with everything I do.

8) The Jason Taylor Foundation, my first education family in Florida. They always think of me when it comes to speaking.

9) Fylpro (The Filipino Young Leaders Program), this family inspired me to really clarify how I could use my voice to educate and impact the Filipinx American community.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bobby Guliani, Jordy Brazo

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