Renata Soto, a Costa Rican-born social entrepreneur, is co-founder and Executive Director of Conexión Américas, a nonprofit organization based in Nashville, Tennessee and founded in 2002 to promote the social, economic and civic integration of Latino immigrant families. Following a holistic approach, Conexión Américas supports more than 6,000 Latino immigrant families in achieving their dreams annually: becoming homeowners, starting businesses, learning English, supporting their children’s school success and path to college, and becoming integral part of Nashville’s social, cultural and economic vitality.
Renata is the visionary behind the nationally recognized nonprofit collaborative Casa Azafrán, a 29,000 square-foot facility that houses 10 nonprofit and government groups under one roof. Standing at the gateway to Nashville’s International District, Casa Azafrán is a place for health services and counseling; adult education; a pre-K center and after-school programming for children and youth; legal and financial services; entrepreneurship; community organizing; events; visual, performing and culinary arts. (Even President Obama took notice and hosted a nationally televised town-hall meeting on immigration policy at Casa Azafrán in December of 2014.)
Renata has been a leading force on efforts that have helped solidify Nashville’s reputation as a welcoming city. She is a founding member of the Nashville for All of Us Coalition, which led the campaign that successfully defeated an English Only referendum that would have made English the only language of business of local government in 2009. Renata is also a nationally recognized leader and serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest Latino advocacy and civil rights organization in the U.S.