Lydia A. Aranda

Lydia A. Aranda

International Women’s Day was recently upon us and we celebrated Women’s History Month with tributes all over, including Tucson Local Media and Inside Tucson Business’ own signature event, the Women of Influence Awards. Hats off to the 210 nominees, 58 finalists and top 20 cohort of 2019 selected honorees. You are all winners in our book! 

Women’s History Month is an interesting time, as we are presented at every turn with “female success stories” highlighting ingenuity, perseverance, professional and political achievement, and countless examples of leading change through the most trying of times. This can be both inspirational and ironic—that in this day and age we must make special “reminders” that women and girls are great leaders too! 

This year, as the Tucson Hispanic Chamber celebrates its 30th anniversary, we proudly promote women—and wellness—in all we do. This is not new; as the chamber’s mission has always been about business success in our southwestern border region, therefore, by definition, about women. We hear the statistics all the time: women-owned businesses are the fastest growing track of entrepreneurs; girls/women are outpacing boys/men in science and math studies, high school graduation rates and college enrollment; women are the household decision-makers; women are collaborators and so on. 

But, wellness? To us at the chamber, this is smart business, and a majority of our members and supporters agree. When we do receive questions like “Why wellness?” and “What does wellness have to do with business?” My answer is simple: Women and wellness are interconnected and as such are integral to successful, sustainable economies (business) and communities. 

Wellbeing is a dynamic and fluid continuum that is influenced by many interconnected dimensions (relational, emotional, financial, environmental, intellectual, vocational and physical). Workforce, education, social interaction, health, safety and faith are main facets we consider when assessing the status of our businesses or organizations. We look at human as well as financial capital; aptitude along with attitude; know-how together with who-we-know. This is wellness at work with business.  

According to the National Latino Research Center, the United States-México border region is a unique, dynamic area where various cultures come together and interrelate across geopolitical boundaries. Though border residents may possess different economies and politics, they share a common culture, language, environment, and health status. It is one of the fastest growing in the nation. 

There is no greater need for promoting and supporting women and wellness than in our border region. Right here, right now. National advocacy organizations and our elected officials recognize this and have committed to working with our chamber as we seek to address the challenges in our region. U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally are focusing on health plans and world trade opportunities for small business. The U.S. Hispanic Chamber has included wellness in its annual legislative summit. And all three are looking to the chamber to help shape the narrative in our vibrant and growing tri-county, bi-national region.  

Our recently launched WINN - Women’s IntraNation Network women’s chamber endeavor is a collaborative effort with cross-border female entrepreneurs and industry leaders serving the well-business/well-community space of economic success. Our programming in Santa Cruz and Cochise counties, and beyond, address challenges and celebrate breakthroughs by worldly women, and lady leaders in industry, community, government and education. 

Momentum is building. The Tucson Hispanic Chamber is thrilled to already be part of many joint successes this first quarter of what promises to be a great year: launching small business health plans with SACCA alliance; reconvening the THCC Health, Education and Nonprofit committees; putting commerce into community with our On-the-Road Cafes; highlighting Community Captains and chamber-and-community partner causes; and, along with WINN!, creating our new HeadOverHeels Women’s Business Learning Series.  

The Tucson economy affects border issues, international issues and so much more. Through women and wellness we are shaping the future of business together. 

Lydia A. Aranda, M.A., works closely with corporate and nonprofit leaders to build economic and educational solutions for our communities. She is president and CEO of Tucson Hispanic Chamber and Southern Arizona affiliates, and can be reached at Lydia@TucsonHispanicChamber.org.