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Teri Arvesu: Breaking The Glass Ceiling In The Latino TV Business

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

Teri Arvesu

Welcome to another feature of Tacones Exitosos!  I created this space as a resource to inspire young Latinas and to learn from the gains and struggles of women that have broken down old stereotypes and succeed against all the odds.

Nothing motivates me more than to meet awe-inspiring and intelligent women. I have the fortune to have crossed paths with women that I genuinely look up to and I can learn a lot from, so why not share their stories with you.

In this feature, I'm excited to introduce you to Teri Arvesu; a down-to-earth executive that means business in the Latino Television market.

"Those who suffer and rise from ashes are my greatest inspiration." - Teri Arvesu

Yolanda Stemer, Edith Diaz, Rocio Garcia, Jeanette Rodriguez, City Clerk Anna Valencia, Teri Arvesu, Sofi McDowell, Eve Rodriguez & Rosemarie Andolino at Brava Awards Luncheon
Brava Awards Luncheon - Latino Magazine. Yolanda Stemer, Edith Diaz, Rocio Garcia, Jeanette Rodriguez, City Clerk Anna Valencia, Teri Arvesu, Sofi McDowell, Eve Rodriguez & Rosemarie Andolino.

Grab a glass of bubbly 🥂 and get ready to Meet Teri Arvesu:

Teri Arvesu is the VP of Content for Univision Chicago: overseeing the station's News & Creative Services department and driving strategy for content across platforms, messaging and solutions for both internal & external clients. In 2016, she was named in Crain's Chicago 40 Under 40 and in 2017 Chicago Magazine Emerging Leaders.

In 2018, Teri completed National Association of Broadcaster Leadership Development Program, which educates media executives on station ownership. Teri holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a Master of Science in Management. In 2007, she was selected to be a McCormick Tribune Fellow at Northwestern University.

Under her leadership Univision Chicago became the first Spanish language television station in that market to be awarded the Emmy for Best Evening Newscast. She is recipient of an Edward R. Murrow, 13 Emmy Awards and 2 Lisagor Awards.

She founded a fellowship with DePaul and the McCormick Foundation to train high school and college Latinos interested in media and in 2015 launched the first Chicago radio show for bilingual millennials by bilingual millennials. She is the Executive Producer of 3 documentaries. She has produced several political debates.

At Telemundo, she launched the local and national AM & Weekend Newscasts. Much of her career Teri has been asked to pioneer and launch new content efforts across media platforms and has a keen sensibility to forge partnerships that maximize opportunities for all stakeholders. She is recognized often for her intrapreneurial and startup spirit.

Teri serves on the Chicago Ideas Brain Trust, DePaul College of Communication Dean's Advisory Council and the National Academy of Arts & Television Midwest Chapter Board. She previously served on FL NATAS Chapter and on the Chicago Headline Club Board. She is a mentor at 1871 incubator. She is a co-founder and chair of Univision Miami & Chicago Women's Leadership Council. She is a member of the prestigious Chicago Network.

Okay, and now onto our favorite part, the Q&A's I have prepared for you. I believe you will enjoy them and hopefully spark some needed inspo. Scroll down and enjoy!

What do your mornings look like?

Not going to lie: I’ve never been a morning person. While there are some people that wake up ready to conquer  the world, my day doesn’t officially begin until I’ve had my first cup of coffee. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with an amazing husband that has brought me coffee to bed every morning for the past 18 years. This morning ritual is followed by spending time with my kids while simultaneously catching up on news that broke overnight and reading emails. My days both begin and end with a good understanding of what the day in news looked like.

Why did you choose Journalism?

Several reasons, really.  

1) As the daughter and granddaughter of Cuban exiles, I’ve always had an astute awareness of the crucial role the press plays in a democratic society and how fragile democracy can be. I’m also moved by the ability of the press to address wrongs and keep individuals in power accountable.

2) I loved to write, read, and learn and I since I couldn’t attend school forever, this seemed like the next best thing.

3) Broadcasting in general has always represented a sense of community and I’ve always loved how the media unites community members through conversations.

4) The news has the power to bring families together. As a child growing up in Miami, I spent countless hours glued to the television during hurricane season. During these times, I became fixated with weather coverage and felt like I wasn’t simply a viewer but more importantly a member of a larger community.

5). I also love the power and the responsibility of our business to create perceptions of ourselves and how shape how a community or individuals see themselves.  The imagery our children see of what it is to be Latino will forever shape what they dream for themselves and what they aspire to be. It’s always and continues to be a great vehicle to empower and reinforce positive stereotypes and at Univision we believe that alongside our audience thru informing, empowering and entertaining we can make a better tomorrow.

What book is on your nightstand right now?

Two actually: Dare to Lead by Brene Brown and The Corporation about the Cuban American mafia by T.J. English: I can’t help it I love leadership and self-improvement and business books but I’ve always been obsessed with Latin American history in and out of the United States.

What are some traits you think great leaders possess?

In a world that is extremely cluttered and over riddled with different messages, a great leader can see a vision and a path and help her team identify priorities in order to stay on course.  It’s also about helping others find their purpose and life’s mission.

Mom, wife and top executive. How do you balance it all?

Similar to the concept of perfection, “true balance” is a myth that harms both women and men by creating the illusion that something impossible is achievable. Rather than balancing the two, my personal and professional lives and families often overlap one another. During those times, I have to remind myself that it’s necessary in order to provide for my family and that my career doesn’t impede me from raising great kids. It’s also vital for my children to recognize the importance of the press in our society and my personal role in serving the community. My kids are extremely supportive, continuously offering encouraging words like, “Mom you are a great role model.” My advice for others is to not strive for the impossible both personally or professionally. As women we need to be more forgiving to ourselves and women also need to support one another and not judge. All of us are meant to do different things.

Dress or power suit?

Both and also sometimes a pair of hightop tennis shoes and pleather stretchy leggings.  Today I really own my femininity – so while I would probably have chosen dress. When I was younger it may have been power suit.  But today it’s about the versatility of women’s fashion. Some days I feel more feminine, others’ more conservative and sometimes a little edgy.

What keeps you awake at night?

The state of media and how fragmented it’s become. I think a lot about how to help be a part of a sustainable business model and still provide great journalism that is able to watch over those in power, while making it entertaining and something that audiences want to consume.

How do you stay impartial with your political news content when we are in a time where our President claims major news outlets are fake news?

Before anything else, I’m first and foremost a journalist. This means that I have to consider all points of view and maintain a high level of awareness of my unconscious biases. I believe journalists must have high levels of self-reflection and humility. Frankly, the “Fake News” allegations drive me a little nuts because it inhibits real dialogue. As a society, we mustn’t oversimply topics and issues or be afraid to enter into intelligent and nonemotionally driven debate. We don’t live in a monolithic society and it can be very empowering to seek understanding of issues and experience unlike our own.  You have a choice to seek out and understand those differences as a means of empowering and educating one’s self or avoid them in fear.

What’s been your biggest obstacle you had to overcome?

Often it is myself.  Fear of failure or self doubt but I never let it cripple me.  I am in the end more afraid of failing to act than to fail when trying.

Biggest inspiration and why?

I’m really inspired by the women who entered this business early and paved the way for myself and others. These women not only broke the glass ceiling but also brought their sisters, mothers, and daughters with them.  Personally, I’m extremely grateful for these women and the generosity they’ve shown towards me. Latino immigrants and Cuban exiles are also a source of inspiration. Although they came to this country with nothing, they now operate some of the largest corporations, run for office, and make incalculable contributions to the greatness of the United States. Those who suffer and rise from ashes are my greatest inspiration.

Have you encountered any gender specific challenges or obstacles in your career?

If you’re a human being, you’ve encountered some sort of challenge in your life. However, I’m very cautious about identifying obstacles solely based on gender.  I’ve encountered ignorance or people who can’t see my true potential or my true intentions. But before pointing the finger, I examine my own contributions to the matter.  I use it as an opportunity to better myself and derive value out of what may be a bad situation. Frankly I’ve never been good at “othering” or playing victim. With that said, yes it’s real and my contribution is to get in the room as a woman, kick butt, and bring others up with me, those that want to come.  I look forward more than I look back to the past; I derive the value and I move on.

What advice would you give your 20 something self?

Perfection does not exist.

What are your success habits?

1. Be curious and continue to learn, schooling never ends

2. Be passionate – find what it is you love and do it obsessively

3. Put the success of others before your own and everything will fall into place

4. Be smart and humble enough to recognize that you don’t know everything; seek those who do and surround yourself with them.

5. Be grateful to those who have helped you and the ability to do what you get to do (even the hard stuff)

6. Spirituality – ask God often to help you find your purpose and the meaning in everything that happens.  

Describe success in 3 words

You do You

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just thank you for choosing me to feature!


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