Philadelphia International Airport celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month by recognizing the efforts of the American Airlines Latin Diversity Network (LDN) chapter in promoting Hispanic contributions, culture, and history.
Karla Cabrera, American Airlines Senior Manager of Customer Operations, is the managerial sponsor of the LDN chapter at PHL, which was established in 2017. Cabrera guides and supports the organization with employee and community outreach. This chapter is one of over 20 diverse Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRG) that American Airlines employees can join.
“As the largest carrier in the world, American Airlines can unite all ethnicities and backgrounds,” said Cabrera. “We have a lot of Hispanic team members, and it’s refreshing. It makes us proud to have the opportunity to showcase and celebrate where we come from with the support of American Airlines.”
Over the past few years, LDN has hosted several events to promote understanding of Latino cultures. Each year, they choose a different cause or nonprofit organization to donate toys to for Three Kings Day. After Hurricane Maria, LDN members teamed up with Puerto Rico Not Washed Out in their first mission trip to Comerio, Puerto Rico, where they delivered over 200 toys to children celebrating the holiday. Earlier this year, they donated to the Casa Del Carmen organization. In 2020, LDN collected warm clothing, shoes, boots, and winter coats for children in collaboration with Cradles to Crayons Philadelphia.
Cabrera, who is Puerto Rican stated, “We also went back to Puerto Rico in 2018 to San Jorge children’s hospital and paid a visit to kids in the hospital and gave them the toys.”
LDN also presents Spanish language lessons with basic airport lingo to employees who do not speak Spanish, in the hopes that they can assist Spanish speaking passengers in finding the closest bathroom, the commuter train, or to find their gate. The lessons are popular among employees who always have a fun time learning the language. Cabrera enjoys hearing employees express how much they learned from LDN’s presentations. LDN is welcoming and encourages employees from different racial and ethnic backgrounds to join the organization.
On October 10, 2022, the organization members hosted a salsa dance flash mob at the B/C food court to showcase Latino music, dance, and culture while encouraging passengers to participate. Additionally, LDN is planning a presentation on different Latino backgrounds and a coffee taste sampling from over three Hispanic countries for their coworkers.
LDN also supports and collaborates with other EBRG’s including the Veteran Military and the Professional Women in Aviation (PWA) PHL chapters.
Diversity and inclusion are essential to Cabrera, who believes it’s not just about checking off a box, but also about making people feel like they matter.
“I feel like American Airlines has given me a place where I belong,” said Cabrera. “When you have a space where you can share where you come from, and you are allowed speak of what moves you, in that safe space you cultivate culture. We can share it with others who are accepting and interested in it. That we can be here together, understand each other, to be ourselves makes us unique, and that’s pretty cool.”
Working hard is vital to Cabrera, who emphasizes that Hispanic people are intelligent, educated people who bring a lot to the table. Cabrera believes that Philadelphia is a diverse city that further cultivates and supports the Hispanic community.
“This experience opening up the LDN chapter in Philadelphia has been very rewarding,” said Cabrera. “I’m thankful to our leadership for supporting every single event. Our leadership is always ready to help. I’m happy that Lakshman Amaranayaka is the Vice President of American Airlines at PHL. He’s always involved and likes being a part of the LDN events.”