Marisol Capellan has experience as an appealing target for the jaws of discrimination. As a Latina immigrant, a black woman, and a mother, it took courage and determination to become the executive and leadership coach she is today, now paving the road for the next generation worldwide.
What poverty looks like.
The Dominican Republic is known as a dreamy destination for tourists. What they don’t see is the challenging reality that may be hidden under the palm trees and the tropical fun. 46% of the Dominican population lives in poverty. Marisol grew up in one of those poor neighborhoods, allowing her to experience the true meaning of being poor. Dirt floors and no food poor. No electricity, running water, and no windows poor.
Once she arrived in the United States, she experienced homelessness. While living in the USA, Capellan embedded every single penny of her scarce resources and efforts towards public college. As a Dominican immigrant, she developed empathy around the pains of those at the bottom of the social chain — just like her. She overcame her unstable housing, other economic challenges and so much more to graduate with honors.
The immigrant point of view.
While studying and working in the corporate world, she was discriminated against and mocked because of her Dominican accent. Coworkers and executives around her doubted her capabilities because of her status as an immigrant, speaking English as a second language. She was the all-too-common victim of a stigma that judged her for her skin color, the sound of her voice, and not the intelligence, education, skills, and abilities she brings to the table. At one point, she felt the need to betray her goals and beliefs just to be accepted—to fit in. Typically, Black women go through many more challenges than men of any background, “but that has to change because women generally are struggling to move up the ladder and earn the equality they deserve.”
This mindset to effect change and lead served as the impetus for Capellan to earn her Master’s in Leadership magna cum laude from the Miami Herbert Business School. Working harder than ever before to create opportunities for women and other minorities inside the academic sector, she founded anti-racism programs and was the inaugural president of the Women in Leadership Association.
There’s no place for fear at this table.
Women can not settle anymore for what society or ingrained systems deem appropriate for us. “It’s time for women to demand what we want,” Capellan explained. Despite impressive resumes and academic credentials, many of Marisol’s clients struggle with believing in themselves or their abilities and she understands exactly where they are coming from. “When you have had to overcome the obstacles I have overcome to get where I am today, you understand what it’s like to be underestimated, demeaned, and diminished, even when institutions, individuals, or systems seem to be neutral, innocuous, or well-intentioned. In myriad ways throughout life, most women are taught that they can not be a mom and a leader at the same time. The belief being that one detracts from the other and many women feel that pressure, inadequacy, and sense of failure which affect their mindset and infects the conscious and unconscious decision-making of corporate leaders as they hire and promote. Through education, she’s looking to disrupt this mentality, training women on how to cultivate a powerful mindset and believe in themselves through every challenge and goal they set for themselves.
Marisol Capellan advises women not to give up, and when someone says, “no,” to them, don’t take it as a final no. “There’s always a way around it. There’s always someone else who can help you”. There’s no place for fear anymore. It’s our job to inspire the next generation.
Marisol is a professor at the Miami Herbert Business School at the University of Miami and a coach for executive clients at major Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and other Fortune 500 employers on time management, mindset, career development, personal branding, and leadership. She teaches C-level managers the opportunities that lie within building an inclusive environment. As she said in a CNN interview, having a multicultural workforce allows companies to expand internationally because of the multiple points of view they bring to the table.
Marisol says: “We have to knock on doors, make some noise, and make people hear us. We have to get a seat at the table, and if there’s no seat at the table, you must bring your chair and sit at the table, no matter what. Because leaders in organizations need to hear our perspective, especially if they claim to be or have the genuine intent to be diverse and inclusive corporations and institutions leading their organizations and humanity to a better future”.