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“Change is mandatory. Growth is optional.”

2017 Changemaker Latoya Lewis has built a meeting and events program for teens in Washington, D.C., that delivers diversity and opportunity

MeetingsNet’s annual Changemaker list recognizes 20 outstanding meetings professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find all the profiles here.

Latoya Lewis
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
For launching an innovative program to introduce teens to the world of live events and for pushing for more diversity in our industry.

Making Change
The live event industry lacks a philanthropic “arm” and EnventU, which I founded in 2015, fills that void. EnventU, a nonprofit educational initiative for teens in the Washington, D.C., area, gives industry professionals the opportunity to help cultivate the next generation of caterers, audiovisual professionals, event producers, décor and floral designers, and more. By sharing their expertise with high school students and guiding them in hands-on event production activities in the classroom, participating professionals help to inspire young people to think about how they can use their talents in a future career in the live event industry.
My motivation to found EnventU was based on a deep desire to make a lasting positive impact in the lives of others. My father always said, “When you ‘make-it,’ reach back and help others the way someone helped you.” EnventU is my father’s words in action. EnventU helps young people discover new skills, talents, and career possibilities while making it easy for event professionals to reach back and bring others in.

What’s Next?
Through EnventU, I want to help drive greater diversity within the live events industry. I’d love to see more women and greater ethnic diversity reflected across all sectors of our industry. To infuse more female technicians into a male-dominated field or to see prominent ethnic minority event planners would be amazing!

EnventU works with public school students in Washington, D.C., so most of our participants are young people of color. As we educate and expose young people to the industry, we can be a driver in creating a more diverse field of professionals. It is fulfilling to be able to do my part to give more women and other groups the chance to not only step onto the ladder but also climb past the invisible ceiling that exists in society across far too many industries.

Managing Change
The best way to manage change is to embrace it and be challenged by it. I have always believed in the adage “Change is mandatory. Growth is optional.” To reach the best versions of ourselves, we must choose growth through the uncertainty of change every time.

Best Business Advice
The best business advice I’ve received is to seek true freedom. For me, that means truly owning my time. Time is precious and once it’s gone, can’t be regained. To own our time, we need to be financially free—not tied to a job or debt that restricts what we do. When we own our time, we own our life’s journey and experiences, and that’s priceless.

Think Differently
I’ve always been clear about and committed to my goals, which has made it easier for me to achieve whatever I set my mind to. I’ve always sought to find a need and figure out how I can use my unique talents to address it. I believe we should all work to make our offerings to this world as unique as our individual selves. In this simple act, we prove ourselves invaluable.

Got a Spare Hour?
When I have an hour to spare, I use it enjoying the company of family and friends—and when possible at a spa! I’m a strong believer in self-care. You can’t be a changemaker and “pour into others” if you are pouring from an empty cup.


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