(December 2019) – Sometimes, just knowing where you’re going is enough to start your journey. When Katia Medina, senior business development consultant at Prospera, decided to make the move from Puerto Rico to Central Florida, she didn’t quite have every step mapped out.
“My relocation to Orlando was quite uncertain,” Medina said. “Leaving most of my family and my friends, and getting out of my comfort zone, was not an easy transition. But at that time, the financial situation my island was going through was very complicated. So after evaluating the pros and cons, my husband and I decided to make the move and relocate our family to Central Florida, looking for opportunities. I knew my goals were well-established.”
In Puerto Rico, Medina worked as a human resources specialist for 10 years at the Puerto Rico Office of Legislative Services, which serves the Legislative Assembly. Arriving in Central Florida in 2013 along with her husband and two children, Medina looked for a way to put her skills to use in a new environment.
She quickly found Prospera, an economic development nonprofit organization that specializes in providing bilingual assistance to Hispanic entrepreneurs trying to establish or expand their businesses. Formerly the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund, the organization has been working since 1991 to empower business owners from within the state as well as Puerto Rico and Spanish-speaking countries so their companies can grow and prosper. Prospera’s clients are part of one of the fastest-growing segments of the small business sector, according to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando.
Medina works closely with Prospera’s leadership and the community to bring key resources to entrepreneurs to help them establish and expand their businesses. All told, Medina’s work affects nearly 2,000 entrepreneurs a year.
Medina has played a key role in helping those displaced by Hurricane Maria after the deadly Category 5 hurricane devastated Puerto Rico, Dominica and the U.S. Virgin Islands in September 2017. Many fled Puerto Rico to start new lives.
“Prospera has supported Puerto Rican entrepreneurs who, due to different situations facing the island, have been forced to relocate their businesses or expand them to Central Florida,” Medina said. “The way of doing business in Puerto Rico is different than in Florida, and Prospera provides them with guidance and resources to help them minimize their risk and start with a strong foundation. Thanks to the support we receive from the private and public sectors, we can offer services at no cost not only to Puerto Rican businesses but to the Hispanic community in general.”
Helping people adjust to a new life in Central Florida has become a personal mission for Medina, who wants to see them take the next steps of their own journeys for themselves and their businesses.
“Those Hispanic entrepreneurs who come to our offices every day, who have left everything behind in their countries, their families and careers, they have had to reinvent themselves looking for a better future in this country,” Medina said. “Over the years in my career, I have seen them come such a long way. They motivate me every day to continue serving.”
Serving is at the core of Medina’s leadership philosophy. With her family and her community, both here and in Puerto Rico, to keep her inspired, Medina continues to shape the world around her for the better.
“For me, exceptional leadership is about much more than authority and recognition,” she said. “It’s about developing people and others to reach their full potential. An exceptional leader gives others the tools and strategies to maximize the success of not only an organization but also their lives.”