Local News


Soto is AAFN Avant-Garde Winner


The American Advertising Federation Nashville (AAFN) will present its annual Avant-Garde Award to Renata Soto.  The award is part of AAFN’s Mosaic initiative and recognizes individuals who have advanced diversity in multi-culturalism in our community. The award will be presented at the Nashville Advertising Awards Luncheon on June 28 at the Nashville City Club. Renata Soto is co-founder and Executive Director of Conexión Américas, a nonprofit organization based in Nashville and founded in 2002 to promote the social, economic and civic integration of Latino families.


Less than two years after opening its doors, the accomplishments of Conexión Américas were early recognized by the weekly magazine Nashville Scene in its 2003 ‘Best of Nashville’ edition as Best Entrepreneurial Venture: “Conexión Américas, thanks in part to the visionary leadership of executive director Renata Soto, over the past 15 months has become the foremost Hispanic service and advocacy organization in Middle Tennessee, if not the entire state.”


Following a holistic approach, Conexión Américas has developed nationally recognized programs that support more than 6,000 Latino families in achieving their American dream annually: purchasing homes, starting businesses, preparing taxes, learning English, supporting their children’s school success and path to college, and becoming integral part of Nashville’s social, cultural and economic vitality.


Renata’s vision for a nonprofit collaborative and community gathering place in South Nashville became a reality in 2012 with Casa Azafrán, the $6 million center standing on Nolensville Pike, near I-440, at the gateway to Nashville’s International District. The 29,000 square-foot facility houses Conexión Américas and nine nonprofit and government partners under one roof: American Center for Outreach, American Muslim Advisory Council, Family & Children’s Service, Financial Empowerment Center, Global Education Center, Justice for Our Neighbors, Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Early Learning Center, Neighborhood Health and the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition.


Renata has been a leading force on efforts that have helped solidify Nashville’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive city. She is a founding member of the Nashville for All of Us Coalition, which led the campaign that successfully defeated the English Only referendum of 2009.


Renata is also a nationally recognized leader and serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest Latino advocacy and civil rights organization in the nation. She also serves on the advisory board of Transportation for America.


Renata’s community involvement extends well beyond her commitment to Latino and immigrant families. As a co-chairwoman of Mayor Karl Dean’s Task Force on Children and Youth in 2010, she helped create the Child and Youth Master Plan, which is now a blueprint for efforts to ensure the well being of every young person from birth to adulthood. Her most recent volunteer involvement includes positions on the boards of the Belcourt Theater, Center for Nonprofit Management, Nashville Symphony and Vanderbilt Center for Nashville Studies.


Past winners of the Avant-Garde Award have included MaryAnne Howland (IBIS Communications), Michael Fluck (Bridgestone), Yuri Cunza (Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), and Mayor Megan Barry.