Jackie Puente, Vice President, External Affairs. Comcast NBCUniversal, andUSHCC Chair-Elect
In her current capacity with Comcast NBCUniversal, Jackie Puente serves as the Vice President for External Affairs at Comcast Corporation. She is responsible for national partnerships with diverse stakeholders on policy issues that span media, technology, and telecommunications. In addition, she advises Comcast Corporation’s senior executive and navigates complex issues that relate to pandemic response and disaster relief, as well as corporate advocacy campaigns that engage civil rights, disability rights, labor, and immigrant rights groups. Most recently, the determined Latina has added the role of chair-elect of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to her resume. Representing over 4.7 million Hispanic-owned businesses nationwide with a social and political reach that actively promotes economic growth, development, and interest, Puente will be the youngest chair in the organization’s history.
“I decided early on that I wanted to do public service and community outreach,” shares Puente of her professional journey. “I studied international affairs and started my career at the US Treasury Department’s Office of Economic Policy. With a background in economics and policy, I later got into fundraising and community-based organizations that lead me to work for corporate clients, and ultimately an in-house role at Comcast. In order to carry out her duties as Comcast’s Vice President for External Affairs, Puente travels across the country and brings those relationships and ideas from across the country to her work with Comcast and the Hispanic Chamber. “My goal for this role is a little bit different than many people who want to be leaders of national nonprofit advocacy organizations,” she shares. “I’m the first millennial to be the chair of the organization and it’s really about helping bringing voice to younger entrepreneurs, younger business leaders who experience our world very differently and have experienced our economy in very challenging times. The average age of a Latina entrepreneur in our country is 28 years old. We need to have a Chamber of Commerce that really reflects the challenges, the goals, the optimism of that younger generation of business leaders.”
In addition, she wants to illustrate two important factors. One, that business is good and to help bring awareness to the power of the Hispanic community in the nation’s economy. “Business can be a huge factor for good —not just to create jobs but to bring products and services to people who need them. Thriving businesses are essential to support healthy communities, strong, resilient communities,” she shares. “Whether you’re thinking about employees, customers, who should be on your board of directors – the reality is in the future employees, customers will look more like me in the future, and we should see that reflected in the boardroom of the companies that employ and serve our communities. Now is the time for Hispanic leaders, in particular young women, to speak up about the challenges they face in accessing capital, and connecting with markets, connecting with contracts for larger suppliers. That’s the work I really want to do at the Hispanic Chamber.”
For more than a decade, Puente has been working on closing the Digital Divide and technology policy issues that face communities of color. When the pandemic happened, the need that many people had to connect became more apparent, and the question of how to get people connected to the Internet for work, school, and life became a national priority.
To meet the needs of many, Puente, along with her team, worked closely with the federal government, the Federal Communications Commission, and many community groups and community organizations to create the Emergency Broadband Benefit that made internet free for families during the pandemic. Today, the program is still available under the new name of the Affordable Connectivity Program. This program, and Comcast’s participation with many community partners and organizations is a point of great pride for Puente and her team at Comcast.
“If you are a low-income family, if your child is on the school lunch program, if you live in public housing, or if you are a veteran that is receiving benefits, you can get free internet at home, which is a game changer for people who are looking for work, looking for educational resources, trying to find out how to stay safe, trying to find housing, trying to find transportation, that’s kind of what brings all the things together,” she shares. “It makes things possible for people. It was a huge project we worked on with many partners for several months, but it has a real tangible outcome for people’s lives.”
Puente is hopeful for the future of Latinas in the United States. She believes in investing in ourselves by being involved in our jobs, families, and community organizations to create the world we want to live in.
“There are more Latinas in leadership roles, more Latinas making decisions in business and in community and in government,” she shares. “But we see a tremendous need for elected and appointed officials that represent us and understand our experiences and that policymaking process as well.”
Today, the mother of an 11–year-old, believes being a mom has made her a much better employee and team leader, and she feels the same about many of the moms on her team and that she works with.
“There is no balance, you have to do the best you can and expect that there will be challenges, always, she shares. “We are natural multitaskers and priority shifters – motherhood has made me much better at planning in advance, managing my time, and giving others in my organization the space and grace they need to be successful.” For Puente, her career has been focused on coalition building, identifying new perspectives and areas of common ground to make better policies.
“I think that being able to build bridges, find common ground between people with differences has always been important to me,” she shares. “I am excited for the next steps in my career – both at Comcast NBCUniversal, and as the Chair-Elect of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. There is a lot of energy and momentum for Latina leaders to take the reins in corporate and community organizations, and I am excited to get to work with leaders and advocates in our community.”