Today we’d like to introduce you to Yaz Ferrada.
Yaz, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised in Whittier, CA from two immigrant parents (Mexican & Chilean) along with my sibling, Seb. Both of my parents have a history of community organizing- my father during the dictatorship in Chile and my mother who continues to organize locally. As a child, dinner time conversations surrounding compassion, community, and fighting for what is just, were very normalized. These conversations would later shape my choices in where I directed my energy, time and passions. I’ve been a book nerd since I learned to read but high school was challenging for me, I was a class clown and, as some say, a social butterfly, which would be in lots of trouble. I credit me attending college to my older sibling, Seb. Seb sat me down and did every single college application with me until they knew I had given myself every opportunity to continue my education. I went on to graduate from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in both Sociology and Chicanx / Latinx Studies. These two areas of discipline have informed how I practice social justice in my various capacities as a Student Affairs professional working with incoming students and their families, as a community organizer and as a co-host of Café con Chisme, the podcast that I co-create with Seb.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Most of the struggles that I have experienced are rooted in systems that I work to dismantle in my community organizing and in the story and information sharing that Seb and I do on Café on Chisme. One of the biggest struggles that I have faced in my journey was the pushback that I got during my campaign for Whittier City Council. The pushback I received was because I was a young Latina running with progressive ideals. I received racist, sexist attacks coupled with the fact that my ability to lead was questioned because of my age. This is why it was so important for me to ensure my campaign team was intentionally made-up of young, progressive women and non-binary folks.
Please tell us about Cafe Con Chisme Podcast.
Café con Chisme is a podcast that my sibling Seb and I started in 2016. We see chisme as a tool and practice for social justice—inspired by the mujeres and femmes who raised us and taught us how to be fierce, tell a good story, and speak truth to power—all with a little laughter. We take on cultural critiques of race, politics, and pop culture—to imagine new possibilities and more just worlds.
Over the past four years, we have interviewed artists, activists, and community leaders, including poet Yesika Salgado, supermodel Vanessa Romo, and award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa. I think what sets us apart is how we use our sibling banter to tackle difficult conversations. It’s been exciting to see the show grow especially because when we started, it was a white, male-dominated industry. The response from our listeners continues to affirm that there was a need and continues to be a demand for Latinx voices in podcasting.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I would say transparency and authenticity are vital to the work that I do both in community organizing and the podcast because I believe making meaningful connections while being unapologetically yourself is how I measure success.
- Website: www.cafeconchisme.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @cafeconchisme
- Facebook: Cafe con Chisme
- Twitter: @cafeconchisme
Picture of Yaz with megaphone – photographer Sylvia Merlo