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"It’s extremely important to have people who can understand cultural nuances, who can speak the language, who can really understand some of the experiences some of these players have had."

Silvia Alvarez,

Associate Director, International and Domestic Communications

Q & A with Silvia Alvarez

Silvia Alvarez

Associate Director, International and Domestic Communications

On her education

In order to go to college, I knew I was going to need a scholarship. I ended up applying for an academic scholarship at Colgate, and I received a full one. While I was there, I really focused on politics. I was a double major in Politics and Spanish Literature. I spent a semester in Spain doing my study abroad. I loved the intersection of literature and politics. I loved how what was happening politically in a country could affect the writing of its authors. I studied Spain a lot because I lived there, and one of my thesis was on the smooth transition of Spain from  a dictatorship to a democracy, and also looking at all the writing behind that.

 

I decided to go to Middlebury College because one of my professors at Colgate had gone through the Middlebury program. It was a one year intense language program, so I finished my master’s in a year focusing on Spanish literature. I spent a year in Madrid, Spain completing the program.

 

On her inspiration to enter the communications field

I could write for a living or I could end up being a teacher, because that is usually what people do when they study languages, but neither of those interested me. When I was at Colgate I did an internship at Rubenstein Public Relations, and there they had me shadow some of their bigger executives. I shadowed a woman who did pitching for Rubenstein and she was constantly on the phone talking to reporters. I thought that was really cool how she was working the phones and talking about different things. I thought this was exciting and I liked the fast pace, talking to different people. I was very much a social person, so I really enjoyed that.

On her first work experiences out of college

When I got out of school, I tried to get into communications, and it was really difficult because everybody wanted you to have a year of experience. Even though I had my internships, they wanted a year of experience. So I actually started out in fundraising for Bank Street College and I worked there for about a year and a half. I still had this desire to go into communications and I eventually landed a job at Edelman Public Relations when they were starting their Hispanic practice. I was on one of the original team members in that Edelman crew that started the diverse practice. So I started at an agency, which I always tell communications people they should do because you learned the nuts and bolts of communications from how to pitch, how to write, how to do a new business presentation etc. Everything that you can imagine you end up learning in an agency life.

On working for Major League Baseball

They decided to hire me as Director of Multicultural and Charitable Communications. This was when baseball faced the challenges – and it still has this same sort of difficulty – where  young African-American kids in the U.S. were not playing baseball;  there were barriers for them to play the game, whether it was lack of money or lack of ability to get to facilities where they could play. MLB liked my experience working on Hispanic and African-American initiatives at Edelman. They hired me to support the executives that were working on this.

That was one of the most rewarding work for me because I felt like I was making a difference. Even though we were moving the needle very slowly, I felt like we had a voice and we were doing something.

Baseball was a tough place at that time. It was a tough place because being a woman, being Latina in baseball was really, really hard. Most of my career has been in very male-dominated fields, and baseball was no different.

I really love baseball and appreciated it more once I arrived at MLB.  I understood the sport and learned the sport and met some of the players. I got to see how they gave of themselves, not just to the sport but to the community. It was great for me and I loved it and it was so rewarding. When I left, I felt like that was one of my biggest regrets because I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be able to work back in sports or baseball.

On her new role with the MLBPA

It’s extremely important to have people who can understand cultural nuances, who can speak the language, who can really understand some of the experiences some of these players have had. I feel a level of pride to be here and to work with them. I’m excited to work on strategy and I’m excited to learn as much as I can. As much as I bring to the table, there’s a lot I can also learn here and I’m super excited about that.

I can bring together all the different pieces that I’ve learned throughout my different jobs in order to help the organization meet its strategic goals.

Her advice to young professionals

When I speak to younger professionals, what I say to them is, ‘Don’t limit yourself.’ People limit themselves to a certain area, and I am a huge example of the fact that you can’t limit yourself to an area, Yes, you have to hone your skill. The strength throughout my career has been communications and I’ve mastered how to do that, but I didn’t necessarily have to stay in politics. I felt like staying in politics would limit me to just knowing how to do something in that space. I wanted to go from politics to corporate because corporate gave me a different set of skills. Corporate taught me something different. It taught me the business side of things.

On her hobbies and outside activities

I love to run. I’ve run three marathons and a slew of half-marathons throughout my running career. When I went to Memphis, I ran all the races in town. I did all the series. My love for sports began in high school as I played point on the women’s lacrosse team. I also played a bit in college.

I love to write. I don’t do enough leisure writing. It’s always been press releases and stuff like that, but I do enjoy writing and reading. My favorite book is called, ‘The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother’ By James McBride.

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