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Cardona Gives Crystal Clear Message to Students

By Velginy Hernandez

SOC Maria Cardona

Maria Cardona spoke to American University political communication students in Dotty Lynch's class.

Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Communications Director Maria Cardona urges aspiring communication pros to go beyond staying “on message.”

“Your job is crystallizing the message,” Cardona said to the undergraduate and graduate students in School of Communication Executive-in-Residence Dotty Lynch’s Political Communications class. 

As part of the class’s guest speaker series, Cardona came to AU to share her experience as a Principal for Dewey Square Group, a public affairs firm started by Democratic political operatives in 1993, and her views on message strategizing in light of the latest U.S. Census figures that depict a rapidly growing Hispanic population.  

Cardona’s background includes working as Communication Director for the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, at the DNC, at the Department of Commerce and as Director of Communications at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service during the tense debate over the fate of young Cuban boy Elian Gonzales. 

Having a robust communications practice that achieves successful results for clients must also include a vehicle for communicating to America’s growing Latino community, she said. 

“The Latino community is now spending over a trillion dollars as consumers. We’ve all seen the Census figures. One in five people in this country is Latino,” Cardona said.  

At Dewey Square, Cardona and Associate Evelyn Castillo have worked together to launch a strategic communications medium, Latinovations, that is intended not just for the U.S. Latino population, but to all who are interested in Latinos from a political and policy standpoint.

Castillo, apart from working on client support and media plan production, is in charge of managing the Latinovation’s premier blog, La Plaza, Dewey Square’s flagship Latino online publication. The site has a guest blogger series that includes exclusive entries from a “who’s who” list of Latino leaders across the country. 

“Most of their stories you see on this blog are related to the top issues that Latinos are interested in – jobs, the economy, education and a special section on immigration,” Castillo said. 

While La Plaza’s popularity increases as an online presence that attracts such influential readers as the White House and major political reporters, the digital divide still remains for Latinos and other communities of color, Cardona said.  

It is necessary to combine both traditional and contemporary modes of communication, she said, when trying to influence an ever-growing population that is consuming – and voting – more than ever.