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Nicole Ponseca    

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Speaker, CEO of Jeepney, Chef, Restaurateur & Author of "I Am A Filipino"

Nicole Ponseca is a respected thought leader and a noteworthy trailblazer in the Asian/Pacific American (APA) and Filipino space, as well as the hospitality industry. She has leveraged her advertising background to wake up a dormant conversation about identity and Filipino food in the United States, as well as the global foodie community and Filipino diaspora. In her past life, she was an advertising executive working with Fortune 500 clients by day. At night, she was moonlighting as a restaurant hostess/bartender/server/manager, determined to learn as much as she could about the restaurant business. The popularity of her two restaurants, Maharlika and Jeepney, translated into a best-selling debut cookbook, "I Am a Filipino", which received a James Beard Award nomination for Best International Cookbook in 2019. She has dedicated close to 20 years exploring the 7,100+ Philippine islands looking for ancestral recipes, tools and clues to a culture that had little documentation. The result is a seminal work in Filipino history and the culinary world.

Currently, she splits her time between Manhattan and Miami, as she pivots her business and personal life post-COVID. Her journey has opened her up as a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) speaker, food journalist, and experienced restaurateur. She is an outspoken advocate for the APA, Black and LGBTQIA communities and is known for her uncanny perseverance, having survived childhood abuse and domestic violence.

Her experiences and relatability make her an ideal speaker for companies, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and teams looking to diversify their content. Her talks are vibrant, encouraging and provide added value for teams looking to create more empathy and inspiration to their work and lives.

Speech Topics

DEI in the Workplace and Society: Through the Lens of Food and Community

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the workplace and society, through the lens of the universal language of food. Join chef, author and restaurateur, Nicole Ponseca, as she discusses the importance of representation, not only in the workplace but within corporate leadership. Nicole reveals her story of a lack of representation as a catalyst for her venture into the restaurant industry, and her own experiences with workplace diversity. Nicole conducts a cooking demonstration of a staple Filipino dish to offer insight into elements unique to Filipino culture, breaks down the Asian monolith, yet also provides similarities in food culture that we can all relate to.

My Entrepreneurial Journey: Corporate America to the Restaurant Industry

Entrepreneurial journey from corporate America to the restaurant industry as a female person of color. Join chef, author and restaurateur, Nicole Ponseca, as she tells her inspiring story of working in corporate advertising by day and moonlighting in restaurants by night, in order to achieve her dream of opening her own restaurants and putting Filipino food on the map. Nicole discusses her journey – both highs and lows – of being a successful female minority entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry, the pressures of being the first in the door, lessons learned, and what lies ahead.

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