Art, Advocacy and Action
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Conexión Américas
Renata Soto is one of three founders of Conexión Américas, a nonprofit organization based in Nashville and founded in 2002 to promote the social, economic and civic integration of Hispanic families into the Tennessee community.
She served as its first Executive Director from 2002 until June of 2004 when her family relocated to East Tennessee due to her husband’s job. During that time, she continued to work for Conexión Américas as Associate Director, telecommuting and traveling to Nashville as often as her family responsibilities allowed. During her time in East Tennessee, Renata also served on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. In 2007, Renata and her family returned to Nashville and she resumed her post as Executive Director of Conexión Américas.
The contributions of Conexión Américas were early recognized by the local weekly newspaper Nashville Scene in its 2003 ‘Best of Nashville’ edition: “Conexión Américas, thanks in part to the visionary leadership of executive director Renata Soto, over the past 15 months has become the foremost Hispanic service and advocacy organization in Middle Tennessee, if not the entire state.”
Prior to founding Conexión Américas, Renata worked for United Way of Metropolitan Nashville for more than five years. Renata managed a grant-making portfolio of almost $1.5 million. In her last role at United Way, Renata was director of an initiative to support and expand a network of family resource centers in low-income neighborhoods in Nashville. While at United Way, she produced and co-hosted a call-in radio show targeting recent Latino immigrants in one of Nashville’s Spanish radio stations for almost four years as a volunteer project. She was also one of the lead organizers of the first-ever research project aiming to understand the experience of Latinos in Nashville conducted in 2001 (Encuentro Latino/Latino Encounter).
Renata was recognized in the inaugural “30 Under 30” list of then Nashville POST business magazine in 2001. She was also selected as a “Woman of Influence” by the Nashville Business Journal in 2008. She received the Third Annual Edwina Hefner Community Leadership Award (2009) presented by the Nashville Symphony during its ‘Let Freedom Ring’ concert. This award recognizes leaders whose community work pay tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2012, Renata was inducted into the YWCA Academy of Women of Achievement.
Currently she serves on the steering committees of Nashville for All of Us and of the Coalition for Education about Immigration. Renata is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Nonprofit Management and the Nashville Symphony. Nationally, she serves as vice chair of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. She was in the Leadership Knoxville 2007 class, in the Leadership Nashville 2008 class and is a member of the 2013 inaugural class of Leadership Tennessee.
Renata is from Costa Rica, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Costa Rica. She also attended Kenyon College, in Ohio, and completed graduate coursework at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, GA.
Renata has lived in the United States since 1993 and became a U.S. citizen in 2007. She and her husband, Pete Wooten, have two children, Gabriel and Camila.
Learn more: Conexión Américas