Renata Soto Interview | Global Nashville with Karl Dean | Podcast

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Renata Soto Interview

“Global Nashville with Karl Dean”

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Click here or above for Episode 20 – “Global Nashville with Karl Dean”: An Interview with Renata Soto 


Global Nashville with Karl Dean

Renata Soto
Director, Conexión Américas

00:30 Welcome / Global Nashville with Karl Dean Intro
01:05 Introduction of Renata Soto
02:57 Karl Dean Opening
03:30 “Tell us about your background.”
07:00 “What are your memories, what do you love about Costa Rica?”
11:20 “You eventually co-founded an organization, Conexión. Tell us what Conexión does and why you founded it.”
14:48 “You’re one of the most established organizations in the city, highly respected and doing great work. How small were you at the beginning?”
17:15 “What does [Casa] Azafran mean?”
19:35 “When you began this project in 2002, did you have a sense of what the non-native population of Nashville was at that point?”
21:30 Break
22:35 “I want to talk about Conexion Americas more. You mentioned that when the organization began in 2002 there were new census figures that Nashville was becoming the home to more and more people with a Latin American background. That only intensified in the years following. Is that fair?”
23:44 “People noticed that the community was changing … you faced challenges because of those reactions … one of those most important reactions was the effort to pass legislation through a referendum that would make Nashville an “English only” city. What was your reaction to that?”
25:58 “And that was in ‘09 and as you said the city, you can be proud, the city rejected that.”
27:02 “The city stood up and said this is not who we are … came out of that much stronger … your public profile increased dramatically … people in Nashville felt this is a cause we should be supportive of.”
28:46 “Immigrants are very entrepreneurial … talk about that.”
31:35 “We still saw resistance and concerns, particularly at the state level, being voiced about immigration. The issue of the Dreamers became an important issue … you reached the point where the President of the United States comes to see you. Tell us about that.”
36:53 “There’s been a change in the presidency … just looking at Nashville and Tennessee what are the biggest challenges that immigrants face? What’s number one on your list of things that need to happen?”
41:54 “Immigration issues in terms of the Federal Government, in immigration reform seem so difficult. Are you optimistic about the future?”
44:39 “This is Global Nashville … and Nashville has become so much more of a diverse city not only with the people’s background who live here, but with business, education … it seems to me that’s a trend that’s going to continue.”
46:13 “So what is next for you?”
48:35 RS comments on rise of the right.
50:03 End


“Global Nashville with Karl Dean” Podcasts present leaders from Nashville and other specialists who are connected with global issues or an aspect of the city and region that contributes to the international flavor.

The conversations, with former Mayor Karl Dean, touch on their roles, experiences, and accomplishments in the city and region and their insights and perspectives on all of the things that make Nashville a “global city.”


Our Mission
At Conexión Américas, our mission is to build a welcoming community and create opportunities where Latino families can belong, contribute and succeed.

Our Approach
We believe successful efforts to promote the integration of immigrant families into their new community recognize that integration is a multi-dimensional process.

Therefore, Conexión Américas focuses on advocating for, and supporting the integration of, Latino families in three inter-dependent areas of human development:
• Social Integration
• Economic Integration
• Civic Integration


Renata Soto is a Costa Rican-born social entrepreneur based in Nashville, TN.

She is co-founder and Executive Director of Conexión Américas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a welcoming community and creating opportunities where Latino families can belong, contribute and succeed in Tennessee since 2002.

Every year, Conexión Américas supports more than 8,000 Latino and other immigrant families in achieving their own version of the American dream annually: purchasing homes, starting businesses, learning English, supporting their children’s school success and path to college, and becoming integral part of Tennessee’s social, cultural and economic vitality.

Renata is the visionary behind Casa Azafrán, the nonprofit collaborative that has become an iconic landmark in Nashville’s urban landscape and a source of local pride and national attention (even President Obama took notice and hosted there a nationally televised town-hall meeting on immigration policy in 2014.)

For this, Renata was named “Nashvillian of the Year” by the Nashville Scene in 2013. More recently, her vision for equitable communities where all residents have access to beautiful shared civic spaces where to play, gather and participate extended further in August 2018 with the opening of Azafrán Park.

Nationally, Renata has served almost 10 years on the board of directors of UnidosUS, formerly the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest Latino advocacy and civil rights organization in the nation.

She currently serves as Immediate Past Chair. As Chair from 2015-2018, she led the board at a critical time as the organization prepared for its 50th anniversary and carried out its historic rebranding from NCLR to UnidosUS.

Global Tennessee is the Podcast of the Tennessee World Affairs Council, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational association. We rely on support of members and donors to sustain our global affairs awareness efforts. We ask you to become members and make a gift, and for businesses to contact us about sponsoring and participating in Global Tennessee and other community and education outreach programs that bring the world to Tennessee. Contact Patrick Ryan (931-261-2353 / )


  • Executive Producer: Patrick Ryan
  • Technical Advisor: Bill Ryan
  • Voice of Global Tennessee: Ben Olson




The mission of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tennessee World Affairs Council is to promote international awareness, understanding and connections to enhance the region’s global stature and to prepare Tennesseans to thrive in our increasingly complex and connected world.


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