What does an advocate look like? Meet Jaclyn Tacoronte. After more than two decades in the marketing industry working for major organizations and design firms in New York, she was inspired to begin her own company, JMT Media. Pregnant with her first child, she pounded the pavement in Staten Island as an advocate for herself and within one week, she secured seven new clients.
In her third year of business, Jaclyn was advised to get certified as a Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) to open doors to opportunities to bid on large city and state contracts. She was shocked to learn that she did not meet New York City’s requirements of a minority because she is Native American. She quickly turned that shock into passion to advocate for change.
She arranged a meeting with the New York City Mayor’s Representative, New York City Small Business Services Representative, City Councilwoman Debi Rose and her attorney to discuss how to update the law. Jaclyn was then invited to testify at the New York City Council about why change was needed. With the support of New York City Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks, Jaclyn was guided on the process to move legislation along. Shortly after, a piece of legislation to designate Native Americans as minorities was introduced at a Stated Meeting for New York City.
“I spent two years working with city-elected officials, attorneys and city agencies and I advocated fiercely like it was my third baby,” Jaclyn says. “When I see that there’s an opportunity to support women in business, I say to myself, ‘Why is nobody sounding the alarm?’”
In 2019, the legislation was passed to officially include Native Americans as minorities in New York City. And Jaclyn was finally able to obtain her certification as New York City’s first Native American MWBE. “That was probably one of the most incredible milestone markers of my career,” she says. “At that point, I realized that you do not have to be a politician to pass legislation that supports women in business.”
When she became a member of NAWBO New York City this year, Jaclyn was impressed by the built-in support network of women available to her. “This is one of the most untapped gems in the United States that every woman in business needs to be a part of,” she says. “There are so many professional women who each can provide individual resources or just a quick phone call. That’s very rare to find.”
Looking ahead, Jaclyn is committed to advocating for women. During the pandemic, many women and minority businesses had to close brick-and-mortar shops and transition to digital platforms. However, many had little to no access to basic digital resources, including Wi-Fi, computers or computer technology.
“It’s a huge disservice to women if they don’t have the basics. When we talk about advocacy and equity, that means that all women have access to broadband technology and capital funding,” she says. While Jaclyn has learned that things don’t happen overnight, she’s committed to supporting women business owners for as long as it takes—in true advocate style.
For more information about Jaclyn and JMT Media, visit https://www.jmtmedia.nyc.
Jaclyn’s Top Advocacy Tips
- Find one issue that you’re so passionate about, you wake up every morning saying, “This needs to change.”
- Figure out a game plan. Whether it’s in partnership with NAWBO, your organization or your business.
- Don’t give up. “One time, I was working on a challenging project for months. I walked outside and slammed my foot down and said, ‘I’m not giving up!’ I broke the high heel off my shoe! I took a photo to remind myself that sometimes pounding the pavement pays off,” she shares. (See photo of high heel!)