How do we unite different cultures in the midst of a polarizing political climate? In this episode of Add Passion and Stir, George Washington University professor of leadership Louis Caldera and Rose Previte, owner of Compass Rose and Maydān in Washington DC, talk about culture, leadership and the potential for diversity to drive positive change in the US. Both guests believe diversity is our greatest strength. “As long as we’re true to our principles of equality, and people can develop their talents through education and contribute something, then that’s what we need to do,” says Caldera, the son of Mexican immigrants who became Secretary of the Army. He emphasizes how our country benefits when the brightest people in the world want to come here to be educated. “The growing diversity of this country will become more politically active and they’re going to say, ‘I don’t fear people who come from places like where I come from because I’m a contributing American,’” he predicts. Previte’s restaurants are a celebration of diversity inspired by her upbringing with a Lebanese mother and Sicilian father and her own extensive travels. “The street food [at Compass Rose] is the great equalizer, it’s where everyone whether rich or poor…come together over food,” she says.

Both guests come from families where food and hospitality were focal points. Previte remembers how her diverse family educated others about they were through food. Caldera, who grew up poor in Southern California at a time when the Latino community was still small, believes shared meals are important for building strong families and communities. However, shared meals can be difficult with the work schedules in low-income families, so he advocates for supports like minimum wage, family assistance and opportunities for education.

Listen to this conversation between two leaders who understand diversity as a strength that builds positive social change.

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