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Julio Ricardo Varela

Julio Ricardo Varela

President of Futuro Media, Founder of Latino Rebels & MSNBC Columnist


Julio Ricardo Varela is proudly Puerto Rican through and through. And that identity has become not only who he is as a person but also guided his career as a firebrand journalist, activist and pioneer in Latino media. Read More >

Previously acting as Interim Co-Executive Director at Futuro Media, Varela is now President. During his eight-year career at Futuro and more than 30 years of experience in the editorial space, he has demonstrated journalistic and business excellence, founding and leading Latino Rebels and building the Futuro Studios business pipeline for the organization. Varela will continue to focus on the business side of the organization and play a key leadership role in overseeing the editorial vision of Futuro Media.

In 2011, Varela founded Latino Rebels, one of the top U.S. Latino digital media sites in the world. In 2018, Latino Rebels officially joined the Futuro Media family. He also co-hosts “In The Thick” with Maria Hinojosa and is an MSNBC columnist. He is a frequent contributor to “Latino USA” and, as Digital Director for Futuro from 2015–2020, expanded the show’s digital footprint, overseeing historic gains in online and social audiences.

Previously, Julio was Digital Producer for Al Jazeera America’s “The Stream” and his work has been featured in many global outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, ESPN, NBC News, Quartz, Le Monde, WGBH, WNYC, Face the Nation, MSNBC, Fusion, Univision and Telemundo. He has made numerous national TV appearances for Latino USA and Futuro Media.

In 2015, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists honored Varela with its inaugural DALE Award, “given to an individual or company that steps up and goes above and beyond to ensure Latinos are fairly and accurately represented.” He was also a contributing reporter at The Boston Globe and a top publishing executive. Varela graduated cum laude from Harvard College. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Julio Ricardo Varela on the #ParoNacional

Why Journalism: Julio Ricardo Varela

Latino Digital Media to Pulitzer Winner

Speech Topics

Latino Representation in the Media

In the last 30 years, the number of Latinos in newsrooms across the country has risen by just a handful of percentage points — despite Latinos representing nearly 20 percent of our overall population. In print media, there has been only a 1% increase and broadcast media just 3%, according to a study by Latino magazine. And for those who do work in the industry, they’re often boxed into doing stories that are thought of as relevant to their identified groups. So how can we fix these dismal results? It is possible to get better representation, says Julio Ricardo Varela, by creating your own lanes instead of waiting on mainstream media to see the light. In this talk, Varela shares his own story of fighting the system as the founder of Latino Rebels — one of the top U.S. Latino digital media sites in the world. He says the mainstream media often does not understand Latinos and the gifts they can bring to the industry. But that’s not a reason to stop fighting for better representation. There are plenty of small and impactful digital outlets to pitch. Whether Latino or any other person of color, this presentation will inspire you to continue the fight — despite the roadblocks put in your way.

The New America

As the U.S. population becomes more racially and ethnically diverse — the majority of us will be nonwhite by 2050 — how do Latinos fit in? Not only just fine, says Julio Ricardo Varela, but they’ll also become a powerhouse that can lead to significant political and cultural change. In this insightful keynote, Varela, Editorial Director for Futuro Media and founder of Latino Rebels — one of the top U.S. Latino digital media sites in the world — shares the story of his bilingual/bicultural heritage and how it affected him, from feeling like a fish out of water while attending Harvard to becoming a leader and voice of the Latino community. He’ll give insights on how diversity will change America for the better and what we can all do to help the process continue in the future.

A First-Hand Account: The Crisis at the Border

Julio Ricardo Varela’s many years covering issues and events directly impacting the Latino communities have positioned him as one of the leading voices when addressing the “Crisis at the Border.” With the Trump administration presiding over the largest flows of migration at the U.S.-Mexico border since the mid-2000s, the Biden Administration is tasked with tackling one of America’s most pressing issues that has no sign of slowing down or going away. In this inspiring keynote, Varela tackles the stories from the border that the mainstream media tends to ignore, and shares the latest firsthand accounts of those battling one of the country's most misunderstood and misinformed issues.

Why Political Parties Are Failing Latinos

New polling continues to show what voices like Julio Ricardo Varela have always known: Latinos feel that both political parties do not understand them and they feel taken for granted. In this talk that explores the history of Latinos’ uneasy relationship with Democrats and Republicans, Varela shares what these parties should be doing to elevate the country’s second largest voting bloc.

DEI in the Workplace

Creating a truly diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce involves much more than crossing off tasks on a checklist. You have to create a culture where everyone feels like they belong and have an equal chance of getting ahead. In this presentation, Julio Ricardo Varela, Editorial Director for Futuro Media and Founder of Latino Rebels, shares his insights on fostering DEI in the workplace the right way, from junior employees to leaders, and includes tools and tips to help you get started.

Defining Your Career

For Julio Ricardo Varela, life was going well. The longtime journalist had carved out a successful career. And then, like a lot of Americans, he was laid off as the country struggled with the recession. But instead of giving up, Varela decided to create his own opportunities. And that he did. In this highly personal talk, Varela shares how he rose from the ashes when his career path was cut off and created one of the top U.S. Latino digital media sites in the world — which led to opportunities with Al Jazeera America and NBC News — and how you can do the same, no matter your profession. If you are in a career transition or about to enter the workforce, this keynote is for you.