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How Stacy Bernal Is Shaking Up How We Talk About Diversity

“Children cannot be what they cannot see.” I want to set the example to not only my children but to other young POC so that they feel empowered to let their voices be heard. I want them to see me and other POC getting involved in the community and serving on committees and in leadership […]

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“Children cannot be what they cannot see.” I want to set the example to not only my children but to other young POC so that they feel empowered to let their voices be heard. I want them to see me and other POC getting involved in the community and serving on committees and in leadership roles because I want them to know they should be there too. More than anything, I’d love to see diverse representation starting within my local community and extending to businesses and organizations nationwide.


As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stacy Bernal. Stacy is an outspoken advocate for diversity, an author, and a speaker coach at See Stacy Speak LLC. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Weber State University with a BA in Communication. She proudly serves on the WSU Alumni Association Board of Directors and Ogden City Diversity Commission. She is the founder of Awesome Autistic Ogden, an autism appreciation event turned community resource, as well as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Bernal Badassery Foundation. Stacy is passionate about empowering individuals and organizations to live their biggest and most badass lives through a growth mindset and the ability to shift perspectives. From once-a-bartender to now-a-board-member, she feels purposeful about helping others find the courage to disrupt their own lives to create positive change. She has been featured on HuffPost, Thrive Global, Chicago Now, Scary Mommy, Autism Parenting Magazine, ideamensch and HER Magazine. She recently published her first book, The Things We Don’t Talk About: A Memoir of Hardships, Healing, and Hope. Stacy lives happily with her family and fur babies near the mountains, where she enjoys all the amazing outdoor recreation Ogden, UT has to offer like mountain biking, running marathons, triathlons, relay races, and ultra-marathons. She loves to travel and looks forward to many great adventures all over the world.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Icame from 13+ years in the real estate industry and 10+ years in the food service industry. I was always an employee and a very replaceable cog in a machine. Throughout my real estate career, I started getting really involved with Women in Business groups because I saw there was a need to support our womxn leaders. Then, as an autism mom, I became an advocate for neurodiversity which led to me learning more about diversity, equity, inclusion, and representation. I took a look at a lot of the spaces I worked in and saw huge gaps as far as diversity goes. Especially as a speaker, it’s very much a male-dominated space. When I created my coaching business, I decided I really wanted to use my platform to help create the change I think we need in the world — more women and people of color on speaking stages and in leadership positions.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Within the last year I’ve had some interesting experiences when I bring up the topic of diversity (or more accurately a lack of diversity). I didn’t think I was being disruptive at the time, but now that I’ve experienced what can only be described as some people’s resistance, I realize I am apparently disrupting the status quo. I’m pointing out discrepancies so hopefully people — decision-makers, especially — will make a conscious effort to make changes. For example, I served on a committee that put together a women’s empowerment and diversity conference. The speaker lineup included one gay, Black man. All the other speakers were White. I pointed out that if a conference is going to have the word ‘diversity’ in its title, there should probably be more diversity. That’s part of the reason I created an autism event in my community — to celebrate people who are different and create a place where they feel safe and loved. It’s why I recently joined my city’s Diversity Commission. It takes work and effort to rock the boat a little and to instigate change. If the people sitting around the board table making decisions don’t see that there’s a problem with something, they’ll never make an effort to fix it. In a way, I feel like I’ve infiltrated these homogeneous spaces so I can start creating some headway for more minorities who come behind me. We’re at a tipping point right now and I feel like there’s a lot of momentum for 2020 to be a historical year, in more ways than one. It’s time to challenge biases and make room for all the voices to be heard.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

So many of my mentors have been strong, brave, badass women. Brené Brown, who I hope to thank in person someday, has made a huge impact in my journey. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my past shame and trauma from her research and books. I wouldn’t have the courage to do what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for her. Michelle Obama, Ellen DeGeneres, Shonda Rhimes, P!nk — basically strong women who are resilient AF and cannot be stopped. Women in my community like Kym Buttschardt, Jaynee Nadolski, and Adrienne Andrews. Each of these women is a pillar of badassery in different ways, creating massive ripple effects of positive change in all they do. And of course, my mom, Meredith. She just retired from an almost thirty-year career as a nurse and she has touched thousands of lives over the course of her career.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“You are not for everyone.” Once I decided to get vocal about certain topics, I immediately opened myself up to criticism. I have to be okay with that; I have to believe that I will resonate with the people who need to hear my message. I’m kind of a misfit and I like to swear and keep things real. I need to remember that, as Brené says, if you’re not also in the arena, I’m not interested in your feedback.

“Children cannot be what they cannot see.” I want to set the example to not only my children but to other young POC so that they feel empowered to let their voices be heard. I want them to see me and other POC getting involved in the community and serving on committees and in leadership roles because I want them to know they should be there too. More than anything, I’d love to see diverse representation starting within my local community and extending to businesses and organizations nationwide.

“Why not you?” Creating an autism event was kind of an accident. In 2018, I saw that there were events being planned in other cities but not my own. And I was like, “Why is no one doing this here?” And a friend told me, “Well, why don’t you do one?” It’s amazing how someone can plant a seed that can grow and manifest into something real. It’s the same way my book came about. After my first speaking gig, a man told me I should write a book, that my story could help other people. I laughed it off that day, but two and a half years later I published my memoir! Because, why not me?

How are you going to shake things up next?

I’m so excited to shake things up by doing a TEDx talk on August 22nd. I’ll be sharing my “Confessions of a Recovering Nobody” which will explore all the ways I was silenced as a young woman and how I found the courage to become a “Somebody.” I hope to inspire and empower others who have had similar stories. I also just launched my online speaker coaching course, which is a really affordable way for women to learn how to build a speaking business and get outspoken about what matters to them. And I definitely have at least one or two more books in me.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I am a huge reader and Audible listener. Braving the Wilderness, The Universe Has Your Back, You are a Badass, The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck, The Person You Mean to Be, Waking Up White, Year of Yes, Start With Why, My Year of Running Dangerously, The War of Art, Daring Greatly. I honestly can’t narrow down my list to just one because each of these had a deep impact at some point throughout my journey. Some impacted my professional life more, some impacted my personal development, but all of them contributed something meaningful and positive to my life that in some way served as a steppingstone in my evolution.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

To the people who have been feeling a call to action, to get involved with something bigger than themselves, but they’re being held back by fear, I say: Just do the damn thing. Our time on this giant floating rock is finite and so very fleeting. What is your legacy? What is your greatness? What mark are you going to leave on the world? Decide what it is you’re meant to do and go do it. You are meant to set in motion a series of events that will impact lives you’ll never even know about. You just need to knock down that first domino. It starts with you.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Another one from Brené:

“Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it- it can’t survive being shared. Shame loses power when it is spoken.”

I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not openly shared my adoption story in one of my first presentations. From there I was able to open up about my childhood sexual abuse. The release of the weight of the shame I had carried for most of my life was like nothing I can describe. It was magical and absolutely life changing. I’ve had people read my book, The Things We Don’t Talk About, and then message me to tell me something about their lives that they’ve held as a secret. I can practically feel their relief when they were able to let it go, like a lead balloon they’ve dragged around that is now filled with helium. I wish for every person who’s ever felt less than or broken or ashamed to experience the power of telling their story and overcoming their shame. I know how healing it has been in my journey and I hope others can experience it for themselves.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @seestacyspeak

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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