CO+HOOTS Member Profile: Iconico and its advocacy capacity
Luis Avila has never tried a McRib, but he doesn’t need barbecue sauce to make the meat of his accomplishments shine.
With 15 years of experience as a community organizer, Avila already holds many titles — author, traveler, actor, former Spanish voice for the McRib — but with the official launch his consulting company, Iconico, in early April, his role as an entrepreneur is shining brighter than ever.
Iconico focuses on increasing advocacy capacity for organizations, especially those that promote diversity and equal rights. By identifying issues, uniting people and managing campaigns, Iconico empowers nonprofits and beyond to change the world.
“Iconico is a way for me to say that the work they’re doing is engrained in the minds of people in society,” Avila said. “We’re not running campaigns just to change a policy, but we’re running campaigns to change lives and to change society. The campaigns that do that are the most iconic ones.”
Avila said interest in advocacy drastically increased nationwide in the past year. After the 2016 election, organizations struggled to take in and mobilize people who were interested in taking action. Through short periods of consultation, rather than long-term agreements required by many firms, Iconico enables clients to run independently.
“What I actually focus on the most is to build the capacity internally in their organizations, rather than them having to rely on me to always be there,” Avila said. “I organize their teams internally so they can work in the long term.”
Currently, one of Iconico’s biggest campaigns is for #Demand2Learn, which seeks to close the disparity between disciplinary actions against white children, and those for children of color, English language learners and students in special education. Working with nine school districts, six charter schools, funders and community organizations in Phoenix, Iconico is helping educate populations and change culture by building a coalition for the cause.
In this sense, Iconico benefits advocacy by empowering more people to fight for equality in education, health care, immigration and more from Arizona to North Carolina.
Avila said his work in Iconico is often inspired by his year of traveling to 25 cities for business, in which he put everything into storage and gave up his home for an international adventure — an experience he wrote about in his recently released book, “Nómada Temporal.”
“It really impacted me in that now, when I think about people doing advocacy work, I have the experience of seeing other places in the world,” Avila said.
After four months with CO+HOOTS as his nest for entrepreneurial work, Avila said coworking allows him to think bigger and through new perspectives. By being in the space, he hopes to expand the definition of entrepreneurship for all the coworkers around him.
“A lot of times, when we think of entrepreneurs, we think of a specific profile,” Avila said. “They’re usually white males and they’re usually very charismatic and good-looking. I want to show that entrepreneurship is more than that. Entrepreneurship is when you sell tamales in a parking lot, when you’re a Dreamer who wants to pay for school … Those are entrepreneurs too.”