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04 October 2022

Building UNIDOS: How ERGs Support a Culture of Belonging

by Moderna
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Collaborative Cooking: UNIDOS’s first in-person event of 2022!

At Moderna, we celebrate diversity and inclusion every day, and in everything we do. We are deeply committed to creating a culture of belonging and to building a team that feels more like a family, and a workplace that feels more like home.  

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month (15 September through 15 October), Moderna is celebrating the invaluable contributions of our Hispanic and Latinx team members. National Hispanic Heritage Month was established to recognize the incredible influence Hispanic Americans have had on the nation’s history, culture, and accomplishments.  

The official theme for this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation. UNIDOS, which in English means “united,” is also the name of Moderna’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) founded by our scientists. At Moderna, UNIDOS aims to foster a sense of community by promoting cultural awareness, growth, and education throughout the organization by sharing the values and traditions of Hispanic and Latinx cultures.  

Recently, we had the chance to sit down with Moderna scientist and UNIDOS co-founder, Clarissa Alvarez Garcia to learn about her life and her work with UNIDOS and Moderna. 

UNIDOS encompasses all things Hispanic and Latinx. That’s what unites us. We’re such a diverse group. We love learning from each other, it’s so deep down. There’s just a natural sense of belonging. Nobody taught me that. It’s natural. We’re just family. When we’re all together, we all belong." 

Clarissa Headshot

For some at Moderna, a love of mRNA is in their genes. This is especially true for Clarissa, whose interest in genetics began at birth: she was born in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico as an identical twin. She then went on to studybiotechnology, learned molecular-cloning techniques while interning in Germany, and was first exposed to cell microscopy at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  

Today, as a member of Moderna’s Biological Science team, Clarissa works to advance Moderna’s mRNA technology. She spends her days performing cellular imaging assays that help investigate the mechanisms of mRNA delivery into cells via lipid nanoparticles(LNPs): fatty bubbles that envelope the mRNA.

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Cell Microscopy: the Art of Science

“Cell microscopy lets us see the unseen and helps us better understand our world. It offers a window into a different world.” 

Midway through her first year at Moderna, Clarissa started feeling the urge to “find her family.” So, she contacted the Director of Culture & Belonging and asked to start the UNIDOSERG to help foster a sense of community and promote cultural awareness, growth, and education throughout Moderna by sharing the values and traditions of Hispanic and Latinx cultures.  

“It’s so important to feel like you can be yourself at work. Because people who don’t feel comfortable at work cannot perform at their best. This includes having spaces and employee resource groups that are supported by the company, and where you feel a sense of belonging with your culture and feel accepted and welcomed so that you can be your true self. You need to be yourself to be the best version of yourself.” 

Eighteen months later, UNIDOS has grown to more than 100 members. The ERG hosts events that include lunch & learns, workshops, webinars, author events, holiday celebrations, salsa dances for charity, plus Spanish lessons and cooking classes.  

“Naturally we have to have cooking classes. Because food is a love language, a way of communicating. You can learn so much about a culture by trying a recipe. Latin America is so diverse. We want to highlight what’s different—and what’s the same—between our countries…and food is such a nice way of connecting with people and the world." 

But it’s not all fun and games. UNIDOS doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. UNIDOS recently promoted a webinar hosted by Progyny—Moderna’s fertility, surrogacy and adoption benefit partner—on the reproductive challenges specific to the Latinx and Hispanic communities. The session discussed the facts and myths of infertility, and explained how to find the support, information, and care that people at Moderna need to build their family.   Additionally, UNIDOS hosted a virtual lunch & learn with the Mabel Center for Immigrant Justice, a local Boston organization that takes on asylum cases, filling a services gap by helping migrants whose strength and resiliency have allowed them to survive unimaginable violence in pursuit of safety in the United States. The group provides legal services and assistance with paperwork, appointments, and travel to and from court at no cost. 

“I love my job. I love coming into work every day. I love the diversity of my group. We all come from different places. And that just complements each other. More diversity means a greater diversity of ideas. And all these different ways of thinking got Moderna to where we are in the science.” 

In addition to advancing an important mission to deliver on the promise of mRNA science for patients, Moderna is committed to belonging, inclusion and diversity and creating an environment where everyone can do their best work. 

We are proud to be consistently recognized as a top employer and we’re always looking for passionate, talented and dedicated people like Clarissa. Want to join the team?  Check out all our open positions and learn more about what makes Moderna such a welcoming workplace.