It was 2007 and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists annual convention had just begun. Jesse Sanchez was in the ballroom when reporter Yvonne Wingett approached him. She extended her hand and smiled.
Sanchez said what he noticed immediately was her confidence.
Sixteen years later, the pair have returned to NAHJ with 12 years of marriage and three children between them.
Sanchez, now the director of talent development and diversity outreach for Major League Baseball, and Wingett-Sanchez, a democracy reporter for The Washington Post, credit NAHJ for bringing them together.
“I attended her panels, she attended my panels and spent a week getting to know each other and that was the beginning of something very special,” said Sanchez.
Back then, Sanchez was working for the MLB but in Fort Worth, Texas, and Wingett-Sanchez was a local reporter for the Arizona Republic.
She “was very friendly, very intelligent, pretty,” Sanchez said. “I still remember what she was wearing when I first met her.”
Sanchez and Wingett-Sanchez began dating long distance, seeing each other on visits between Texas and Arizona. Two years later, Sanchez moved to Arizona. A couple years after that, he said, they got married.
“I don’t think I could have predicted that from that night,” he said of their first encounter. “But I knew it was special and I knew she was special.”
Being in the same industry has its challenges, but it also allows them to have an understanding of one another and be forgiving of the tumultuous schedules that come with the job.
“There’s an understanding there. It’s one of the advantages of being married or dating someone in the industry, the understanding of the duties and responsibilities,” said Sanchez. “Sometimes you have to do an interview in the middle of dinner so, you step away. You can’t always watch a movie at a movie theater because something is going on and sometimes you’re doing an interview on the back of a receipt inside of Target.”
The couple arrived in Miami this week with their three children — the first time they brought the whole family to an NAHJ conference.
When he told his oldest son about the origins of their love story, he said, the teenager was shocked. He couldn’t believe his parents had met at a journalism conference, Sanchez said.
But, as many NAHJ members know, it happens.
“Whether you’re looking for love,” Sanchez said, “or a job or surviving day to day, when your comfortable in your own skin — it goes a long way.”
Itzel Giron is a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in creative writing. She isaspiring to become a broadcast journalist. Reach her at iagiron [at] miners [dot] utep [dot] edu or onTwitter @itzel_anahi_16.