Portrait Project


Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Debbie Rosenbaum

One of my earliest memories of my grandfather and great-grandfather is of their business banter — kvetching about los negocios — discussed in some hybrid of Spanish, English, and Yiddish. As a child, my family showed me that communication need not be obstructed by language barriers; for them, conversation flowed between, and in spite of, different dialects.

Born in Miami, I grew up in a bilingual city and a multi-language household. When my grandparents fled an anti-Semitic Europe before World War II, they settled in a small community in Bogot√°, Colombia where my father was born and raised. Subsequently, my family stressed the importance of cultural awareness, social tolerance, and mastery of another language.

But early on, I discovered that effective communication does not necessarily require verbal dialogue. In fact, I did not speak for the first time until I was two-and-a-half years old. (My parents like to joke that I have not stopped since then.) Couple my Hispanic culture with my Jewish background, and one better understands that for me, communication is about more than just words. It is interactive and dynamic, and usually combined with dramatic hand gestures and expressive body language.

Graduating from Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, I am now building a career in communication. Leveraging the legal landscape of trademark and copyright, I aspire be at the intersection of law, business and language — and at the forefront in the new media arena. Although tomorrow's business banter will be transmitted across various media platforms, the basics I learned from my family still hold true no matter what language we are speaking.

— Debbie Rosenbaum