Entrepreneurs, business owners, and industry leaders gathered last night to THRIVE! for the third annual Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit, a unique conference that year after year gathers successful Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs to Learn. Connect. Succeed!   

This year, the summit focused on key areas of growth to connect and empower women business owners with tools and insights to propel them forward in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic so they can grow their businesses to the next level. 

This amazing event featured stellar guest speakers, inspiring panels with industry leaders, and motivating deep-dive workshops and group discussions that connected and inspired Latina and other minority women entrepreneurs, empowering them to take the next step in achieving their business goals and turn their dreams into actionable business plans. 

The virtual portion of the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit opened with introductions and welcoming remarks from Latinas in Business Inc. CEO and President, Susana G Baumann, and Berkeley College President, Michael J. Smith. 

Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit
Susana G Baumann opening the 2021 WEES

“Latinas in Business has grown exponentially in 2020-2021, and achieved many of the goals we had for this fiscal year including extending our national footprint and completing our Executive Board with 6 unstoppable Latinas! However, for small businesses and especially Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs, this has been a difficult year of survival. ” Baumann said.

“In a glooming and already unequal pre-pandemic environment, from solopreneurs under the risk of losing their homes to small enterprises letting go of all their hired labor, it is estimated that around two-thirds of Latino businesses were at risk of closing their doors for good or significantly reduce their operations,” she continued.

“We have designed this Summit with these female entrepreneurs in mind: young start-ups, mothers running their businesses from home while caregiving and home-schooling, those struggling to expand and grow their business with funding that is not always available for them; and finally, sharing the business innovation knowledge and information they need to make the jump to this new environment where virtual is here to stay!” she stated.

And concluded, “We are inviting you to participate in this unique opportunity, to hear from these inspiring speakers, learn from experts in their topics, and share your experiences, your questions, and your concerns. We want to learn from you as much as you can learn from us.”

The State of Latino Entrepreneurship 

We then heard from Claudia L. Dulac, Senior Vice President, New Jersey VP Local Market Executive, Bank of America, and Marlene Orozco, LBAN Researcher at Stanford University, who shared key insights from the 2020 State of Latino Entrepreneurship report.  


Claudia L Dulac, Bank of America, and Marlene Orozco, Stanford Researcher at Fireside Chat 2020 State of Latino Entrepreneurship.

Our Opening Keynote Speaker and presenting sponsor, Lucy Pinto, Program Manager of Grow with Google, noticing that after a year shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, the necessity for digital tools and resources for businesses has never been greater and in fact, since the pandemic began, 72% of Latino businesses are now using digital tools to reach customers online and keep their businesses open. 

This is why the work Lucy Pinto and the Grow with Google team do is so important. Grow with Google works to level the playing field for communities who face digital divides and barriers to digital resources by delivering free digital skills training for U.S. Black & Latino small businesses.

We were moved and empowered by their inspiring stories! 

Three inspiring women shared their stories of success in the face of adversity during our Women’s Panel: “THRIVE! Women Turning Adversity into Success.” Against all odds, these women found the way through to embrace their inner power and THRIVE! 

Marvina Robinson, founder and CEO of Stuyvesant Champagne, shared her story of launching her champagne company in her hometown of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, NY and the challenges she faced as one of the few African American women owning a Champagne brand. She inspired us all when she shared her thoughts on dealing with “competition” in her field, emphasizing how she does not focus on competing at all! Instead, Marvina focuses on how she can improve her own business, bring the best experience to her customers, and ways to collaborate with others in her industry. 

Women’s Panel at 2021 WEES

We then heard from Jessie Gabriel, CEO and Founder of All Places, the go-to business and legal strategy firm for women asset managers and entrepreneurs. Jessie shared her struggles in the corporate world and how she felt very underappreciated at previous firms. Her ideas were not heard, her value undermined, and salary demands dismissed. These experiences began building a seed in her mind of a dream firm. Then, after a push from fellow women colleagues one night at dinner, Jessie was decided to start her own firm, All Places–the name a reference to the famous quote by the late Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” Jessie’s story is an inspiration to all women who have big dreams and are ready to take charge of their careers that anything is possible when you take charge and turn your dreams into action plans.

Finally, Maria Piastre, President and CEO of Metallix Refining shared her story of rising up through the ranks in the male-dominated industry of metal refining. As President, Maria has brought to the position a new generation of values that transcends gender and instead is based in learning and reward based on individual merit. One of her greatest achievements as President is the value and focus placed on women employees, granting them fully compensated maternity leave and opportunities to grow in their careers. Her story is an inspiration to Latinas everywhere that there are no limits to what we can achieve.

You might be interested:  Final Lineup of Stellar Speakers to support THRIVE! 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit

Inspiration was all around during our deep-dive workshops 

Our deep-dive workshops inspired and empowered participants with the tools to THRIVE! From tackling areas of Personal Power, Financial Wellness, and Business Innovation, we learned how to turn dreams into action plans for success! 

We learned from Sandra Garcia how to optimize our business’ online presence and reach on Google. The “Taking Care of Your Inner Self: The Road to Resilience” Personal Power session taught us how to harness our potential by learning to manage stress, personal care, and relationships. And in the world of Financial Wellness, we learned what Series A can do for our businesses, and how to go about securing this crucial funding for the next stage of growth. 

Later, in our second session of Workshops, Dr. Ginny Baro taught us how to build on our strengths, prioritize our goals, and turn those dreams into our living reality with a motivational presentation and empowering post-workshop discussion. 

Get Dr. Ginny Baro’s PERSONAL POWER Toolkit

In the area of Business Innovation, Apple White and Dorothy Kahlau shared how integrating sustainable practices into a company’s operations can not only motivate employee engagement and encourage technological solutions, it can actually save their company money. 

And finally, for those interested in growing their business to a million-dollar company, Orlando Callegari and Peggy Paulson of Valley Bank shared key funding options and strategies to help your business grow to that next level! 

2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit, a beautiful and moving award’s ceremony 

Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit
The “Unstoppable” Latinas in Business Executive Board with Susana G Baumann, President and CEO

Last but certainly not least, we ended the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit with the Latina Leaders Award Ceremony, broadcasted live from New York City. It was a beautiful and touching moment where we saw 12 influential Latina Leaders from the past year honored for their success as entrepreneurs and community leaders. 

The stunning Daneida Polanco of Univision presented the awards alongside Latinas in Business’s CEO and President, Susana G Baumann in a heartwarming ceremony that gathered and celebrated not only our Latina Leaders but Latina entrepreneurs everywhere. 

2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit
Maria Piastre, President, Metallix Refining, receives her Latina Leader Award.

It was a touching moment, seeing our guests and speakers take the podium, many meeting in person only for the first time after a year of virtual communication. Hugs were all around for our Awardees and speakers. 

We were especially moved by the tribute and memorial to the life of Jessica Asencio delivered by her sister, Shirley, who accepted the Latina Leader Award on the late Jessica’s behalf. Jessica’s life and memory will be remembered always by the Latinx community. 

The 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit was certainly a night to remember! We look forward to our next event where we will continue to Learn. Connect. Succeed! 


  • Victoria Arena

    Victoria Arena is a writer and student, passionate about writing, literature, and women's studies. She is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. She holds an Associates in Fine Arts for Creative Writing, and a Bachelor's in English Literature from Montclair State University.

By Victoria Arena

Victoria Arena is a writer and student, passionate about writing, literature, and women's studies. She is bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. She holds an Associates in Fine Arts for Creative Writing, and a Bachelor's in English Literature from Montclair State University.

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