As another year comes to a close we at Latinas in Business look back on the inspiring stories of our 2021 Leaders. Each month of the year we have featured one woman leader from our Latinas in Business community who is inspiring, pushing boundaries, and setting leadership examples.
Each one of these women has shared with us their wisdom and their journeys, showing us that success does not happen overnight; it’s often a bumpy road, but with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.
See below to learn a little bit about each of our 2021 Leaders and check out their individual feature articles to read their whole stories and learn from their journeys as entrepreneurs, business owners, and career driven women.
Leader of January: Claudia Vazquez
In January, Claudia Vazquez shared her career journey with us. As a bilingual and bicultural Latina Leader with over 20 years experience in the insurance and benefits industry, her work is dedicated to diversity and inclusion, education, and uplifting the voices of women and Hispanics in the marketplace. Currently she serves as a Director of Product Management within Prudential’s Group Insurance Customer Solutions Unit where she leads the Business Resolution Team. In addition to her work at Prudential, she also serves as a Board Trustee of BRICK – Achieve Community Charter School, which services elementary children.
Leader of February: Maria Elena Noel-Vaeza
In February, we learned from Maria Elena Noel-Vaeza about how the UN is working to help women around the world. Maria-Noel is the Regional Director of UN Women for the Americas and the Caribbean. A Uruguayan native, she holds a doctorate in Law and Social Sciences from the University of the Republic of Uruguay and a master’s degree in public policy from John Hopkins University in Washington DC. Prior to this role, Maria-Noel served as Director of the Program Division at UN Women headquarters in New York. She has also served as Political Counselor at the Uruguayan Embassy in Washington DC and delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.
Leader of March: Damaris Diaz
The charismatic Damaris Diaz shared pandemic stories with us this past March. As the host of Univision’s Despierta America, she had the opportunity to speak to individuals about their pandemic experience and shared with us her own insights and lessons learned. In addition to television host, Damaris is an accomplished multicultural and bi-lingual Marketing Media Professional, broadcast correspondent, and TV personality. Damaris has received two Emmy nominations and many special recognitions from diverse organizations. Throughout her career, Damaris has interviewed a long list of Hollywood stars such as Mick Jagger, Sandra Bullock, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, and Rita Moreno as well as world-renowned singers/performers like Marc Anthony and Celia Cruz among others.
Leader of April: Dr. Harbeen Arora
In April, thought leader, businesswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian, author, spiritual seeker and speaker, Dr. Harbeen Arora showed us how she manifests multifaceted leadership with strength & simplicity. Founder and Global Chairperson of the ALL Ladies League (ALL) and Women Economic Forum (WEF), she is a global leader for women. A powerful global network of 200,000 women worldwide and growing toward ‘Mission Million’, ALL and WEF are among the largest communities of women entrepreneurs and leaders worldwide offering platforms and ecosystems for personal and professional growth.
Leader of May: Ivana Sedia
In May, we learned from Ivana Sedia about how her company, Unida Translation, is helping people connect and transcend borders. Unida Translation delivers both spoken and written word translation services in over 125 languages for projects in the certified, legal, government, medical, and technical fields. Ivana’s business grew out of a hobby and passion for translation and language learning. With experience with writing in Spanish and English and working for the government by assisting non-English speaking immigrants, an MBA in management, and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, International Relations and Diplomacy with a minor in Italian, Ivana taught Spanish and Italian lessons. She then decided to use her language skills to help transcend borders for businesses and organizations in need of translation services.
Leader of June: Alice Rodriguez
With over 30 years of extensive banking experience at JP Morgan Chase and positions in business banking, consumer banking, Alice Rodriguez serves a leading role in community engagement initiatives and localization strategies. Alice shared her story of overcoming obstacles to succeed during the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit as Keynote Speaker. During her Keynote speech, Alice shared how her mother was a big influence and inspiration growing up. She reminded us that, “Behind every great woman there is another great woman,” and the importance of having women mentors and leaders to look up to. See her full speaker highlights and advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in her full feature article.
Leader of July: Natalie Diaz
In July, Pulitzer Award-winning poet, Natalie Diaz, shared her experiences as a Latina and Native American woman in her book Postcolonial Love Poem. Born in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, Natalie now lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she is a professor at Arizona State University. She is also actively involved in the preservation of the Mojave language, working with the few remaining elder speakers of the language in an effort to revitalize the language and prevent its erasure. Natalie described her book as “a constellation, able to pool a lot of different communities together….We’re all fighting for this Earth, for one another against injustice.”
Leader of August: Jasmine Camacho-Quinn
During the Olympics this past summer, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn broke records winning Gold in the women’s 100m Hurdles final. The 24-year-old athlete finished in 12.37 seconds, winning by .15 seconds.
Jasmine’s win marked Puerto Rico’s second-ever gold medal and she became the first Puerto Rican of Afro-Latina descent in history to win gold while representing Puerto Rico.
She is a role model and inspiration to all young Puerto Rican girls, especially young Latina athletes aspiring to follow in Jasmine’s footsteps. Her win showed Latinas athletes everywhere that they too can be Olympic Gold Medalists too.
Leader of September: Rosita Hurtado
Our 2021 Leader of September, showed us how a childhood passion can become a successful design export. Rosita Hurtado is a fashion designer and entrepreneur who’s known for creating the fashion brand Rosita Hurtado and Rosita Hurtado Bridal. She is also the founder of Rosita Hurtado Menswear, Ixoye, Rosita Hurtado Shoes, and the perfume La Rose by Rosita Hurtado.
An accomplished designer with a career spanning 37 years, her work has been featured across the globe at events such as New York Fashion Week, Miami Fashion Week, and Los Angeles Fashion Week, and more and worn by stars such as Eva Longoria, Lucia Mendez, Lupita Ferrer, Gloria Trevi, and Ximena Duque.
Leader of October: Marcela Berland
In October, Marcela Berland shared her career journey and how a quest for longer maternity leave in the 90s lead her to a successful career working remotely from home before it was popular. Marcela is the President and CEO of Latin Insights, a strategic communications firm that focuses on the Latino market and Latin America. LI bases its strategies on research and digital and AI tools and develops digital and marketing strategies to help clients achieve their goals.
After over 20 years, Marcela’s venture has become a success. She now serves a variety of clients that include political candidates and heads of state, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. As a successful Latina, she is also often the only woman in the room when working with Presidents and political candidates in Latin America.
Leader of November: Lucy Pinto
Our 2021 Leader of November showed us how technology at Google is working to close the digital divide for minority small business owners and underserved communities. Lucy Pinto is the Manager of the Grow with Google Digital Coaches Program which works to level the field for communities that face digital divides and barriers to resources needed to grow online. The program delivers free digital skills training for U.S. Black & Latino small businesses and has trained over 80,000 businesses on digital tools to help them succeed.
Throughout Lucy’s 9 years with Google and prior, she has strived to create inclusive outcomes for communities that lack access to opportunities. This passion has guided her journey personally and professionally, stemming from her identity as a Peruvian immigrant who came to the U.S. at eight years old and became a first-gen college graduate in her family.
Leader of December: Evelyn Padin
Finally, Evelyn Padin’s story showed us the power of diversity in the legal world. Evelyn Padin is a Seton Hall Law Alumnus, Class of ’92, a former social worker, and a trustee of the Hispanic Bar Association. Additionally, she is a successful entrepreneur who runs her own family law and civil litigation practice in Jersey City. In November of this year, she was nominated by President Biden to serve as a U.S. District Court Judge in New Jersey. This pick continues Biden’s pledge to appoint more diverse individuals to high-level positions.
Continuing a line of historic strides forward for women of color in government positions, Padin is the second Latina to be nominated to this esteemed bench since the Honorable Esther Salas, U.S.D.J., former HBA-NJ President, was nominated over a decade ago.