“Latinas & Success: What It Takes to Make It in America” will explore if the American Dream is still possible for Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs, with national speakers and influencers sharing the obstacles and barriers they overcame to get to the top.

The virtual event will be held on Friday, March 25 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST – 9:00 am to 11:00 am PST on Zoom and live-streamed on Facebook. For free registration to this event visit https://latinas-success.eventbrite.com. The event is open to all entrepreneurs regardless of gender, race or ethnicity. 

PANEL 1. Latinas & Success: How to Overcome Being a Latina, a Woman and [an Immigrant] to Achieve Success

These female founders had to struggle with all odds to become who they are today. Learn from their experience of discrimination, language barriers or lack of networks how they prevailed to succeed.

PANEL SPEAKER: Sandy Tejada, Actor

Sandy Tejada is one of the brightest up and coming young stars. While attracting a lot of attention from directors who often compare her to J. Lo, Sandy is still very much her own flavor. Proud of her Dominican heritage, Sandy was born in Manhattan, New York and raised by a single mother.

Her mother was a huge influence in her life, bestowing upon her the wisdom to achieve the American dream, and to seize control of her own destiny. A performer since the age of six, Sandy excelled in everything she set her mind to. Modeling, dancing, swimming, basketball, and softball were some of the ways that Sandy got to show off her natural talents. 

As a Latina in Hollywood today, Sandy says, “My greatest wish is to pave the way for greater representation of Latinxs in film and television.”

PANEL SPEAKER: Carmen Mercedes Baez (Chef Yala)

Chef Yala, is a private and executive chef, born in San Cristóbal, a small city in the south of the Dominican Republic, the daughter of Dominican parents and raised in New York City. Growing up she  always had a curious and restless mind, which eventually motivated her to start her own business. 

With more than nine years in the culinary field, she launched “El Patio de Yala” out of a passion, and years later, founded her restaurant “La Cocina de Yala” located in Bronx, NY. She is also the author of the book “Becoming Chef Yala: From A Backyard To A Kitchen.” 

PANEL MODERATOR: Moderator: Dr. Ginny Baro, Thought Leader and Founder of Executive Bound

Dr. Ginny Baro develops senior leaders to create business growth, high-performing teams, and personal well-being. She spent over 20 years in various leadership roles in financial services and technology, and today Ginny is an international transformational speaker, leadership coach, career strategist, and #1 bestselling author. 

Named one of the Top 100 Global Thought Leaders, Ginny created the Fearless Leadership Mastermind™ training to help leaders gain critical leadership skills to lead, engage, and influence their teams to surpass business goals and thrive together with purpose. She has successfully delivered leadership training and coaching programs for organizations, individuals, and Fortune 500 partners, impacting global audiences. To learn more, please visit www.executivebound.com.

Panel 2. Latinas in Male-Dominated Industries: Who’s the Boss?

Male-dominated industries and occupations are particularly vulnerable to reinforcing harmful stereotypes and creating unfavorable environments that make it even more difficult for women to excel. These successful Latinas can tell how to overcome those stereotypes and who is really the boss in their own businesses. 

PANEL SPEAKER: Paola Santana, Founder and CEO of Social Glass

Paola Santana is a lawyer, public procurement expert and tech entrepreneur, creating the next breakthrough in government systems. She’s the founder and CEO of Social Glass, a software ecosystem using Artificial Intelligence to power high-performing governments.

She co-established the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court, and worked at the National Elections Court coordinating the Elections Litigation Chamber. She has also collaborated with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the OECD, developing striking public infrastructure projects and strategic partnerships integrating exponential technologies.

She’s best known for her ability to create things from scratch at the intersection of the public, private and regulatory domains, and for her track record introducing cutting-edge technologies into highly-regulated markets. Her most recent experience includes co-drafting the public-private partnership enabling the first multi-state Hyperloop system in the United States.

PANEL SPEAKER: Brittney Castro, Brand ambassador, Founder of Financially Wise Inc.

Brittney is a leading speaker, host, and brand ambassador and has worked alongside top brands like Chase, Mint, ETrade, CNBC, Gemini, AirBnB, Zoom, Altruist, Refinery29, and more to promote financial literacy via media interviews, video content, celebrity, and expert interviews, TV appearances and more.

At the age of 22, Brittney began her career as a financial advisor and at 28 launched her own Registered Investment Advisory, Financially Wise Inc. Over those 15 years, she worked with thousands of clients on their financial journeys. In 2020, she sold her private practice to focus all her time on speaking, content creation, and brand partnerships.

In 2021, Brittney co-hosted and produced “Chantel’s Money Moves” a show backed by Facebook to teach Gen Z’s personal finance and investing.

PANEL MODERATOR: Rosario B Casas, Co-founder, VR Americas and Brooklyn2Bogota Incubator

Award-winning Colombian-born entrepreneur with more than 7 years of practical experience in data and technology platforms and more than 20 years in executive roles. Spatial Computing expert and developer. She is obsessed with having more women prepared to solve problems with technology.

Co-founder of XR Americas, a software company that uses spatial computing systems (AR + VR + AI) focused on improving workforce learning. Co-founder of BCPartners Tech, a consulting firm specializing in digital adoption and transformation. Co-creator of the 4 Dimensional Quotient guide. Co-founder member of Dreamers & Doers. Co-Founder at #Brooklyn2Bogota, digital transformation incubator for Hispanic small business owners.

Rosario is a member of the Big Data Advisory Board of Rutgers University, SXSW Pitch, XR In Learning, The World Innovation Network – TWIN Tech, and a member of the Board of Directors of Kaleidoscope Premium VR Grant. 

PANEL 3. Funding Strategies to Achieve your Dream Business – Grants, Angel Investors and Venture Capital 

These successful female founders are now leaning in and giving back! How they found purpose in helping fund other women’s businesses in a formerly male-dominated field. 

PANEL SPEAKER: Monika Mantilla, Co-founder of Altura Capital and Small Business Community Capital 

Monika co-founded Altura Capital in 2005 to allow institutional investors and strategic partners to invest in high-performing small and diverse businesses that supply value-added goods and services to corporate America. In her 30-plus year career, Monika has focused on offering significant returns to investors while delivering valuable economic impact to communities. 

In 2012, Monika co-founded Small Business Community Capital, one of the few Latina-led SBIC funds in the United States. SBCC and Altura are playing a pivotal role in developing an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors, advisors and corporations working together to harness opportunities.

Monika sits on the board of directors for various companies and organizations including Cidrines, Coastal Painting, 9th Wonder, the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI), the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) She is a fellow member of the Aspen Latinos in Society program and the author of a chapter in the book “Advancing U.S. Latino Entrepreneurship.”

PANEL SPEAKER: Betty Francisco, CEO, Boston Impact Initiative

Betty Francisco is a seasoned business executive, board director, angel investor, and community leader. She is known as a powerful convener and changemaker, unapologetic about creating visibility for Latinx and people of color.

Betty is currently the CEO of Boston Impact Initiative, a social impact investment fund that invests integrated capital in regenerative local enterprises in Eastern Massachusetts that are owned and controlled by entrepreneurs of color or are serving communities of color. She is the co-founder of Amplify Latinx, a social venture that is building Latinx economic and political power by significantly increasing Latino civic engagement, economic opportunity and leadership representation in Massachusetts. Betty is also co-founder of the Investors of Color Network, a consortium of Black and Latinx accredited investors working to close the racial funding gap in startup capital.

She serves on the Boards of Directors of The Boston Foundation, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Beth Israel Lahey Health, and Roxbury Community College. She is also a founding member of the Coalition for an Equitable Economy which is building an equitable small business ecosystem for entrepreneurs of color in Massachusetts.

PANEL SPEAKER: Susana Marino, founder and President, Northern Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 

Susana Marino is the founder and current President of the Northern Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – NOVAHCC. Susana is a first generation Latina and immigrant from Venezuela, South America. 

Susana decided to launch the Northern Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2018 to improve the level of access to diversity supplier opportunities for Latinos, and other multi-ethnic businesses in Northern Virginia.  NOVAHCC is an international business and trade association representing people of all entrepreneurial backgrounds and industries.

The goal of the chamber is to focus on delivering bottom-line results with B2B/B2G matchmaking, creating opportunities for economic growth for small business through contracting opportunities with the private and public sector, access to capital, revenue accelerator training and career opportunities.   

Susana also serves in the Board of Directors for Virginia Career Works. As part of the board, Susana and a team oversees how the organization partners effectively with programs to assist job seekers in the Northern Virginia region.   

PANEL MODERATOR: Maria del Pilar Avila, founder and CEO, InterDUCTUS/Renovad

Maria del Pilar Avila, founder of interDUCTUS, is an organizational change management consulting practice with clients including impact & ESG focused investment funds, foundations and nonprofits. Through our Renovad executive development and wellness programs, she aims to elevate the impact of global leaders.

She began her career in hospitality with Hilton & Puerto Rico Convention Bureau and eventually was transferred from San Juan to Washington DC, where she was immersed in the burgeoning Hispanic market as a VP of Marketing & Events of U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Previously as CEO of New America Alliance, she led implementation of the NAA mission focused on building on American Latino success while bringing diverse leaders and communities together to forge a stronger America. Under her leadership, NAA opened access to billions of dollars for diverse asset managers, enabling members to expand aggregate assets under management (AUM) to almost $80 Billion. Pilar led public advocacy focused on The White House, US Congress, Federal & State agencies which resulted in the first-ever US House Financial Services Comm hearing on diversity in finance; advancing support for diversity in corporate boards and the initial version of the DREAM Act; and launching state hearings & legislation aiming to diversify management of public pension assets.

You might be interested: Women’s History Month celebration gathers nationally recognized speakers and influencers to discuss Latinas & Success at the 4th National Conversation with Latina Leaders 


  • 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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