Fireside chat with Jose Forteza: Diversity and LGBTQ+ inclusion in media

Condé Nast Senior Editor for Mexico and Latin America for Vogue, GQ and AD, Jose Forteza, sat one-on-one with Fashion Designers of Latin America’s founder, Albania Rosario, during fireside chat at the third annual Latinas in Business Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit, where they discussed the important topic of diversity and inclusion in mainstream media. Touching on body positivity, ethnic and racial inclusion, and LGBTQ+ representation and visibility, their fireside chat delved into how the media can support Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs and be more inclusive of their stories. 

Jose Forteza, diversity and inclusion in media

Condé Nast Senior Editor for Mexico and Latin America for Vogue, GQ and AD, Jose Forteza speaks on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the media.

Born in Havana of Spanish and Cuban descent, José Forteza has lived in Europe, Dominican Republic and the United States. Currently, Forteza is the Senior Editor of Condé Nast (Vogue, GQ and AD) for Mexico and Latin America, and has been in Condé Nast Publications for more than 20 years.

The fascinating creator has explored every aspect of the arts including dance, music and publishing. He is a TV writer, producer and radio host. He has been nominated for an Emmy Award and is a Producer Grammy Award winner.

An expert in the media world, Forteza shared insights on how mainstream media can support Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs, share their stories, and be more inclusive of the diverse multitude of women in our communities. 

Fireside Chat with Jose Forteza on how mainstream media can support women entrepreneurs 

The 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit, held virtually on June 10th, connected women entrepreneurs, business owners, and industry leaders in a powerful, educational experience aimed to give women entrepreneurs the tools they need to grow their businesses and THRIVE! post-pandemic. 

From panels and deep-dive workshops, to our high-powered fireside chat here with Jose Forteza, leaders and experts shared their knowledge and experience to further empower and inspire our community of women entrepreneurs. 

Forteza’s conversation with FDLA’s Albania Rosario touched on the impact of mainstream media and how the media can help to support women entrepreneurs and women-owned brands and businesses to be more inclusive of diversity within the community. 

Albania opened the conversation by asking Jose to speak on the topic of plus size models and the body positivity movement that we have been seeing over the past several years in recent media. 

Albania: The body acceptance among consumers has led several media outlets to feature models with diverse body shapes and sizes. How has the audience reacted to these non-traditional models and how society views the plus size battle in body and health? 

Jose: Well this is something that started, I would say like ten years ago, and now has settled down with very strong, strong, strong acceptance levels from the audience and from the media outlets at the same time….First of all, all the media started showing different size models and ethnic models. At the beginning some outlets were hesitant to do it, but then step by step it’s been increasingly positive. Right now, I would say that, especially for in the case of Vogue Latin America, where I work, it’s nothing out of the usual thing if we include different different size models and different ethnic models, we are just including beautiful women, talented women, and that’s all that matters. 

Missed the conversation? View the full chat below and Subscribe to Latinas In Business on YouTube to catch up on our other 2021 WEES highlights and future videos!   

Inclusivity for LGBTQ+ Latinx in the media 

Jose Forteza and Albania continued their conversation of diversity and inclusion in media by touching on the inclusion of LGBTQ+ Latinx narratives and why this representation is important in the media. 

As many know, June is Pride Month, a time when the LGBTQ+ community comes together in celebration. Often marked by parades, festivals, and concerts across the globe, Pride is about community and visibility, both a celebration but also a movement. The historical roots of Pride is often forgotten beneath the parades and parties, but Pride Month is also a month of remembrance and tribute for those who participated in the Stonewall Riots. 


Why diversity and inclusion in media matters. (Photo by Ian Taylor on Unsplash)

The Stonewall Riots began on n New York on June 28, 1969, when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, which resulted in bar patrons, staff, and neighborhood residents rioting onto Christopher Street outside. Among the many leaders of the riots was a black, trans, bisexual woman, Marsha P. Johnson, leading the movement to continue over six days with protests. The message of these protests was a demand for the establishment of places where LGBT+ people could go and be open about their sexual orientation without fear of arrest.

Following the Stonewall Riots came the first Pride Parade, organized by Brenda Howard as the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade a year after the Stonewall Riots. This eventually morphed into what we now know as the New York City Pride March and was the catalyst for the formation of similar parades and marches across the world.

Pride month reminds us of the struggles LGBTQ+ people have endured just to be able to be themselves in the open without shame or fear. In 1969, the Stonewall Riots fought for the right to gather, to have a community, to feel safe and seen. Similarly, the push for inclusion and representation of LGBTQ+ identities in the mainstream media is a continuation of this fight to be seen and accepted. 

Albania and Jose continued their conversation by discussing how the mainstream media has evolved over recent years to be more accepting and inclusive of all identities and sexualities. 

Albania: How is the media reflecting the LGBTQ+ visibility issue and how inclusive are the outlets being with trans and lesbian women when approaching the subject of empowering women? 

Jose: Well, honestly that has been a slower process. And I wouldn’t be honest if I said that all the media outlets are embracing the diversity in terms of sexual preferences and lifestyle.  Fortunately, most of them, many them–again in our case Conde Nast, Vogue, GQ–we have reached the point where, again, what matters is what a person is able to give society and what a person has to inspire society. It doesn’t matter if they are a member of the LGBTIAQ+ community or not, for us everything is mainstream. For us what should be important is what these people are showing society and what these people are giving to society….Now it’s more important than ever for the media outlets to reflect them all…and show what they can give and set as an example to succeed in society. 

You might be interested: Latina community leader in the Bronx inspiring service across gender and cultures

Jose goes on to discuss how in the past, media outlets were often focused on being one thing, such as a fashion magazine or lifestyle magazine, but now these outlets are simply “platforms” to show society all that is possible and positive for society. Platforms now are celebrating the differences and bringing diverse stories to greater audiences, from body positivity and racial and ethic inclusion to LGBTQ+ visibility. Diversity and inclusion in these platforms helps show others that their stories are important and valuable and that success can be possible for them too.

Alice Rodriguez: Overcoming obstacles and the power to succeed in business and life

The 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit (WEES) was a day full of inspiration and empowerment. With inspiring guest speakers, panels from industry leaders, and interactive deep-dive workshops, the event centered on giving entrepreneurs the tools to THRIVE! post-pandemic. One of the main moments at 2021 WEES was hearing from Keynote Speaker, Alice Rodriguez, Chairwoman of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Alice Rodriguez

Keynote Speaker, Alice Rodriguez, Chairwoman of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“She is a person who is raising the bar for Latinas in Business and I’m absolutely grateful for her presence here,” said Susana G Baumann, President and founder of Latinas in Business when she introduced Alice.

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. 

“Congratulations for this wonderful summit, and all the wonderful content you are providing to Latina entrepreneurs is so important,” says Alice Rodriguez while opening her speech. 

Below, Alice shares three key aspects from her presentation to empower YOU to succeed. 

“Lessons learned from my Sheroe”

“Behind every great woman there is another great woman,” Alice begins.

Alice’s great “sheroe” was her mother, Alicia Nuñez Ramírez who had the most impact on her life. 

“This was a woman who came to this country when she was 15 years old,” Alice shares. “My grandfather died when she was 12 years old and my mother came to a family of 12 and it was very difficult for my grandmother to raise all of those children by herself. So she sent her children away to live with another family while my mother ended up living with an aunt in Texas.  She met my father who was from the US and they started our family.” 

Growing up, Alice saw how her mother overcame a lot of adversity. “She had this very strong ability to never get flustered, which I learned from her and I believe she was completely ahead of her time.  She was a strong independent Latina that just did not take a no for an answer and I recognize that I stand on her shoulder. She came here with a middle school education and it didn’t stop her from learning. She taught me everything, how important family is, values, faith, how to create your own success and take a risk. She was always figuring out how to get over those barriers.” 

One of the most important lessons she taught Alice was “‘Life is not fair’ so you can’t sit there and see how things don’t go your way. You have to figure out how to get back or what you need to do in order to change the path that you are currently on,” Alice says. 

She continues, “When I think about my mom and Latinas today… Latinos are making such an impact in this country. According to a Neilsen report, every generation of Latinas are making great progress when it comes to education. For Latinas that are 50 or older, 13% of Latinas have a Bachelor’s Degree. If you are between 35 and 49 that number goes up to 18% and if you are between 25 and 35 years old that number is 19%.” 

Alice Rodriguez’s mother did not read or write. She had a seventh-grade education. Then Alice was the first in her  family to graduate from College. Finally, two days ago Alice’s youngest daughter who’s now 29 graduated from her 3-year residence in John Hopkins. 

“I am a real example of those statistics on the great strides that Latinas are making. It’s not just education, it’s also what we see in politics,” says Alice. “There’s no question that Latinas are making a very big impact in entrepreneurship.”

Alice Rodriguez speaking virtually at the 2021 WEES.

You might be interested: Congrats to all our 2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awardees!

Amazing statistics on Latino power

“I want to share with you really important statistics that are not shown in the media. Everybody knows we have 61 million Latinos in this country, a number that is growing very fast and the economic activity that Latinos are providing to this country is significant. If we say ‘Latinos are their own country’ it will be the 8th largest in the world. Larger than Italy, South Korea or Brazil. The labor participation for Latinos has been extremely strong.”

Alice continues, “A large number of baby-boomers are retiring every month. If you were a country that didn’t know where your population is going to come from you would be extremely worried.  The good news is Latino participation is growing and this is where I became super optimistic about the real economic power that Latinos have and how we need an equal system.” 

“As we look at Latino-owned businesses in this country, there are 5 million and growing and Latinas are growing 6 times faster than the overall coverage. Which brings me to what I am doing in the Hispanic US Chamber and JP Morgan Chase as the Head of Community Impact. At the Chamber we see this economic power and we know that is real and we are working very hard in what we call the 3 Cs: 

  1. Capital: We recognize that Latino-owned businesses really need to have this access to capital and also the work that we are doing with the administration, with banks is extremely critical. 
  2. The second C is connections. I don’t have to tell this group how many organizations out there are very focused in really engaging minority suppliers and this is a really great opportunity to have all of you prepared to be able to do business at a larger level and so the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is really providing those introductions so those procurement opportunities are available at the Federal level, al the local level and obviously at the corporate level. 
  3. And the third C is Capacity Building; so we are very blessed to have 250 local chambers that we are working very closely every day and we recognize not every chamber has the same capabilities so our ability to build capacity with them has been critical. It includes more webinars, more content, etc.

“In JP Morgan Chase. I had a very long career and what I’m doing today is one of the most impactful assignments I ever had. We have to be sure that we are bringing the power to our local communities, how we can help with that mentoring, with that coaching, with that advising. We are very excited about the programs we put in place and more importantly we believe that this five-year commitment that we made is really going to be an opportunity to provide more access to many Latinas in businesses in this country. 

I want to leave you with a few takeaways

Alice concluded her presentation with a few key takeaways that every entrepreneur and business owner could use to help them grow and THRIVE! in business and in life. 

“Really take care of your financial health,” is Alice’s first recommendation. “Knowing the details of your business and really understanding your own credit and where you are in income perspective. Spend the time. There are lots of resources to help with that.”

“The second is that you have to love a lot of paperwork, if you don’t like it you just have to get over it,” Alice continues. “Be sure that you have the right CPA, that you have an accountant, that you have a lawyer, that you have a banker and more important that you have a relationship with the banker. This is critical and we discovered during this pandemic how critical it was in order to get the resources that were available.” 

Third, is no surprise to any entrepreneur. “Network, network, network. It’s important to keep up with the people that you meet, understanding what their background is because you never know when you are going to need that person. Even if that person can’t help you, they can always connect you to the right person that perhaps can help you.” 

Finally, more important than anything else is self-care. Without taking care of yourself, everything else will unravel. 

“I think as Latinas, as women, we want to do it all,” says Alice. “But we just are human beings like everybody else and if we don’t slow down and really take care of ourselves, physically, mentally we are not going to do anyone any good and we are certainly not going to do our professional lives any good. Take that time. Some people meditate, some people exercise, some people just don’t do anything. Pick whatever works for you but more important, take care of yourself.” 

2021 latina leaders awards

Congrats to all our 2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awardees!

Last Thursday, June 10th, Latinas in Business co-hosted the third annual Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit and Latina Leaders Awards, alongside Berkeley College for a day of inspiration, empowerment, and networking as entrepreneurs gained the tools to THRIVE! post-pandemic. 

2021 latina leaders awards

2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awards Ceremony honored 12 influential Latina Leaders featured on Latinas in Business this past year.

This year’s unique hybrid event featured virtual panels with industry leaders, inspiring Keynote Speakers, and deep-dive workshops in three key areas: Personal Power, Financial Wellness, and Business Innovation. 

Read the full event recap here

Following the virtual portion of the event was the 2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awards Ceremony and reception, broadcasted live from New York City. The beautiful ceremony 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. 

While some of our Awardees were not able to be at the live ceremony due to distance and travel restriction, it was still a touching moment as we honored each Latina Leader for their amazing achievements. For those that were there at our live reception, hugs were all around as guests and speakers took to the podium, many meeting in person only for the first time after a year of virtual communication. 

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

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. Shirley shared a beautiful poem of Jessica’s and reminded us all of Jessica’s warm, loving spirit. Jessica’s life and memory will be remembered always by the Latinas in Business community. 

We also heard from Awardee Maria Noel Vaeza, Regional Director of UN Women for the Americas and the Caribbean, in a virtual acceptance video that highlighted the effects COVID-19 has had on women around the world. 

Susana G Baumann with Small Business Champion, Wendy Garcia. 

Receiving the Small Business Champion Award was Wendy Garcia, Chief Diversity Officer, NYC Office of the Comptroller Scott Stringer. Wendy has embodied the title of “champion” with her work as Chief Diversity Officer where she is responsible for increasing contracting opportunities for Women- and Minority-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs). Wendy also leads the Comptroller’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth through Diversity and Inclusion – a group comprised of national, local, corporate, and government experts seeking to increase supplier diversity in the public and private sectors.

You might be interested: Latina Leaders share small business post-Covid recovery resources 

Guest Speaker Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn alongside Daneida Polanco of Univision.

We then had the honor to welcome Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn as a guest speaker. As Assemblymember of NY and State Committee Woman/District Leader for New York State’s 42nd Assembly District representing Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood and Ditmas Park in Brooklyn she has worked to develop programs and opportunities for minority and women owned small businesses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she championed bills to jump start the economy and improve equity for minority and women-owned small business owners. Under her leadership, the number of certified MWBE firms in New York State has more than doubled. The state has also set a goal of utilizing MWBEs for 30% of all state contracts, the highest rate in the nation. It was a great honor to hear her speak and we thank Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn for her support in our event and the beautiful certificates she provided to our Awardees. 

Following the 2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awards Ceremony, guests were invited to the live beautiful reception to further connect and celebrate the success of women entrepreneurs. 

It was certainly a night to remember! We look forward to our next event where we will continue to Learn. Connect. Succeed! And THRIVE! 

Latina Leaders Awards,

12 Latina Leaders to be honored at the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit

2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awards – Twelve inspiring and influential Latina Leaders will be honored at the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit in a hybrid awards ceremony streaming Live from New York City, June 10th at 6:00 PM EDT. 

Latina Leaders Awards,

2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders Awards – 12 inspiring Latina Leaders to be honored at the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit.

With THRIVE! as our motto this year, the 2021 Women Entrepreneurs Empowerment Summit (#2021 WEES) will center on key areas of growth to connect and empower women business owners with tools and insights that will propel business owners and entrepreneurs  forward to THRIVE in the “new normal.” 

The event will feature inspiring guest speakers, various panels with industry leaders, and deep-dive workshops, as well as our signature peer-to-peer networking sessions and post-panel discussion forums.

The hybrid event takes place on June 10, 2021 from 1:30pm to 6:30pm in a Virtual Space, followed by the Latina Leaders Awards ceremony from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at Berkeley College’s Mid-Manhattan Campus (by invitation only).

Register now at

2020 – 2021 Latina Leaders’ Awards 

This year, we are honoring 12 Latina Leaders from the past year who have been inspirations to us all as entrepreneurs, business owners, and career driven women. Read on to learn a little bit about these influential leaders and check out their full stories here on Latinas in Business!

Alicia Puig, Latina Leader

Leader of May: Alicia Puig

Alicia Puig is the CEO and co-founder of the digital art gallery PxP Contemporary, Director of Business Operations for Create! Magazine, an arts writer, co-author of the book The Complete Smartist Guide, and a regular guest host of The Create! Podcast. She has worked in the arts industry for over ten years both in the US and abroad. Alicia and co-founder, Ekaterina Popova, created PxP Contemporary as a fully digital art gallery and platform that connects collectors with high-quality, affordable artworks. The idea behind PxP was to create a platform that challenges the traditional art gallery model and make the process of buying art a more accessible, digital-friendly experience for both artists and art-lovers. 

Albania Rosario, Latina Leaders Awards

Leader of June: Albania Rosario 

Albania Rosario is the CEO and founder of Fashion Designers of Latin America (FDLA), entrepreneur, and Latinas in Business Executive Board Member. Through FDLA, Albania has brought Latin American designers to the world stage at New York Fashion Week and around the world. In 2020, Albania inspired innovation when FDLA went virtual for the first time for New York Fashion Week in a dynamic digital show that blended streaming and interactive media for a unique digital experience. The same year, Albania launched the fundraising project, “Las Caras Detrás De La Moda En Latino América,” which shined a spotlight on the stories of artists and designers during the pandemic. 

Leader of July: Veronica Sosa

Veronica Sosa is an award-winning International Speaker, Relational Capital Expert, author and entrepreneur. She is a mother, mentor, coach, and publisher and founder of Business Fit International, Business Fit Magazine, and SHE (Seminar and Society for Hispanic Entrepreneurs). Through her various ventures, Veronica is working to help lead Hispanic women entrepreneurs on their professional journeys toward greatness and success. SHE is the first community of its kind in central Europe that brings together like-minded Hispanic women and offers resources, community, mentorship, and special events that help women build their skills as entrepreneurs and business owners and achieve their dreams. 

Jessica K Asencio

Leader of August: Jessica Asencio 

We celebrate the life of Jessica Asencio, who was a Diversity & Inclusion leader at JPMorgan Chase where she was recognized as a Diversity Champion. Jessica was also the founder of the Latino Networks Coalition (LNC). Born in Ecuador and raised in Brooklyn, NYC, Jessica dedicated her life to supporting Latino-Hispanic causes and uplifting their voices in the workplace. Jessica is remembered by friends, family, and colleagues as an extraordinary and passionate leader who left a lasting impact on everyone she met, and a leader who led by example with optimism, strength, devotion, and focus. She is greatly missed but never forgotten. 

Leader of September: Beth Marmolejos

Beth Marmolejos is a business leader, activist, and advocate who strives toward serving as a champion for change daily in both her personal and professional life. Beth serves on numerous boards that support and serve women and minority communities. Some of her positions include  Madame Chair of the Passaic County Workforce Investment Board, Chair of the Passaic County Advocacy and Abilities Committee and Diversity & Inclusion Chair of the American Association of University Women – Greater Wayne Area, and President of the New Jersey Prospanica Chapter, formerly known as The National Society of Hispanics MBAs. She also currently serves as Latinas in Business’ Programs and Events Coordinator & Vice President. 

Leader of October: Maria Elena Salinas

Maria Elena Salinas is an award-winning journalist, news anchor, and author. Called the “Voice of Hispanic America” by The New York Times, Salinas is one of the most recognized Hispanic female journalists in the United States. In a career that spans nearly four decades, Salinas has interviewed world leaders and covered virtually every major national and international news event of our time. Her work has earned the top awards presented in broadcasting, including multiple Emmys, a Peabody, Gracie Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism. 

Leader of November: Maria Piastre

Maria Piastre is the President of Metallix Refining Inc. Maria came to Metallix Refining in 2006 and soon rose through the ranks in the company and in 2017, after only 12 years working in the male-dominated industry, Maria Piastre  was appointed company President, a surprising yet humbling experience. As President, Maria brings to the position a new generation of values that transcends gender and instead is based in learning and reward based on individual merit. Her story is an inspiration to Latinas everywhere that there are no limits to what we can achieve. 

Leader of December: Mariela Dabbah

Mariela Dabbah is the founder and CEO of the Red Shoe Movement (RSM), a TEDx and International speaker, award-winning, best-selling author and go-to corporate authority for Fortune 500 companies interested in inclusive cultures. Through the Red Shoe Movement, Mariela champions for gender equality and inclusion in the workplace with efforts such as the popular awareness campaign known as Red Shoe Tuesday, which invites everyone to wear their red shoes and ties to work every Tuesday to show support for women’s career advancement and success. 

Leader of January: Claudia Vazquez 

Claudia Vazquez is a bilingual and bicultural Latina Leader with over 20 years experience in the insurance and benefits industry. In her work she is dedicated to diversity and inclusion, education, and uplifting the voices of women and Hispanics in the marketplace. Currently he 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

Maria Elena Noel-Vaeza 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. 

Damaris Diaz, Latina Leaders Awards

Leader of March: Damaris Diaz 

Damaris Diaz is an accomplished multicultural and bi-lingual Marketing Media Professional, broadcast correspondent, and TV personality. She appears on Univision’s national morning show, Despierta America, where she focuses on entertainment, promotional movie features, fitness, and unique human interest stories. 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. 

2021 Small Business Champion Award 

resources for women, Wendy Garcia, Latina Leaders Awards

Wendy Garcia

Wendy Garcia is a skilled leader and champion for small businesses. Currently she serves as the Chief Diversity Officer for the Office of the New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. As Chief Diversity Officer, Wendy Garcia is responsible for increasing contracting opportunities for Women- and Minority-owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and managing the Comptroller Office’s internal supplier diversity initiative, as well as other diversity related projects across all bureaus of the agency. Wendy also leads the Comptroller’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth through Diversity and Inclusion – a group of national, local, corporate, and government experts seeking to increase supplier diversity in the public and private sectors. 

2021 WEES

Don’t miss out on this must-attend event for all entrepreneurs, business owners, and career driven professionals. Register Today!

U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Alice Rodriguez confirmed as 2021 WEES Keynote Speaker

U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Alice Rodriguez to be Keynote Speaker at the 2021 Women Entrepreneur Empowerment Summit, speaking alongside other National Leaders to support Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs. 

Alice Rodriguez, 2021 WEES

U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Alice Rodriguez confirmed as 2021WEES Keynote Speaker.

The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) Chairwoman Alice Rodriguez has been confirmed as Keynote Speaker for the virtual Latinas in Business 2021 Women Entrepreneur Empowerment Summit (2021 WEES), a unique conference that year after year gathers successful Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs to Learn. Connect. Succeed!  

With THRIVE! as our motto this year, the 2021 Women Entrepreneur Summit (#2021 WEES) will center on key areas of growth to connect and empower women business owners with tools and insights that will propel them forward in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event will feature inspiring guest speakers, various panels with industry leaders, and deep-dive workshops, as well as our signature peer-to-peer networking sessions and post-panel discussion forums.

The hybrid event takes place on June 10, 2021 from 1:30pm to 6:30pm in a Virtual Space, followed by the Latina Leaders Awards ceremony from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at Berkeley College’s Mid-Manhattan Campus (by invitation only).

Register now at 

2021 WEES Keynote speaker Alice Rodriguez

2021 WEES Keynote Speaker, Alice Rodriguez, Managing Director, Head of JPMC Community Impact
JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Alice Rodriguez has over 30 years of extensive banking experience with JPMorgan Chase and its predecessors.  She has held executive positions in Business Banking, Consumer Banking and Wealth Management.  Her most current role is Head of JPMC Community Impact Organization. She provides strategic counsel and serves an integral leadership role in community engagement initiatives and localization strategy.  In this capacity, Alice collaborates with Corporate Responsibility to bring together the best of business, philanthropy and policy efforts to drive inclusive economic growth.    Alice leads the Community Impact team that is driving the firm’s a $30B commitment to advancing racial equity. 

A trailblazer in her field, Alice has a natural tenacity, tempered with a steadied approach in both life and business. In a career spanning three decades, she has put people and purpose first, supporting community efforts beyond her corporate responsibilities. A lifelong commitment to minority-driven causes has earned her numerous board appointments and accolades including her current role as Chairwoman of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Don’t miss our inspiring panels with industry leaders, deep-dive workshops, and more!

Other National Leaders that have been confirmed to support the event are Thomas Savino, CEO, National Prospanica; Damian Rivera, CEO, ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals for America); and Ron Gonzales, President and CEO, Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. They will be sharing ideas on “Enlisting Men’s Support to Expand and Grow your Network.” 

Three successful women entrepreneurs will also be sharing their experiences about “Turning Adversity into Success,” a common path they have traveled, although in different industries. They are Maria Piastre, President, Metallix Refining; Marvina Robinson, founder, Stuyvesant Champagne; and Jessie Gabriel, founder, All-Places. 

“The support from leaders of this caliber show us that Latinas and other women entrepreneurs are a striking force in the US economy, and they cannot be left behind. Organizations and leaders around the country need to work together to keep them not only surviving but also thriving during the difficult pandemic economic transition,” said Susana G Baumann, President and CEO, Latinas in Business Inc.

You might be interested2021 WEES Speaker Jessie Gabriel: How she became the go-to legal firm for women

During the Latina Leaders Awards Ceremony, Wendy Garcia, Chief Diversity Officer, NYC Office of the Comptroller Scott Stringer will receive the 2021 Small Business Champion Award. The LIVE segment will be broadcasted to all virtual audiences from Berkeley College in NYC. 

2021 WEES

Register now for this must-attend event! 

2021 WEES: Announcing THRIVE! Men’s panel speakers 

Latinas in Business is pleased to announce three Latino business leaders as guest speakers for our Men’s panel: “THRIVE! Enlisting Men’s Support to Grow and Expand your Network” at the 2021 Women Entrepreneur Empowerment Summit. Our 2021 WEES hybrid-event is set to take place on Thursday, June 10 from 1:30 PM – 6:30 PM EDT. 

Register Now for this must-attend event! 


With THRIVE! as our motto this year, the 2021 Women Entrepreneur Summit  (#2021 WEES) will center on key areas of growth to connect and empower women business owners with tools and insights that will propel them forward in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The event will feature inspiring Keynote speakers, fun networking sessions, and various panels with industry leaders and entrepreneurs.

2021 WEES: “THRIVE! Enlisting Men’s Support to Grow and Expand your Network” panel

Women entrepreneurs don’t often have the gender ally benefits that their counterparts in corporate America may be offered. Join us and our panel of gender equality advocates as they share with us why enlisting men to grow and expand your network can offer a valuable perspective. There is no one approach to break gender barrier challenges, so we’ll explore how different strategies may serve different needs and real-life examples of partnerships in which our panelists have taken part. 

We welcome our three panel speakers: Ron Gonzales, Thomas Savino, and Damian Rivera. 


Ron Gonzales, President and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.

Ron Gonzales is the President and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.  The Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Silicon Valley Latinos. 

Gonzales has over 40 years of technology and public policy experience.  Prior to leading the Hispanic Foundation, Gonzales was the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Presencia, LLC which provides marketing and sales consulting services. He also served as Mayor of San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley and the nation’s 10th largest city from 1999-2006. Mayor Gonzales may be best known for championing the extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to San Jose and Silicon Valley.  So much so that former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown nicknamed him “Mayor BART”. Before his election as Mayor, Gonzales worked as an executive with the Hewlett-Packard Company, in the areas of marketing, human resources, and corporate philanthropy.

He currently serves as Chair of the Silicon Valley Capital Club Board of Governors, and Board Member of KIPP Northern California Public Charter Schools, and SV@Home. 

Thomas Savino, Chief Executive Officer of Prospanica.

Thomas Savino is the Chief Executive Officer of Prospanica, the nationally recognized and premier nonprofit dedicated to developing Hispanic talent and growing the number of Hispanic professionals represented in industries of America to perpetuate economic growth and corporate competitiveness.

Thomas has an impressive history of advocating for business education and is a respected executive in the Hispanic community. As an expert consultant specializing in performance measurement analysis, knowledge management, and organizational structure, he has collaborated with corporations and national boards throughout the country.

During his time as a research analyst and internal consultant for McKinsey & Company, he specialized in the development of global initiatives, later joining TMS Consulting as managing director and also serving on the former National Society of Hispanic MBA’s national board.

Damian Rivera, CEO of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America).

Damian Rivera is the CEO of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America), one of the country’s largest & oldest Latinx membership associations in the country.

Prior to joining ALPFA Damian was a Managing Director with Accenture focused on the energy industry, and led their Hispanic American ERG for 6 years. He is also on the National Board of Per Scholas, a member of the Columbia Business School Young Alumni Board, a member of Angeles Investors, a Latino focused Angel Investor network. Damian has an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Rutgers University. Damian bridges the non-profit and corporate sectors bringing together management experience with authenticity, a drive to impact the lives of every person he meets and a passion for service to others.

Hear their stories of allyship and collaboration and learn from their experiences at the 2021 Women Entrepreneur Empowerment Summit, Thursday, June 10th. Register Now! 

2021 WEES

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Tanya Ramos-Puig

Tanya Ramos-Puig appointed President of the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation 

The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation has appointed Tanya Ramos-Puig as president of the philanthropic arm of the Latin Recording Academy, effective immediately.

Meet the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation’s new President 

Tanya Ramos-Puig

Tanya Ramos-Puig, newly appointed President of the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation. 

As President, Tanya Ramos-Puig brings to the organization over two-decades of leadership experience in the nonprofit and education sectors. A tireless advocate for educational equity, she has devoted her career to improving educational opportunities and life outcomes for youth in the most under-resourced communities. Tanya has a proven track record of growing organizations in key leadership roles. Some past organizations she has led include Pencils of Promise, Education Pioneers and The Children’s Aid Society. 

An alumna of Coro New York Leadership Center and INROADS, Tanya has also served as an Adjunct Professor at LaGuardia Community College. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from NYU and a Master of Science in Urban Policy and Management from The New School. In 2009, she graduated from the Executive-Level Program at Columbia Business School’s Institute for Not-for-Profit Management.

Preserving and promoting Latin music for years to come! 

In her new role, Tanay will report to the board of the foundation and Gabriel Abaroa Jr., president and CEO of the Latin Recording Academy.

“Six years ago, the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation was launched with the dream of fostering future generations of Latin music creators and professionals. Today, after changing the lives of many young artists, the Foundation is welcoming a new leader with vast experience in the non-profit and fundraising sector to elevate our team and its mission,” said Abaroa. “I want to thank the Board of Directors of the Foundation, especially Chairman, Luis Cobos, and Treasurer, Raúl Vázquez, for their vision and leadership through the years, and during this transition, allowing Tanya to be fully empowered to accomplish our mutual goals.”

Tanya looks forward to this next chapter for herself and the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation. 

“I am honored to take on the leadership of the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation, an organization with tremendous credibility and an unparalleled commitment to shaping the future of the next generation of talented young musicians, from around the globe, who share a special passion for Latin music,” said Tanya in a statement. “I am energized by the work ahead and look forward to ushering in the next chapter of the Foundation, built with the relentless effort of a committed Board, a dedicated and enthusiastic team, and countless artists, volunteers and supporters. Together we will be able to uphold the promise of preserving and promoting Latin music for years to come!”

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Additionally, music industry veteran Manolo Díaz, who previously led the Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation as its Senior Vice President, will continue to serve the Foundation as part of its Board of Directors. Under Díaz’s leadership — and with the support of various artists like Enrique Iglesias, Juan Luis Guerra, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Miguel Bosé, Carlos Vives, Julio Iglesias and Juanes — the Foundation allocated more than $5.7 million in scholarships, assisting over 255 gifted music students around the world, while donating musical instruments to schools in need and providing generous grants to researchers, anthropologists, musicologists, scholars and institutions to further the research and preservation of Latin music.  

About The Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation:

The Latin GRAMMY Cultural Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization established by The Latin Recording Academy in 2015 to further international awareness and appreciation of the significant contributions of Latin music and its makers to the world’s culture. The Foundation provides college scholarships, educational programs and grants for the research and preservation of its rich musical legacy and heritage, and to date, has donated more than $5.7 million with the support of Latin Recording Academy’s members, artists, corporate sponsors and other generous donors. For additional information, or to make a donation, please visit, Amazon Smile or our Facebook page and follow us @latingrammyfdn on Twitter and Instagram.

Yvonne Garcia ALPFA Most Powerful Latinas

ALPFA National Chair Yvonne Garcia on the 50 Most Powerful Latinas (exclusive interview)

The second annual list of the US 50 Most Powerful Latinas in corporate and business has just been released and published by Fortune Magazine. ALPFA National Chairwoman Yvonne Garcia responded to an exclusive interview with


The Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) released last year and for the first time a list of 50 Most Powerful Latinas in corporate America. The intention is to give visibility to a number of Hispanic women who are building leadership role models for millions of young aspiring Latinas leaders in the corporate and business world.

The list is back this year and it includes Latinas in Fortune 500 companies, large private firms, and a few impressive entrepreneurs leading global companies. We spoke with Yvonne Garcia, ALFPA National Chairwoman, and she explained the list criteria and intention as well as progress attained and what still needs to happen.


Yvonne Garcia, National Chairwoman of ALPFA Most Powerful Latinas

Yvonne Garcia, National Chairwoman of ALPFA (Courtesy YG)

LIB: The second year of 50 Most Powerful Latinas was just announced and not only you are in it -congratulations! – but so are other Latinas who made the list last year.  What are the highlights of this year’s 50 Most Powerful Latinas list?

YG: This year, the nominees for our Most Powerful Latinas list nearly doubled, with 15 business leaders joining the list for the first time, including Jessica Alba, acclaimed actress and entrepreneur, at number 10. The selected 50 Latina executives are running Fortune 500 companies, large private firms, and a few are entrepreneurs leading global companies. This list gives a new spotlight to Latina women executives and amplifies their exposure across the country. In fact, three of the women on the list joined a corporate board last year.


LIB: What is the criteria for choosing these women and how is information gathered? In this case, what does “powerful” mean?

YG: The four-criteria used were: the size and importance of the woman’s business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman’s career—résumé and runway ahead—and their social and cultural influence.

This year’s list of powerful Latina women prioritizes women leading large public companies with significant global operating roles, rather than C-level staff roles. Then, it ranks Latina women operating large private firms and finally, entrepreneurs who have successfully scaled their businesses into the middle market.

The accomplishments of these powerful Latinas are significant. The list serves as a platform to continue their legacy and amplify their voices to inspire the next generation of women.

Most Powerful Latinas

(From L to R) Susan G Baumann, and Yvonne Garcia, ALPFA at the 2017 50 Most Powerful Latinas reception. (Credit

LIB: Despite the relevant accomplishment of Latinas in the list, numbers at the top continue to be small. Do you think the needle is moving in corporate America and space and opportunity are given to Latinas?

YG: Not as fast as it should be. Women, in general, and Latinas, in particular, continue to be underrepresented in executive-level roles. The Most Powerful Latinas (MPL) are helping to unite Latinas for collective power, for sharing, and for mutual support.

The list will continue to be published, and will strengthen the individual and collective power of Latinas, increasing their visibility significantly. Not all 50 MPLs will be the same every year, but everyone who’s been named will be part of an elite and remarkably influential group of business leaders.


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LIB: What would you say the main obstacles are for a faster promotion of Latinas to higher ranks?

YG: Main obstacles are systemic barriers in organizational structures, often subtle and unspoken, lack of Latina role models, mentorship and sponsorship both from men and women.

Yvonne Garcia ALPFA Most Powerful Latinas

Yvonne Garcia ALPFA Chairwoman Closing Remarks on Annual Convention in Las Vegas (Courtesy YG)

LIB: How do you see the future of this list? What are some of the concrete actions MPL are taking to help others rise to those positions of power?

YG: There will be a purposeful commitment to cultivating the next generation of Latinas, and the generation after that. This is just the beginning. We will also host regional events for MPLs across the country, throughout the year, for the MPLs to continue to know, trust, and invest in each other and in the marketplace.

Many who aspire to serve on boards will serve on boards. Others whose goals are to become CEO will become CEO, raising the bar for Latinas (and Latinos) in high school today who will aspire to do and to be like these Powerful Latinas. Together we will help to change the perception of Latinos and Latinas in the U.S. as business and community leaders.


See the list of 2018 50 Most Powerful Latinas 

Johan De Nysschen, president of General Motors Co.'s Cadillac unit, left, Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Co. (GM), and Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development at GM,

Women in leadership redefining corporate America

Corporate culture has been identified as an underlying issue for lack of women in leadership positions in the workplace. Within the USA, gender and race discrimination clearly still exists and unfortunately it inevitably leaves minorities feeling isolated. However, a recent study entitled The Everest Project is throwing some hope into this controversial topic.

Johan De Nysschen, president of General Motors Co.'s Cadillac unit, left, Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Co. (GM), and Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development at GM,

Johan De Nysschen, president of General Motors Co.’s Cadillac unit, left, Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors Co. (GM), and Mark Reuss, executive vice president of global product development at GM, attend a Cadillac event at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Are women in leadership truly redefining corporate America?

The Everest Project seeks to find answers. In their 2016 Eve of Change: Women Redefining Corporate America report, researchers analyzed two years of interviews with 132 women in senior leadership roles – including Hispanic, Black, Pan-Asian, White and LGBT women in over 80 Fortune 500 corporations within different industries and regions in the US.

For a more comprehensive perspective, the report was amplified by conducting an other 260 interviews with executive level personnel to whom these women reported. Women interviewed as well as their managers were selected predominantly within zero to three levels of CEO role.

Among many findings, the study highlighted that 57 percent of the strategic changes within the companies researched were directed by women, identifying that women are leading change and transformation within US organizations. The research concludes that women have used their cultural and gender qualities as leadership strength to create innovations in the boardroom.

As exciting as these results might sound, it is hard to believe that female influence can cause such a strong impact in corporate America. A study by CNNMoney shows that only 14.2 percent of the top five leadership roles in businesses within the S&P 500 are held by women. Even more concerning is the fact that out of 500 companies involved in this research, only 24 CEO seats are occupied by females while only 16.5 percent of chief financial officers, chief operating officers and other key roles at major companies are held by women, a small pool of leaders to draw from.

“Yet current corporate leaders are still a long way from reflecting the diversity of their employees,” The Everest Report says. “One [interviewed] Everest executive’s manager (also a woman) observes, ‘We experience change, but have women gotten to the top? Looking at the top there are only white men… It’s like you have a glass ceiling and then you have lead above a glass ceiling.’ Women occupy 53% of all professional-level jobs, but they represent ever-slimmer wedges of the pie closer to the top. When race and ethnicity are added to the mix, the imbalance is even greater, with numbers almost too small to analyze. And despite a changing landscape, 53% of LGBT workers nationwide still have to hide who they are at work at the cost of individual employee engagement and retention.” (The Everest Report, pp. 28-30)

What do executive women bring to the table?

Pamela Carlton and Lily Tang, co-founders of The Everest Project

Pamela Carlton and Lily Tang, co-founders of The Everest Project

Gender diversity at a senior management level is a topical yet controversial subject. In 2011, a report called “The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance And Women’s Representation On Boards” clearly defined a positive link between gender diversity at board level and financial performance.

The report highlights that a diverse, inclusive environment at senior management level is not just essential to improve opportunities for women but also benefits economic results and profits as a business.

Measuring return on sales (ROS), return on invested capital (ROIC), and return on equity (ROE), findings in this report include:

  • Companies with the most women board directors (WBD) outperform those with the least on ROS by 16 percent.
  • Companies with the most WBD outperform those with the least on ROIC by 26 percent.
  • Companies with sustained high representation of WBD, defined as those with three or more WBD in at least four of five years, significantly outperformed those with sustained low representation by 84 percent on ROS, by 60 percent on ROIC, and by 46 percent on ROE.
  • Encouraging a corporate culture that is focused on equality could help develop and attract talented and ambitious women while increasing levels of employee satisfaction and motivation.

The Everest Project approaches the issue from another perspective. “Effectively bringing together diverse individuals in a workplace requires what’s known as cultural intelligence—or the capability to bridge the gap with people from other cultures and even subcultures within your own group. This is an ability that Everest women possess in great measure, and they demonstrate its known contribution to team, leadership, and managerial effectiveness. They’re remarkably comfortable leading diverse groups, drawing upon their knowledge and experiences of their difference to connect with employees and relate to clients.” (p. 33)

They are conducting corporate culture change by applying their own gender strengths to leadership: embracing smart risk, practicing humility as a critically important strategic skill, bringing collaboration as new reality of hyper connected environments, and understanding that bringing in differences means having more to contribute.

Companies must invest in analyzing their cultural issues, in order to successfully address and overcome bias opinions within the workplace. The businesses that fail to adapt to these demands will find that they also fail to attract the best talent, retain their employees and ultimately struggle to keep up with society’s expectations of them as an employer.

How does corporate America deal with gender discrimination?

A lack of opportunities for ambitious and talented people might force them to look elsewhere to develop their career, especially within certain industries that lack the ability to cater to their career aspirations.

See in this interactive graph how gender and minority diversity are represented in the Tech industry.

See on this interactive infograph how gender and minority diversity are represented in the Tech industry.

For example, within the technology industry, lack of diversity is common. Some women in leadership feel uncomfortable within their work environment. Gender discrimination but also issues facing their age, sexuality and race or ethnic backgrounds have been highlighted as the main reason why many were leaving the technology industry.

To improve upon these issues, training, cultural assessments and distinctive career paths for every employee should be considered. These solutions offer heightened visibility and transparency of a business’s workforce, whilst creating processes that extinguish any unconscious bias existing within America’s corporate environment.

“When powerful women take on the status quo, the very definition of leadership changes. Risk becomes investment in learning, and being different means having more to contribute. The mantras for collective genius and shared value replace the win-lose, in-or-out mentality. Women today are designing a new corporate culture for a time of rapid change.” (p. 36)

Diversity is an opportunity for businesses in corporate America to develop their competitive advantage, while attracting, retaining and developing talented people. There is still more work to be done to improve women in leadership representation within corporate culture. Society is adding more and more pressure for corporate organizations to overcome these challenges. Businesses that invest in gender diversity now will see improvements in their financial, economic and workforce performance as they train and mentor the future leaders of tomorrow.