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Domestic violence does not stop with privilege, money, or education — it can happen to anyone

October is recognized nationwide as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). Launched in 1987, Domestic Violence Awareness month works to connect and unite individuals and organizations on domestic violence issues and raise awareness for those issues. Over the past three decades, much progress has been made to support domestic violence victims and survivors, to hold abusers accountable, and to create and update legislation to further those goals. 

Despite the plethora of resources and support available, recognizing domestic abuse and taking the necessary steps to remove oneself from a dangerous situation can still be difficult for many victims. Domestic abuse is a crime that happens behind closed doors, making it hard for others to see the signs and obtain help for victims. Often, victims of domestic violence are made to feel trapped and isolated by their abusers. This makes it difficult for victims to reach out for help. Since the pandemic began, there has been an unsurprising increase in domestic abuse. Isolation, rising tensions, financial stress and pressures are all common circumstances that can lead to domestic abuse. However, it is possible to help victims get out of the cycle of abuse

domestic violence

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

Recognizing the signs of domestic violence

Domestic violence is nationally recognized as a public health issue and causes serious health-related consequences such as: physical injuries like broken bones or head trauma and endure long term effects due to chronic stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

Sometimes, even when someone knows all the signs and what to look out for, they simply cannot recognize that they are a victim or that what they are experiencing is abuse. Many believe domestic abuse only happens to certain people or only happens in ways they have seen portrayed in the media. However, domestic violence is an issue that can affect anyone, no matter their level of success or status. It can occur in relationships of any gender and the abuse may not only be physical, but can also be verbal, and may include sexual assault, threats, financial control, and/or isolation. 

The story of Leidy -a fictional name for protection purposes- is a good example of how domestic violence can happen regardless of status, privilege, and education. Her story shows how she learned to recognize the abuse she was facing and how she ultimately overcame it, healed, and built a better life for herself and her children. 

Leidy, a woman living in CA, had just come out of a prolonged divorce. She met her new husband, Kevin, but after a couple of years, he started to complain about lack of job opportunities. 

Eventually, Kevin was offered a job in New York. It was an exciting change filled with uncertainty but Leidy’s kids were looking forward to experiencing a new life in a new city as exciting as The Big Apple.  

Kevin, a hard worker, quickly moved up in position and started making excellent pay. On the other hand, Leidy was sustaining the house and watching the kids. She had no career of her own but was at peace in that she believed the sacrifice was worth it because Kevin was giving her so much in return. She enjoyed his presence as they shared this experience together. Amidst the lows involving disagreements, the highs kept Leidy thankful for him. 

Soon, everything took a turn. Kevin began having mood swings. Nothing was sufficient for him. He became demanding and jealous. Leidy felt as if she was walking on eggshells waiting for the moment Kevin would snap. 

Having moved to a new city, adapting to a new place was a slow process. Leidy did not have friends she could trust, although it was easy for her to get along with others, cultural barriers still existed. Adapting was exhausting for her. Soon, going to grad school was a decision Leidy made to distract herself and think about her career. 

Red flags in a domestic violence situation 

Although she was making all the household decisions, she was not given control over credit cards or checking accounts. She was required to get approval from Kevin for everything related to finances including buying groceries. She rationalized Kevin’s behavior by telling herself that the mood swings were related to stress at work but the situation soon escalated to yelling and fighting. Leidy was physically harmed a few times but didn’t dare to go to the police or ask for a restraining order, ashamed that she might be causing Kevin’s behavior. He would apologize profusely every time after the abuse and send her flowers.  

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

Eventually, a neighbor alerted Leidy about a women’s organization. She felt ashamed and to her core, believing the abuse was her fault. A judge and a teacher participating in the group shared their own abuse situation. They told Leidy domestic violence does not stop with privilege, money, or education and that stuck with her for years. 

Communicating through Kevin’s co-worker, Leidy demanded that he leave. It never came to a restraining order as she was terrified Kevin would want to hurt her or the kids in the future as a way to get revenge. 

Leidy went on to become a successful domestic violence advocate in pursuit of giving others a voice. She felt a sense of peace and gratitude when finding a way out of her situation helping other amazing women.

Leidy’s story shows that domestic abuse can happen to anyone, even people with successful careers, financial stability, and higher education. Like many victims of domestic abuse, Leidy tried to rationalize her partner’s behavior and later blamed herself, feeling she was somehow at fault for how she had been treated. These feelings are common in victims of domestic abuse and denial and fear often keeps victims from seeking help.

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

Resources for victims of domestic abuse

Below is a list of resources for anyone who may be struggling through domestic violence. These organizations are here to help. Just like the women’s organization in Leidy’s story, these organizations are equipped to offer aid and resources to victims of domestic violence and abuse. Recognizing you are experiencing domestic abuse and reaching out for help can be frightening, but it is the first step toward leaving the situation and healing. These organizations can help you connect with others and make a plan for the future. 

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

Domestic Violence Awareness Project

The National Domestic Violence Hotline 

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Additional Resources By State (PDF) 

Latinas in Business Interns Nancy Robles and Val Gaytan contributed to this article. 

Tania Molina, the architect who left her career for her chocolate dream

 Tania Molina is the founder and CEO of Villakuyaya Organic Dark Chocolate. Originally an architect by profession, Tania shifted her career in 2014 with the entrepreneurial dream to create her own chocolate brand. Drawing on her Ecuadorian roots, Tania created Villakuyaya with quality ingredients and sustainable practices as her guiding goals. 

Family and culture are at the heart of Villakuyaya chocolate 

Known for having some of the best quality cacao in the world, Ecuador is at the heart of Tania’s business. Her family and heritage play a huge role in Villakuyaya

“My home and  heart is always Ecuador, and Quito where I was born and resided. Now, I have found my family and my  new home is Rockland County, New York, where I manage my business in-between changing diapers and  teaching my son potty-training. In every chocolate bar and story I get to tell to my customers though, the chocolate and the heart of the business is and always will be Ecuadorian,” says Tania. 

Tania’s passion for chocolate-making and experimenting with flavors came from her grandmother, Juana, who had a natural gift with seeds, plants, and herbs. Tania remembers fond memories and experiences with her grandmother and cacao: memories of eating the cacao seed pulp, toasting in the crock, and the cacao powder with the hot milk. These memories remind Tania of her grandmother’s kindness, her love for her grandchildren, and her respect for nature–virtues that Tania has embedded into her business. 

“The heart of the business is and always will be Ecuadorian.” (Photo courtesy Tania Molina)

And Villakuyaya is very much a family business at heart. 

“My ‘employees’  are my husband, mother and father. We’ve traveled to do chocolate shows in Washington D.C., Seattle, London,  Amsterdam, Paris and other places. It’s not money or profit that’s the success, but it’s more about longevity, expanding the brand further, and sharing my chocolate with more people who will love it,” says Tania. “And  now, with my son, I would love to maintain the business and be able to tell him many years from now that mommy was able to survive and succeed in the business, and would love for him to be a part of it with us.”

You might be interested: Maya Jacquez shares Mexican food culture and heritage through The Pinole Project 

Defining success and offering a helping hand 

For Tania, success is about far more than just profit. Every sale makes a difference, and every repeat customer is a blessing and a joy. 


Success is about far more than just profit. Every sale makes a difference, and every repeat customer is a blessing and a joy. (Photo courtesy Tania Molina)

When she first began her journey into the chocolate industry, everything was new and Tania had to learn the ins and outs of the industry “on the fly.” There were many bumps along the way as she learned all about chocolate from cacao farmers in Ecuador, managing sustainability and quality, as well as the manufacturing aspects such as packaging, order requirements, importation and exportation taxes, and  USDA requirements on packaging. Deciding to focus on the US marketplace also posed a challenge at the time for Tania, who had only visited the country a handful of times. 

“Over time, after I reevaluated all my real goals for the  company, I was able to visualize everything in a way where I could raise my company into the black, all  the while learning about the industry, market and trends in the chocolate business. Of course, and then  Covid-19 happened, which gave the entire industry a massive challenge just to stay afloat.” 

However, despite the struggles early on, Tania continued with her dream. Now, after many years in the industry, Tania has learned many valuable lessons and knows what to expect. Her greatest strength is her vibrant personality and the quality and variety of her chocolate, she says. 

“I love to meet people at chocolate shows or events and talk about chocolate making, the business or what made me make a chocolate bar flavor the way that  I did. It’s a tough business, very competitive and also filled with nice people with big dreams.”  

Tania remembers her first chocolate show in the United States and how the kindness of a stranger saved her that day. 

“My mother, father, and I spent the whole week preparing everything for that day. We made a checklist of everything we would need, and when the day arrived we forgot the tablecloths! I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh, but I always seemed  to have an angel next to me, and this time a very kind Latin lady helped me with tablecloths and other things that I forgot. Amazing kindness from a stranger, but as you learn everyone is in the same boat at these shows and understands each other.” 


Chocolate shows with the whole family. (Photo courtesy Tania Molina)

Offering a helping hand to others is sometimes the best thing you can do for someone else. Each entrepreneur knows how challenging and lonely the journey can be at times. For those starting out, seeking others and gathering the necessary tools and knowledge is the first step toward success. 

“Over the last 5 years or so, I think women have  come together to help support and protect each other more than ever before, and to help give each of us  an opportunity to succeed,” says Tania. “I would advise new entrepreneurs to make a business plan, take their time, do research and learn all the angles and  then jump in over prepared for a slow start. It’s not just the company or the career itself, but  also the tools around the company that make it successful.” 

In 2021, there are many ways to gain information and resources for new business owners and entrepreneurs, from YouTube videos, conferences and workshops, mentorship, and guidance from other businesses.

“Take that advice and help, and good luck to all of us wonderful women and  to our dreams.”

Gov. Phil Murphy awards $4 million in grant funding to community organizations assisting residents in health insurance enrollment

Navigator organizations to provide assistance to uninsured and underserved NJ residents during the upcoming ACA Open Enrollment Period and year-round. 

Governor Phil Murphy and Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) Commissioner Marlene Caride recently announced the award of nearly $4 million in grant funding for community organizations to serve as state Navigators. These organizations will provide free outreach, education, and enrollment assistance to residents shopping for health insurance during the Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Period. Open Enrollment at Get Covered New Jersey, the state’s official health insurance marketplace, begins on November 1st.  

The administration is increasing its investment in Navigators this year by nearly half a million dollars, and expanding the number of awardees, to help consumers enroll in quality, affordable health insurance. 

“Since day one, our administration has fought to improve access to health insurance based on our belief that health care is a fundamental right,” said Governor Murphy. “With this investment, we will expand the network of Navigators in our state and ensure that residents who need health insurance can get the help they need to obtain the coverage and care they deserve.” 

Get healthcare assistance through Get Covered NJ 

Get Covered New Jersey is the state’s official health insurance marketplace. Established by law on June 28, 2019 by Governor Phil Murphy, the marketplace is part of the state’s work to improve access to healthcare coverage for NJ residents and build up the progress made through the Affordable Care Act. 

NJ Diver's licenses

Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy established the state’s official health insurance marketplace, GetCoveredNJ in 2019.

GetCoveredNJ is focused on increasing access to affordable, high-quality health insurance for residents of New Jersey. The marketplace is where individuals and families can easily shop for and buy health coverage, and the only place to receive financial help. You can use GetCoveredNJ to compare health plans and calculate costs, and to choose the plan that works best for you and your family. It is the only place you will be able to apply for financial help to lower your monthly insurance premium and out-of-pocket costs. Through GetCoveredNJ you may also find out if you might qualify for free or low-cost health insurance through New Jersey’s publicly funded health insurance program, NJ FamilyCare.

During the inaugural GetCoveredNJ Open Enrollment Period, enrollment increased by nearly 10 percent over the previous open enrollment. The upcoming Open Enrollment Period at Get Covered New Jersey will run from November 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022, and is the only time during the year residents without coverage through an employer or other program can enroll in health insurance, unless they have a major life event.

With the GetCoveredNJ marketplace, New Jersey can also have a longer Open Enrollment Period and establish Special Enrollment Periods in order to respond to the needs of its residents. For the 2021 plan year, Open Enrollment started November 1, 2020 and ended January 31, 2021. A COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period is now in effect.

GetCoveredNJ allows the state to improve access to healthcare by investing in more outreach and trained experts to provide enrollment help within the community. By continuing to strengthen these Navigator organizations, more residents will have a chance to attain healthcare and assistance throughout the application process. 

“Navigators are an important part of reaching the state’s uninsured residents and ensuring they have access to quality, affordable health coverage and available financial help in their own community. With expanded state and federal financial help available in 2022, we want to ensure as many residents as possible take advantage of low-cost health coverage that is available,” said Commissioner Marlene Caride. “We are excited to continue to expand our network of community organizations providing free, unbiased enrollment assistance to residents. We look forward to working with our community partners as we work to get New Jersey residents covered this Open Enrollment Period and throughout the year.”

Comprehensive list of Navigator organizations  

A total of 18 organizations will be funded for the 2021-2022 year to serve as Navigators to support enrollment assistance in the State-Based Marketplace, expanded from 16 organizations awarded funding last year. All of the organizations serving as Navigators will have the ability to assist residents in-person and remotely. 

A total of $3.9 million will be awarded for the 2021-2022 year, compared to $3.5 million awarded in the 2020-2021 grant year. Navigator grants will support the work of organizations that conduct public education activities and offer free and impartial assistance to consumers to shop for and enroll in coverage on the marketplace, and help them apply for financial help. Grantee activities will include outreach and education year-round for 2022 coverage, including in advance of and during the Open Enrollment Period.

Where to find Navigator Organizations: 

AtlantiCare | Contact: 888-569-1000


  • LGBTQ health services
  • LifeCenter Fitness
  • Community Program:
    • Healthy Children
    • Healing hearts

Center For Family Services inc. | Contact: 877.922.2377 or access@centerffs.org


  • Resources for Managing Traumatic Stress
  • Sesame Street in Communities 
  • Resources For Parents and Caregivers
  • Food Access
  • Financial Resources

Family Resource Network | Contact: 800-372-6510, Fax: (609) 392-5621


  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Individual Support 
  • Increase Accessibility
  • Home Independence
  • Scholarship Programs
  • Training & In-service Self Advocacy Training
  • Vocational Services
  • After-School Program
  • Network Support Services

Foodbank of Monmouth & Ocean County Fulfill | Contact: 732-918-26000 or main@fulfillnj.org


  • Tax refund Assistance
  • Providing Food
  • Kids Feeding Program
  • Culinary Training
  • Mobile Pantries
  • Affordable Healthcare

Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey | Contact: 609-275-4000 


  • ACCME Academy-find course, resources, support tools, and a community of
  • practice. 
  • Advancing Social Justice Resources
  • Educational Design Resources
  • Research Opportunities

HOPES Community-action Partnership Incorporated | Contact: 855-654-6737


  • Infant Head start Program
  • Adult Financial Literacy Workshop
  • Seniors Assisted
  • Transportation Program

Lakewood Resource and Referral Center | Contact: 732-942-9292


  • Affordable Housing
  • assistance
  • Community Education
  • Vaccination awareness

New jersey Citizen Action Educational Fund | Contact: 973-643-8800


  • Free Tax Preparation
  • Financial Coaching
  • Fair Houses Services
  • Consumer’s education

New Jersey Shares | Contact: 609-883-1626 or info@njshares.com


  • NJ Shares Energy Grant
  • Municipal Water Newark & Parsippany- Troy Hills
  • Aqua Aid Program
  • Verizon NJ communications
  • Lifeline Program

Newark Community Health Centers Inc | Contact:  800-994-6242


  • Women’s Health Program
  • Dental Program
  • Behavioral Health Program
  • Specialty Services
  • Pediatric Program

North Hudson Community Action Corporation | Contact: 201-210-0200


  • Program administration
  • Pregnant Woman
  • Parent Family Community
  • engagement
  • Educational Program

Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and southern New Jersey Inc. | Contact: 800-230-7526


  • Free STD testing
  • HIV Testing and Counseling
  • Cancer Screening
  • Abortion

Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers Inc. | Contact:  609-567-0200


  • Behavioral Health
  • Migrant Health
  • Patient Support Services
  • Women’s Health care

St. James Health Inc. | Contact:  973-789-8111


  • Family Planning
  • Geriatrics
  • Prevention, screening
  • Pharmacy Services
  • Social Work
  • Sports Medicine

The Oranges ACA Navigator Project Inc. | Contact: 973-500-6031


  • NJ Family Care Covered Services
  • Doctor Visits
  • Eyeglasses
  • Prescriptions
  • Mental Health Services
  • Immunizations 

University Hospital | Contact:  (973) 972-4300


  • Specialized Services
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • LGBTQ training resources
  • Billing and Financial Counseling

Urban League of Hudson County | Contact:  201-451-8888


  • Affordable Housing & Community development
  • After school Computer learning
  • Child & Adult Care food program
  • Child Care
  • CEO Program

Zufall Health Center | Contact: 973-328-9100 or info@zufallhealth.org


  • Covid Testing/ Info
  • Community Programs
  • Outreach Programs
  • Dental Services
  • Patient Support

Enrollment for 2021 coverage remains open through the end of the year through the COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period. Additionally, residents who qualify for NJ FamilyCare (New Jersey’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program) can enroll year-round. More information on health insurance options can be found at GetCovered.NJ.gov

Argentinian journalist, host, producer and businesswoman, Natalia Denegri receives groundbreaking 11 Emmy Award nominations

Natalia Denegri continues to impact the Hispanic television industry. After having garnered a total of 17 Emmy Awards in her career, the Argentine journalist, host, producer and businesswoman once again surprised the jury of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, receiving 11 Suncoast Emmy Award nominations. Her nominated projects range from documentary productions on various social issues to her successful journalistic-children’s program “Corazones Guerreros, Todo Niños”, which is now in its 11th season on the air nationally in the United States and internationally in eight Latin American countries.

The children’s program, “Corazones Guerreros” (“Warrior Hearts”), is aimed at Hispanic families and children in the United States. The show interviews personalities from Latin America, foundations that help children, specialists and people who are an example for children and families of the growing Latin community in the United States.

The  “Corazones Guerreros” special “Dogs Can’t Read” campaign, in which they teach in a fun and interactive way about why dog ​​poop cleaning signs don’t seem to be working, was nominated in the category “Public Service Announcements.” The children’s program also received another nomination for the special “Todo Niños: Los Valores” in the category “Best Program for Children / Youth.” 

“It makes me so happy to see that season after season, Corazones Guerreros continues to attract the attention of the public and the Emmys jury for its positive content for Hispanic families,” said Denegri before meeting with her team to celebrate the nominations.


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A post shared by Natalia Denegri (@natydenegri)

Natalia Denegri’s documentaries focusing on social and political issues have secured nominations in various categories as well. Nominated in the categories of “Religion” and “Photography” is the documentary”Where He Needs Me.” In the category “Social Concern” the documentary “Soledad” was nominated. 

Natalia Denegri, Emmy Awards

Natalia Denegri nominated for 11 Suncoast Emmy Awards for social documentaries and educational children’s program. (Photo via Spanish Broadcasting System, Inc)

The documentary “And The Emmys Goes To” was nominated in the categories “Best Director” and “Photography” and tells the inspiring stories of immigrant men and women whose sacrifice, dedication and excellence in what they do have elevated Latinos in the United States. The documentary shows viewers that, like them, dreaming big is not only possible, but is available to all who try hard enough to achieve it. This documentary is one of the most special for Denegri and many of her fellow producers since their stories are part of it. 

“When we came to the United States, having an Emmy was a dream that we saw far away. The Emmys represent the best of television and although it was almost unattainable, likewise, we all worked very hard thinking that one day our work would attract the attention of a jury and we would have a chance. And here we are today, in my case almost 13 years later, having garnered 17 awards and dozens of nominations for my work… and the same happened to my talented friends and colleagues! It is a dream come true that we wanted to express not only in the form of gratitude but also to inspire other Latinos who, like us, have come to this country with the same dream and the same desire,” said Denegri.

If she wins in the nominated categories, Denegri will become the only Argentinian and one of the few Latina women to have received more than twenty Emmy awards, which highlight the best of television in the United States.

Latinas are underrepresented in law, says attorney Anna María Tejada

In nearly every industry, Latinas face obstacles and struggles as both women and ethnic minorities. Latinas face greater difficulties establishing themselves in professional industries and attaining high level positions. The gender-wage gap is also greatest for Latinas, who are the last group to celebrate Equal Pay Day on October 21 and earn on average 55 cents to the dollar white, non-hispanic men earn. Equal Pay Day represents the number of months it takes for women to earn the same amount as men earn in a year. For Latinas, they must work 23 months to earn what a white, non-hispanic man earns in just 12 month.  

One industry in which Latina representation is lacking, is law. Currently, Latinos represent 20 percent of the population, however just 5% of practicing attorneys are Latino, and of that only 2% are Latina. Additionally, from that 2% only about .4 are partners at law firms. 

Anna Maria Tejada is Latina attorney working to create opportunities for young women in her industry. (Photo courtesy Anna Maria Tejada)

Anna María Tejada is a Latina attorney who is working to increase opportunities for Latinas in the legal profession. As a daughter of Dominican immigrants, Anna María is a first-generation attorney who benefitted from various affirmative action programs in her education such as Headstart, EOF, and the Rutgers MSP Program. She learned from a very young age the importance of law in our everyday lives. 

“I am too familiar with the immigration experience in the United States. I also am very well aware of the role immigration laws play in the lives of dreamers and individuals who simply want to achieve the American Dream,” said Anna María. “If it was not for the assistance of a legal services attorney, neither my family nor I would not be here today. Acknowledging the importance attorneys have in impacting social change and individual lives, I knew law could change lives. That is why I chose this career.”

Now, with over 20 years of experience in her industry, Anna María is passionate about giving back and aiding other young Latinas in their careers. 

Currently, she is a partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP in Newark, New Jersey where she practices labor and employment law, is the  President of Executive Women of New Jersey (EWNJ) and the Vice President of Membership for the Hispanic National Bar Association.  

“It is not lost on me that to whom much is given, much is required.  It is my responsibility to give back to the generation of attorneys coming behind me, which is why I enjoy volunteering with bar associations and other community organizations. I believe that you have to lift as you rise, and for me, the HBA was critical to where I am today,” said Anna María. 

Navigating obstacles as a first-generation law student 

As a first-generation attorney, there was a lot Anna María did not know about the profession when she first started out. Her biggest obstacle at the time was navigating the legal world. As a young student entering law school, she knew she wanted to practice law but was unsure of the steps to take to become a successful attorney. 

“To be successful in this profession, you have to understand the language and culture of the legal world.  I found mentors and colleagues with similar experiences who could assist in navigating this career. I had to seek out spaces where I could network with those who are in law and have a similar background as me.”  

As a law student, the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey (HBA-NJ) provided Anna María with financial support through scholarships. Later, as an attorney, the organization provided a network of experienced attorneys and judges that would serve as mentors and resources. 

Knowing first hand how important mentorship can be to minority youths entering the legal profession, with the HBA-NJ Anna María established the American Dream Pipeline Program in 2013, to provide students with exposure to the legal profession and guidance from attorney mentors sharing similar backgrounds and life experiences.

“It is important for students of colors, especially young women, to see successful Latina attorneys and professionals, so they too can achieve their dreams.” (Photo courtesy Anna Maria Tejada)

The Pipeline Program is geared towards high school students (“mentees”) from urban communities – Passaic and Union City High Schools, who come from families that immigrated to the United States and are likely first-generation college-bound students. The purpose of the Pipeline Program is to provide the mentees with opportunities to meet attorneys and other professionals who have come from similar circumstances and can provide guidance to the mentees as they navigate through high school and start their own college application process.   

“It is important for students of colors, especially young women, to see successful Latina attorneys and professionals, so they too can achieve their dreams,” said Anna María. 

You might be interested: LUCA founder Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, how the pandemic has impacted Latino college enrollment

Strengthening the professional pipeline for women of color 

In her profession, Anna María is a leader and a connector of people. Through her leadership activities, she has made a point to elevate diversity, equity and inclusion issues in her work, which has helped connect her with colleagues and experts across industries and sectors. She brings strong relationships to the firm and in her volunteer and activist work. 

In 2016, Anna María joined the Executive Women of New Jersey (EWNJ), the leading executive women’s organization in NJ. Here, Anna María connected with a robust network of professional women executives who have been on similar professional journeys. After years with the organization, Anna María became President of EWNJ, beginning in 2020-2021.  

“As Latinas, we often feel we can handle things on our own and we certainly can; however, there is nothing wrong with asking for help.” (Photo courtesy Anna Maria Tejada)

“Seek mentors who look like you, but also mentors who do not look like you but are willing to serve as a resource. Seek out organizations that could elevate you and put you in touch with people who could be critical for your professional development, such as Bar and industry associations, Anna María advised for Latinas aspiring to enter the legal profession. “Also groups such as Executive Women of New Jersey whose members cut across all industries and sectors, expose you to a variety of resources for your growth.”

“Number one thing, keep your eye on your goals. With so few Latinas in law, many of us are trailblazers in our communities and in our field of work.”

Most importantly, Anna María says is elevating those coming up behind you by paying forward the help you received. 

“This will help strengthen the professional pipeline for women, especially women of color. As Latinas, we often feel we can handle things on our own and we certainly can; however, there is nothing wrong with asking for help.”

New York City is failing its minority- and women-owned businesses, annual report finds

Comptroller Stringer’s annual Making the Grade Report reveals that New York City fails to do business with more than 80 percent of minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBE). 

The report, published annually since 2014 by the Office of the New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, evaluates the performance of the City’s MWBE program and makes recommendations for its improvement. 

This year’s report for the 2021 fiscal year found that out of $30.4 billion in contracts awarded by the City in 2021, only $1.166 billion (3.8 percent) was awarded to MWBEs. Since 2015, the share of MWBEs receiving City dollars has never exceeded 22 percent. The 2021 report also examined the rollout of Chief Diversity Officers across the country, following an Executive Order that called for appointing Chief Diversity Officers within every New York City agency. 

NYC receives “C-” overall, but fails in other areas 

Based on the report’s findings, Comptroller Stringer announced that the City fell to a “C-” Grade for MWBE Spending in fiscal year 2021 after two consecutive passing “C” grades. However, the city failed in other areas earning a “D” with Hispanic American- and women-owned businesses, and an “F” with African American-owned businesses. 

Additional Highlights 

  • The City has nearly tripled the number of certified MWBE firms since 2015. However, of more than 10,500 certified MWBEs, 8,886—84 percent—did not receive City spending in 2021. The share of certified MWBEs receiving City dollars has never exceeded 22 percent since 2015.
  • The City spent $1.27 billion with M/WBEs, an additional $261 million from 2020 and an increase of more than $900 million since 2014.
  • Since 2014, the City has improved its grades with Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and women-owned businesses, but it has been unable to improve its “F” grade with African American-owned businesses over the last eight years. In 2021, the City earned a “B” grade with Asian American-owned businesses. 
  • Two mayoral agencies: The Commission on Human Rights and Department for the Aging earned their fifth consecutive “A” grades; both spent more than 50 percent of their Local Law 1-eligible dollars with MWBEs.
  • The Department of Transportation received an “F” grade, spending less than five percent of its Local Law 1-eligible dollars with MWBEs.
  • The Comptroller’s Office earned its third consecutive “A” grade. Over the last eight years, the Comptroller’s Office increased its MWBE spending from 13 percent in 2013 to approximately 53 percent in 2021.
  • In 2020, Comptroller Stringer announced that the Office’s registration process would now include a rigorous review of MWBE goals on City contracts. Between November 2020 and May 2021, the Comptroller’s Office registered 63 contracts subject to Local Law 1. Of these, 42 contracts, or about 67 percent, had MWBE goals below 30 percent.

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer (Photo Source)

Recommendations for incoming administration to increase opportunities for MWBEs

As the current administration prepares to leave office, Comptroller Stringer puts forth recommendations to reduce barriers and increase opportunities for MWBEs and urges the next cohort of citywide leadership to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion within their first 100 days of office.

“Over the last eight years, my office has given voice to solutions from MWBEs directly on how the City can better connect them with opportunities, which has led to real change. But there is still room for significant improvement,” said Comptroller Stringer. “As this administration prepares to leave office, it is clear that the City, from the next Mayor and Comptroller to the next City Council, have abundant opportunities to address the systemic inequities experienced by communities of color especially as we continue to rebuild our economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The first step is for all incoming Citywide officials to appoint executive-level Chief Diversity Officers. Per the report’s recommendations, “the mayoral CDO should oversee the rollout of the City’s programs designed to increase diversity and inclusion within the City, and they should also play a role in the City’s Budget and should have oversight over agency Chief Diversity Officers to ensure a unified citywide inclusion effort.” 

Next, City leaders should adopt the Rooney Rule to ensure diversity in their cabinets. The Rooney Rule, first adopted by the National Football League, requires that women and people of color are included in every future CEO search. 

Additionally, the next Comptroller should conduct a racial equity audit of the City’s agencies. With the signing of President Biden’s Executive Order On Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, all federal agencies have been mandated to perform an equity assessment to address systemic barriers erected by the government which have adversely impacted communities of color.

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Finally, Comptroller Stringer suggests that the next Mayor should create a plan to close the gap between certification and receiving City spending for MWBEs. In the last eight years, the list of certified MWBEs in the City has tripled from just 4,000 to almost 11,000 businesses. However, no more than 2,000 MWBEs have ever received City contract dollars in a given year. Within their first 100 days, the next Mayor should create a plan to close the gap between the number of people in the program and the number of MWBEs that win contracts.

Colin Powell

Alma and Colin Powell’s lasting American promise to the nation’s youth 

Colin Powell was a trailblazer and role model for Americans. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Powell spent 35 years in the Army and rose to the rank of four-star general before serving as the country’s first Black national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state. 

Powell passed away on Monday after complications of Covid-19, his family said in a statement on Facebook. Powell had been vaccinated, however he was being treated for myeloma, a blood cancer that impairs the body’s ability to fight infection; this compromised his immune system and the effectiveness of the vaccine, The Associated Press reported. 

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said. 

Honoring America’s Promise to the nation’s youth through life of service

Born in Harlem to Jamaican immigrant parents, Powell grew up in the South Bronx. His childhood was marked by financial struggle and hardship. In his 1995 autobiography, My American Journey, Powell wrote, “Mine is the story of a black kid of no early promise from an immigrant family of limited means who was raised in the South Bronx.” From these humble beginnings, he rose through the ranks, becoming a prominent public figure in America and breaking barriers. 

Speaking on how Powell’s early years influenced his actions in life, President Biden said, “He believed in the promise of America because he lived it. And he devoted much of his life to making that promise a reality for so many others.”

Alma Powell, author, advocate, speaker and Chair Emeritus, America’s Promise Alliance. (Photo Source)

After retiring from the military in 1993, Powell began dedicating more time to fulfilling that promise. In 1997, Powell became the Founding Chairman of “America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth”, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in America. Together with his wife, Alma, they worked to advocate for and improve the lives of children and youth by ensuring that Five Promises are fulfilled in their lives. 

Alma Powell later wrote the children’s book, “America’s Promise” as a way to teach and exemplify America’s Five Promises to children.

In the playful picture book, Alma Powell introduces young readers to the basic principles of America’s Promise — caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, marketable skills, and opportunities to serve.

“Our mission is to mobilize people from every sector of American life to build the character and competence of our nation’s youth by fulfilling five promises for young people,” Alma wrote

The Five Promises ask Americans to step up and create a world where the nation’s children can thrive and achieve adult success: 

  1. Caring Adults in Every Child’s Life – Develop relationships with parents, tutors, mentors, coaches, and other adults with an interest in the child’s well-being.
  2. A Safe Place After School – Create locations with structured activities during non-school hours.
  3. A Healthy Start -Provide good nutrition, protective immunizations, and sound dental care and hygiene.
  4. Marketable Skills – Offer effective education and practical experiences for career development.
  5. Opportunities to Give Back – Encourage community service – so that the cycle continues.

Throughout his life, Colin Powell exemplified these values as a youth advocate, public servant, parent, and leader. His accomplishments and historic firsts as a person of color also made him an inspiration and role model to many young Black Americans. 

Colin Powell

Colin Powell was a trailblazer and role model for Americans, inspiring many through his work, Kamala Harris shares. 

“Every step of the way, when he filled those roles, he was by everything that he did and the way he did it, inspiring so many people,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking on his influence. “Young servicemembers and others not only within the military, but in our nation and around the globe, took notice of what his accomplishments meant as a reflection of who we are as a nation.”

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By the time Powell retired from the military, he was known as one of the most popular public figures in America, “owing to his straightforwardness, his leadership qualities and his ability to speak in blunt tones that Americans appreciated.” (The New York Times) 

“He was a great public servant, starting with his time as a soldier during Vietnam,” said George W. Bush in a statement Monday. “Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience. He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.”

Colin Powell lived a life of service and achieved great accomplishments through his merits. He leaves behind a legacy as trailblazer and role model who broke racial barriers in our nation. As an inspiration to many, his work will continue on, with his lasting American promise to make the world a better place for our youth.

4 ways to get more Black and Latino teachers in K-12 public schools

Travis Bristol, Assistant Professor of Education at University of California, Berkeley, shares 4 ways to encourage diversity in public schools. 

Black children are more likely to score higher on standardized tests and finish high school and want to attend college, and less likely to be suspended, if they have a Black teacher. Similarly, studies show that Latino students who have a Latino teacher are more likely to want to take advanced coursework.

This data reflects earlier research on Black and Latino teachers and the positive social and emotional experiences they create for their students.

Education historian Vanessa Siddle Walker writes about how, even before the Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision in 1954, Black teachers and principals provided their students with tools and a framework to navigate a society that was anti-Black. And renowned education researcher Gloria Ladson-Billings explains Black teachers’ capacity to draw on their own experiences as Black people in the U.S. and incorporate their Black students’ cultural experiences into the classroom.

Given the added value of teachers of color, a pressing problem remains: There is a considerable demographic mismatch between teachers and students of color in the U.S. While teachers of color represent 21% of public school educators, students of color account for more than 52% of public school students.

As an education researcher, I study the experiences of teachers of color. Here are four ways to get more teachers from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds in K-12 classrooms.

1. Focus on retention

Policymakers, school principals and philanthropies have spent a great deal of resources on recruiting teachers of color. And those efforts have paid off. More Black and Latino teachers are entering the teacher workforce.

The story now is one of retention.

Teachers of color leave the profession and move to other schools at a higher rate than their white peers. An analysis of nine school districts found that Black teachers in particular have higher turnover rates than their white and Latino peers. For example, the number of Black teachers in Chicago Public Schools decreased by 39% between 2002 and 2011, compared to a 3% decrease in white teachers and a 6% increase in Latino teachers during the same period.

2. Improve leadership, work conditions

Historically, researchers believed that teachers in urban schools that predominantly serve children of color left their schools because they did not want to work with those students. But teachers don’t leave their students; teachers leave their principals.

Principals create the working conditions that lead to turnover by not supporting teachers or providing the resources they need to work with their students.

To ensure that principals instead create conditions that help teachers of color thrive, they need high-quality preparation. This preparation should include a focus on how to support new teachers as well as work collegially with students, caregivers and teachers.

Model programs that continue to do this work are The Leadership Academy and the Principal Leadership Institute at University of California, Berkeley.

latino students,

Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

3. Fund schools equitably

To retain teachers of color, districts have to improve the working conditions in their schools. One way to do this is to fund schools more equitably.

Some states, like California, have a more progressive, equitable funding formula. That means schools that have a significant number of students who are unhoused, adopted, qualify for free or reduced lunch, or speak English as a second language get more money and resources.

Other states, like New York and Illinois, which are home to some of our country’s largest public school districts, have more regressive funding formulas. Since public schools are primarily funded by local property taxes, students who live in high-income communities across New York State, for example, attend more well-resourced schools than children living in low-income communities. Legal efforts to dismantle this separate and unequal funding system are ongoing.

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4. Redesign teacher training

The U.S. has a wide variety of teacher preparation programs. There’s no common framework for thinking about how to prepare people to become teachers.

Furthermore, in states like California and Texas, after two months of preparation a new teacher can teach children in historically marginalized communities. Given where these teachers are placed, it is clear that school districts, like Oakland Public Schools, will hire those new educators.

Placing the most inexperienced teachers in schools with the most challenging working conditions increases turnover.

What stands in the way of getting more Black and Latino teachers in classrooms is not a clear understanding of the problem, but the courage to act on what we already know.

[Like what you’ve read? Want more? Sign up for The Conversation’s daily newsletter.]The Conversation

Travis Bristol, Assistant Professor of Education, University of California, Berkeley

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

With over 13 million women-owned businesses, Women entrepreneurs are unstoppable

Today, there are over 13 million women-owned businesses and women are starting businesses at double the national average rate, according to the 2019 State of Woman-Owned Businesses Report. Additionally, women of color make up the majority of new business owners, making them the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. The month of October is National Women’s Small Business Month, which celebrates women-owned businesses and their effect on the country’s economy. 

In 1972, there were only 400,000 women-owned businesses and until 1988 women needed a male relative to co-sign business loans. Since then we have come so far. 

According to the 2019 report, women-owned companies grew 3.9% annually from 2014 to 2019, 2.2% more than all businesses at the time. By 2019, women-owned businesses represented 45% of all U.S. businesses and generated $1.9 trillion worth of revenue. Despite these great advancements, there are still many hurdles women entrepreneurs face when starting new businesses.

This week, from October 18 – 22, marks Women’s Entrepreneurship Week (WEW) where colleges and organizations across the country host events and share resources to help women entrepreneurs grow and succeed. Berkeley College is one of many institutions that will be hosting a WEW event. The virtual event, The Future is Women, will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, October 19 and will feature panels of diverse women leaders and entrepreneurs. See here more information and to register

(Image source: Berkeley College)

Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration  (SBA) offers plenty of resources for women business owners and entrepreneurs to help women entrepreneurs launch new businesses and compete in the marketplace.

The Office of Women’s Business Ownership is one branch within the SBA that specifically works to enable and empower women entrepreneurs through advocacy, outreach, education and support. Established in 1979, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership has fostered the participation of women entrepreneurs in the economy, especially those who have been historically under-served or excluded. It supports programs through each of the SBA’s 68 district offices, providing business training and counseling, access to credit and capital, and marketing opportunities.

Resources and further reading for Women Business Owners and Entrepreneurs 

Women have made tremendous leaps and bounds in the area of business and entrepreneurship in recent decades. With over 13 million women-owned businesses and counting and the fastest growing group of business owners, women are an unstoppable force. To continue to foster this growth, we must continue to share resources and support initiatives that support women entrepreneurs. Below are a few resources and articles for further reading to help women entrepreneurs get started and succeed.