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Justice Sotomayor

SCOTUS Justice Sotomayor Leadership Award from Hispanic Heritage Foundation

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), an award-winning nonprofit organization established by the White House in 1987, will be granting U.S Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor the Leadership Award at the 29th Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards.

Justice Sotomayor

US Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks during a Commonwealth Club event as she promotes her new book ‘My Beloved World’ (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The ceremony will take place on September 22 at the historic Warner Theatre in Washington, DC. The Awards will include recognition of other Latino leaders’ contributions and accomplishments in various fields including, among others, actress and singer Angelica Maria and Pulitzer Prize author Junot Diaz.

“The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is extremely proud to be able to honor Justice Sotomayor with our Leadership Award,” said Jose Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. “The decision was not difficult,” he told LatinasinBusiness.us in an exclusive interview.

Jose Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Jose Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Tijerino believes Sotomayor embodies what it means to be an American. “More than anyone, her life represents the values and contributions of a true American who has battled difficult situations. Her story is a story of struggle and triumph through service,” he shared.

Justice Sotomayor, an exemplary life

Sonia Sotomayor was born in the Bronx, New York, from parents of Puerto Rican descent. She lost her father at an early age and her mother worked hard to educate both her and her brother.

As a young activist, she was involved in Puerto Rican organizations such as Acción Puertorriqueña and Third World Center during her college years. She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976.

Sotomayor received the Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, established in 1921, awarded to the senior who most clearly manifested excellent scholarship, strength of character and effective leadership.

She then continued her studies at Yale Law School earning her J.D. in 1979 and serving as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. After that, she served as Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office from 1979–1984.

Lee la vida de Sonia Sotomayor en espanol

After some years in private practice, in 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated her to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, serving in that role until 1998.

Then promoted to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Sotomayor was nominated by President Barack Obama as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 26, 2009. Justice Sotomayor assumed this role on August 8, 2009.

Her life has been focused on service reflected in the story she tells in her book My Beloved World. “Her story is the story of all immigrants; my mother used to say ‘Remember you have to pay double for what you receive because you are an immigrant’ and I have also lived by those words,” Tijerino said.

Presenting America with a value proposition

Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize winner/author

Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize winner/author, to receive HFF award

“This year more than ever in my 29-year career, I see the imperative need to present America with examples such as Justice Sotomayor and other prominent Latino leaders we are recognizing this year,” the head of the HHF said. “These leaders convey a critical value proposition of what it means to be a true American in the harsh context of immigrant bashing by some political candidates,” he added.

The Awards were established in 1987 by The White House to commemorate the creation of Hispanic Heritage Month in America. They serve as a launch of HHF’s year-round, award-winning programs which inspire, prepare and connect Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s needs in priority fields.

“Our obligation is to tell these stories as you, LatinasinBusiness.us, are also doing. The value is there, the talent is there. By promoting these stories, we are creating opportunities for ourselves,” Tijerino said. “We are not victims, ‘no hay que aguantar.’ We need to expose these examples to opinion leaders and stay at it, reminding them that we represent 60 million people in this country,” the CEO concluded.

 

For more information on the mission of HHF visit www.hispanicheritage.org. To attend the 29th Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards, please visit here.

Pilar Avila, NAA

Pilar Avila spearheading the NAA American Latina Leadership Caucus

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“Leadership is the behavior that brings the future to the present, by envisioning the possible and persuading others to help you make it a reality.” – Matt Barney, founder and CEO, LeaderAmp
Pilar Avila, NAA

Pilar Avila, New America Alliance’s CEO

At last year’s New America Alliance Wall Street Summit, a new initiative to increase the presence of Latinas in strategic business and civic positions was announced: The American Latina Leadership Caucus. Now, the Caucus is ready to launch in cities around the country.

“For a long time, the New America Alliance has celebrated and recognized American Latino women’s achievements. However, NAA leaders feel there is still a great need to increase the presence of Latina leaders in every corner of this country’s economic and political life,” said Maria del Pilar Avila, CEO, New America Alliance (NAA).

According to Avila, the Caucus is an opportunity for Latinas to be part of a group of influencers who will provide inside intelligence and information about board, corporate, political or non-profit openings while identifying the right candidates from their personal and professional networks.

“The idea is to encourage Latina leadership in different sectors, industries, markets and even across generations as well as to have a balanced vision of diverse Latina’s backgrounds. Through a communication mechanism, these influencers will seek recommendations to search for candidates, exchange biographies and resumes, have conversations with potential candidates, and help them move forward once the right candidates are identified,” she explained.

American Latinas: Leadership and Economic Force panel at NAA Wall Street Summit 2014.

American Latinas: Leadership and Economic Force panel at NAA Wall Street Summit 2014.

Avila herself is a true example of the type of leadership the organization is trying to support. After serving as founding NAA’s Executive Director from 1999 to 2005, Pilar rejoined the organization in May 2010 as Chief Executive Officer.

She personifies the NAA mission of accelerating the economic, political and human capital development of the American Latino community to build a stronger America. Under her leadership, NAA launched the Wall Street Summit, now in its 15th year. The Summit, a three-day event held in the financial capital of the world, brings to the forefront the contribution of American Latinos to the US economy and advocates for a greater inclusion of members of this community across several sectors.

Some of the event’s segments include the Pension Fund Initiative, which has opened access to billions of dollars for diverse asset managers as well as increase access to capital to Latino entrepreneurs; the new session #NewGenR3, A New Generation of American Latino Leaders: Renovate, Remix, Rise, which focused on the rise of new Latino leaders who are redefining their pathways to success and strengthening the pipeline of new leaders moving our nation forward; and the U.S. Mayors Forum & Luncheon, featuring insights into economic development and growth, improvement in education systems, expansion of infrastructure and community engagement across America’s cities.

 U.S. Mayors Forum & Luncheon at the NAA Wall Street Summit 2014

U.S. Mayors Forum & Luncheon at the NAA Wall Street Summit 2014

Now, this new initiative is at the heart of Avila’s commitment to the organization’s leadership. “Less than one percent of Latinas hold high corporate and/or leadership positions,” said the CEO. “We need to build new connections, strengthen the relationships among members of the Caucus, and increase the presence of these leaders who bring particular skills to any decision table,” Avila affirmed.

Caucus participation will be by referral or invitation only. Potential candidates will be seeking some level of recommendation from members of the organization.  “We are hosting a series of introductory dinner conversations to extend our invitation and gather recommendations from the extraordinary group of Latinas we seek to engage,” Avila said.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Avila’s grandparents were farmers; however, they instilled the eagerness for education in their descendants. Avila’s career started in hospitality management at the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau and the Caribe Hilton, after she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business and Hospitality Management from the University of Central Florida.

“It was a hard experience to come to the United States and face the world as a woman, a Puerto Rican and a Spanish-speaking immigrant,” she recalls. It took a hard process of acculturation for her to become a Latina, a very different experience coming from “La Isla” to the diaspora.

From 1996 to 1999, Avila was Vice President of Marketing & Events at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. At that position, she built a strong network of Latino entrepreneurs in key U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico markets while immersing herself in the complexity of Latino participation in business development, political advocacy and the advancement of corporate America.

New Generation NAA

A New Generation of American Latino Leaders panel at NAA Wall Street Summit 2014.

After her first round serving at the New America Alliance, in 2005 Avila joined Palladium Equity Partners as Vice President of Marketing, where she became mainly responsible for strategic marketing initiatives, investor relations, and the strengthening of the Palladium brand.  She was part of the team that raised a historic Hispanic market investment fund of $780 million in 2006.

Avila was recognized by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the “100 Influentials” in 2010. She was also recognized as one of the “20 Most Influential and Outstanding Hispanic Women in Business” by Hispanic Trends Magazine (now PODER Enterprise). In 2004, she was awarded the New America Alliance Chairmen’s Leadership Award.

She now serves as Vice Chair of the Board of ConPRmetidos, a Puerto Rican millennial-led think-and-do tank working to transform the economy of the Island by linking Puerto Ricans to leaders stateside who can develop and facilitate economic opportunities for Puerto Rico.

“Our American Latina Leadership Caucus schedule has been set for seven cities around the country –some of the meeting dates to be confirmed. We expect to bring together more experienced leaders along with emerging ones to introduce them to build new connections. Also, we would like to bolster business development opportunities among its members and channel their energy to the next level of their success,” Avila concluded.

Follow the Caucus meetings’ schedule:

  • Washington DC – June 9
  • New York – June 10
  • Chicago – June 17
  • Los Angeles – July/August
  • San Antonio – September
  • Dallas – September
  • Miami – September