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ahora te toca a ti Latinas in business Latina entrepreneurs

Women’s History Month Progress of Latina leadership in business and corporate

Since launching our LatinasinBusiness.us initiative, we have interviewed and were honored with the presence of highly respected Latina leadership. Here’s a list of the Latina entrepreneurs and Hispanic leaders in the business and corporate worlds who visited our pages and shared their experience and wisdom about the progress of Latinas with our readers (by date of publication).

 

Suzanna SanchezSuzanna Sanchez, National President of the National Latina Business Women Association (NLBWA).

“As women, we have a hard time juggling all our roles, as mothers, spouses, professionals and business owners. Organizations such as ours stand behind Latino women in business to help them thrive as leaders. We support policies that would simplify their lives while advancing their economic power.”

 

Angelica-Perez-Litwin_LatinasThinkBigDr. Perez-Litwin,  PhD, a tech social entrepreneur and psychologist  founder of LATINAS THINK BIG

“With 1.4 million computer specialist job openings expected in the U.S. by 2020, and Latinas as the fastest growing female population in this country, it is imperative that we support and advance Latinas in technology and across STEM fields.”

 

 

Angela Franco GWHCCAngela Franco, Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.

“ Some well-educated first generation Hispanic business owners, especially from Mexico, have opened their businesses in Washington looking for opportunities to work and engage in federal and state contracts. However, they might lack the experience some contracts require, or seniority in working with the agencies. Our goal is not only helping new businesses grow but also sustain the existing ones and help them succeed.”

 

Strayer Portraits -Dr Zoppi RodriguezDr. Irene Zoppi Rodríguez, a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and the first Deputy Commander in the U.S. Army Reserve in Puerto Rico.

“Every human being has a purpose in life. Many discover it at the end of their lives, when it is too late, becoming a wasted opportunity. We cannot put time in a box so it is up to us to realize our purpose in life as soon as we can. By discovering that purpose, we can fulfill our destiny within that purpose,” Dr. Zoppi said.

 

 

Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar at the 2nd American Latino National Summit

Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar, Chair of the Board of the New America Alliance (NAA) Institute

“In 1999, a Latina Supreme Court Justice seemed but a dream. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has since inspired legions of American Latinas who can now see themselves in law careers. Latinas in business can have a role model in Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the Small Business Administration (SBA), and a NAA member. Her inspiring story has already impacted Latinas in banking and now she’ll show the way from a larger platform.”

 

YazminDavidds_high_resDr. Yasmin Davidds, founder and CEO of the Latina Leadership Academy

“I have trained women in both, the organizational or corporate and the entrepreneurial environments. There are differences in every aspect of the negotiation process. In a corporation, the organizational culture designates how a woman can use her power, what is acceptable and what is not, and how much –or little- the organization is open to be questioned, so I always recommend being very cautious. Less evolved organizations have less appreciation for women and for that, they present a higher risk.”

 

Mariela Dabbah, Red Shoe Movement

Mariela Dabbah and the Red Shoe Movement

“Most women looking for empowerment usually end up trying to find a formula that worked for someone else without realizing that their characteristics and personality are likely very different from the person they are trying to emulate. The success of the Red Shoe Movement is based on providing tools for women to find their own definition of success and to follow their own style.

 

Maria_Contreras_Sweet_portraitMaria Contreras-Sweet, Head of the Small Business Administration (SBA)

“We’ve made real progress, but at the same time, Latinos have developed a special culture of entrepreneurship by starting our own enterprises. It’s remarkable to see the growth and strength of Latino-owned businesses. Latino purchasing power is expected to top $1.5 trillion by next year. This means if the American Latino market were its own country, we’d be the 11th largest economy in the world.”

 

 

vice president of research, evaluation and learning at The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Debra Joy Perez, The Annie E. Casey Foundation Vice President-Research, Evaluation and Learning Unit

“What matters to young people is to know that every one of the people they admire has had disappointments in their life. They have tried things and failed. WE have also failed. What distinguishes successful Latinas is that even after failure they try again.”

 

 

Pilar Avila, NAA

Pilar Avila CEO New America Alliance

“Less than one percent of Latinas hold high corporate and/or leadership positions. 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.”

 

 

Yvonne Garcia

Yvonne Garcia, National Chairwoman for the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA)

“This is the commitment we ask from top corporate management; there must be a mandate from CEOs to mentor and train our women in order to build not only technical skills but also to develop leadership strength and charisma.”

 

 

Solange Brooks, CalSTRS

Solange Brooks, CalSTRS Portfolio Manager

“Progress over the years comes from one’s own preparation. Women in general and Latinas in particular have increased their preparation, improved their education and are achieving in many areas in the workplace. In business, Latinas cannot allow any roadblocks to stop them from fulfilling their goals. You have to go over, under or around them, but you need to be strong, do the work and get that experience you need to be successful.”

 

 

New America Alliance showcases the economic power of Latinas

Economic power of Latinas was the main topic discussed at the “American Latinas: Leadership and Economic Force.” For the first time, the New America Alliance (NAA) brought to the forefront an exclusive panel of powerful Latinas in recognition of the advances of Hispanic women in business.

economic power of Latinas

The American Latinas’ panel with Pilar Avila, NAA CEO

Opening remarks were addressed by Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar, NAA Institute Chair of the Board and Managing Partner at Victoriana LLC, who made a compelling overview of the milestones Latinas have conquered since NAA’s foundation. “Especially for U.S. Latinas, the future looks promising. Many of our NAA female founding members broke glass ceilings on their own,” she said.

Additional remarks were conducted by Lorraine Cortez-Vazquez, Executive Vice President, Multicultural Markets & Engagement at AARP and Jorge Ferraez, NAA Board Member and Founder and Publisher of Latino Leaders’ Magazine.

The panel showcased Latinas in key positions of the public and private sectors including The Hon. Alejandra Y. Castillo, National Director, Minority Business Development Agency at the US Department of Commerce; Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics; Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar; Carmen Ortiz-McGhee, Senior VP and Resident Sales Director, Aon Risk Solutions, Capital Region; and Alice Rodriguez, Executive VP, Regional Sales and Executive –Business Banking at Chase.

Moderator of the panel was Jackeline Cacho, NAA member and Founder, Finding Productions, who made a great introduction telling her personal story and recognizing the formidable headway Latino women are making in every industry.

The morning panel was followed by the traditional U.S. Mayors Forum and Luncheon with the presence of The Hon. Pedro Segarra, City of Hartford, CT , The Hon. Angel Taveras, Mayor of Providence, RI and Mayor Elect of Providence, RI Jorge Elorza.

Please click on any picture of our photo gallery to see some of the event highlights and share your thoughts on how NAA can increase the economic power of Latinas around the country to boost their economic and political potential. Enjoy!

 

Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar at the 2nd American Latino National Summit

NAA’s Fernandez-Haar on Latinas shaping history

Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar at the 2nd American Latino National Summit

Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar at the 2nd American Latino National Summit

For three consecutive years, I had the opportunity to interview the Chair of the Board of the New America Alliance (NAA) Institute Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar at their annual Wall Street Summit. Having done hundreds of political and business Latino leaders’ interviews, Ana Maria’s friendly personality and savvy approach to the topics at hand made my work extremely easy every time.

This year, NAA’s 15th Anniversary took central stage. Looking back as one of the leaders who was involved in the organization since its inception, Ana Maria believes issues related to Latino political and economic participation are still on the table; however, Latino representation cannot be underestimated. We have made great progress, especially among Hispanic women. Fifteen years at the NAA give her a unique perspective and time frame from which to evaluate progress.

“We live in a data and research-driven environment where no detail of consumer or voter behavior seems too insignificant to measure. Yet at the same time, the democratization of information through social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram has created countless new ways to communicate and connect. All the messages and images are out there, constantly shaping the perceptions that weave the very tapestry of our society,” she said.

Looking at all research available, from the U.S. Census Bureau, Nielsen reports, The Pew Hispanic Center, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and other reliable sources, they show extremely favorable trends for Hispanics, Ana Maria believes.

Their consumer, political and economic clout is clearly on the rise. According to 2013 Census Bureau figures, the drop in the poverty rate among Hispanics – from 25.6 percent in 2012 to 23.5 percent in 2013 and the only demographic group to have increased its economic power–, has impacted the decline in the nation’s overall poverty rate for the first time since 2006.

Who are the Latina pioneers?

“Especially for U.S. Latinas, the future looks promising. Many of our NAA female founding members broke glass ceilings on their own. In fact, Pilar Avila, our first Executive Director, was deemed to be CEO material from the start. It came to pass,” she said.

“In 1999, a Latina Supreme Court Justice seemed but a dream. Justice Sonia Sotomayor has since inspired legions of American Latinas who can now see themselves in law careers. Latinas in business can have a role model in Maria Contreras-Sweet, the head of the Small Business Administration (SBA), and a NAA member. Her inspiring story has already impacted Latinas in banking and now she’ll show the way from a larger platform,” Ana Maria stated.

This progress in no small part is due to their achievement in higher educational attainments. Dr. Antonia Novello, the first Latina Surgeon General, was an unusual occurrence in 1990, Ana Maria recalls. Today, Elena Rios, MD, is the President and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, surrounded by many other Latina physicians.

Pilar Avila NAA CEO

NAA CEO Pilar Avila

“On a personal note, when I was 12 years old I couldn’t even imagine a Latina such as Anna Maria Chavez leading the Girl Scouts. If I had, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt so intimidated. Nely Galan’s Adelante Movement is also making a huge difference. She is business, leadership and service in action. And so it goes,” she shared.

Looking for role models in every industry

As a former marketer, Ana Maria never underestimates the power of role models, for that is the first way most young women feel validated and inspired when considering their own paths towards success. If they remain invisible among the high achievers –with media visibility as a measure in the wider society–, that is a message in and of itself.

“But what they see in their own environments counts just as much. No doubt, those who were ‘first’ to arrive are often considered icons; perhaps even statistical outliers. Still, what it possible for one is possible for others. That is a very powerful message, and the message that all NAA women convey every day,” she said.

In the Latina universe those positive representations are increasing much more rapidly now; for instance, among Fortune 500 CEOs, only 50 are women, four are women of color, none Latina. “But if we look at the pipeline, we cannot help to be impressed with the powerful Latinas already in place. That is not counting those making their mark in STEM, tech entrepreneurs, elected office and other areas of government,” she said.

In private industry, women are assuming CEO positions in family enterprises, which used to be unheard. “Remember when companies were named with the family name and added, ‘e hijos’ (and sons)? Adriana Cisneros now leads the Cisneros Group, global leader in media and entertainment, and Doreen Dominguez does the same for the Vanir Construction Group. As I have noted, there is progress on every front,” she remarked.

Political gains also merit mentioning: Susana Martinez, an attorney and governor of New Mexico; Leticia R. San Miguel Van de Putte, a pharmacist and Texas Senator representing the 26th District in San Antonio, and Nelda Martinez, Mayor of Corpus Christie, TX.  “Look at these mid-term elections, a record number of women will serve in the incoming Congress!” she said.

And Ana Maria’s last thought, “Every Latina in the United States is connected to Latin America in some way. So while we wait for the first woman to become U.S.  President, we should keep in mind Latin American presidents such as Cristina Fernandez, Dilma Rousseff, Laura Chinchilla, Michelle Bachelet or think back to Violeta Chamorro. Could this be considered predictive?” she concluded.

 

Jackie Cacho Vme TV staging Latinas for leadership

Jackeline Cacho, award winning journalist and media producer

Jackeline Cacho, award winning journalist and media producer

The New America Alliance (NAA) meets again this October 27-29 at the 15th Wall Street Summit in New York City under the call “Building on American Latino Success to Forge a Stronger America.”

This year, the conference includes a special panel dedicated to the American Latinas Leadership Caucus with the participation of an exceptional Latina leaders’ lineup that includes Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar, NAA Institute Chair of the Board and Managing Partner at Victoriana LLC; Carmen Ortiz-Mc-Ghee, SVP and Resident Sales Director, Aon Risk Solutions; Solange Fernandez Brooks, CalSTRS Portfolio Manager; and Cynthia Rivera Weissblum, the Edwin Gould Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer.

Jackeline Cacho, the international award-winning journalist, producer and founder of the national TV Show “Jackeline Cacho presenta Triunfo Latino” on Vme TV is an incoming Board Director.

“I have interviewed Latinas from different ages and backgrounds, from different origins and levels of assimilation, and they all have Jackie Cacho in Perusomething in common: the passion for what they do and the hunger to succeed in life,” said Jackie. “You practically hear the same story from many of them: they come from humble origins –like myself- but they have inherited that power, that strength from their immigrant parents, the creativity, the persistence, the impulse, and the ability to reinvent themselves no matter the crisis they face,” she said.

Nobody can speak better to this journey than warm and vivacious Jackie Cacho herself. She was born in Peru and since an early age, she challenged her country’s status-quo by openly speaking about her indigenous roots. She became an advocate for native women who were usually relegated to menial jobs.

“When you see your parents suffer, their fight stays in your heart,” she said. Jackie believes many Latinas are born in hardship and they learn to become survivors within their own circumstances. “I always say that Latinas have this spiritual warrior inside that never consents to defeat.”

She recalls interviews with women such as Hilda Solis, former United States Secretary of Labor, with Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, or recently with Leticia R. San Miguel-Van De Putte, senator for the 26th Texas District, the oldest of a Mexican-Texan family who lived in the country for six generations. “They work hard at supporting and defending the rights of immigrant workers and their families because they had the best teachings from their parents and grandparents,” Jackie said.

From the world of international pageantry in her country of origin to an outstanding career in media and communications in the USA, Jackie overcame her circumstances not only to shine in her own right but also to stage the accomplishments and successes of Latino leaders in the country. Her program, “Triunfo Latino,” has featured the stories of the most important Latino figures in the nation, from business to politics, and from celebrities to scientists.

JCacho_L06In 2006, with her husband Mexican director Thene Mucino they found Finding Productions, a media and marketing company based in Los Angeles, California, but Jackie needed something else. She also founded Edutainment Revolution, an initiative to motivate and inspire young Latino leaders across the nation, which recently launched a 10-city project with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

Twenty years of excellence in media as well as her restless humanitarian efforts around education made her the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions. In 2014 alone, Jackie was named “Mujer Destacada del Año” by the largest Spanish newspaper in the US La Opinion, and was selected among the 25 most influential Latino women in the nation by Latino Leaders Magazine.

“My goal is to leave a seed of change among women who are now growing into the next generation of leaders. We need to learn from each other, to embrace each other, to gain knowledge and experience from those who were pioneers and opened doors for the rest,” she said. “Our work is very valuable, and we must learn to negotiate that value to our advantage in order to create economic momentum for Latinas. Not only we need to earn that first million but we also need to know what comes next!” she concluded enthusiastically.