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Duran and Pino with signs advocating for marriage equality.

PODER PAC, marriage equality and the power of two in DC (video)

Ingrid Duran and Catherine Pino, Co-founders of D&P Creative Strategies

Ingrid Duran and Catherine Pino, Co-founders of D&P Creative Strategies

Are spouses good business partners? Although they have not tied the knot yet –coming up very soon! –, Ingrid M. Duran and Catherine M. Pino seem to think so, better yet, they know so. For more than eleven years, they have advocated for marriage equality in same sex-couples and anxiously waited for the recent SCOTUS ruling since last 2013, when they got engaged.

Moreover, Duran and Pino, co-founders of D&P Creative Strategies, have been together making headways in several areas of personal and political life, which might not be easy to handle for an average person.

First, these two talented Latinas are in an openly gay committed relationship, actively advocating for the GLBT community. In addition, they are women of Hispanic origin, seen by many as a downside if you are building a career in any corporate environment but.., what about building a business in the Mecca of politics, Washington DC?

“We founded D&P in 2004 to increase the role of corporate, legislative and philanthropic efforts in addressing the concerns of Latinos, women, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) communities,” said Duran, D&P CEO and founder to LIBizus. “We are passionate about the same issues, deeply committed to bring social justice and promote civil rights in the communities we represent.”

However, behind the business partnership, a love story for each other and for the causes they care about had left a trail of incredible individual achievements that came together that year of 2004. They had met briefly in 1992 at a lesbian event in Washington DC but timing was not on their side. Only ten years later the two women will reunite again.

At a young age, Duran was attracted to topics of social justice and civil rights. She recalls attending farm workers rights demonstrations and voter registration drives with her parents in Los Angeles at the early age of five.Duran and Pino on Latina candidates

She then went to serve one tour in the US Marine Corps only to return to Capitol Hill to work as Staff Assistant for the Banking Committee with Chairman Henry B. Gonzalez and a Legislative Assistant for Rep. Gene Green. She also was serving in the Washington DC office of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). These two positions gave her necessary exposure to the connections, processes and particulars of working as a minority and openly gay activist in the political capital of the country.

She served on the President’s Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS under President Bill Clinton and was also appointed to the Minority Veterans Advisory Board. In 2000, she became the first gay Latina to serve on the Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors, and served on the Boards of the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) and The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

Originally from New Mexico, Pino, CEO and founder at D&P, was also attracted at a young age to volunteering activities and helping the disadvantaged in her native Albuquerque. After her first years in college, she moved to Washington DC to serve under Senator Jeff Bingaman, and then for National Council of La Raza’s President Raúl Yzaguirre.

Decided to pursue graduate school, Pino left DC and arrived in New York City where she worked for prominent national foundations including the Carnegie Corporation, serving as their Deputy Director of Urban School Reform. She managed their $60 million high school reform initiative, a multi-million dollar portfolio, and a $25 million Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant. She entered the foundation world at the DeWitt Wallace-Readers Digest Fund, where she managed a $48 million youth development and education portfolio.

Ten years had passed since their previous encounter, and they reconnected through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Communications Director. “The three of us had dinner and it felt like reconnecting with an old friend. We picked up where we left off in 1992,” Duran said.

Pero la suerte estaba echada (alea jacta est). 

Pino joined the CHCI as a Board member, where Duran was President and CEO. They fell in love and shortly after, in 2004, they decided they had an opportunity to become partners in life and business.

“We started our company with no money and just a few clients including Irma Maldonado, founder and CEO at HMA Associates, SODEXO, AARP and the Carnegie Corporation,” Pino shared. They were working from a virtual office with no location or funding but with a solid determination, to find ways to give back and bridge the two communities they represented, Latinos and GLBT.

Duran and Pino with signs advocating for marriage equality.

Duran and Pino with signs advocating for marriage equality.

At first, friends warned them about the perils of taking such an open stand. “Nobody would want to work with you in DC if you say you are a gay couple,” they told us. “There is still a great stigma in the Latino community about gay people,” they shared.

For Pino’s mother, it took a great deal of time to accept her daughter for who she was. “She blamed herself thinking she had done something wrong as a single mother,” Pino said. Duran also recalls her mom had the biggest resistance when she came out of the closet during her time in the Marine Corps. “My father, though, was always very supportive,” she said.

“Today, our moms are our biggest champions,” Duran shared. They never found resistance in their clients either, “Or at least we never knew about it,” they both laughed.

Duran and Pino’s accolades are too many to mention, including sitting at boards of the most prominent philanthropic and political national organizations that advocate for Latinos, businesses, and GLBT. In addition to their work as established lobbyists in DC, Duran and Pino have taken the road less traveled to fund and produce projects that advance several causes they deeply care for.

They established PODER PAC in 2008 as a political action committee by Latinas and for Latinas. “PODER PAC is the only national effort solely focused on increasing the number of Latinas elected to Congress. We have so far seven Latinas running for Congress in 2016 and we will support their efforts and encourage anyone who would choose to run as well,” Duran said.

Brown Beauty Productions was created by Duran and Pino to invite Latinos in the United States to tell their innovative and inspiring stories. They joined forces with Freemind Ventures and created a newco called Freemind Beauty where they have Executive Produced three documentaries for HBO, Latino List Volume 1&2 and The Out List, they also Executive Produced, The Boomer List and The Women’s List for PBS American Masters. These documentaries are part of a franchise called The Identity Project.

“We understand our calling goes beyond ourselves.  We use the strength and love of our relationship in both business and as a couple to work on projects that promote positive images of our communities. We aim to achieve social justice, promote action, and inspire change through our example and our deeds,” they concluded.

GWHCC Business Expo 2015

GWHCC taking Washington Metro by storm at #HispanicBizExpo15

Casual observers might depict Hispanic businesses as a bunch of small colorful bodegas and smelly restaurants or loud music coming out of a video store. Even others might add an immigration lawyer or a tax preparer to the picture, but not many would portrait a sound business community that is impacting US economic trends at staggering rates.

That is the case of the Washington Metropolitan area, a region that includes Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and suburban Maryland, and the preferred location for Hispanic-owned companies in industries such as high technology, legal, accounting, engineering and translation services.

Some of the largest Latino businesses in the nation call the Metro area home, such as Cascades Technologies, Inc. (CTi), an IT company that reported 14M in revenue in 2010; CSA Group, an engineering and architectural design firm offering Project Delivery Services with offices in six Latin American countries and several states in the USA; or Keystone Plus Construction Corporation (KPCC), a general contracting firm established in 1989 named as one of the top 500 largest Latino-owned companies in the US by Hispanic Business Magazine.

Coincidentally, officers of these major Hispanic companies sit at the Board of one of the strongest business organizations in the nation, the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC), a non-for-profit organization constantly advocating for their brand, being the voice of Hispanic businesses at a local and regional level, finding matching opportunities for their products or services within a crowded competition , and speaking on their behalf with policy makers.

Coming up on March 24, 2015, the GWHCC will host its Sixth Annual Business Expo: Connections, Opportunities and Growth at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The Expo is the premier event for Washington, DC’s Hispanic business community showcasing businesses and building connections with participating government agencies, corporations, embassies, nonprofits, small businesses, and local Hispanic business community members.

Mario Acosta Velez GWHCC Chair of the Board

Mario Acosta Velez GWHCC Chair of the Board

“The Sixth Annual Business Expo will offer new and strategic opportunities to help Hispanic-owned businesses to succeed in the DC region.  As a catalyst for business growth in the Washington metropolitan area, the GWHCC is uniquely positioned to provide the platform and tools needed to help move Hispanic-owned businesses forward,” said Mario Acosta-Velez, GWHCC Chairman.

This year’s Business Expo will continue to “Move Hispanic Businesses Forward” by expanding and improving the event over previous years. Throughout the day, the Expo will offer prominent speakers, interactive seminars and business development activities designed to guide participants in every aspect of their business, from how to market their business to securing government and corporate procurement contracts.  The seminars and workshops agenda for the day include:

Agenda

LIBizus media strategic partner at the GWHCC Business Expo 2015

LIBizus media strategic partner at the GWHCC Business Expo 2015

March 24th, 2015 – Expo

10:00 – 11:00am         Educational Seminars
– How to get certified to do business in DC, MD, and VA

11:00am-12:00pm      Educational Seminars
– Government Contracting and Procurement Opportunities

– Financing Tools and Business Productivity

12:00 – 1:00pm    Power Hour 

1:00 – 2:00pm Educational Seminars

– Health & Wellness for your Business

2:00 – 3:00pm Educational Seminars
– Certification Opportunities within Corporate America

– Beyond the Buzz Words: Technology 101 for Your Business

3:00 – 4:00pm    Power Hour

4:00 – 5:00pm Million Dollar Panel

3:00 – 5:00pm Business Matchmaking Sessions

5:00 – 7:00pm  Networking Reception

 

March 25th, 2015- International Symposium

10:30 – 11:30am         

How to Take Advantage of the US Free Trade Agreements in Latin America

11:30am – 12:30pm   

International Business Opportunities in Latin America

 

The Expo represents the perfect platform to help businesses grow, and this year the GWHCC is anticipating over 2,000 attendees, 160 exhibitors, and adding a key new feature. On March 25th, the Expo will feature its first, “Promoting Trade among the Americas” International Symposium. This symposium is part of the GWHCC’s international initiative recently launched in November 2014.

“The Sixth Annual Business Expo will offer new and strategic opportunities to help Hispanic-owned businesses to succeed in the DC region.  As a catalyst for business growth in the Washington metropolitan area, the GWHCC is uniquely positioned to provide the platform and tools needed to help move Hispanic-owned businesses forward,” said Mario Acosta-Velez, GWHCC Chairman of the Board.

To register for the FREE GWHCC’s Sixth Annual Business Expo click on the banner below:

Para registrarse GRATIS para la 6ta Expo Empresarial de la GWHCC haga click aqui:

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