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New America Alliance, Solange Brooks

New America Alliance CEO Solange Brooks says, “Diversity is one of the elements of success”

Solange Brooks is the CEO of New America Alliance (NAA), a national nonprofit organization committed to building on American Latino success to forge a stronger America and advocate for Latinos in the industry of investment. 

In the second installment of the National Leaders for Latinx Advancement Series, Latinas in Business President and CEO, Susana G Baumann, spoke to Solange to discuss NAA’s various initiatives and how the organization is helping increase capital access for women and minority-owned firms, and accelerate diverse leadership in entrepreneurship, corporate America, and public service.

Access to capital and investing in diverse firms

New America Alliance was founded in 1999 by a small group of successful Latino leaders, including Henry Cisneros, the former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Their mission was to advance the Latino community in four key areas: education, political awareness, economic empowerment, and philanthropy. 

Today, New America Alliance advocates for all communities of color and women, with a focus on financial services and access to capital for firms. 

“We believe strongly, that access to capital is one of the last bastions of the civil rights movement, and we have to go ahead and address it,” said Solange. 

Access to capital is a crucial first step for any project or venture and minority communities in particular often struggle the most in this area. Without capital, there is little you can do. This is something we know to be true for entrepreneurs and small business owners as well. For this reason, NAA began to expand to include other minority groups and become an even more diverse and inclusive organization. 

“We find that a lot of the things that help us, a lot of the tenets that we started this organization with, apply to too many people in the communities of color,” said Solange. 

One of New America Alliance’s biggest key initiatives is securing access to capital for diverse firms. 

“What we do is we meet with various institutional allocators to basically come and get to know us, get to know the members of NAA, get to know the opportunities they offer,” Solange said, detailing the process. 

“What happens often times is that people think ‘Oh, investing with diverse firms is like a social experiment.’ I’m here to tell you that, no, it isn’t. It’s not a social experiment at all. It’s basically money on the table that institutional investors have been leaving there because they don’t look at what we have, they have to be vetted. So we present opportunities. And we have a good conversation, we get to know the institutional investor a little bit, they get to know us a little bit. And then we circle back with them to see, which is the best way to present our opportunities. So it is not just a meeting that everybody feels good and goes their separate ways. But it’s a meeting where there’s actual engagement, and we have followed through. And this has been very, very successful. We have had people that may, they didn’t know anything about investing with communities of color, all of a sudden calling me and asking me, do you have somebody in infrastructure? Or do you have fixed income folks? And of course, there’s private equity. That’s very, very prevalent right now.” 

Diverse firms with diverse managers and partners are also more likely to bring in better revenue. This is because a diverse management structure prevents groupthink and allows for a greater pool of investment opportunities. 

“It has been proven over and over again that diversity is one of the elements of success…because everybody has different ideas, they have different worldviews,” said Solange.

“If you have everybody that came from the same place, went to the same school, had the same background, you are missing a huge portion of what you can do in investments. So yes, I know it’s right now, it’s very popular to quote diversity and inclusion. However, we, you know, NAA, has been doing that for 21 years. And there have been some institutional investors that this is all they do. And they’ve been having very good results.”

You might be interested: “We need to speak up about social justice” says Prospanica CEO Thomas Savino

NAA advocating for transparency in politics and educational initiatives 

Another key initiative for the New America Alliance is political awareness, specifically advocating for transparency. As a nonpartisan organization, NAA feels strongly about political transparency not only in corporate life but in pension plans. Through town halls and working with key legislators, NAA is pushing for greater transparency. 

“And you say,’ Why?’ Well, pension plans are the people’s money, and the workforce should know how their investments are being made. And they should know that the people in pension plans are doing their absolute best to take advantage of all the opportunities. And you do not know that unless you have a transparent system, where you can go ahead and observe what’s going on and have a dialogue about that,” Solange said. 

The third key initiative is in the area of education, passing on the torch to the next generation through mentorship opportunities. The NAA Institute Pathway Fellowship program is one of the ways NAA is working to guide young leaders. The program is an opportunity to foster and accelerate young leaders among American Latinos, women, and people of color and accelerate that leadership and entrepreneurship in corporate America and in public service. 

“So we have a program where we mentor the various individuals in the summer. And we basically have conversations with them, and they can see how somebody that looks like them is successful, and they’re in the financial services industry. And, you know, my favorite saying is like, ‘Hey, it’s not rocket science, folks. Anybody can learn it, just go to college, focus on math, focus on economics, and you’ll be fine.’ So we’re very excited about that program.”

Watch the full conversation between Susana G Baumann and Solange Brooks. 

For potential investors interested in becoming a member of New America Alliance, there are various advantages to becoming a part of the organization. NAA has a network of people, from large funds to small funds to people just starting out. 

“We help each other. Most definitely, because most of us know what it’s like to begin a business. Or know what it’s like to change strategy, and have to go ahead and discuss those opportunities,” said Solange. 

“One of the great things about investments is that there’s always somebody with a great idea. There’s always somebody new that’s bringing up their idea, and we want to nurture that.” 

Currently, the U.S. Latino population makes up about 18% of the total population and possesses about $1.5 trillion in buying power. The Latino population is also young and still growing.   

“And with all those little points, we are the future of this country. And Financial Services is only one segment where we have incredible value for institutional investors.”

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NAA American Latinas economic, political and leadership force

An outstanding lineup of American Latinas representing the economic, political and leadership force of the female Latino community will meet at the New America Alliance 16th Wall Street Summit once again on October 5th in New York City.

 

new-american-latinas-caucus2016

The initiative was launched for the first time in 2014. The New America Alliance (NAA) brought to the forefront an exclusive panel of powerful American Latinas in recognition of the advances of Hispanic women in business and the workplace, and as a result, the American Latina Leadership Caucus was born.

The NAA American Latina Leadership Caucus aggregates 100 influential Latinas across sectors – entrepreneurship, corporate, appointed/elected office, nonprofit and academia, to enhance the pipeline and accelerate the placement of Latina leadership talent.

  • The Caucus identifies career and board opportunities and Latinas to put forth as candidates.
  • Caucus gatherings bring together seasoned and rising Latina leaders as part of an ongoing process to introduce new resources and connections; transfer lessons learned; and highlight pathways to reach the next level of success and influence.
  • Our effort includes the proliferation of business being done among members of the Caucus. We are, after all, invested in Latina success.

This year, the organization made emphasis in structuring the initiative at a national level, naming co-chairs for every region in the country.

NAA American Latinas National Co-chairs

Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar NAA Institute Board Member;  Managing Partner, Victoriana, LLC

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

Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar

Drawing upon a successful thirty-year trajectory in commercial banking, marketing communications, international trade and community service, Ana Maria Fernandez-Haar is now an investor, grantor and pro-bono consultant to non-profits and minority-owned small businesses in a variety of industries including publishing, airport retailing, financial planning and professional services.  She is a motivational speaker and coach to Latinos through her weekly radio show on Univision Radio/South Florida, El Arte del Triunfo/The Art of Success and through a live seminar series based on the program.

Read more: NAA’s Fernandez-Haar on Latinas shaping history

 Carmen Ortiz-McGhee NAA Institute Chair of the Board; Senior Vice President & Resident Sales Director, Aon Risk Solutions, Capital Region

Carmen Ortiz-McGhee

Carmen Ortiz-McGhee

NAA Inc and NAA Institute Board Member and Co-Chair American Latinas Caucus; Co-Chair, Marketing & Communications Committee Carmen Ortiz-McGhee is Senior Vice President and Head of Sales for Aon Risk Solutions (ARS) – The Capital. In this role, she is responsible for driving growth and market penetration for ARS throughout Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and Maryland. Before joining ARS, Carmen served as Executive Vice President of Sales for Aon Cornerstone Innovative Solutions.

Read more: Ortiz-McGhee facing challenges in minority education


California

Jackeline Cacho_L01_profile

Jackeline Cacho

Jackeline Cacho NAA Board Member, Founder, Finding Productions 

Cacho founded Finding Productions, a media and macerating services agency with an expertise in commercials, infomercials, corporate videos, music videos, events, TV direction and productions, media buying and advertising campaigns. Through Finding Productions and with the support of the company’s president Thene Mucino, Cacho developed “Triunfadores Latinos con Jackeline Cacho”, an independent program transmitted on Mundo Fox 22 and Super 22.2 since April 2012. Over the years Cacho has served as a Latina leader that encourages the Latino community across the nation to be leaders in their own right.

Read more: Jackie Cacho Vme TV staging Latinas for leadership

 Nely Galán Media Entrepreneur, The Adelante Movement

Nely Galan Self-Made

Nely Galan

The Emmy Award-winning producer and advocate for gender parity, Cuban born Nely Galán started at the very bottom when her parents were forced to leave their country of origin and migrate to the United States. She worked her way up to become the first female president of entertainment of a U.S. Hispanic television network (Telemundo). Although a big achievement in her life, she did not feel satisfied until she became successful in her own terms by building a real estate empire and a global multicultural media company that has created over 700 television shows and helped launch 10 channels around the world. Always looking for purpose in her life, she then started The Adelante Movement (“Move it forward!” in English), a non-profit organization sponsored by The Coca-Cola Co., which kicked off in 2012.

Read more: Nely Galán SELF-MADE an inspiring story of empowerment and self-reliance

Washington, DC

Mary Ann Gomez Orta Executive Director, Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) 

Mary Ann Gomez Orta

Mary Ann Gomez Orta

Mary Ann Gomez joined the Congressional Hispanic Institute (CHLI) as its Executive Director in 2011. Prior to joining CHLI, she was the Executive Director of the National Association of Hispanic Publications. She is former corporate marketing manager with Coors Brewing Company and McDonald’s Corporation. She managed multi-million advertising and marketing campaigns, collaborated with advertising and public relations firms as well as multi-lingual broadcast, print and outdoor media to executive local, regional and national promotions.

 

Elizabeth Oliver-Farrow President and CEO, The Oliver Group, Inc.

Elizabeth Oliver Farrow NAA American Latinas

Elizabeth Oliver Farrow

Elizabeth Oliver-Farrow is President and CEO of The Oliver Group, Inc. (OGI), a Washington, DC-based public relations and government policy consulting firm where she works with senior executives on outreach strategies. She formerly operated another communications firm for 29 years after having served previously as an entertainment industry publicist and as Director of Public Relations for Playboy Clubs International. She brings 40 years of public relations and outreach experience for corporate, trade and federal clients. Ms. Oliver-Farrow, a Puerto Rican born in the South Bronx, has a commitment to empowering, educating and advocating for women, youth, and the Hispanic business community.

Florida

Brenda Alfaro Vice President – Business Development Group, LM Capital Group, LLC 

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Brenda Alfaro

Brenda Alfaro joined LM Capital Group in January 2014. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Alfaro worked as Vice President-Marketing at Hansberger Global Investors responsible for institutional business development. Ms. Alfaro also worked as Institutional Sales/Client Service Manager at Paradigm Asset Management. She received a Master of Social Science Administration from Case Western Reserve University, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida International University.


Illinois

Olga Camargo Managing Partner, Toroso Investments

Olga Camargo NAA American Latinas

Olga Camargo

Olga Camargo, AIF® is Managing Partner at TOROSO Investments, LLC, a registered investment advisor firm. Olga provides investment advisory and retirement plan advisory services to clients that include: high net worth individuals, business owners, public and private corporations, public sector entities, and not-for-profit entities and foundations. Olga holds the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) professional designation from Fiduciary 360, and is able to effectively implement a prudent investment process for all of her clients.

New York

Danielle Beyer Director of Strategic Partnerships, 55 Capital Partners

Daniel N Beyer NAA American Latinas

Danielle N Beyer

Danielle N Beyer is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at 55 Capital Partners. Prior, Danielle was a Managing Director and Head of Investor Relations at Mariner Investment Group, LLC. Prior to joining Mariner in 2008, Danielle focused on commercial mortgage backed securities in the Structured Products group for NatCity Investment (now PNC). Previously, she was with National City’s Investment Banking group where she worked on Special Situations and Industrials M&A engagements. She earned a M.B.A. from the Simon Graduate Scholl of Business and is a cum laude graduate of the University of Rochester.

Dallas, TX

Veronica Torres Director of Business Development, Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau (DCVB) 

Veronica Torres NAA American Latinas

Veronica Torres

Veronica Torres currently works for the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau as the Director of Business Development. Veronica currently serves as the President of the Hispanic 100 board of Directors and is a member of the Young Latino Executives, the Mayor’s Star Council Advisory Board, the Hispanic Women’s Network of North Texas, the Greater Dallas planning Council, LATISM (Latinos in Social Media- Dallas Chapter), and is Co Chair of the Girls Inc. Champion for Girls Program.


San Antonio, TX

The Honorable Rebecca Viagran  City Council, District 3, City of San Antonio

Rebecca Viagran NAA American Latinas

H. Rebecca Viagran

Rebecca J. Viagran was elected to City Council District 3 in May 2013 and re-elected to the office in 2015. Aside from being directly involved with city government, Councilwoman Viagran also has experience working with community organizations and volunteering for important causes. She served the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as Vice President of External Affairs and worked as the Director of Government and Community Relations for Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT).

 

Patricia Diaz Dennis Board of Directors at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, US Steel & Entravision Board of Directors

Patricia Diaz Dennis NAA American Latinas

Patricia Diaz Dennis

Patricia Diaz Dennis is also a trustee of the NHP Foundation, a member of the Advisory Boards for LBJ Family Wealth Advisors and Western Governors University Texas, and is Chair of The Global Fund’s Sanctions Panel. She was a SVP & Assistant General Counsel overseeing various legal matters for the company originally known as SBC Communications (which became AT&T) from 1995 to 2008, when she retired. Ms. Diaz Dennis received three Presidential Appointments. From 1983 to 1986, President Ronald Reagan named her a member of the National Labor Relations Board. He then appointed her a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission until 1989. President George H.W. Bush appointed her Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in 1992.

American Latinas Economic, Political and Leadership Force Session #NAALatinaCaucus

Moderator: Carmen Ortiz-McGhee, NAA Institute Chair & American Latina Leadership Caucus Chair; SVP & Resident Sales Director, Aon Risk Solutions, Capital Region

American Latinas Panelists:

Brenda Alfaro, Vice President Business Development, LM Capital Group; #NAALatinaCaucus Co-Chair, Miami

Angela Arboleda, VP Government and Community Affairs Herbalife

Angela Arboleda American Latinas

Angela Arboleda

Angela Maria Arboleda works on a variety of policy issues for the company and serves as a federal government relations lobbyist conducting outreach on Capitol Hill and the Administration. Angela joins Herbalife after a 15-year career in public service. Most recently, she served as Senior Policy Advisor for Latino and Asian-American Affairs for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). In that capacity she oversaw policy and political strategy impacting the Latino and Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in the U.S. Prior to her time on Capitol Hill, Angela worked at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) – the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S. – as Director of Civil Rights and Criminal Justice Policy. At NCLR, she was a spokesperson to both mainstream and Spanish-language media.

Olga Camargo, Managing Partner, Toroso Investments; #NAALatinaCaucus Co-Chair, Chicago

Patricia Díaz-Dennis, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, US Steel & Entravision Board of Directors; #NAALatinaCaucus Co-Chair, San Antonio

Ivelisse Estrada, Senior Vice President of Corporate and Community Relations, Univision

Ivelisse Estrada

Ivelisse R Estrada

Ivelisse R. Estrada is senior vice president of Corporate and Community Relations for Univision Communications Inc (UCI), the leading media company serving Hispanic America. In this role she is responsible for the overall development and coordination of community relations strategies for the Company including the Univision Network, UniMás Network, Univision Cable Networks, as well as Univision Local Media, including TV, radio and digital. She coordinates all philanthropic contributions and serves as a liaison between UCI and community organizations. Estrada also plans, directs and supervises the execution of the Company’s community empowerment platform Univision Contigo which includes Education, Health, Prosperity and Civic Participation.

 Read more: Ivelisse Estrada at Univision building community from a position of leadership

Daisy Expósito-Ulla, Chairman & CEO, d’exposito & partners; NAA Latina Caucus Member

Daisy Exposito American Latina

Daisy Exposito

Daisy Expósito-Ulla is a pioneer and a recognized authority in Multicultural Marketing and brand communications. She is Chairman/CEO of d exposito & Partners. In 2015, the agency was chosen AEF Agency of the Year by the Advertising Educational Foundation, which also recognized Daisy “for her contributions to American advertising.” Prior to founding the agency, she was Chairman/CEO of Young & Rubicam/WPP’s The Bravo Group, a company she helped launch and subsequently build during her twenty-four-year tenure, becoming the largest U.S. Hispanic agency of all time.

Mary Ann Gómez Orta, President & CEO, Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute; #NAALatinaCaucus Co-Chair, Washington DC

“These women have pioneered new business models, led organizations that have set records and made history,” said Carmen McGhee, NAA Institute Chair & American Latina Leadership Caucus Chair. “These American Latina leaders have all done very well in their careers and are committed to doing good in their communities as they build and grow their legacies, open doors and make business connections for the generations of leaders that are coming after them.”

Join Wall Street Summit participants as they learn at the heels of these American Latinas business influencers.

As a LatinasinBusiness.us supporter, you can register 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

 

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.