National Hispana Leadership Institute - Celebrating 20 Years of Latina Leadership Search
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Executive Leadership Training & Mujer Awards Conference

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2002 Highlights

Isabel Allende begins her best selling novel Daughter of Fortune with the simple line, “Everyone is born with some special talent…” And with that belief she launches Eliza Sommers, the Chilean orphan, on an adventure generally saved for literature’s Anglo men.

Fifteen years ago, the National Hispana Leadership Institute started its journey with a similar belief at its core. The founders knew that given the right training and support, Hispanics could reach a level of leadership never before achieved. The celebration of NHLI’s 15th Anniversary at Walt Disney World witnessed a room full of Latinas who fully represent the realization of that vision.

The training began with the new addition of the LATINAStyle Magazine Business Series. Focusing on entrepreneurial development and small business strategies, the workshop gave insight into an area where Hispanic women dominate. Small businesses continue to provide Latinas with an opportunity for self-determination and economic empowerment.

As always, leadership formed the crux of the training. The Center for Creative Leadership led two seminars entitled, Developing Your Strategic Leadership Capabilities and The Role of Teams in Effective Strategic Leadership. The first program focused on strategic thinking and addressing challenges associated with moving an organization forward. The afternoon session moved from the strengths of the individual to the power of the collective.

The “Dream Team” of Isabel Valdés, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, and Lillian Roybal-Rose once again brought their inimitable spirit to the event. Perhaps there is no more relevant example of NHLI’s achievement than these three women. Every year, they come to share their wisdom and inspire a new generation of leaders. They teach relative strangers to come together, celebrate each other’s cultures, honor their glorious ancestry, and leave the session as “Hermanas.”

In Orlando, Valdés, author of Hispanic Marketing, shared her groundbreaking research that has made her one of the marketing industry’s most coveted experts. Kickbusch, always the emotional core of NHLI training, helped the women to discover their authentic self. Roybal-Rose reminded the women that once they understand who they are as an individual, that they must comprehend their place in a global culture. In a society that regularly discounts the contributions of Latinas, these three women reach into the souls of the Fellows and allow the rich legacy of their forebearers to shine and live through them.

The two-day program ended with the Mujer Awards. Over the years this night has been described as magical, inspirational, and amazing. Cristina Saralegui, the world famous host of Univision’s “The Cristina Show” as well as a leading advocate for the Hispanic community, received the 2002 National Mujer Award.

Sonia Gutierrez, Executive Director of the Carlos Rosario School in Washington, D.C., won the Regional Mujer Award. Over 50,000 adult immigrant students have benefited from Gutierrez’s educational innovation.

Board Chair Linda Mazón Gutierrez spoke to a room filled with some of the country’s most distinguished women of any background. Among the 400 guests attending the dinner were doctors, judges, corporate executives and community activists. Looking around the room, one could see that Latinas are truly impacting 21st century America. The party started and ended with bursts of fantasy. Maria Barrazas started the evening with a fashion display featuring her latest collection of beautiful designs. Disney capped off the night with its signature “Epcot Illuminations.”

NHLI achieves all that it does as a result of the undying corporate support provided by some of America’s most prominent firms. While many non-profits suffer from ailing fundraising efforts, NHLI’s stalwart supporters have continued to provide financial and in-kind assistance. Sponsors largess have funded everything from the Mujer Awards to Recruitment Breakfasts to the NHLI Youth Leadership Institute.

Major sponsors include Coors Brewing Company, AT&T, State Farm® Insurance, Walt Disney World, Nordstrom, American Airlines, General Motors, Anheuser Busch, Nationwide Insurance, Telemundo Channel 40, U.S. Army, Miller Brewing Company, Goya Foods, Ford Motor Company, USAirways, McDonald’s, Allstate Insurance, Philip Morris Companies, AARP, America West Airlines, State Farm® Bank, Hispanic Journal, LATINAStyle, Verizon, Shell Oil Company, U.S. Postal Service, AETNA, UPS Foundation, Hispanic Women’s Corporation, The Cartel Group, and the U.S. Department of State.

Perhaps the best way to describe the Mujer Awards is not through words but through images. This year Cuban artist Sina Sutter donated her watercolor, “El Orgullo de los Hechos” for NHLI’s 15th anniversary celebration. The painting exemplifies all that it means to be a Hispanic woman and the breaking of the glass ceiling.