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National Hispana Leadership Institute

Class of 2006


Cynthia Alvillar is the Director of Applied Development Research Solutions in Folsom, California where she conceptualizes, develops and manages multi-country research projects. Ms. Alvillar received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, M.A. cum laude in Economics from New School for Social Research in New York, and her J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. Her community service record includes advocating for Latino rights as an attorney with MALDEF and working to eliminate poverty domestically and abroad, providing Latino health equality with “Visión y Compromiso.”


Angela Anderson, MPP, is the Director of Operations for the Institute for Diversity in Health Management, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association, and is responsible for the operations and programming encompassing workforce, cultural competency and leadership strategies. She received her Master’s of Public Policy with a concentration in Health Administration and Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame. She has developed workforce development programs for students, worked with grassroots organizations in Bolivia, and was a key collaborator in the development of the National Forum for Latino Healthcare Executives. She is a board member of “Expresiones Artísticas” and the Interfaith House organizations.


Veronica Bronkema is the Spanish Language Communications Manager for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. She received a degree in Marketing Management from the Juarez University in Tabasco, Mexico. Ms. Bronkema currently serves as the Vice-President of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Washington and the Hispanic Round Table. She is actively involved with Hispanic youth as a mentor and in the Latino Youth Summit organization.


Carmen G. Cantor is the Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity of the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission in Washington, DC. Ms. Cantor received her M.A. in Labor Relations from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, and her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. Ms. Cantor is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives and the Gallup Panel. She recently served as a member of the board of the University of Puerto Rico Alumni Association in Washington, D.C.


Cielo Castro is the Director of Constituency Services of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund. She focuses her efforts on promoting the governance and policymaking success of Latino elected and appointed officials. Ms. Castro received her B.A. in Business Administration from Boston University. She volunteers with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Through her service with East Coast Chicano Student Forum Los Angeles, California Alumni and Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc., she mentors and recruits Latino youth to attend college.


Maria Ines Castro is the founder and Director of 3-Sixty Marketing Communications, a full-service advertising and public relations firm serving Florida, national and international clients. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and International Finance from Barry University. Ms. Castro founded 3-Sixty in 2002, after 16 years in the marketing communications industry, where she held various positions, including Marketing Director for a global institution. Ms. Castro currently serves on the board of WLRN/Public Radio & Public Television; the Urban Environment League; the Miami-Dade County Economic Empowerment Advisory Board; the Miami-Dade County Affordable Housing Advisory Board; and the Carlos Albizu University Business School Advisory Board.


Janet Collazo is the Interim Executive Director at La Alianza Hispana. She successfully turned around a struggling finance department, greatly enhanced communication systems and technology, performed much needed program evaluations and improved monitoring systems and legal compliance for state and federal contracts. As a community leader, Ms. Collazo served on the organizing committee for the 2004 Democratic National Convention’s (DNC) Latino Party which honored the 2004 DNC Chairman, Governor Bill Richardson. She serves in the Action for Boston Community Development Inc. and on the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative Board of Directors.


Idalia P. Fernandez is Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of the Hispanic College Fund, a national nonprofit organization. She received her Master’s in Business Administration from Averett University. Ms. Fernandez also serves as the treasurer of La Voz Hispana for Education — a Virginia-based organization that empowers Hispanic parents and students through academic enrichment programs and monthly parent meetings to prepare Hispanic students to be college-ready and career-focused. She is also the co-founder and president of Latinas Investing Power, a Latina investment club in the Washington, D.C. area.


Rep. Delia Garcia is the youngest female and first-ever Latina elected to the Kansas Legislature. She is also a professor of American Federal Government at Butler Community College and helps with the family restaurant “Connie’s Mexico Café” in Wichita. Rep. Garcia holds a Master’s in Political Science from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. Rep. Garcia currently serves on advisory boards of Healthy Kansas 2010, Global Learning Center, U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute, Kansas Latino Legislative Caucus, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement of Wichita, Kansas Democratic Party, Kappa Delta Chi Latina Service Sorority Inc. Alumni of Wichita State University, and Inter-Faith Dialogue. She is a member of NALEO, National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and the National Caucus of State Legislator).


Virginia Gonzales is currently a Claim Manager for State Farm® Insurance Companies. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Houston, Texas at Clear Lake and her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas. She has also earned the professional designation of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter from the American Institute of CPCU. Ms. Gonzales has previously served as President and Vice President and member of the Round Rock Independent School District in Round Rock, Texas. She is on the board for the Mentoring Partnerships of Long Island and the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation of New York.


Janie Montoya Ledet is a Lead Systems/Software Engineer at Hewlett-Packard. She has a patent and is responsible for designing and implementing an Embedded Linux Operating System. She was previously a teacher at Trinidad, Colorado State Junior College for the Upward Bound Program. Ms. Montoya Ledet is passionate about getting young girls interested in math, science and technology and has organized many community and corporate events to this end. She is a mentor for Latinas through She has spearheaded several initiatives at HP to increase diversity and improve the work environment for various minority groups.


Brenda Lopez is the Director of Adult Programs at Mi Casa Resource Center for Women that works to advance self-sufficiency for low-income Latinas and youth. She oversees programs that provide instruction, resources and guidance for individuals who want to start their own businesses or enter into a career in high-demand industries. Ms. Lopez currently serves on the board of the Latina Chamber and is an active member of the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She is an active member of the Denver Employment Alliance, a coalition of community-based nonprofit job training and placement organizations. Ms. Lopez is also a 2006 Fellow at the Sector Skills Academy.


Patricia Mejia was appointed in 2006 as the Director of the 21st Century Leadership Center at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. Its mission is to nurture and develop a new generation of leaders committed and equipped to building and positively transforming communities. She also is an adjunct professor in the Political Science Department. She attended St. Mary’s University, San Antonio and received a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s of Arts, both in Political Science. Ms. Mejia has been extensively involved with community leadership development. She has presented at the National Latino Children’s Institute, the Hispanic Summit of Nevada, the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute, and the Texas Student Conference on Latino Affairs.


Marisol Miller is a Spanish and Foreign Language instructor in the Phoenix Union High School District. She graduated from Arizona State University with a double degree in Broadcasting and Spanish and received her teaching credentials and bilingual endorsement. In 2004, Marisol obtained a Master’s degree in Supervision and Administration and her Principal certification from Arizona State University (ASU) and is presently working on her Ph.D. in Leadership in Supervision and Administration in Education in the ASU DELTA V cohort. Ms. Miller is a native of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. She serves on the advisory board of the Friendly House and also sits on the Advisory Committee of the Arizona Federal Credit Union.


Suzanne Moreno is the Founding President/CEO of Encourage Tomorrow. She also is the President of Ed-Ventures in Education, which provides trainings and resources. Ms. Moreno received an M.Ed, teaching credential and an M.S. in Business Management. She is a graduate of Hispanas Organized for Political Equity and is a founder of the Central California Latina Network which was formed to address the needs of Latinas in central California. She also developed the “Las Hermanitas” Mentoring Program. She was recently awarded Business Woman of the Year at the Latina Women’s Conference through the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She serves on the Fresno Nonprofit Advancement Council and is involved in many community events and volunteers with other local non-profits.


Ann-Gel S. Palermo, M.P.H., is the Associate Director of Operations for the Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She is an instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine and received her Master’s of Public Health from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Ms. Palermo also serves on the boards of the East Harlem Community Health Committee and for the Manhattan-Staten Island Area Health Education Center. She is a member of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Admissions Committee, the National Institute’s of Health Directors Council of Public Representatives, the New York Academy of Medicine Institutional Review Board and the New York City HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council of New York.


Maria Ramos-Chertok is an independent consultant, trainer and mediator specializing in nonprofit organizations and public agencies. Her areas of expertise include conflict resolution, communication, teambuilding, sexual harassment prevention, effective supervision and multiculturalism. She has extensive experience as a group facilitator, crisis counselor and advocate. She received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law where she was the recipient of the Fordham Human Rights Award for the most outstanding contribution to the advancement of individual freedom and human dignity. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley.


Carmen Ramos-Watson is the President and CEO of QMRI, a social marketing and management consulting firm in Washington, D.C. She is also the Executive Director of the Celebra La Vida Con Salud (Celebrate a Healthy Life) campaign, which seeks to empower the U.S. Hispanic population with relevant health information and resources. Ms. Ramos-Watson currently serves on the Board of Directors as well as the Executive Committee for City First Bank.


Dr. Migdalia Rivera-Goba, Ed.D., R.N., is a Senior Nurse Specialist for Health Disparities and Community Outreach for the Office of Research, Outcomes and Practice Development at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. She serves on the Boards of the NIH Hispanic Employee Organization and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. Dr. Rivera-Goba’s dissertation, The Journey of Latinas in Undergraduate Schools of Nursing: Roadblocks and Bridges, focused on the experiences of Latina students pursuing a nursing education. Dr. Rivera-Goba’s current research activities address health beliefs and health behaviors, trust and decision making.


Linda Valdez Thompson is the Executive Vice President of the Administration & Diversity at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. In this role, she is responsible for services provided through the Human Resources, Small Emerging Business (Supplier Diversity), Internal Communications, Risk Management and Procurement Management functions. She has been in this role for the past six years. Ms. Thompson received her B.B.A. from Mid-Western State University and her Masters Degree from the University of Phoenix. Ms. Thompson currently serves on the United Way, Tarrant County Advisory Council.


Michelle Vaca-Senecal works as a Trade Management Analyst with the United States Department of Agriculture providing in-depth analysis and guidance related to key agricultural trade issues for senior level policymakers. She received her M.A. in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University and her B.A. in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Ms. Vaca-Senecal serves as a presenter and mentor for NHLI’s Latinas Learning to Lead youth leadership program. She has conducted training on how to successfully meet with high level officials in the professional arena and how to organize a speech. Additionally, Ms. Vaca-Senecal has served as a leader for faith-based youth programs and volunteers her time for various Hispanic initiatives, such as the Hispanic College Fund.


Veronica Villafañe is the Ex-Officio President for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and has over 16 years in the journalism industry, in both Spanish and English language media, in broadcast, print and online. Ms. Villafañe received her B.A. in Journalism from the Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her community service record includes advocacy of better media coverage for Hispanics and Hispanic issues, through the leadership role as President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and cancer awareness involvement with non-profit Latino cancer organizations.


Gloria Williams is the managing owner of MOLA, a Hispanic market research firm dedicated to helping the U.S. Latino consumer voice be understood and conducts research across a wide range of services and products for Fortune 500 companies, as well as top advertising agencies. Ms. Williams is also the U.S. partner of RedZebra Integrated Insights, an innovative organizational development company operating globally since 1994. Ms. Williams is a native of Panama, and holds a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of the Junior League of San Diego and serves on the Board of Directors for Las Comadres Para Las Americas, a national professional networking organization.

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