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NHLI  2010 Executive Leadership Training Conference & Mujer Awards

2008 Conference Highlights
Schedule of Events | Awardees | Sponsors | Keynote Speakers | Presenters | Authors | 2008 Conference Webcast | Photo Gallery



Some of the country’s most successful Latinas and nationally recognized experts, speakers and personalities from the corporate, government, non-profit and media sectors facilitated the 2008 Executive Leadership Training and Mujer Awards Conference’s events

Cornell Boggs

N. Cornell Boggs

Cornell Boggs is chief responsibility and ethics officer for MillerCoors. He is responsible for ensuring we live up to our commitment to respect our consumers, our communities and our planet. Previously, Cornell was chief legal officer and group vice president of public affairs at Coors Brewing Company, where he was responsible for legal, government affairs, corporate communications, alcohol responsibility and water and natural resources. Before joining Coors in 2005, Cornell served as vice president and general counsel for Tyco Plastics & Adhesives. Earlier in his career, he also handled and directed legal affairs for Anheuser-Busch, Intel Corporation and Monsanto Company. Cornell earned both his undergraduate degree and law degree from Valparaiso University in Indiana. He also served a two-year appointment to the U.S. Department of Justice honors program.

Yoli Casas

Yoli Casas

For over 22 years, Yoli has brought her passion, education and experience to coaching triathlons and endurance athletics. She has a Master's in exercise physiology and applied kinesiology and currently works at the University of Colorado as a research assistant in the area of exercise, aging and cardiovascular health, particularly in postmenopausal women. Her competitions include: world long distance duathlon in Zofinger, Germany, world long distance triathlon in Nice, France) 19th place; and the national age group championships  held on Hilton Head Island. She competed in over 10 international marathons and in the world long distance duathlon championships in 1994. From 1985 to 1996 she had the title of Elite/Professional Endurance Athlete in running and in the triathlon Yoli has her Expert Level II Triathlon Coaching Certification and Race Director Certification and has helped over 1000 athletes of all levels through the years. This year is her 13th season as the program designer and head coach for Team CWW Triathlon, (Voted best women’s triathlon club in the nation by USAT).  Yoli’s coaching philosophy: coaching is about making it fun, believing, teaching, compassion, encouragement, patience, support (lots of it)…listening…just being there thought the athlete’s journey. Her coaching interest is helping people through their life challenges by incorporating athletics into their lifestyle and helping women of all levels and ages achieve their athletic goals and in the process empower them to believe in themselves.

Marieli Colon Padilla

Marieli E. Colon-Padilla

Marieli is Vice President of Fleishman-Hillard, Inc.  Marieli, a former Girl Scout and Gold Medal Award recipient, is a marketing, communications, and public affairs consultant with expertise in reaching Latino/Hispanic consumers, community based organizations, and business and civic leaders. She brings an interesting combination of professional skills and experiences due to her work in the nonprofit, public and private sectors and her commitment to public affairs. She earned her Bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in Business Administration in Marketing from Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico. Marieli completed a Leadership for the 21st Century: Effective Change Through Public Policy and Management Executive Certificate Program from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is a graduate of the NHLI Class of 2006.

Adriana Comellas-Macretti

Adriana Comellas-Macretti

Adriana Comellas-Macretti manages State Farm’s relationship with its Goodwill Ambassador Julie Stav and several Hispanic partner organizations. She also works with the Human Resources department in helping them with their strategies in recruiting, retention, and development of multicultural associates. Until recently Adriana was part of the Multicultural Business Development Group where she helped develop strategies and tactics for recruiting bilingual agents and associates. Prior to this role Adriana had responsibility in the development of the company’s marketing strategy and tactics for the Hispanic market. She joined State Farm in March 2000 in Miami, Florida, where she was the Emerging Markets Coordinator for five counties in Florida. Before working for State Farm Adriana was a banker for 15 years, her last role being Comptroller of Banque Paribas in Miami-Dade County. Her responsibilities were to oversee all the operational activities of the bank i.e. tellers, accounting, audit, loans, and the bank’s investment portfolio. Prior to moving to Bloomington Adriana was appointed by Florida Governor Jeb Bush and served as a Florida Commissioner on Community Service. She also served on the Miami-Dade County Commission on the Status of Women and was a three term President of the League of Women Voters in Miami-Dade among many other community activities. Adriana became a member of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Senior Executive Corporate Advisory Board (SECAB) and the Business Advisory Council for the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA). She was selected in 2004 as a member of the Leadership Illinois Class. She is an Advisor to the Board, Past Chair and founding member of the Hispanic Employee Resource Organization (HERO) one of State Farm’s Employee Resource Groups. She is an alumna of the NHLI Class of 2003 and became a NHLI Board Member in 2005.

Fernando Desa

Chef Fernando Desa

A new member of La Gran Familia Goya, Chef Desa is primarily responsible for the research and development of new products and recipes for inclusion on and its related publications. Capturing the traditional tastes and methods that have been handed down through generations, he works to retain the flavors that epitomize Latin American cuisine while incorporating new techniques that can be easily duplicated by the home chef. Fernando’s ability to fully explore the potential of new products epitomizes the brand’s commitment to authenticity and refined Latin American cuisine.  A native of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Fernando is deeply rooted to culinary excellence and references his mothers’ expertise as a teacher of International Cuisine at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) as a primary inspiration for his pursuit of cooking as a career. While studying biology at UPR, Fernando was employed as a Chef at the Capriccio Restaurant, as well as Pastry Chef for the highly rated Horned Dorsett Primavera Resort in Rincon, Puerto Rico. In 2001, Fernando obtained his degree in the Culinary Arts from the prestigious Johnson & Wales University. Prior to joining Goya Foods, he honed his talents as Chef d’Partie at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia before assuming the role of R&D Chef and Executive Sous Chef for Kettle Cuisine in Massachusetts. Fernando is a proud member of the Institute of Food Technologists, the American Culinary Federation, and the Research Chef Association. In his role as Executive Chef for Goya Foods, Fernando draws upon his varied experiences in the culinary world to inform his work in product development as well as participating in food demonstrations and televised appearances on behalf of the company.  Fernando resides with his wife Cristina in Rutherford, New Jersey.

Barbara DesMarteau

Barbara J. DesMarteau

Barbara is the Director of the Adams County Community & Economic Opportunity Department that includes the Workforce & Business Center, Community Development, and Head Start. The Community & Economic Opportunity Department is one of nine cabinet level departments directly reporting to the Board of County Commissioners. Barbara is an appointed official, and serves at the pleasure of these elected officials and the County Administrator. Through her department, she also oversees county wide boards that are appointed by the County Commissioners. Before joining Adams County, Barbara served as the Executive Director of the Mi Casa Resource Center for Women, a nonprofit community-based organization. Additionally, Barbara managed human services programs for the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Community Services Administration. Barbara completed the Senior Executive Program for State and Local officials at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has completed the International Career Advancement Program at the University of Denver and the Head Start – Johnson & Johnson Fellows Program at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. Barbara currently serves on the Adams County Economic Development Board and the Audubon Colorado Board of Directors. Barbara attended graduate school at the University of Kansas, and has a BA in Sociology from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas.  Barbara is a NHLI alumna of the Class of 1994.

Monica Diaz

Monica Diaz

Monica is the Diversity Director at Merck & Co where she leads the Global Constituency Groups (GCG), the design and development of strategies for cultural and organizational change to enhance inclusion, global talent management, customer focus and strategic alliances. Monica is responsible for identifying and leveraging synergies across diverse groups, developing strategies to address vital differences in specific constituencies, while developing internal and external relationships in support of Merck’s diversity and inclusion strategy. Monica’s experiences include leading roles in Global Talent Management, HR Operations, Organizational Development and all other functional HR areas in the U.S. and Latin America. Monica has 20 years of experience in HR, applied in the Pharmaceutical, Apparel and Staffing Services fields. She holds an MA degree in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology and BA in Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico. She is a member of SHRM, HBA and other female executive associations.

Laura Drain

Laura Drain

Laura is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Alcanzando Metas Foundation and Founder/President of the Hispanic Professional Women Association (HPWA). HPWA has the mission to raise awareness of the many skills and talents of Hispanic women around the USA, to contribute to the growth and development in work and life. Today the association has 14 chapters in U.S., one in London, Paris, France, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico City. Alcanzando Metas Foundation helps young Hispanic/Latino high school women succeed in the 21st century. During the 2008 Republican National Convention she was selected to be a delegate from the state of Virginia and is also the co-chair of Latinas for McCain.

Ingrid Duran

Ingrid M. Duran

Ingrid is Co-Founder and Principal of D&P Creative Strategies, a company that she and partner Catherine founded 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. Prior to starting D&P, Ingrid was President and CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, where she expanded on an already extensive professional network that included members of Congress, elected officials and Fortune 500 executives. Ingrid’s passion for social justice was sparked at the young age of 5, when she began attending farm worker rights rallies with her parents and participating in voter registration drives in her hometown of Los Angeles. Following a tour in the U.S. Marine Corps, where she developed critical leadership skills, Ingrid worked for six years on Capitol Hill, serving under the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, working on the House Banking Committee under the leadership of Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, Chairman and Rep. Gene Green as a Legislative Aid. Through these positions, she became well versed in the intricacies of the legislative and committee processes. Ingrid also ran the Washington, DC office of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, where she was responsible for representing Latino community interests to Congress and the Administration. She was tapped by President Bill Clinton to serve on the President’s Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS, and was appointed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 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 is also currently Chairwoman of NHLI and a board member of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Boards. Her efforts as a strong and steadfast advocate for the GLBT and Latino communities have garnered her numerous honors, including the 2003 Premio Dignidad Award from LLEGO. Both Hispanic and Poder magazines have named her among the Nation’s 100 Most Influential and Powerful Hispanics, and the former has recognized her as a Latina of Excellence in 2004 and 2005. She is a graduate of Park College, where she earned a B.S. in Organizational Management. She is a graduate of the Executive Program at Harvard’s JFK School of Government, Corporate Governance Program of Harvard Business School, the NHLI Executive Program Class of 2002, and of the Center for Creative Leadership.

Ysabel Duron

Ysabel Duron

Ysabel is an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years in television broadcasting.  In 1997 she was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ “Silver Circle” for her meritorious work as a journalist. She is a weekend anchor of “KRON 4 Weekend Morning News”. She won a team Emmy at WMAQ-TV for breaking news coverage of the Laurie Dann School shooting. Since joining KRON 4, Ysabel has garnered public acclaim with two award-winning series: “The Child I Never Held” and “Life with Cancer.” Ysabel also worked at KTVU-TV in Oakland where she won her first Emmy in 1974 for her reporting of the Patty Hearst kidnapping. She was honored again in 1982 while working as a reporter/anchor at KICU-TV in San Jose where her four-part series “Trouble with Teachers” won the John Swett Award for Media Excellence, the highest award given by the California Teachers Association. Her journalism interests have taken her to Mexico, Chile and Argentina as a board member of the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), working to create a network of Latina journalists. A native of Salinas, California, Ysabel received a BA in Journalism from San Jose State University. She was named one of America’s top 100 Hispanic Women in Communications by Hispanic USA Magazine. She is president of the board of Las Isabelas, a unique Santa Clara County nonprofit that provides support services to Latinas with breast cancer, targeting low-income Spanish-speaking women. Ysabel is also a board member of Ballet San Jose of Silicon Valley. In June 2007, she was voted one of the 100 Most Influential Latinos in Silicon Valley. She was also honored with an individual award as the Most Influential Latino in Media. Ysabel is a 1990 NHLI Fellow. Visit her website:

Lucrecia Farfan Rodriguez

Lucrecia Farfan Ramirez

Since 1999, Lucrecia has worked as a Researcher and Principle Investigator in the Nutrition Education Training Academy at the University of California, Davis, Center for Youth Development. She is also a Visiting Scholar for the Department of Public Health and Global Health. Her areas of expertise are: translation, cultural sensitivity training and presentations on the food habits of Mexico, Central and South America. Lucrecia has experience in multicultural training for the staff of Livermore Crisis Center, multicultural social interaction, SERIES training for the University of California Cooperative Extension, and multicultural framework for 4H Publications, and the 4H Curriculum Council Statewide. She is also the creator and author of numerous educational materials for Chinese and Southeast Asian communities. She has co-authored publications that deal with the migrant worker community and nutrition in early childhood as well as in low-income communities. She graduated with a BA in Social Welfare/Public Health as well as her Master’s in Health from University of  California, Berkeley. Lucrecia obtained her Master’s in Public Administration from California State University at Hayward.  She is a graduate of the NHLI Class of 1993.


Maribel Ferrer-Gil

Maribel is Senior Vice President at Fleishman-Hillard and Co-Chair of FH Hispania. She has extensive experience developing and managing national strategic Hispanic public relations programs. She has managed Hispanic public relations programs on behalf of corporate and government clients, and has expertise in consumer marketing communications, media relations, brand reputation, and consumer education platforms. Maribel has worked managing public relations programs that have earned industry recognition including PR Week’s Multicultural Campaign of the Year, Texas Public Relations Association Silver Spur, Silver Anvil, and a PRSA Houston Excalibur Award.  Before joining Fleishman-Hillard in 1999, Ms. Ferrer worked in the advertising industry and was a business reporter with El Nuevo Dia in her native Puerto Rico. She earned a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and also holds a Bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Puerto Rico. She lives in Miami with her husband and son.

Emily Gantz McKay

Emily Gantz McKay

Emily is president and founder of Mosaica: The Center for Nonprofit Development and Pluralism, a multicultural nonprofit organization that provides tools to community-based nonprofits, national organizations, foundations and grantmaker collaboratives, planning bodies, coalitions, and collaboratives to build just, inclusive, and thriving communities and societies. Emily places special focus on organizations serving communities of color, multicultural and intergroup initiatives, immigrant- and refugee-led organizations, and AIDS groups. She is the author of numerous self-help materials on topics such as nonprofit governance, strategic planning, financial management and oversight, resource development, and evaluation. She has done work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Israel, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. She spent 16 years on the senior staff of the National Council of La Raza, the largest constituency-based Hispanic civil rights organization, serving as Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President for Institutional Development, and Vice President for Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, among other roles. Emily is a Board member of the Academy of Hope (an adult education organization) and the Hispanic Link Journalism Foundation. She has served on the boards of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, NHLI, Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Refugee Women in Development, Inc., and the New Bosnia Fund. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University, holding a BA and MA (in Communication with emphasis on professional journalism, communication research, and race and ethnic relations). Her honors include the I. Pat Rios Award from the Guadalupe Center in Kansas City, Missouri (1988), the NCLR President’s Award, the Milagro Beanfield Award from Ayuda (2004), and an Unsung Heroes award from the U.S. Conference on AIDS. Emily is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, and Who’s Who of American Women. She has been married for more than 40 years to Dr. Jack A. McKay, a research physicist turned community activist.

Jeannie Goldie

Jeanne Goldie

Jeanne is a nationally recognized expert in the area of affordable housing in the financial services industry. She is currently the Regional Diverse Segments Manager for Wells Fargo, and has over 15 years of startup and turnaround experience in both the public and private sector. She has been recognized by the White House for her work in helping minority and low income families to become homeowners and has also won national awards from HUD and the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials. Jeanne has expertise in HOPE VI redevelopment and Mixed-Income, Mixed-Use community development. Jeanne has been published in national magazines and academic journals including an article on “Preserving Affordable Homeownership Opportunities in Rapidly Escalating Real Estate Markets” which was published by the American Bar Association’s Journal of Housing and Community Development and has been cited in many other articles. She holds an MS degree in Economic Development from Georgia State and a BBA in Accounting from Emory University.

Eva Maria Gomez

Eva Maria Gómez, RN, MSN

Eva is a Pediatric Nurse with 15 years of experience and an NHLI Alum from the class of 2005. She is a Staff Development Specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston. In her current role she is in charge of coordinating the Student Career Outreach Opportunities Program, the hospital’s Lattice Program for entry into Nursing, and the Multi-Cultural Nurses Forum. She is also a member of the Diversity and Culturally Competent Care Council and has helped establish a mentoring program for nurses at Children’s Hospital Boston. She was recently appointed to be a part of Boston College’s Nursing Diversity Advisory Board. She is a former president and founder of the North Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. In 2006 she was honored with the Southeast Region Nursing Excellence Award for Community Service from Spectrum Magazine. For 10 years she served the Latino community in North Carolina before relocating to work at Children’s Hospital Boston. Eva has a Master’s in Nursing Education from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She continues to work in the Boston area to promote diversity in the nursing profession and to advocate for programs that will sustain the provision of culturally sensitive and appropriate care for all populations.

Roger Guzman

Roger Guzman

Roger is Senior Manager for Hispanic Markets for Wal-Mart.  In this role he is responsible for the relations Wal-Mart has with over thirty Hispanic/Latino community organizations at the national and local level.  Prior to Wal-Mart, Roger spent eighteen years at State Farm most recently as Staff Assistant in the PR/Marketing unit of Corporate Communications and External Relations. He also spent 12 years in Human Resources and two years in Claims all with State Farm. Roger was very active in the Hispanic community in Bloomington, IL prior to his relocation to Bentonville. He was a board member of the Hispanic Outreach for Western Avenue Community Center, a board member of the local Girl's Scouts council, a member of the University of Illinois Extension Office Advisory Board, and a member of the Hispanic Families Workgroup in the community.  He currently sits on the board of Parents Step Ahead, a Dallas-based program established to recognize, educate, enable and empower parents to take a proactive role in the education and personal development of their children. Roger also taught Hispanic culture and basic Spanish for staff members of organizations who received funding from United Way in McLean County. Roger received his Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Secondary Education from the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey, Puerto Rico.  He is married and has two young adult sons attending college, and one teenage daughter attending high school.

Millie Herrera

Millie Herrera

Millie founded The Miami Group that provides business and strategic marketing consulting services to businesses, nonprofit organizations, and political campaigns. Prior to founding The Miami Group, Millie was Product and Marketing Manager at Amadeus North America, Project Manager and Business Systems Analyst for American Bankers Insurance Group and Centrust Bank, both in Miami, Florida, and Dresser Industries in Dallas, Texas. She began her professional career in technology as a programmer-analyst at GPI Grupo de Proyectos in Caracas, Venezuela; and later at City National Bank of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Pursuing her passion for community involvement and public policy advocacy, Millie has over 12 years of successful issue advocacy and political consulting experience. She became active in the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party in 1995, where she served as Deputy Director until 1997. She was a charter member of the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, and was elected its first president.  Millie was a Florida delegate to the 2000 DNC Convention, and a member of the 2004 DNC Platform Committee for the Florida delegation. She was elected Alternate delegate for Florida to the 2008 DNC Convention. Millie served in public office on the Kendall Community Council 12 from 2003 to 2006, and was Vice Chair for the 2005 term. She also served as Secretary of the Board of Directors of Union Positiva, a nonprofit organization focused on HIV/AIDS prevention and outreach for the Hispanic community.  She serves on the Community Advisory Board of the Girls Advocacy Project, an intervention program for girls detained in the juvenile justice system, and is a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem in Miami-Dade County since 2003. Millie earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems in 1983 from Southern Illinois University, in Carbondale, Illinois; and a Master in Business Administration degree in 2001 from Florida International University, in Miami, Florida. She currently co-hosts and produces “Democracia Al Día”, a weekly Spanish language progressive radio program, at 7:00 pm every Thursday at Cadena Azul 1550 AM in Miami, Florida. Millie is a 2004 NHLI Fellow.

Dr.Sandra Madris

Dr. Sandra Madrid

Dr. Madrid is Assistant Dean for Students and Community Development at the University of Washington School of Law. Her responsibilities currently include  overseeing student recruitment, admissions, and financial aid. She also serves as Dean of Students. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Washington and B.A. from Colorado State University – Pueblo. Dr. Madrid is currently on the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law  Schools’ Section on Minority Groups; immediate past chair of both the Board of Directors of NHLI and Board of Directors of the United Way of King County. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Seattle Art Museum; YWCA of Seattle and King/Snohomish Counties; Judicial Screening Committee of the King County Bar Association; Northwest Minority Job Fair Advisory Board; Puget Sound Minority Clerkship Advisory Board; and the Washington State Minority and Justice Commission. She has served on numerous boards and commissions over the years. She has  chaired six boards, three at the national level. They include: NHLI; National Council for International Visitors; and the Law School Admission Council Minority Affairs Committee. Local boards she has chaired include: United Way of King County; Leadership Tomorrow; KUOW/KCMU; and was a founding member and First Chair of the Washington State Hispanic Bar Association, now known as the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington. Dr. Madrid is active with her public service commitments and after six years, recently stepped down from the National Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Over the last 18 years, she has served on over 40 boards, commissions, or task forces, including but not limited to: Leadership Tomorrow; World Affairs Council; Seattle Foundation; American Red Cross, Seattle/King County Chapter; Teachers Recruiting Future Teachers; KING-5 TV Community Advisory Board; Washington Council on Crime and Delinquency; Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers; and many more. She has received numerous awards and in May 2007 she gave the commencement  address at her alma mater, Colorado State University – Pueblo.

Judy Majors

Judy Majors

Judy is a Senior Program Manager with the Fannie Mae Office of Diversity and Inclusion and is responsible for working with lenders and nonprofit diverse trusted advisors to create homeownership and housing education and awareness programs for low income and minority families. She works with lenders including Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and CitiMortgage linking them to organizations that provide guidance and counseling to multi-cultural families. Judy also managed the Faith-Based Initiatives in the Multicultural Outreach area of Fannie Mae, launching 175 faith-based partnerships nationwide, providing home counseling and education to over 60,000 individuals. Since joining Fannie Mae in 1996, Ms. Majors has implemented and directed innovative initiatives including the Fee for Service Initiative, Minority Homeownership Initiative, Women-Headed Households, Welcome Home—Immigrant Initiative, Hispanic Homeownership Strategies, Reverse Mortgages, Rent to Home, Homestyle Renovation and Environmental Mortgages. Ms. Majors launched Multicultural Lender Partnerships with national lenders totaling over $15 Billion in mortgage financing commitments for minority and immigrant families.  She is a member of the Mentoring Circle Group and an advisor to the Hispanic Employee Resource Group. Prior to joining Fannie Mae, Judy was Vice President of Strategic Product Development at Prudential Home Mortgage. She holds a Master’s in Business Marketing from the University of Maryland University College, Graduate School and a Bachelor’s in Financial Management from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has completed the UCLA Latino Leadership Executive Training with the Anderson Graduate School and the Executive Education Program with Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.  She is an Alumni of the NHLI Class of 2008. 

Dr. Millie Mateau

Dr. Milagros (Millie) Mateu

Dr. Mateu, a skilled facilitator and organizational development consultant, is a seasoned educational leader.  She has a successful track record creating and implementing education, training and development programs in the United States and Latin America.  During her career she has progressed through two universities and four government agencies assuming higher levels of responsibility at each stage. Most recently as a University Program Manager at NASA, she created and administered multi-million dollar programs that the agency funded to over 40 Universities. Hispanic Magazine named her among the 100 Most Influential Hispanic Americans Educators. As a U.S. Department of Justice representative in Latin America, she oversaw the creation of programs to train high-level law enforcement officials in emerging democracies in the use of democratic law enforcement procedures. As the Regional Training Officer for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) she established the New England Region’s first computer-based instruction center and created numerous training programs for managers. She received the prestigious FAA Director’s Annual Honorary Achievement Award for her achievements in workforce development. Dr. Mateu directed Bilingual Programs at Montclair State College. Her consulting practice offers a full service approach that assists organizations in achieving strategic goals, managing projects to obtain results and implementing workforce development initiatives that produce new levels of employee performance. Dr. Mateu earned a Master’s in Education from Columbia University, a Master's in Educational Administration and Policy Leadership from Fordham University and a Doctorate in Education and Human Development from George Washington University. Additionally, she is a graduate of Harvard Employment and Training Institute, and 1997 NHLI Fellow.

Olivia V. Meza

Olivia was appointed by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to the State's Board of Executive Clemency in February 2004.  She has over 30 years' experience with the criminal justice system as a senior federal court executive, a specialist in Indian Country and sex offenses, a pretrial services officer, and a probation officer in Arizona, Maryland and California. Olivia served as Chief of Pretrial Services for the U.S. District Court in Arizona where she administered a multimillion dollar budget and managed 60 supervisors and officers statewide, working directly with federal judges, U.S. Attorney, victims and families, and defendants. She introduced cutting-edge software for supervision of federal defendants charged with computer-based sex offenses, and leadership training programs and professional staff development. She served as a juvenile probation officer in Maricopa and Yuma Counties, and taught at Arizona Western College. She has volunteered with Maricopa County Justice Courts as a mediator, assisted at the Chrysalis Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence, at St. Vincent de Paul, and the Salvation Army.  She formerly served on the Ninth Circuit Judicial Committee on Employee Diversity. Olivia is a member of the Arizona Dispute Resolution Association.  She earned a Master of Science degree in Family Life and Child Development, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology, from Arizona State University.  Olivia is a fellow of NHLI’s Class of 1994.

Victoria Negret

Victoria Negrete

Recognized nationally for her marketing savvy and her unrelenting drive in championing the Latino consumer buying power, Victoria oversees strategic development and client relations for The Cartel Group, a marketing communications entity she founded in 1994. As a multi-Effie award winner, she is often described as an expert in consumer sociology who has studied the U.S. Hispanic market for over 25 years. As a passionate leader focused on women and minority initiatives, Victoria is a board member of numerous education-oriented organizations such as HACU, Palo Alto College, and Frost Bank. She is a former member of the NHLI Board of Directors. To learn more about the Cartel Group, go to

Betsy Orlando

Elizabeth (Betsy) Orlando

Elizabeth (Betsy) graduated with honors from Mount Vernon College with a major in U.S. policy and politics.  She was awarded a Juris Doctorate from the University of Akron and is admitted to the Ohio State Bar.  She is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association, the United Nations Association, and an officer in two Toastmasters Clubs. Working in a joint university and city venture, she served as a mediator with the City of Akron’s Prosecutor’s Office. Before joining the U.S. Department of State, Betsy was a Court Advocate for victims of domestic violence and children of sexual abuse with VIBS on Long Island. Since 1992, Betsy has been a member of the Foreign Service and has traveled to over 160 countries. Since 2006, Betsy has worked at the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs in Environmental Policy as an International Affairs Officer for multilateral negotiations. Currently, her focus is on domestic policy as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) coordinator. She serves as the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) project manager of the $5 billion Keystone Pipeline Project and the Enbridge Oil $2 billion Alberta Clipper oil pipeline expansion projects. She completed two environmental assessments for Frontera Juarez gas pipeline in El Paso, Texas and Southern Lights LsR oil pipeline in North Dakota and Minnesota. Betsy coordinates State’s NEPA program, and reviews programs and issues affecting other federal agencies including Department of Homeland Security’s Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and border country projects with possible environmental impacts in the U.S. She serves as Vice President of the Georgetown Hill Daycare Board and on the Advisory Board of Stop the Silence, a nonprofit organization to prevent and treat child sexual abuse and is a recent alumna of the California Agricultural Leadership Fellowship and the Washington Energy Seminar. Over the last two years Betsy has mentored over 700 minorities in public speaking, meeting high level officials and negotiations. She currently is a State Department Hometown Diplomat and acts as an Alumni Ambassador for the University of Akron School of Law. Betsy has written a book of poems and essays entitled A Field of Flowers: Poems and Essays from A Diplomat’s Journey. She has also written for The Stars and Stripes (European edition), The Washington Times, The Connection Magazine, Suffolk County News, and embassy and consulate newsletters around the world.

Denise Perez

Denise Y. Perez

Denise completed her first triathlon (Tri for the Cure-Denver) in the summer of 2006 and to date has done numerous triathlons, duathlons, 10k races and 5k races. As a result, she was determined to share the gift of health through fitness with her fellow Latina sisters; therefore, Denise started the Hermanas Triathlon Team in 2006 while participating in the National Hispana Leadership Program under the guidance of Head Coach and Program Developer Yoli Casas.  Denise is a Senior Aide to Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez, and has been involved in politics since she was elected into the student council in the third grade. In 2008, five Hermanas participated in the Orlando, Disney World Danskin, and to date, 65 women have committed to training with the Hermanas Triathlon Team. She is a 2006 NHLI Fellow.

Neddy Perez

Nereida (Neddy) Perez

Nereida is the Founder and CEO of the Association of Employee Resource Groups (AERGonline). The organization focuses on providing companies and employee network groups with consulting services and resources that help their affinity/employee network groups support corporate diversity initiatives. Prior to her current role she served as the Chief Diversity Officer to KPMG LLP, one of the Big Four accounting firms. She was responsible for developing and guiding the firm’s U.S. diversity efforts. Neddy also has more than 19 years experience in leading and implementing Human Resources and Diversity initiatives at the national and international level for corporations like Sodexo, Royal Dutch/Shell, and United Parcel Service. Aside from her experience in the U.S., she has worked in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Latin America. In 2008, she was named to the Workforce Diversity Experts Panel by the Society of Human Resources. She also serves on the executive board of NHLI, Gifts InKind International, the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, the Asia Society, the Women of ALPFA advisory board and has worked with ASCEND’s Corporate Board. She is a nationally recognized speaker on diversity and has been inducted into Houston’s Hispanic Women’s Hall of Fame. She holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Florida and a Master’s degree in human resources management and international business from Nova Southeastern University. She is a 2000 NHLI Fellow.

Michaeline Perez Guzman

Michaeline Perez Guzman

Michaeline is Vice President of Operations for McDonald’s USA, LLC.  She started her McDonald’s career in 1980 as a crew person in Southern Florida. After graduating from High School, she became a shift manager while going to college in South Florida. She decided to continue her career at McDonald’s as she moved up the ranks in Operations. In 1988, she was given the opportunity to move into the Human Resources Department.  Her HR career spanned over 11 years where she held various positions in Latin America, South Florida, Oak Brook and St. Louis. In 1996, she took the leap to move into the Latin America Zone. She continued her career in HR and held the position of HR Director for Central America and the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico. In her role as HR Director she was part of several new country openings such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. She established the HR Dept. for the Division and lead teams in more than 19 countries. In 1999, she returned to operations where she also held several positions in Venezuela, Colombia and Panama. Most recently, Michaeline served as the Vice President of Corporate Restaurants in the Central America Region, prior to which time she served as the Market Manager for Panama. Previously, she served as the Director of Operations for Colombia and worked in Operations in Venezuela. Additionally, Michaeline served as a Pioneer member of the Board of Directors for the Ronald McDonald House Charities Chapters in Panama and Costa Rica where she helped establish the charity, create campaigns to build awareness and raise funds for children’s hospitals. These classrooms were designed to expose hospitalized children to education, music, arts and games as part of the work to provide them with a place away from home that allows them to explore and share activities with other children.

sandra rivera

Dr. Sandra A. Rivera

Dr. Rivera is Assistant Director of U.S. International Trade Commission’s Office of Economics where she implements strategic, fiscal and long range planning, and hiring and other trade research projects focused on advising Congress and the Office of the United States Trade Representative on the impact of potential trade agreements. Her recent work includes “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: What is the Impact of China’s WTO Accession on India’s Trade,” an IMF Working Paper and “What Is the Impact of China’s Growth on India: An Economy-wide Analysis”. During her tenure as a Visiting Scholar at Purdue University’s premiere think tank, the Center for Global Trade Analysis, she led efforts to develop its 10-year strategic plan. From 1994-2003, Dr. Rivera has had a progressive career an International Economist and later, Project Leader, Office of Economics’ Research Division. After being a 1998 Fellow in the International Career Advancement Program, Dr. Rivera was recruited to work as the Director of the Free Trade Area of the Americas Affairs, Office of the United States Trade Representative. Dr. Rivera earned her Ph.D. in International Economics from University of Kentucky, Master’s from University of New Mexico and Bachelor’s from William Smith College. She has remained very active in mentoring and volunteer activities in the DC Metro area including the Hispanic Youth Symposium; Area Governor, Toastmasters District 27; and as a Public Speaking trainer for NHLI’s Latinas Learning to Lead Program. In 2008, she trained over 750 African American and Latino youth on public speaking. Dr. Rivera is a board member of Stop the Silence, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to stopping child sex abuse ( She has been an invited speaker on both international economics and leadership issues in dozens of conferences, colleges and universities, nationally and in Latin America, Europe, and The Hague. Dr. Rivera is a 2001 NHLI Fellow.

Christine Valdes

Christine Valdes

Christine Valdes was born in New Jersey and is the daughter of two immigrant parents. She is married and the proud mother of two sons. She started her entrepreneur experience 23 years ago with a party supply business in New Jersey. Shortly after relocating to Florida in 1989, she began her career in the mortgage industry. She obtained her Mortgage Brokerage License from the Bob Houg School of Real Estate and Mortgage. While working as a Mortgage Loan Officer, Christine quickly realized that there was a need to educate her clients with the proper options and resources available in lending. In her case because of her Hispanic background she catered to the Hispanic community. In 2000, this led her to host Comprando La Casa de Su Sueños a weekly program on a local Hispanic radio station in Tampa. In the same year while working for a mortgage company, her knowledge and experience lead her to become a co-owner. In 2004, she was recruited by Wells Fargo to be the Regional Diverse Segment Manager for the west coast of Florida, the Panhandle and parts of Alabama. Due to her success and experience her market has now been expanded to cover the South East coast of Florida. With her almost 20 years of sales and management experience as well as her passion to help people, the position at Wells Fargo was the perfect fit. Most recently, she appeared as a guest on the Julie Stav Show, a national syndicated radio show regarding all aspects of finances. Since being at Wells Fargo, she continues her outreach not only to the Hispanic community but also to low-to-moderate income and ethically diverse consumers wanting to attain the American dream of home ownership. 

Magda Yrizarry

Magda Yrizarry

Magda Yrizarry is Vice President for Workplace Culture and Compliance in Corporate Human Resources for Verizon and is responsible for strategic human resources issues and policies relating to diversity, ethics and workplace programs. Prior to her current assignment, Magda was Executive Director of Public Policy and Strategic Alliances for Verizon and was responsible for Verizon’s key national stakeholder relationships and outreach efforts with multicultural communities, senior citizen and disabled constituencies throughout the United States. Magda joined Verizon in 1990 as Manager of Educational Relations, overseeing corporate responsibility and educational initiatives, as well as volunteer programs like the New York State Mentoring Program, School-Based Management and Junior Achievement. While in New York, Magda served as a trustee and president of Community School Board 9 from 1996 to 1997 and as a member of the Board of Education Committee on Bilingual and Special Education from 2001 to 2002. Magda represents Verizon on LULAC’s National Education Service Centers Board and the Corporate Advisory Board of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility. She is a founding member of 100 Hispanic Women, Chairperson of ASPIRA of New York and Executive Board member of the ASPIRA Association. Magda holds a Bachelor of Science and Master’s Degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and has completed the executive training program at Harvard University. She is a graduate of the NHLI Class of 2001.

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