2012 Mujer Awardees
Since 1993, NHLI's Mujer Awards have recognized the lifetime achievements of Hispanic women who have served their communities and acted with justice, love, and the deepest of pride in their culture. National Award, Regional Award, Legislative Award, Chair's Award.
Purpose | To honor the outstanding commitment and contributions made by Hispanic women to their communities and to bring national attention to the recipient's work.
Eligibility Criteria | The nominee is a living symbol of NHLI's philosophy, creating positive global change and a pluralistic society through personal integrity and ethical leadership and has demonstrated the following characteristics:
- Throughout her life, she has sustained a clear vision for the future of the Hispanic community and her actions have consistently reflected that vision.
- Undaunted by difficulties, she has been proceeded with faith in herself and her beliefs.
- Through the years, she has evolved with the times and has maintained herself grounded in the present social, economic, and political environment.
- She is collaborative leader who inspires and motivates others and gets the task accomplished. She relishes life by basic principles and abides her values.
- She understands her personal power but shares it easily with those whose lives she has touched. She values life and demonstrates joy, kindness, calmness and inner peace.
- She has empowered many over the years through her service.
- She has acted with justice, love and the deepest of pride in her culture.
NHLI is honored to present this years 2012 Mujer Awardees. They will be honored December 10, 2012, at the Mujer Awards Gala, as part of our 25th Anniversary Celebration.
Ivelisse R. Estrada
Senior Vice President of Corporate & Community Relations
Univision Communications, Inc.
Ivelisse R. Estrada is senior vice president of Corporate and Community Relations for Univision Communications Inc. She is responsible for the overall development and coordination of community relations strategies for the Company including Univision and TeleFutura Networks, Galavisión, the Univision Television Group, Univision Interactive and Univision Radio. She coordinates all philanthropic contributions and serves as a liaison between Univision and community organizations. Ms. Estrada also plans, directs and supervises the execution of the Company’s national initiatives such as citizenship and voter registration efforts, and health and education projects.
Most recently, Ms. Estrada developed and coordinated the launch of a comprehensive, multiyear national education initiative “Es El Momento” (The Moment is Now) in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, educators and civic and community leaders from around the country. The “Es El Momento” campaign is aimed at improving academic achievement among K-12 Hispanic students with a specific focus on high school g"raduation and college readiness.
In 2007, she worked with the National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) in an unprecedented national civic engagement campaign developed to inform, educate and motivate Hispanics to participate in the American political dialogue.“Ya es Hora…Ciudadanía” was done in collaboration with hundreds of Hispanic serving organizations across the U.S. and mobilized more than one million eligible immigrants to apply for citizenship. In 2008, the campaign was honored with a Peabody Award.
Ms. Estrada was also responsible for the creation, in 2003, of a multi-year, cross-platform health initiative entitled “Salud es Vida…¡Entérate!”(Lead a Healthy Life: Get the Fact)to promote healthy lifestyles and encourage the early detection and aggressive management of chronic health conditions affecting U.S. Hispanics. In 2004, “¡Entérate!” was honored with a Peabody Award, the first ever for a Spanish-language broadcast company.
Previously, Ms. Estrada was director of Corporate and Community Relations for Univision Television Group where she supervised the public affairs and community efforts of the company’s owned-and-operated stations. Prior to that she served as director of Communications at KMEX Univision 34, the flagship station of the Univision Television Group, Inc. in Los Angeles. She was responsible for overseeing the station’s communications department and for developing and coordinating all public relations, community outreach and media relations activities. During her tenure at KMEX, Ms. Estrada launched numerous community projects that dealt with health, education issues and the arts.
Ms. Estrada began her career as account supervisor with a Los Angeles public relations agency and as a Washington-based associate producer and on-air reporter for SIN national news, the predecessor of Univision.
In recognition of her efforts at Univision, Ms. Estrada has received several awards including the 2008 National Hispanic Medical Association’s Hispanic Corporate Leadership Award, the 2007 Latina Leader in Media award from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the Spirit of Hope Award from Hispanas Organized for Political Equality. She was also recognized in as a 2002 Hall of Fame Honoree by the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners and received the 2002 Premio Award in Public Relations/Communications from the Hispanic Public Relations Association.
She serves in several boards including for the SCAN Foundation, the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education, Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and the Smithsonian Latino Center. She also serves on the Excelencia in Education Honorary Board, the Corporate Board of Advisors of the Cuban American National Council and is a member of the International Women’s Forum where she serves on the Hall of Fame Task Force. Ms. Estrada was a member of the National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanics. She successfully completed the HACR-Harvard Latino Board Leadership Program and in May 2010 was chosen as one of a select group of Latina leaders from the U.S. to travel to Israel with Project Interchange, an educational institute of the American Jewish Committee.
A native of Puerto Rico, Ms. Estrada received master’s degrees from Princeton University and Harvard University, and graduated with an undergraduate degree in liberal arts, magna cum laude, from Barnard College in New York City.
Chief Executive Officer
Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital
Lidia Soto-Harmon, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital (GSCNC) has a proven track record of success in the corporate, non-profit and government sectors. On August 25, 2010, she was appointed CEO for the Girl Scout Council, after serving six years as the organization's Chief Operating Officer (COO). GSCNC is the area's preeminent leadership organization for girls, serving over 90,000 members, 64,800 girls ages 5-17. The council serves the Greater Washington Region, which includes the District of Columbia and 25 counties in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
The Girl Scouts celebrated the 100thanniversary in the Nation's Capital with the largest gathering of Girl Scouts in history. 250,000 attended the June 9th Girl Scouts Rock the Mall event on the grounds of the Washington Monument. Lidia and her team were responsible for orchestrating this one of a kind celebration for the nation. Ms. Soto-Harmon is directly responsible for developing strategies to achieve the organization's vision and mission, directing a $15 million operating budget with 112 employees located in six offices, and a volunteer structure that includes over 25,000 dedicated adult volunteers. As CEO, Ms. Soto-Harmon's priority is to continue the winning membership strategy to reach all girls in the region; create a culture of philanthropy to support the cultivation of donors from the corporate and private sectors; and as spokesperson, establish positive and effective relationships inside and outside the organization.
In her former role as COO, Ms. Soto-Harmon was directly responsible for membership services, adult volunteer development, public relations and girl programs. To her credit, Ms. Soto-Harmon created many innovative programs to reach girls from underserved communities. She developed an annual conference, Encuentro de Chicas Latinas de las Girl Scouts, which reaches young Latinas with the message of leadership and academic success. She convened girls from the District of Columbia and Prince George's County to Howard University to attend an annual conference, Your Turn to Lead, to encourage leadership skills and academic success. And— Ms. Soto-Harmon also developed the DC Step Showcase at Trinity Washington University to celebrate the rich history of African-American stepping. Today, the annual event is enjoyed by all Girl Scout troops in the region.
Prior to joining the council, Ms. Soto-Harmon served as Senior Vice President for Community Development for First Book, a national children's literacy organization dedicated to getting new books into the hands of children from low-income families. She also served as the Deputy Director of the President's Interagency Council on Women, chaired by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, at the U.S. Department of State, where she represented the United States at various United Nations' conferences including the annual Commission on the Status of Women. She was instrumental in the federal response to "Beijing Plus Five", the five-year follow-up to the United Nation's Fourth World Conference on Women. Lidia traveled to Peru, Thailand and Switzerland as a State Department official to attend United Nations preparatory meetings. Ms. Soto-Harmon was also the Senior Director of the Fannie Mae Foundation's Targeted Outreach Department, designing the first corporate nationwide multilingual strategy to reach new immigrants to promote homeownership in the United States in the late 1990s.
She was a 2000 Fellow for the National Hispana Leadership Institute and participated with her NHLI Class in the Executive Seminar at Harvard's Kennedy School. She completed Leadership Greater Washington in 2007, and was a 2008 member of the Executive Networks Class for the Greater Washington Board of Trade. She was named one of Nation's Top 90 Women, Mentoring Leaders by Women of Wealth Magazine, 2011 Special Edition. She was also named Notimujer of the Week, by CNN en Español for her work to reach young Latinas. For her work with the 100th Anniversary she named a Woman Who Means Business by the Washington Business Journal in November 2012. She was named the Regional Mujer Awardee (Woman of the Year) in December, 2012 by the National Hispana Leadership Institute for her work to impact the lives of young Latinas and be a role model in the community. Ms. Soto-Harmon serves as a Board Member for the Tahirih Justice Center and is a Trustee of Migration Policy Institute. She also serves on the board of directors for the Meyer Foundation and the Nonprofit Roundtable.
Ms. Soto-Harmon grew up in Latin America and the United States. She earned her Masters in Public Administration from George Mason University and B.A. from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. She is married and has two bilingual teenagers.
Hon. Grace Napolitano
U.S. Representative, California's 38th Congressional District
Grace Flores Napolitano was first elected to Congress in November, 1998. She is currently serving her seventh term representing California's 38th District. On November 6th, she was elected to her 8th term representing the newly drawn San Gabriel Valley based 32nd District.
Napolitano has been a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources since the 106th Congress, and is currently the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Water and Power. She has been a long-time promoter of conservation, water recycling, desalination, and groundwater management as solutions to Southern California's water needs. As a legislator, Napolitano has pushed for Native American water rights from rivers flowing on tribal lands, the protection of the sensitive Bay-Delta ecosystem, and the use of water recycling technology to combat drought. In 1999, her legislative efforts began the removal of 10.5 million tons of uranium tailings piled on the banks of the Colorado River in Moab, Utah, a health threat for more than 25 million people living downstream and the surrounding Southwestern ecosystem and tourism sites.
Napolitano was appointed to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure at the beginning of the 110th Congress. The Committee oversees policy related to America's surface transportation, freight and passenger rail, aviation, inland waterway system, international maritime commerce, Economic Development Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water projects, and the federal clean water program. On the committee, she has advanced projects and policies that relieve congestion, improve transit, and reduce the negative impacts her district takes on as a primary shipping corridor from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. She took a leading role in drafting and passing the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which strengthened our railroad safety laws and required the installation of collision-detection safety technology in trains in California and across the country. Napolitano continues to work to promote better transportation for east Los Angeles County, which despite improvements still suffers from frequent traffic jams and one of the most inadequate public transportation systems in the U.S. She also continues to advance the needs of minorities, who are more likely to use mass transit.
The Congresswoman is a former Chairwoman of the CHC. The Caucus addresses national issues such as education, immigration, healthcare, and the impact of these policies on the Hispanic community. The CHC cooperates on shared priorities with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Progressive Caucus.
In 2000, alarming statistics showing one in three Latina adolescents have contemplated suicide prompted the Congresswoman to establish a school-based adolescent mental health program in her district. Napolitano has since secured more than $2.3 million for the program, which now includes 11 local schools and serves elementary, middle school, and high school children across the 38th District.
At the beginning of the 108th Congress, Napolitano revitalized the Congressional Mental Health Caucus, which she has continued to co-chair with Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA). As co-chair, Napolitano has hosted congressional briefings on children's mental health, veterans' mental health, and suicide prevention. Napolitano and other caucus members pushed to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against mental illness, an effort that helped bring about the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and the mental health clauses included in the Affordable Care Act of 2010. The Congresswoman continues her efforts to better address the mental health needs of adolescents, children, minorities and seniors.
Napolitano established the Mental Health in Schools Task Force in 2010 to create a national platform and dialogue on the topic of mental health through public events and media appearances. Focus is placed on the need to create awareness about the topic of youth mental health, help decrease the stigma, and garner attention and support for H.R. 751, the Mental Health in Schools Act. Members of the Task Force include; Los Angeles Laker, Metta World Peace, Dancing with the Stars, Mark Ballas; World Champion Boxer, Mia St. John, and widely-acclaimed Los Angeles band Ozomatli. In the fall of 2011, Napolitano and Mark Ballas appeared on the Ricki Lake Show to discuss the importance of mental health and suicide prevention.
Grace was born and raised in Brownsville, Texas. After high school, she married and moved with her husband to California where they raised 5 children.
Napolitano began her political career as a member of the Norwalk City Council, winning her first election in 1986 by just 28 votes. In 1989, Napolitano's fellow council members selected her to serve as Mayor. During her council tenure, she addressed the city's need for jobs and reliable public transit.
Following her retirement from the Ford Motor Company in 1992, Napolitano was elected to the California Assembly, where she established herself as a leader on international trade, environmental protection, transportation and immigration. She quickly earned a reputation as a hard worker and a champion for small businesses, women, and economic growth. In 1996 she requested and received the creation of the first new California State Assembly Standing Committee in nine years, the Committee on International Trade, which she chaired until being termed out in 1998. In her six years in the Assembly, she also served as chair of the Women's Caucus and vice-chair of the Latino caucus.
Grace is married to Frank Napolitano, retired restauratseur and community activist. They reside in Norwalk, California and take great pride in their five grown children, fourteen grandchildren and one great grandson.
Maria del Rosario "Rosie" Castro
Activist, Educator, Political Figure
Ms. Maria del Rosario Castro is a native of San Antonio. The Castro family history in the United States began nearly 100 years ago when Ms. Castro’s mother, Victoria Castro, came to Texas as a young orphan. In the spirit of the American Dream, Victoria often worked two or three jobs at a time to be able to give her daughter, Ms. Castro, a better chance in life. Ms. Castro gave birth to twin sons on September 16, 1974. She has raised her twin sons as a single mother in the heart of San Antonio’s Westside community with a solid foundation and value for public service. Ms. Castro sent both of her sons through Stanford University in 1996 and they went on to attend Harvard Law School where Julian and Joaquin received their Juris Doctorate degrees in 2000. Mayor Julian Castro of the City of San Antonio is considered by many a rising star in politics. He became the youngest Mayor of a top 50 American City in May 2009 and won re-election in 2011 by 82% of the vote. He most recently has the distinction of being appointed by President Obama as the First Hispanic Keynote Speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Julian is married to Erica Lira Castro and together they have a daughter, Carina. Representative Joaquin Castro is completing his fifth term of public service in House District 125 and will be sworn into office in January 2013 as the next U.S. Congressman of District 20. The significance of his election stems from the fact that it is an office long-held by the late Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez and followed by his own son Congressman Charles Gonzalez who announced he would not seek re-election in November 2011. Congressman-Elect Joaquin Castro is among the vanguard of a new class of Latino leaders emerging across the country. With a successful legislative track record, he will be a strong advocate in Congress for building what he coined during his campaign as the “Infrastructure of Opportunity” in the 20th Congressional District. Professionally, Ms. Castro is the Director of the Center for Academic Transitions at Palo Alto College in San Antonio, Texas. The Center provides assistance with employment, internships, transfer to 4 year universities, graduation certification, scholarships and alumni services. Ms. Castro is also a consultant, trainer and facilitator who specializes in leadership training and leadership program development. She facilitated the work of the Blue Ribbon Committee that created the Westside Education and Training Center, a partnership of the Alamo Community College District, Edgewood I.S.D., the City of San Antonio’s Economic Development Department and the Annie E. Casey’s Making Connections Initiative and many other groups and residents. Ms. Castro is a graduate of Our Lady of the Lake University and has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management from University of Texas at San Antonio. Her public service includes employment in the City of San Antonio’s Human Resource Department and with the San Antonio Housing Authority. She has taught public administration courses at San Antonio College and graduate courses at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
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