National Hispana Leadership Institute - Celebrating 20 Years of Latina Leadership Search
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2006 LEC DallasLEC Indianapolis2008 Seattle participants

NHLI Latina Empowerment Conferences

State Farm Insurance Companies

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Thanks to the
Latina Empowerment Conference's Sponsors

Chicago, IL

Register Today. Space is Limited.

$50 until May 3 | $70 after May 3–Onsite
Cost includes breakfast and lunch



Click here to download a pdf with all the Chicago LEC information.


8:00am Registration & Networking Breakfast
  • Welcome Remarks, Barbara J. DesMarteau, NHLI Interim President  
  • Welcome Remarks, Barbara Bizzarri, Agency Field Executive State Farm Insurance Companies
  • Welcome Remarks, Sal Mendoza, Vice President Global Diversity & Inclusion, Hyatt Hotels Corporation
  • Welcome Remarks, Joedis Avila, Multicultural Relations Manager, MillerCoors
  • Welcome Remarks, Rodney Hood, Vice President & Director of Multi-Cultural Partnerships, JPMorgan Chase
9:20 Latinas in the US presentation and Overview of NHLI by Barbara DesMarteau, NHLI Interim President

9:50 Unlocking Your Leadership Potential: 10 Keys to Leadership Success

What makes for strong effective leaders? We all know it when we see it; the trick is to articulate what the key ingredients are. Learn about 10 key elements of successful leadership, and how you can maximize your leadership impact.

10:30 Career Discovery Compass workshop, Marlene Gonzalez, Founder & President Life Coaching Group     
Being prepared for moving on to our next career phase (by choice or by default) can make the transition less stressful and more rewarding. During this workshop we will review career path, career choices, and develop a networking map to help you creatively organize and manage your career options.

Break & Networking Activity  
Visit exhibitors and learn about unique programs and services from community based organizations, corporate partners and others.  Each attendee receives a “passport/networking card” that will get “stamped” at each exhibitor table.  All fully stamped cards are eligible to participate in the raffle at the end of the day.  Raffle prizes include a Southwest flight voucher, Complimentary Registration to the 2011 NHLI Conference in Los Angeles, books, gift cards, and more. Winners must be present to receive prize.  Terms and conditions apply.


Lunch & Panel: Latinas Share Their Secrets of Success moderated by Amanda Caballero-Holmes (’91 NHLI alumna)  
Maria Capetillo, Agent, State Farm Insurance
Martha Diaz, Senior Trust Manager Asset Management, JP Morgan Chase
Flavia Hernandez ('01 NHLI alumna), Chief Officer, Office of P-12 Management, Chicago Public Schools
Patricia Mota, Director of Member Outreach, Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement
Ana Maria Soto ('04 NHLI alumna), Executive Director of Latino Initiatives, National-Louis University

Learn the secrets of success from Latinas at top level management positions and how they manage the challenges and opportunities of a career and family life.


Workshop - Beyond the Life Work Balance Having the Guilt-Free Life you Want 
Nanci Luna Jimenez, President and Founder Luna Jimenez Seminars
We moved beyond “multi-tasking” to “multiplied-tasking.”  We are expected to be all things to all people. The focus of much work/life balance workshops is how to better manage our time or be more organized. Join us for a unique journey where you will explore the life you really do want, and learn how to let go of the rest!

2:45 Break

Concurrent Sessions
Personal Branding by Cristina Benitez, President Lazos Latinos (Crystal A)
Discover the impact of personal branding from a strategist that has targeted the growing Latino population trends.

Building Financial Wealth, Sonia Olivo & Maria Capetillo, Agents, State Farm Insurance Companies  (Crystal B)
Tips on successful financial planning (How to make your money work hard for you and how to think about money like a Millionaire).  Regardless of your age embrace preparation for your retirement.

4:00 Closing Remarks, Raffles, & Evaluation  (Crystal B)

Thanks to our Media Partners:

PR Newswire, Capital News Wire & HispanicMPR

Panelists (click on name to view bio)

Maria Capetillo, Agent, State Farm Insurance

Martha Diaz, Senior Trust Manager, Asset Management, JP Morgan Chase
Flavia Hernandez, Chief Officer of P-12 Management, Chicago Public Schools
Patricia Mota, Director of Member Outreach, Hispanic Alliance for for Carreer Enhancement
Ana Maria Soto, Executive Director of Latino Initiatives, National-Louis University


Cristina Benitez, President, Lazos Latinos
Amanda Caballero, President, Holmestead Communications
Marlene Gonzalez, Founder & President, Life Coaching Group, LLC
Nanci Luna Jimenez, Founder & President, Luna Jimenez Seminars & Associate
Sonia Olivo, Agent, State Farm Insurance
Barbara DesMarteau, Interim President, National Hispana Leadership Institute

Deborah Aguiar-Vélez

Cristina Benitez

Ms. Cristina Benitez has developed a wide range of branding and marketing programs that target the growing Latino population in the United States.  In 1998, she founded Lazos Latinos, a specialty Hispanic, strategic branding and advertising company. As the former senior vice president of ethnic marketing at DraftWorldwide, Ms. Benitez directed campaigns for Sprint, AARP, PacifiCare, HFC and Miracle-Ear, and also spearheaded Dimensión Draft, the agency’s nationally recognized study on Hispanics and direct marketing. Ms. Benitez’s expertise, her passion for Latino leadership and her culturally diverse background make her a popular motivational speaker. In 2007 she released her first book, “Latinization…How Latino Culture is Transforming the U.S.”, a bestseller. Her new book, “Latinization and the Latino Leader”, was released in late 2010. In July 2010 Ms. Benitez was named Director of Latino Media and Communication at DePaul University, where she teaches Hispanic Marketing. In 2004 she created a Hispanic advertising course for Columbia College and taught as an adjunct professor there for 4 years.  

amanda caballero

Amanda Caballero

Amanda Caballero-Holmes, NHLI Class of 1991, enjoys a strong background in health prevention and education, non-profit management and healthcare administration. She has also worked within the corporate sector in the areas of communications and public relations, specific to the Hispanic markets in the U.S. and Latin America. She has managed non-profit organizations in Washington, D.C., Illinois and Michigan. She is a founding board member of the Illinois Latino Coalition for Prevention and is the first Illinois Latina elected to the governing board with hospitals in Illinois and Indiana. She has also worked with the National Latina Health Network and the National Latino Children’s Institute. She has been the lead and/or contributor to a number of Latina targeted, health prevention and educational activities in partnership with pharmaceutical clients and in collaboration with national organizations like the Center for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, the World Health Organization, and the Pan American Health Organization. She is currently providing Public Relations and Marketing support for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and for the public relations agency, Cohn & Wolfe. As a volunteer, Caballero-Holmes is a local representative for Women Heart. She is also a former Board Chair of the International Latino Cultural Center.  Amanda has three children and three grandchildren and lives with her husband Gerry in Evanston, IL. She started working on her “bucket list” in 2001, by taking her first leap out of a plane to go sky diving.

Irma Santana

Maria Capetillo

Maria Capetillo was born in Los Angeles, CA, but moved to Mexico with her family when she was 5 years old.  She completed her education there and ultimately received a degree in Business Administration from the Instituto Tecnológico de Colima.  After working in Mexico for 2 years, she returned to the United States to improve her standard of living.

Maria worked for various companies in the areas of sales, personnel, and general management.  She always knew she wanted to find a career in which she could assist people with building their financial legacies, so she decided to take a chance on a new career that would change her life forever.  Maria worked for a State Farm Agent in Villa Park, IL for 5 years and in January 2007, Maria realized her dream of starting a small business and opened her own State Farm Agency in Romeoville, IL.  Becoming a State Farm Agent has been Maria’s greatest challenge, but is also the source of her greatest passion, which is educating her clients, especially those in the Hispanic community, about various insurance and financial opportunities available to them. 

Maria has found her new career extremely fulfilling and she would like to serve as an inspiration to those seeking to become small business owners.  She feels she is living proof that one’s dreams and goals are definitely attainable if one has the motivation, desire and perseverance to reach their goals in life.

martha diaz

Martha Diaz

Martha is responsible for managing trust and advising trustees where JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. is named as trustee or investment advisor. Martha's responsibilities include ensuring that trust are managed in a manner consistent with the trustee's fiduciary duty and that all appropriate tax and estate planning strategies are identified and introduced as part of the comprehensive services offered to the client. Martha works with a team of experts that have a wide-breath of strategic disciplines including banking, investment management, estate and financial planning. Martha has been with JPMorgan (formerly First Chicago NBD) since 1997. Martha received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Political Science and Criminal Justice. She continued her education in economics and accounting at Northwestern University. She is a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. She completed the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) Program with Cannon Financial Institute and the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Program at DePaul University. She is a candidate for the CFP exam. Martha is a Board Member of the Instituto Del Progreso Latino, a Member of ALPHA (Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting), an Advisor for the Illinois Bankers Association- Emerging Markets Committee, a Member of the National Hispanic Sales Network, and Chair of the Adelante JPMorgan Chase Latino Employee Network.

Marison Johnson

Marlene Gonzalez

Ms. Marlene Gonzalez is a leader in the cutting edge industry of executive coaching, consulting and training. Ms. Gonzalez’s organization is dedicated to "developing leaders as a catalyst for corporate growth and a source of intellectual capital"™. She is a published writer and prominent speaker. She is coauthor of the book "Latinization and the Latino Leader"; How to develop and advance Latino business leaders©, and is the Career Coach columnist for the Latina Magazine. Ms. Gonzalez is a contributing Blogger for Haceonline. She supports her clients in areas such as Multicultural Leadership, Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, Wellness Revolution, and Building Cross-Cultural Teams. Ms. Gonzalez serves as a board member for National Council of La Raza, and the National-Louis University. Ms. González has more than 30 years of business experience with Fortune 500 companies, and has held executive corporate positions worldwide. Ms. González is a certified Executive Coach and Insights Discovery licensed practitioner. She holds BA, an Executive MBA/PAG from IESA Business School in Venezuela, and also holds a graduate diploma on Managerial Issues in the global enterprise from Thunderbird University, the Graduate School of International Management in Phoenix, Arizona. Ms. Gonzalez is the former Senior Director of global training, learning and development for McDonald's Corporation. She has been a recipient of awards such as Cambridge Who's Who among executives and professionals, President's Award for a Fortune 500 company, Team Awards, Manager of the Year, and was named one of the Top 100 Executives in Latin America by Dinero Magazine. Ms. Gonzalez resides in Illinois with her husband Carlos of more than 20+ years; they enjoy traveling, and gourmet cooking.

Nely Galan

Flavia Hernandez

Ms. Flavia Hernández works closely with other Officers to support 683 elementary and high schools, as well as several district-wide programs and initiatives.   Her office provides guidance to ensure coherence and equity for all students. She has attended leadership training programs including the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs, and the Executive Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, with the National Hispana Leadership Institute. Ms. Hernández was also the Deputy Chief Instruction Officer for the Office of Instruction and School Management. She was Deputy Budget Director for the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Management and Budget. Ms. Hernández also served as Early Childhood Programs Officer and was a successful principal of two Chicago Public Schools. Ms. Hernández has been an active member in the Latino community and has served on the board for the National Museum for Mexican Art.  She is among the founders and past presidents of the Network of Hispanic Administrators in Education (NHAE) and served as Vice-President of the Mexican Administrators in Education (MAE) in Chicago. Ms. Hernández is aLeadership Greater Chicago Fellow. Ms. Hernández received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bilingual-Bicultural Studies and Psychology from Mundelein College with specializations in Elementary, Early Childhood and Bilingual Education. She received a Master of Science degree in Education from Chicago State University, with endorsements in General Administration and Supervision. She is a recipient of such prestigious awards as theJessie White, Secretary of State of Illinois, Hispanic Leadership Award, University of Virginia Appreciation for Service to Turnaround Schools, TESORO Suave Education Award, Mexican American Police Organization Educator of the Year Award, and Mayor Daley’s Community Leadership Award. 


Barbara J. DesMarteau

Barbara J. DesMarteau was appointed by President Barack Obama as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) at the U.S. Department of Labor. She was responsible for the overall management and administration of employment and training policies and programs. As the Deputy Assistant Secretary she exercised executive direction of ETA's programs supporting and directing the nation's workforce system.

Prior to the appointment, she served 11 years as the Director of the Adams County Community & Economic Opportunity Department that included the Workforce & Business Center, Community Development, and Head Start. Adams County is located in the Denver, Colorado metro area and includes a population of over 420,000 residents. The Community & Economic Opportunity Department was one of 8 cabinet level departments directly reporting to the Board of County Commissioners.

Barbara also served as the Executive Director of the Mi Casa Resource Center for Women, a non-profit community based organization with several locations in Colorado. Additionally, Barbara managed human services programs for the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Community Services Administration in Phoenix, Arizona.

Barbara completed the Senior Executive Program for State and Local officials at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government. She also 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 recently served as an officer on the National Hispana Leadership Institute Board of Directors in Washington D.C.

Barbara attended graduate school at the University of Kansas, and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. Barbara is an alumnae member of the National Hispana Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C., a year-long leadership development program, which included training at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Center for Creative Leadership.

Mary Ballentine

Nanci Luna Jimenez

Ms. Nanci Luna Jimenez is recognized regionally, nationally, and internationally for her highly effective and insightful training, inclusive facilitation, and dynamic speaking with groups of diverse ages, industries, and cultural backgrounds. Following her passion, she founded Luna Jiménez Seminars & Associates to design and deliver unique programs that encourage individuals in their process of personal transformation, releasing individual initiative to create a more just and equitable workplace and world. She trained extensively with Lillian Roybal Rose, recognized Cross-Cultural Communication specialist and United to End Racism (UER). A Certified Professional Facilitator©, she uses methodologies developed by the Institute for Cultural Affairs (ICA), an international organization that facilitates group leadership processes for social change. Ms. Jimenez expertly assists organizations by realizing the changes they envision, using group consensus, planning, and implementation. In 2006, as a National Hispana Leadership Institute Fellow, she completed the Executive Leadership Program through the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Center for Creative Leadership in Brussels, Belgium. Of Puerto Rican and Chicana heritage, she was born in Detroit, MI, and raised in Detroit and Tucson, AZ. Ms. Jimenez recently returned, from studying Bomba dancing and drumming in her father’s homeland of Puerto Rico, to her home in Portland, Oregon. She is also writing her first book Everyone is Good (Even YOU!): A Transformational Guide to Social Justice.

Zulma Barrios

Patricia Mota

Ms. Patricia Mota strives to engage experienced professionals as mentors and advisors to create a multi-generational network to support Latinos, as a part of her work with the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE). HACE helps grow and strengthen national networks through the delivery of skill development and networking building programs for students and professionals. Ms. Mota currently serves as a Board Member on the Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education (ILACHE), where she is dedicated to the advancement of the status of Latinos.  Before joining the HACE team, she was the Assistant Director of Admissions at Ivy Tech Community College of Central Indiana, while pursuing an MPA.  As an adjunct faculty, Ms. Mota taught Spanish courses and was involved in several committees such as the Diversity Team, and she advised the Student Organization of Latinos (SOL).  While in Indianapolis, she served as the board secretary for the Indiana State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (ISHCC).  Ms. Mota chaired the Volunteer/VIP Committee for the Indianapolis Women of Color Conference 2009 and participated in the planning of annual programs and events, such as those hosted by NSHMBA’s Project Stepping Stone, Mapping Education towards Achievement (META), and ALCANCE.  She earned a double Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University-Bloomington in Spanish and Communication & Culture and a Master’s in Public Affairs (MPA) in Public Management from Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis.  She studied abroad in Spain and Portugal, developing a greater aptitude of intercultural interaction.  Ms. Mota she founded and led two organizations, Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc., Alpha Eta Chapter and IU’s Latin Dance Club.  She teaches dance lessons and led hip-hop and cardio salsa dance sessions at the local YMCA in Indianapolis. Today, she is the Midwest Regional Director for the sorority. Ms. Mota also co-founded a community center in Bloomington, Indiana, El Centro Comunal, which offers services for Spanish-speaking community members.  She worked on several other community projects through her service in AmeriCorps as a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) and as an Advocate for Community Engagement (ACE).

sonia olivo

Sonia Olivo

Sonia Olivo began her career with State Farm while she was a student at DePaul University in 2002.  She worked as an office manager for two State Farm Agents.  Sonia graduated in 2003 with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology and Latino Studies and then followed with a Masters in Arts in Sociology in 2006.  Throughout her college years, Sonia worked closely with the Latino community volunteering with Chicago area non-profits such as Pilsen Neighbors Community Council, Alivio Medical Center, Chicago Public Schools, and the National Hispanic Institute, amongst others.  
Sonia’s work with the Latino community enabled her to reach her goal of becoming a State Farm Agent in 2006.  Her mission and primary goal is to help further educate Latinos in understanding the power and potential of insurance and financial products, so that they and their families benefit not only today, but in the future as well.  Currently, Sonia also supports the multicultural efforts of State Farm throughout the Chicagoland area by representing the company at events like “Feria de la Mujer” and “Tu Casa y Tu Dinero”.

Since becoming an agent, Sonia, with the assistance of her fully bilingual team, has qualified for a State Farm sales incentive travel award every year.  She has also been a top 10 producer within her agency group and has qualified for additional national State Farm agency incentives along with being recognized for national insurance honors such as the Legion of Honor.

Janet Childrey

Ana Maria Soto

For the past 3 years, Ms. Ana Maria Soto has built partnerships that have brought increasing numbers of Latinos to National-Louis University (NLU).  Ms. Soto designed and implemented the Harrison Fellowship, the Instituto Health Science Career Academy Charter, and the Proyecto Center. Prior to joining National-Louis University, she was the Director of Latino Cultural Affairs at Columbia College, Chicago. Among her accomplishments at Columbia College, Ms. Soto developed multicultural programming, provided mentoring and training to approximately 1,000 Latino students every academic year.  Ms. Soto is a 2004 National Hispana Leadership Institute Fellow and describes herself as "a high energy coalition builder who can bring community partners together on issues of education, political and civic empowerment." She previously held positions with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.  For seven years, Ms. Soto worked at the Close Up Foundation, which brings high school students to personally experience the workings of U.S. government. She received her bachelor's degree in Political Science and Spanish at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and her Master of Arts in Political Science from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain. This year, she finished her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at National-Louis University. Ms. Soto is married and has a thirteen year old daughter.

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