National Hispana Leadership Institute - Celebrating 27 Years of Latina Leadership  

Executive Leadership Program

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Sponsored By:

Anheuser Bush


Center for Creative Leadership


Miller Coors




Graduates of the Institute

Class of 1999 - "Las Leonas"


Sandra Alvarado is The Latino Parents' Association (LPA) Executive Director, where she advocates for meaningful Latino parent involvement in school reform. She educates Latino parents to demand equal access to schools, programs, and services and to participate at the school systems' local and district levels. As a result of her innovative work, Ms. Alvarado was invited to be a member of the PresidentÕs Hispanic Educational Council. She incorporates non-traditional methods such as radio and television to inform and educate the Latino community. Her production of La Asociación de Padres Latinos en La Hora del Café radio show has not only reached Boston Latino families but also parents from other cities in the State.


Laura Corry is the Senior Government/Public Affairs Representative for the South Florida Water Management District. For the past five years, Ms. Corry has been the program director for the Hispanic Outreach Program. In this capacity, Ms. Corry is responsible for bringing water resources and environmental information/issues to the Hispanic community in sixteen counties in South Florida. Ms. Corry received her B.S in Broadcasting with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Florida in 1983.



Heather Maria Coleman is a Technical Information Specialist serving the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the past three years. Ms. Coleman received her M.S. from the Catholic University of America and her B.A from Virginia Commonwealth University. Ms. Coleman has been very active in her community, working at the federal level as well as the local level at Latino organizations such as the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.



Judge Francisca Cota currently sits on the Phoenix Municipal Court Criminal Bench. She received her Juris Doctorate from Arizona State University in 1985. She has been a judge in Arizona for eleven years and has served on the Phoenix Bench for five years. Prior to that she was in private practice in the areas of civil litigation, domestic relations and criminal defense. Judge Cota serves in a number of professional and community boards and organizations. She is often asked to be a guest speaker on a variety of issues in the law as they apply to minorities and women. In 1994, she was named Los Abogados Woman of the Year.



Alma De Jesus works as a legal reference librarian at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York City. Ms. De Jesus was a criminal defense attorney and has worked pro bono cases for the indigent since 1989. In 1990, Ms. De Jesus worked as a reference librarian-professor at Seton Hall Law School and in 1993, she worked as a legal reference librarian at the Law Library of the Library of Congress. Ms. De Jesus has taught at Library Research classes at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick and Criminal Justice classes at Hostos Community College in the Bronx.


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Elena Del Valle is President of LNA World Communications, a marketing and public relations company specializing in the Hispanic and health care markets. She serves on the boards of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Women Business Owners, Greater Miami Chapter, among other. She is founding president of the Hispanic Marketing and Communications Association, co-founder of the first Hispanic section of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Chair of the National Section of PRSA. Del Valle was the 1988 recipient of the Up & Comers Award in Public Relations, an award that recognizes professional excellence and community involvement.



Maricela Narvaez-Foster is the Nurse Consultant/Health Services Liaison for the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency in the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program serving the children of Alameda County. Ms. Narvaez-Foster received her Nursing and Public Health education at the University of San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente School of Nursing. Ms. Narvaez-Foster has been a Public Health Nurse with Alameda Health Services Agency since 1981. She is very active in access and quality of care issues for the Latino community and has been proactive in developing innovative strategies to promote quality comprehensive care.



Esther Garcia is District Director for Congressman RubJn Hinojosa serving the 15th Congressional District in Texas. Ms. Garcia received her M.P.A from Southwest Texas State University and her B.B.A from St. EdwardÕs University. As the District Director for Congresswoman Hinojosa, Ms. Garcia has been involved in local and community issues.


Gloria Holmes is a Testing Coordinator of the Fair Housing Project from New Hampshire Legal Assistance as well as a Staff Associate for the EFNEP program for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Ms. Holmes received her Juris Doctorate from Nuestra Señora del Rosario School of Law and her MBA from New Hampshire College. Ms. Holmes has devoted many volunteer hours toward influencing local policies to favor low income minority audiences. She also wrote a book in English and Spanish entitled Quick and Easy Meals for Less. This book is distributed at no cost to low income families who receive food stamps and welfare benefits.



Francine De Ferreire Kemp is a Senior Counselor/Job Developer at Project Outlook Career Assistance Center in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Washington, DC. The program, part of the Defense Reform Initiative serves Federal employees and military members throughout the federal service. Ms. DeFerriere Kemp received her M.Ed from Trenton State University, now the College of New Jersey. She has been very active as a volunteer literacy teacher and English as a Second Language teacher for many churches and Hispanic employees of the Department of Defense.



Rebecca Martinez O'Mara is the Director of Regulatory Policy at Ameritech, the Southwestern telecommunications company. She re ceived her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1988. She started in the banking industry and worked her way up from secretary, to teller and then to investment banker. She then moved to Ameritech and started as line manager (climbing poles) to marketing, sales, operations and currently director of regulatory policy.



Loyda Martinez is a Network Manager for the project Management Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Ms. Martinez earned her Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science from the College of Santa Fe (CSF) and is currently a candidate for her MBA degree with a concentration in Management Information Systems, also from CSF. Ms. Martinez has had many community service achievements.


Rosalee Montoya is Program Development Officer for the Cancer Research & Treatment Center at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. With over ten years of fundraising and public relations experience, Ms. Montoya-Read has been active within the Hispanic community advocating for increased awareness and access to programs benefitting the Hispanic Community. She is the only Hispanic Advancement professional at the University of New Mexico.




Julia M. Ojeda is an entrepreneur, national consultant/trainer with 20 years of proven ability to build capacity in community, organizational development, leadership and cultural competency/diversity. Ms. Ojeda is a convener, planner, guide and resource developer for businesses and diverse communities in the growing New Market.


Julie M. Reyes is a Detective for the New York City Police Department. She has quickly moved through the ranks and the divisions of the police department, moving from patrol officer to detective and working in various areas such as the Narcotics division and the Manhattan Special Victims Squad. Ms. Reyes received her B.A in Criminal Justice from the John Jay College in New York City and is very committed to social causes in her community. She is the president and member of a breast cancer awareness organization, First Saturday in October, Inc., which empowers the Hispanic and female communities



Rachel Rios has been involved in the Juvenile Justice System for over 20 years. She joined the Youth Authority as a Parole Agent in Los Angeles and has had varying positions within the department and state. She implemented California's first Bond Act of 25 million dollars for Youth Centers and Youth Shelters, just prior to taking the helm of the Stockton Patrol Unit in 1995. The Stockton Patrol Unit covers seven counties in California and provides a variety of programs and services to youthful offenders and the community. Ms. Rios is the Northern Vice-President of the Mexican American Correctional Association and a member of the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.



Martha Rodriguez is the Director of Extended Oppor tunity and Services Program at the West Hills Community College in Coaling, California. She has had prior educational career experiences working at Merced Community College as an educational coordinator and at California State University as a lecturer for the Teacher Education department. Ms. Rodriguez received her B.A and her M.S from California State University. She obtained her Ed.D from the University of Southern California.



Gladys Bedregal Romero works for the Census Bureau where she interfaces with local governments and community groups in the states of Washington and Idaho, with a special focus on migrant farm workers and Hispanics living in the Pacific Northwest. A native of La Paz, Bolivia, Ms. Romero holds an undergraduate degree in accounting and a Masters in Business Administration. She presently serves as president of the Washington State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and sits on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Supplier Development Council and the Seattle Chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants.



Cristina Michelle Torres is a Senior Program Coordinator for Student Development at Arizona State University, where she has worked for the past six years. She received both her B.A and M.Ed from Arizona State University, concentrating in both elementary, higher and adult education. Committed to education, Ms. Torres has been very involved in community activities that impact the Hispanic and Latino communities.



Elaine Denise Torres is the Public Affairs Coordinator for the Denver Rocky Mountain News. She received her M.A in Communications from the University of Denver and her B.A in Political Science from the University of Colorado. Ms. Torres has served the Latino community by advocating for Latina women and youth as the Public Relations Director for Mi Casa Resource Center. This is a non-profit organization that promotes the security and betterment of Latina women.



Dr. Ruth Zambrana is the Elisabeth Shirley Enochs Professor and Director of the Center for Child Welfare at George Mason University. She received her Ph.D from Boston University and her M.S.W from the University of Pennsylvania. She is very active in the public health community as a researcher on issues related to Latino children, women, and families.