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 2001



Ida Colón, currently serves as Counsel to ING-Aetna Financial services, a leading tax-deferred retirement plan provider. Ms. Colón received her law degree from Western New England College School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Clark University. She has been Counsel to ING-Aetna Financial Services for approximately three years. Ms. Colón currently serves as advocate for abused and neglected children through Lawyer for Children America, on the advisory board of a neighborhood renovation project and as big sister to two incredible Latina teenagers. She has been very active in her community working as a volunteer for many local non-profit organizations.



Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez is the President of the Hispanic Federation. Established in 1990, it is a network of 70 Latino health and human service agencies that serve more than two million Latinos annually. Under her leadership, the Hispanic Federation played an important role in the region to provide disaster relief to the victims of the floods and hurricanes that affected Latin America and the Caribbean. She is a member of the Board of Regents for New York State. She is the City Council representative for the Bronx on the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. She also serves on the board of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity; the Amber Charter School, the Medical and Health Research Association, the NYPD Board of Visitors, the Joint Federation Partnership, and NY Women 2001. She has an MPA from New York University Wagner School of Public Service, and a certificate from the Columbia University School of Non-Profit Management.



Marisa J. Demeo is the Regional Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) D.C. Office. MALDEF is a national nonprofit organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Latinos living in the United States. She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and her law degree from New York University School of Law. Ms. Demeo currently serves on the Board of the Alliance for Justice, an organization focusing on judicial nominations and a variety of issues affecting non-profits. She has been active in the District of Columbia Bar, voluntary bar associations, and local non-profits.



Eliza Guzman-Vela is president of a her own training and consulting company that assists non-profit agencies in the Midwest. Ms. Guzman-Vela received her Bachelors of General Studies Degree from Indiana University and her Law Degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She is currently working on her Masters Degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University. She serves as treasurer for the Latino Historical Society and a volunteer for La Casa of Northwest Indiana. She also received two state appointments from the Governor of Indiana.



Flavia Hernández is the School Based Budget Officer and Education Liaison for the Chicago Public Schools Office of Management and Budget. Prior to this appointment she held the position of Early Childhood Programs Officer and is a former Principal of two Chicago Public Schools. She received her Master of Science in Education from Chicago State University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Mundelein College in Bilingual-Bicultural Studies and Psychology, both in Chicago. Ms. Hernández has been an active member in her community and has served on numerous advisory boards, task forces and committees. She is currently a Board Member of the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum. She is among the founders and past president of the Network of Hispanic Administrators in Education (NHAE) and has served as Vice-President of the Mexican Administrators in Education (MAE) both in Chicago, Illinois.



Leticia Lopez is Program Director of "Leaders in Progress," an intensive mentorship program for multi-ethnic teen women from low-income households in Seattle, Washington. Ms. Lopez developed this program for the YWCA of Seattle/King County/Snohomish County. In 1999, it was awarded a "Golden Apple," a public television award that recognizes "excellence and innovation" in education. Ms. Lopez has also been very active in the theatre community, both as an actor, director, and as a facilitator of Augusto Boal's "theatre of the oppressed (T.O.)." She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Whitman College. Theatre of the Oppressed is activist and interactive theater for non-actors. Through various exercises and productions it uses drama to break through conflict and, ultimately, to transform individuals and communities. Ms. Lopez has practiced "T.O." in both community and corporate settings for the past five years.



Bertha Martinez is President of BAM Consulting, Ltd., a firm that focuses on recruiting, training and consulting human resource development and diversity issues. Ms. Martinez retired after 30 years with Ameritech Services an SBC Communications Co. in her extensive telecommunications career. She developed human resources and strong supervisory skills. Ms. Martinez currently serves as an honorary member of the Ameritech Hispanic Advisory panel and University of Illinois minority engineering recruitment and retention. She has been very active in her community working as a volunteer for local non-profit organization.



Stephanie Maya is a health educator for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention"s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion"s Office on Smoking and Health. She received both her Master of Heath Administration and Master of Public Health in Community Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications at UCLA. She has served as a consultant to the National Hispanic Leadership Cancer Initiative and other National Cancer Institute Projects. She is a Fellow in the Anti-Defamation League"s New Leaders Program which focuses on monitoring and combating hate crimes against all ethnic groups and is also a Leadership Fellow in the Arnovitz Institute at her Synagogue and volunteers to feed the homeless and visit patients at Children"s Hospital.



Jazmin Miranda-Smith is Executive Director of the New Hampshire Minority Health Coalition identifying populations in the state with barriers to accessing appropriate health care while advocating for adequate and appropriate services and empowering those populations to be active participants in their own health care. She received her Master"s Degree in Adult and Occupational Education from the University of New Hampshire and has been Executive Director for the past year and a half. Ms. Miranda-Smith was the first Latina to serve on the Board of Health in Manchester, NH. She currently serves on numerous boards of directors, which include Lamprey Health Care, Department of Health and Human Services, YWCA, YMCA, Diversity Task Force, New England Coalition for Health Equity, and also serves on the Steering Committee for the New England Regional Minority Health Committee. She is known for her dedication to and for the minority communities.



Elizabeth Ortiz currently is the Director of the Affirmative Action and Diversity Resources Program at Northern Illinois University (NIU). She received her B.S. degree in Business Administration from Calumet College of St. Joseph"s, a M.S. in Adult Continuing Education from NIU and is finishing the requirements for an Ed.D at NIU. Prior to joining NIU, she was the Director of Hispanic Programs at Chicago State University. Her community service includes serving on community and professional boards, developing programs, which emphasize multiculturalism, and recruitment and retention initiatives for diverse student and workforce populations. She serves on the Board of the Illinois Association for Hispanic State Employees (IAHSE) and is the Interim President of the Illinois Council on Latinos in Higher Education (ILACHE).



Sandra Pizarro is the Chief of Staff for Assemblymember Manny Diaz in the California State Legislature. She graduated from Santa Clara University School of Law, co-founded the East San Jose Community Law Center and ran for the California State Assembly in March 2000. Ms. Pizarro currently serves on the Board for the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project, which offers a week-long summer leadership training conference for 140 10th and 11th graders. She has been very active in her community working as a volunteer for many other local non-profits.


Linda Rivera, Special Emphasis Program Manager for the Bureau of Reclamation"s Lower Colorado Region, is very involved with community based organizations that undertake special projects and activities aimed at increasing the number of Hispanics within thƒ federal workforce. Currently, she is the President of the Southern Nevada Hispanic Employment Program Council and serves on several committees that assist Hispanic students pursuing education goals.



Dr. Sandra Rivera is an International Economist in the Research Division, Office of Economics of the U.S. International Trade Commission. Rivera earned her Ph.D. in International Economics from the University of Kentucky and her BA from William Smith College. She served as Deputy Director for Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Dr. Rivera currently serves as VP for the William Smith Alumnae Council, VP for the HWS Afro-Latino Alumni Association and Secretary on her church's Board, Iglesia San Jose. Her mentoring work focuses on motivating Latinos to achieve higher educational levels and professional advancement.


LTC Maribel A. Rodriguez serves as the Dept. of Defense Action Agent for the NATO Council on Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological (NBC) Defense working Groups. LTC Rodriguez leads the US Delegation technical sub-group meetings and directs international research and development collaboration programs. She has served in the US Army for the past 23 years. LTC Rodriguez currently serves as Vice-President of the National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives (NAHFE) Scholarship Foundation; she has been very active in the military and her community working as a volunteer to enhance educational achievement and advancement of Hispanics.



Nadine Romero, is the Owner and Principal Hydrogeologist of Ground Water Science Services, LLC, an environmental consulting firm specializing in ground water investigations and assessment of hydrologic systems for contamination, ground water availability and recovery in Olympia, WA. She received her A.B. in Geology from Mount Holyoke College and her M.S. in Geology from Michigan State University. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Central Washington University and is very active in the community providing talks on global and local water resources, human interactions with water, being a mentor scientist and role model for girls and people of color.



Maria L. Rubio is a partner in the law firm of Leesfield, Leighton, Rubio & Mahfood, with offices in Miami and Key West Florida. She specializes in the areas of medical malpractice, unfair insurance claims practices and bad faith, maritime, nursing home, professional malpractice, and product liability. Ms. Rubio received a Masters in Public Administration from Florida International University and she received her Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from the University of Miami, where she won Regional First Place in the American Bar Association Client Counseling Competition. Ms. Rubio is an active lecturer and writer on numerous topics such as medical malpractice, insurance claims, product safety, and trial and litigation skills. Ms. Rubio is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the Eugene P. Spellman American Inn of Court, and Million Dollar Advocates Forum. She is a former Board Member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers and has served the Academy by Chairing the CLE Committee, Co-Chairing the Insurance Task Force, and serving as a FLAG Trustee.



Silvia Stradi is Associate Vice President for Critical Care and Emergency Services at Cedars Medical Center in Miami, Florida. A Registered Nurse, Ms. Stradi received her Master of Science Degree In Nursing Administration from Barry University. She has been Associate Vice President for the past four years. Ms. Stradi has been active in her community through service In the United Way of Dade County, participating in various community events targeting schools and youth.



Mary Lou Tullos is a special education teacher at Gutierrez Middle School in Harlingen, Texas. Ms. Tullos received her M.S. from Texas A&I University. Ms. Tullos has been a teacher for the past 28 years, and for 25 years, she has been teaching special education students. Ms. Tullos has been very active in her school district and community, working and coaching Special Olympic students both on the local and state level area games. She is also currently caring for her elderly parents and is an advocate for the elderly in her community. Ms. Tullos was selected as the recipient of the 1999 NHLI National Mujer Award for her contribution to the Hispanic Educationally Challenged population in her community. Ms. Tullos" motto is, "A glimmer of hope is a glow of accomplishment."



Magda Yrizarry is Director of Community Affairs at Verizon Communications. In this capacity, she is responsible for stakeholder relations, philanthropy, and corporate volunteerism. Ms. Yrizarry received her B.S. from Cornell University and is currently a candidate for a Master"s Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University. She is the Chairperson of Aspira of New York, a Latino youth leadership development program; Secretary of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; and serves on numerous other Boards including the Aspira National Association, 100 Hispanic Women, and the Brooklyn Children"s Museum. She is also very active in her local church where she teaches a girls" Christian leadership development curriculum.