National Hispana Leadership Institute - Celebrating 27 Years of Latina Leadership  

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Executive Leadership Program

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Sponsored By:

Anheuser Bush


Center for Creative Leadership


Miller Coors




Graduates of the Institute

Class of 2006

Ena M. Alcaraz is a Strategic Market Development Consultant for State Farm® Insurance Companies. Prior to her recent appointment, she was State Farm®’s Corporate Relations Manager and responsible for managing the organization’s national Hispanic strategic partnerships as well as directing the company’s efforts on issues related to financial education for all market segments.She attended Woodbury University in Burbank, majoring in Business Management with emphasis in Finance and is a graduate of CORO’s Leadership Southern California program, Class XIV. She serves in the following community-based organizations: MANA de McLean County, Girl’s Scouts of Centrillio Council, Salvadorian American Leadership and Education Fund, LULAC National Corporate Board of Advisors, Nuestra Familia Center of Chicago, and the Illinois Latino Coalition for Prevention.

Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan currently works as Manager of Multicultural Initiatives at the national headquarters of Girl Scouts of the USA in New York, with a specific focus on working with the Latino community. Ms. Bannan co-leads the NYC chapter of Las Comadres Para Las Americas, is a member of the A-VIP (Volunteer Initiative Program) Advisory Committee for ASPIRA of New York, and is active in various other community organizations. Ms. Bannan is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) from New York University in Public Policy and Nonprofit Management.

Marieli E. Colon-Padilla is a National Hispanic Alliance Development Consultant and lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America serving Hispanics nationwide. Ms. Colon-Padilla has provided for the past 10 years expertise in reaching Latino consumers, marketing efforts for the nonprofit sector, bilingual and mono-lingual education for Latinos on social and welfare issues, and bilingual media relations and training. Ms. Colon-Padilla has completed a Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program from the Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership (CPNL), Georgetown Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University and a Leadership Development Program for Minority Managers Certificate (LDP) at the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education of the Johns Hopkins University. She obtained her Bachelor Degree, Magna Cum Laude, in Business Administration (BBA) Marketing Management from the University of Puerto Rico. Ms. Colon-Padilla currently serves on the business advisory board of the National Puerto Rican Coalition. She has been very active in her community working as a program and development volunteer for many other national and local organizations.

Diana N. Derige is currently state coordinator for the Ready By 21 initiative of the Division of Community Health and Prevention at the Illinois Department of Human Services. Ms. Derige received both a BA and MPH from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her personal mission in her career is to improve community health for all people. Born and raised in Michigan, Ms. Derige now calls Chicago, IL home and takes part in a variety of local community and civic activities. She co-founded MANA de Chicago, a chapter of MANA, A National Latina Organization, and currently serves on its board of directors.

Carmen Flores is a Senior Trial Attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Seattle Field office. Ms. Flores received her Juris Doctor from the University of Washington, School of Law. Ms. Flores has been with the Commission for the past seven years. Prior to working with the Commission, Ms. Flores was an employment trial attorney with a private Seattle firm. Ms. Flores is a mentor to incoming University of Washington Hispanic law students. In addition, she previously served on the boards of the Washington Hispanic Bar Association and the National Hispanic Bar Association. Ms. Flores has also provided pro bono legal services with the Spanish Legal Clinic in Seattle, Washington and has served on numerous screening committees for state and federal judicial positions.

Evangelina Galvan-Holt is the Vice-President for Diversity & Grants Administration at Columbia Basin College in Pasco, Washington. Ms. Galvan-Holt has worked at Columbia Basin College for the past 7 years. She received her Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington. Ms. Galvan-Holt currently serves on the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, United Way and has served on the National Migrant Education Board. She has been very active in her community working as a volunteer for many other local nonprofits, including the local hospital and Playground of Dreams fundraising committees.

Lorena G. Gonzalez is a highly sought after national speaker and expert in the area of Leadership and Culture. She inspires others to recognize, develop and put into action their passions and create change in their personal and professional lives. She is a part-time faculty at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, where she also received her Ph.D. in Leadership Studies. She serves and has served on various boards addressing family, culture and human rights issues including the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Seton Home, Leadership San Antonio, Community Education Leadership Program, in addition to national public speaking on issues of Hispanics and education and leadership.

Laura López Cano is a visual artist and works out of her home art studio in Seabrook, Texas. Ms. Cano paints memorable images that disclose the tender, but powerful feelings of Latinas. Ms. Cano has exhibited in numerous galleries and art shows throughout the United States, including her recent showing at the United Nations in New York City, and The National Museum of Women and Their Work in Washington, D.C. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from the University of Texas at El Paso. Ms. Cano is very active in the local community, and donates her time and talents to national nonprofit organizations.

Nanci Luna Jiménez is the President of Luna Jiménez Seminars, which provides training and facilitation for personal transformation, organizational change and social justice. Since 1994 her organization guides individuals and organizations to identify oppression and challenge its effects on us all by building relationships. Ms. Luna Jiménez received her BA cum laude from Yale University, studied at La Universidad de Puerto Rico and El Colegio de México, and completed doctoral studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Ms. Luna Jiménez currently serves as Board President of World Pulse Magazine, which is committed to unleashing the global voices of women and youth through the power of media. She has been active in her Portland, Oregon community on women’s and environmental justice issues and attended the United Nations World Conference Against Racism Non-Governmental Forum in Durban, South Africa, as a delegate with United to End Racism.

Virginia Madueño is the President of IMAGEN, LLC a public relations and marketing firm. She has over 18 years of public relations, advertising, and marketing experience, including 12 as a public information officer and marketing manager for the County of Stanislaus. She is certified and trained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the California State Training Institute on crisis communications for local, regional, national and international press relations. Ms. Madueño obtained a Bachelor Degree in Communications from California State University, Stanislaus. Ms. Madueño recently co-produced a short film entitled “No Vale La Pena” a film focusing on the proliferation of methamphetamine in the Latino community. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Stanislaus County, Board of Directors with the Riverbank Oakdale Transit Authority, active member of the Riverbank Federated Women’s Club, active member of the Central Valley Public Relations Organization, and serves on the California Ovarian Cancer Alliance with focus on outreach to Hispanic women. Ms. Madueño became the first Latina to become a Council member for the City of Riverbank, California.

An award-winning journalist, Sylvia A. Martinez is the Head Writer and Segment Producer for the AIM Tell-A-Vision’s Maximas Productions, which produces American Latino Television and LatiNation, two nationally syndicated, Latino-themed programs. She is also a columnist for Odyssey Colour, a travel magazine for multicultural women. Prior to this position, she served as Editor in Chief of Latina Magazine. Ms. Martinez was named one of the 50 Most Influential Hispanic Media Professionals in 2003 and received a Hispanic Media 100 Award in 2002. Ms. Martinez received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. Ms. Martinez currently serves as Co-Coordinator of Las Comadres-NYC; is on the board of Repertorio Español and Chair of the Benefit Committee for Cielo Latino, the annual fundraiser benefiting the Latino Commission on AIDS; and a member of Working Mother Media’s Women of Color Conference Advisory Board. She is also a board member of Zalia Cosmetics. Ms. Martinez has worked with journalism organizations to raise money for scholarships for minority students to pursue college degrees in journalism, public relations and communications.

Maria-Elena Meraz is the Executive Director of the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) serving the Hispanic community throughout Los Angeles County. Ms. Meraz has been the Executive Director of the Parent Institute for Quality Education for the past six years, and a member of the program for ten years. Ms. Meraz has served families of children with developmental disabilities providing information, education, resources and training. She has also served professional and community members who live in the city of Whittier, California. Ms. Meraz assists parents in the Individual Education Plans (IEP), and organizes and manages a support group called Amigos Especiales. The purpose of this group is to help parents who have children with special needs.

Dr. Sandra Erunez Otero is a Health Program Manager for the State of Arizona’s Medicaid Program. She oversees the administration of a statewide health program: Arizona Long Term Care Services (ALTCS) under Arizona Health Care Cost Containment Services (AHCCCS). She received her Doctorate from Northern Arizona University. She also serves as the Business Operations and Marketing Chair and Board member of Los Jarritos Mexican Food, Inc. She has been very active in her community working as a volunteer for many local nonprofits. She currently serves as the liaison for the Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School Governing Board. Dr. Otero has been active in the political arena, participating in various community events targeting the Latino voter. She has a special interest in motivating and mentoring Latinas to achieve higher educational levels and professional advancement.

Fátima Perez is the Area Director, Regulatory & External Affairs for BellSouth Telecommunications serving the Broward County, FL area and representing the state legislative agenda in Tallahassee. Mrs. Perez received her Masters in Public Administration from Florida International University and her Bachelor of Arts from Florida State University. Mrs. Perez is active and represents the Hispanic and the cultural affairs community in many boards. Proud of her heritage, she currently serves as a Director for the Broward Latin Chamber of Commerce and also serves as an executive board member to other local chambers of commerce. This past year she was the recipient of the 4th Annual Hispanic Women of Distinction award. Most recently, she was nominated as one of the March of Dimes Women of Distinction for 2006.

Sandra Perez is the Director of the California Executive Fellowship Program, a nationally-recognized program administered through a partnership between the California State University Sacramento and the Office of the Governor. The 18 Executive Fellows are assigned to full-time positions in the highest levels of California’s Executive Branch to learn about public policy making in California’s state government. Ms. Perez earned a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a Masters in Health Services Administration from the University of Southern California. Strongly committed to public service, Ms. Perez has served on numerous community boards and worked in the California Legislature for several years. She has also worked as a consultant with various nonprofit organizations on public policy, administration, public relations and communications. She draws on experience working for former Assemblyman and Sacramento Mayor Phil Isenberg, as a W.K. Kellogg Fellow and a dedicated community leader. She is currently a member of the Sacramento Community Leaders Forum for the Superior Court of California and as a volunteer mentor of the UC PUENTE Project.

Denise Y. Perez is the Aide to Denver City Council President Rosemary Rodriguez. She attended New Mexico Highlands University for her undergraduate and graduate studies. Ms. Perez is on the Board of Trustees for the Museo De Las Americas and is a member of Pan African Arts Society and the James P. Beckwourth Mountain Club. She is also committed to fundraising for the Cross Community Coalition Family Resource Center, which provide services to Denver’s neediest communities. In her spare time she enjoys writing short stories and running on the beach. Her previous public service includes: 2003 – present, Aide, Denver City Councilwoman Rosemary Rodriguez; 1999-2003, Aide, Denver City Councilwoman Debbie Ortega; and 1985 – 1991, United States Department of Commerce, Washington D.C.

Catherine M. Pino is Co-Founder & Principal of D&P Creative Strategies. Catherine's aim is to advance corporate, philanthropic and legislative efforts that mirror her deep commitment to social justice and civil rights issues. She earned Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and Criminal Justice from the University of New Mexico, and holds a Masters in Public Policy and Administration from New York University. Catherine is a graduate of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility Corporate Governance Program at Harvard Business School. She is a board member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and is the first Latina co-chair and board member of the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City. She has also served on various philanthropic advisory committees including Hispanics in Philanthropy, Grantmakers for Education, Donors Education Collaborative and Latino Fund of the Tri-State. Catherine has spoken broadly on issues of philanthropy, youth, school reform and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights. In 2004, she was named by Hispanic Magazine as a Latina of Excellence.

Mayda Prego is an attorney in the Miami office of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP. Ms. Prego earned a Juris Doctor at the University of Michigan Law School in 1992, where she served as an editor on the Michigan Journal of Law Reform. Ms. Prego earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Yale University in 1988. Ms. Prego has been a litigation attorney in leading firms in New York City and Miami for nearly 14 years. Ms. Prego is admitted to practice law in New York, Massachusetts, Texas, and Florida. Ms. Prego serves as the Florida Region President of the Hispanic National Bar Association. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Foster Care Review, a nonprofit organization dedicated to motivating prompt, permanent, positive outcomes for all dependent children in Florida’s foster care system, and PACE Center for Girls, a nonprofit organization that provides at-risk girls and young women an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training, and advocacy. Ms. Prego is a graduate of the Leadership Miami Program of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and she is currently serving as a group facilitator of 2006 Leadership Miami program.

Naomi K. Rodriguez is currently a Marketing Manager for DIRECTV, Inc., the nation’s leading satellite entertainment provider. Prior to Ms. Rodriguez’s tenure at DIRECTV, she was appointed by the Mayor of Los Angeles to serve as his Assistant Deputy Mayor. In that capacity, she made history by overseeing and establishing one of the Mayor’s newest projects, the Office of Immigrant Affairs. Ms. Rodriguez was also the official advisor to Israeli Ambassador Yuval Rotem, holding the honor of being the first Latina to represent the State of Israel in the United States. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Communication Studies from California State University, Long Beach and is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Public Policy and Administration. Ms. Rodriguez has served on the National Board of Directors for the YWCA of the USA. She currently volunteers for the East Los Angeles Women’s Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for raped and battered women.

Aida Sabo leads the Corporate Diversity Function at EMC. Working with EMC’s Leadership team she executes Living Diversity@EMC, a company wide strategy focused on attracting, retaining, and developing top talent globally by advancing multi-cultural competence and providing an innovative and inclusive environment. Aida received her Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of California, Davis, specializing in electromagnetics. She completed graduate work at UC Berkeley and Georgia Tech. She was the founding president of HP’s first Latino Employee Network and a delegate at the White House on sharing Best Practices on Diversity with other Latino Corporate leaders in the U.S. She chaired the Silicon Valley Antennas and Propagation Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (IEEE) for six years. Aida has been on the Board of the National Hispanic Employee Association and has been a speaker at numerous events including the Peter Drucker Leadership Conference, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at Stanford University, and the Linkage, Inc.’s Women in Leadership Conference.

Erlinda S. Gonzales is the Community Relations Manager at the University of New Mexico-Taos. Ms. Gonzales is serving her tenth year as Town of Taos City Councilor, re-elected in 2004 to serve a third consecutive, 4-year term through 2008. Ms. Gonzales serves annually from October through December, as Mayor Pro Tem. Ms. Gonzales received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1999 from The University of New Mexico, and she is currently in her last semester towards earning her Masters in Public Administration (MPA) at UNM. Ms. Gonzales has been an employee of the University of New Mexico (UNM) for the past ten years. Ms. Gonzales currently serves on advisory boards of The National League of Cities (NLC) Women in Municipal Government (WIMG); Hispanic Elected Local Officials (HELO); and The University of New Mexico Harwood Museum Governing Board. She is a past board member of: Taos Habitat for Humanity; American Business Women’s Association (ABWA); past president of UNM-Taos Staff Council, and past board member of Town of Taos Youth and Family Center Advisory Board.

Maria Antonieta Trejo is a Senior Congressional Advisor in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs at the Department of State in Washington D.C., with 17 years of federal government experience in the Western Hemisphere and the Europe/Eurasia regions, Border issues and NAFTA, trade and environment, international science and technology, the Cuba embargo, and international counter narcotics policy. Currently, she manages the Department’s legislative schedule of events with Congress on Europe and Eurasia. She has represented a wide range of regional and global issues with the Congress, much of which required her to devise legislative actions plans for key foreign policy issues. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Scripps College of the Claremont Colleges in California and a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University Law School. She is a member of the Pennsylvania and District of Columbia Bars. Most recently in 2004-05 she was an MIT Fellow participant of the Seminar XXI: Foreign Politics, International Relations and the National Interest.

Connie Valiente is the Vice President, Corporate Relations for the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC and her responsibilities include spearheading the organization’s fundraising efforts such as securing corporate sponsorships for two national events and overseeing the corporate partnership membership through its educational and programmatic initiatives, additionally she oversees the pre-planning and development of al events and logistics with other staff members. These programs further USHCC’s goals of advocating on behalf of the nation’s 2 million Hispanic owned businesses; delivering membership benefits and value-added services t more than 200 affiliated Hispanic chambers of commerce across the United States, driving initiatives that advance the development of Hispanic businesses and aligning Chamber operations to implement Board policy and achieve the USHCC’s strategic objectives. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Mrs. Valiente came to the United States pursuing educational opportunities. In the spring of 1995, she graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a Master’s Degree in Education. After three years and reaching tenure as a History Teacher in the Montgomery County Public Schools System, she changed career paths. Before joining the USHCC team in February 2001, Ms. Valiente was the Corporate Liaison at the National Puerto Rican Coalition. Prior to that, she was tenured as a History teacher in the Montgomery County Public Schools System. Ms. Valiente graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a Masters in Education. In 2005, she earned her second Masters Degree in Public Communications at American University in Washington,