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 2007


Cynthia Alvillar is the Director of Applied Development Research Solutions in Folsom, California where she conceptualizes, develops and manages multi-country research projects. Her global experiences include living abroad in South Africa where she worked for various agencies such as the National Union of Mineworkers of Pretoria, South Africa as its General Counsel and Head of the Legal Unit. Ms. Alvillar received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, M.A. cum laude in Economics from New School for Social Research in New York, and her J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. Her community service record includes advocating for Latino rights as an attorney with MALDEF and working to eliminate poverty domestically and abroad, providing Latino health equality with “Visión y Compromiso.”

“The successes we are likely to achieve as a result of the National Hispana Leadership Institute are not in isolation but from part of the advancement for our community and the legacy we leave for our children.”



Angela Anderson, MPP is the Director of Operations for the Institute for Diversity in Health Management, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association.She is responsible for the operations and programming of the Institute’s membership services and programs encompassing workforce, cultural competency and leadership strategies to strengthen the healthcare workforce of America. Ms. Anderson received her Master’s of Public Policy with a concentration in Health Administration and Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her experience extends from developing workforce development programs for students, working with grassroots organizations in Bolivia, and most recently being a key collaborator in the development of the National Forum for Latino Healthcare Executives. She is a member of the Board of Directors of “Expresiones Artísticas” and the Interfaith House organizations.

“I believe the fellowship will provide a wonderful opportunity to learn, share and allow me be a witness to other Latinas while protecting my individual space to reflect and honestly begin planning how I envision my talents into the future. I am confident I will come to a greater understanding of the power we hold within ourselves and as Latinas.”    



Veronica Bronkema is the Spanish Language Communications Manager for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. She received a Degree in Marketing Management from the Juarez University in Tabasco, Mexico. Ms. Bronkema advises executive teams and is a frequent speaker to organizations seeking to reach the Latino community.  Ms. Bronkema currently serves as the Vice-President of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Washington and the Hispanic Round Table. She is actively involved with Hispanic youth as a mentor and in the organization of the Latino Youth Summit.

“I feel honored to have been selected to participate in this prestigious program for Latina Leaders around the country. I look forward to the opportunity to increase and improve the professional development and community movement of Hispanics in the state of Washington.”



Carmen G. Cantor is the Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity of the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission in Washington, DC.  She previously worked in the Office of Civil Rights and the Bureau of Human Resources at the U.S. Department of State, and at the U.S. Postal Service in Washington, D.C.; Orlando, Florida; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Ms. Cantor received her M.A. in Labor Relations from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, and her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. Ms. Cantor is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives and the Gallup Panel.  She recently served as a member of the board of the University of Puerto Rico Alumni Association (UPRAA) in Washington, D.C.

“I feel honored to have been selected for the 2007 NHLI program.I look forward to the opportunity to work with such a respected group of Hispanic women.This program not only is going togive usthe tools that we need to succeed and grow asglobal leaders, but will challenge ustowork on ways to improve the status of the Latino communitiesacross the nation.”



Cielo Castro is the Director of Constituency Services of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund. As Director of Constituency Services, she helps to facilitate full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service, focusing her efforts specifically on promoting the governance and policy making success of Latino elected and appointed officials. Ms. Castro received her B.A. in Business Administration from Boston University. Her community service record includes work to increase bipolar awareness and decrease stigma through the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance; mentorship and the recruitment of Latino youth to attend college through the East Coast Chicano Student Forum Los Angeles, California Alumni, and through her service on the National Board of Directors of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc.

“I look forward to meeting the Latina leaders who have been selected from across the country and working with them to improve the status of Latinos in the United States today.  Latinos continue to make growing contributions to the future of our country, and I am excited about the opportunity to work through the Institute to keep making this possible.”



Maria Ines Castro is the founder and Director of 3-Sixty Marketing Communications, a full-service advertising and public relations firm serving Florida, national and international clients. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and International Finance from Barry University. Ms. Castro founded 3-Sixty in 2002, after 16 years in the marketing communications industry, where she held various positions, including Marketing Director for a global institution. Ms. Castro currently serves on the board of WLRN/Public Radio & Public Television; the Urban Environment League; the Miami-Dade County Economic Empowerment Advisory Board; the Miami-Dade County Affordable Housing Advisory Board; and the Carlos Albizu University Business School Advisory Board.   

“I am deeply honored to be able to participate in the NHLI program with such an accomplished group of women, and I look forward to the personal and professional growth we will undoubtedly experience together.”   



Janet Collazo is the Interim Executive Director at La Alianza Hispana.  Since 2004, she has served as the Director of Finance and Administration and, most recently, the Deputy Director of La Alianza Hispana. During her tenure, she successfully turned around a struggling finance department, greatly enhanced communication systems and technology, performed much needed program evaluations and improved monitoring systems and legal compliance for state and federal contracts. As a community leader, Ms. Collazo served on the organizing committee for the 2004 Democratic National Convention’s (DNC) Latino Party which honored the 2004 DNC Chairman, Governor Bill Richardson. She serves in the Action for Boston Community Development Inc. and on the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative Board of Directors.  

“I am so grateful to be one of the 22 Latinas participating in the 2007 National Hispana Leadership Institute. I look forward to building strategies for Latina leadership, both on local and national levels. The Institute not only facilitates individual leadership, it shines a light on the fact that Latinas have an important role to play in the future of our country.”



Idalia P. Fernandez is Vice President  & Chief Operating Officer of the Hispanic College Fund, a national nonprofit organization. She  received her Master’s in Business Administration from Averett University.  Ms. Fernandez also serves as the treasurer of La Voz Hispana for Education — a Virginia-based organization that empowers Hispanic parents and students through academic enrichment programs and monthly parent meetings to prepare Hispanic students to be college-ready and career-focused.  She is also the co-founder and presidentof Latinas Investing Power, a Latina investment club in the Washington, D.C. area. 

“The NHLI program is helping to galvanize the impact of Latina leaders and creating a forum by which we can collectively improve the status of Hispanics at a national level.  I am very excited to be part of this great program.”



Rep. Delia Garcia is the youngest female and first-ever Latina elected to the Kansas Legislature. She is also a professor of American Federal Government at Butler Community College, and helps with the family restaurant “Connie’s Mexico Café” in Wichita, Kansas. Rep. Garcia holds a Masters Degree in Political Science from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. Rep. Garcia currently serves on advisory boards of Healthy Kansas 2010, Global Learning Center, U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute, Kansas Latino Legislative Caucus, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement of Wichita, Kansas Democratic Party, Kappa Delta Chi Latina Service Sorority Inc. Alumni of Wichita State University, and Inter-Faith Dialogue.  She is a member of NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected Officials), National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, and the National Caucus of State Legislator). Rep. Delia Garcia is active in her community working as a volunteer member for the League of Women Voter, National Organization of Women, and the American GI Forum. 

“The NHLI program has given me a refreshed perspective on my professional life. It has empowered me to challenge myself in new growth areas, both professionally and personally.”



Virginia Gonzales is currently a Claim Manager for State Farm® Insurance Companies. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Houston, Texas at Clear Lake and her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas. She has also earned the professional designation of Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter from the American Institute of CPCU. Ms. Gonzales has previously served as President and Vice President and member of the Round Rock Independent School District in Round Rock, Texas.  She is on the board for the Mentoring Partnerships of Long Island and the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation of  New York.

“The NHLI program provides me a new perspective on my contributions to the community and as a leader in my profession.”



Janie Montoya Ledet is a Lead Systems/Software Engineer at Hewlett-Packard. She has a patent and is responsible for designing and implementing an Embedded Linux Operating System. She was previously a teacher at Trinidad, Colorado State Junior College for the Upward Bound Program. Ms. Montoya Ledet is passionate about getting young girls interested in math, science, and technology and has organized many community and corporate events to this end. She is a mentor for Latinas through She has spearheaded several initiatives at HP to increase diversity and improve the work environment for various minority groups.    

“It is my dream to see more Hispanic women become technology inventors and decisionmakers.  NHLI is spawning leaders who will inspire the next generation to get educated and contribute innovations that will have profoundly positive impacts on our world.”



Brenda Lopez is the Director of Adult Programs at Mi Casa Resource Center for Women with a mission to advance self-sufficiency for primarily low-income Latinas and youth. She oversees programs that provide instruction, resources and guidance for individuals who want to start their own businesses or enter into a career in high-demand industries. Ms. Lopez currently serves on the board of the Latina Chamber and is an active member of the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She is an active member of the Denver Employment Alliance, a coalition of community-based nonprofit job training and placement organizations. Ms. Lopez is also a 2006 fellow at the Sector Skills Academy.

“I am truly excited about the opportunity to be a part of the Institute’s 2007 Executive Leadership Program and look forward to connecting with the diverse Latina leaders that were selected this year. This program will provide all of us with tools to create new possibilities for Latinas and others.”



Patricia Mejia is a Community Development Consultant, specializing in capacity building and leadership development with the National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders. Previously, Ms. Mejia was the Founder and  Director of the 21st Century Leadership Center at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, where she assisted in training over 1,500 college and high school students through the center’s leadership development programs. A dual graduate of St. Mary’s University, she received a BA in 2001 and her MA in 2004, with degrees in political science. She recently traveled to Turkey to study more about interfaith dialogue and to Bangladesh to study development initiatives.

“Standing on the shoulders of many women who created the paths we walk, with both joy and humility, I look forward to building community with Latina leaders from across the nation. NHLI will allow me to gain the necessary tools to create effective change for our Latino community.”



Marisol Miller is a Spanish and Foreign Language instructor in the Phoenix Union High School District. She graduated from Arizona State University with a double degree in Broadcasting and Spanish and received her teaching credentials and bilingual endorsement. She has taught various subjects, grades K-12. In 2004, Marisol obtained a Master’s degree in Supervision and Administration and her Principal certification from Arizona State University (ASU) and is presently working on her Ph.D. in Leadership in Supervision and Administration in Education in the ASU DELTA V cohort. Ms. Miller is a native of  Santa Cruz, Bolivia. She serves on the advisory board of the Friendly House and also sits on the Advisory Committee of the Arizona Federal Credit Union.

“NHLI will be an empowering learning experience that will build bridges with other groups of society.  I am ready to embrace the gift before me, to develop new views of leadership and to continue working on improving the status of Hispanics in America”



Suzanne Moreno is the Founding President/CEO of Encourage Tomorrow, established in 1997. This educational non-profit organization was formed to focus on the needs of young Latinas and has grown from a 10 student pilot project in Fresno, CA, to serving 1500 students and families statewide. She also is the President of Ed-Ventures in Education, which provides trainings and resources. Ms. Moreno received an M.Ed, teaching credential and an M.S. in Business Management.  Sh eis a graduate of HOPE (Hispanas Organized for Political Equity) and is a founder of the Central California Latina Network which was formed to address the needs of Latinas in our Central California.  She also developed the “Las Hermanitas” Mentoring Program.  She was recently awarded Business Woman of the Year at the Latina Women’s Conference through the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  She serves on the Fresno Nonprofit Advancement Council and is involved in many community events and volunteers with other local non-profits.

“I am honored to have been selected from a national pool of Latina leaders.  This is an excellent opportunity for personal growth and to further my commitment to the Latino community.  I am looking forward to networking with other Latina leaders and to further develop my leadership skills.”



Ann-Gel S. Palermo, M.P.H., is the Associate Director of Operations for the Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She also has a faculty appointment as Instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Ms. Palermo received her Master’s of Public Health degree (majoring in Health Policy) from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Ms. Palermo also serves as a board member of the East Harlem Community Health Committee and isChair of the Board of Directors for the Manhattan-Staten Island Area Health Education Center. She is a member of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Admissions Committee, the National Institute’s of Health Directors Council of Public Representatives, the New York Academy of Medicine Institutional Review Board andthe New York City HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council of New York.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to participate in the 2007 NHLI Executive Leadership Program.  I look forward to developing partnerships with other Latinas from across the country both personally and professionally to cause real and sustainable positive changes in our lives and in our communities.”



Maria Ramos-Chertok is an independent consultant, trainer and mediator specializing in nonprofit organizations and public agencies. Her areas of expertise include conflict resolution, communication, teambuilding, sexual harassment prevention, effective supervision and multiculturalism.  She has extensive experience as a group facilitator that includes a 15-year history of nonprofit experience in crisis counseling, advocacy and teaching. She received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law where she was the recipient of the Fordham Human Rights Award for the most outstanding contribution to the advancement of individual freedom and human dignity.  She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Being a part of a Latina Leadership group has inspired me to reach new heights.  My vision of what is possible is now being fueled by the wonderful opportunities NHLI has exposed me to and the successful women I have met.  Having NHLI believe in me helps me believe in me.”



Carmen Ramos-Watson is the President and CEO of QMRI, a social marketing and management consulting firm in Washington, D.C.  She is also the Executive Director of the Celebra La Vida Con Salud (Celebrate a Health Life) campaign, which seeks to empower the U.S. Hispanic population with relevant health information and resources. Ms. Ramos-Watson currently serves on the Board of Directors as well as the Executive Committee for City First Bank.  

“I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to meet and work with such a dynamic group of Latina leaders through NHLI.”



Dr. Migdalia Rivera-Goba, Ed.D., R.N., is a Senior Nurse Specialist for Health Disparities and Community Outreach for the Office of Research, Outcomes and Practice Development at the National institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center. Dr. Rivera-Goba’s areas of particular interest and specialization include health disparities, community outreach, and role-modeling/mentoring. Additionally, she serves on several Boards including the NIH Hispanic Employee Organization. She has also served on the Executive Board of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. Before coming to the NIH, Dr. Rivera-Goba held teaching positions both at the community college and university level. In addition, she worked as a Community Health Nurse in a predominantly minority community for several years. Dr. Rivera-Goba’s dissertation, The Journey of Latinas in Undergraduate Schools of Nursing: Roadblocks and Bridges, focused on the experiences of Latina students pursuing a nursing education. Dr. Rivera-Goba’s current research activities address health beliefs and health behaviors, trust and decision making.

“It is an honor to have been selected as a 2007 NHLI fellow. I look forward to meeting the other Latina leaders selected and working with them to better serve the Hispanic community. The institute will be key in our journey to improve the status of Hispanics in the United States.”



Linda Valdez Thompson is the Executive Vice President of the Administration & Diversity at Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport. In this role, she is responsible for services provided through the Human Resources, Small Emerging Business (Supplier Diversity), Internal Communications, Risk Management and Procurement Management functions. She has been in this role for the past 6 years. Ms. Thompson received her B.B.A. from Mid-Western State University and her Masters Degree from the University of Phoenix. Ms. Thompson currently serves on the United Way, Tarrant County Advisory Council.

“The NHLI Executive Leadership program has provided me an effective approach on how to leverage my professional experiences to enhance my contributions to the Hispanic community.”



Michelle Vaca-Senecal works as a Trade Management Analyst with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) providing in-depth analysis and guidance related to key agricultural trade issues for senior level policymakers. She received her M.A. in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University and her B.A. in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio. Ms. Vaca-Senecal serves as a presenter and mentor for Latinas Learning to Lead, NHLI’s annual youth leadership program. She has conducted training on how to successfully meet with high level officials in the professional arena and how to organize a speech. Additionally, Ms. Vaca-Senecal has served as a leader for faith-based youth programs and volunteers her time for various Hispanic initiatives, such as the Hispanic College Fund. 

“I am pleased to have been selected as a 2007 NHLI fellow and consider it a privilege to learn from talented alumnae and my cohorts. The program will be filled with great challenges and rewards, all key lessons that will teach me how to leverage myself as a leader. NHLI has the wisdom and vision to promote a greater call to action and service in the Hispanic community. I’m honored to be part of their mission.”



Veronica Villafañe is the Ex-Officio President, National Association of Hispanic Journalists and has over 16 years in the journalism industry, in both Spanish and English language media, in broadcast, print and online. Ms. Villafañe received her B.A. in Journalism from the Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her community service record includes advocacy of better media coverage for Hispanics and Hispanic issues, through the leadership role as President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and cancer awareness involvement with non-profit Latino cancer organizations.

“When you take initiative, you lead. But you can always learn to become a better leader.  The NHLI promises to be a wonderful opportunity to turn a group of Latino leaders into the leaders of the future in this country.”



Gloria Williams is the managing owner of MOLA, a Hispanic market research firm dedicated to helping the U.S. Latino consumer voice be understood and conducts research across a wide range of services and products for Fortune 500 companies, as well as top advertising agencies. Ms. Williams is also the U.S. partner of RedZebra Integrated Insights, an innovative organizational development company operating globally since 1994. Ms. Williams is a native of Panama, and holds a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.  She is a member of the Junior League of San Diego and serves on the Board of Directors for Las Comadres Para Las Americas, a national professional networking organization.

“Embracing the opportunity to build and foster relationships with other Latina leaders will increase my ability to affect the kinds of change that I believe in, the change I believe betters the world.”