As the premier executive leadership organization preparing Latinas for positions of national and international influence, public policy impact, and to contribute to the advancement of the Hispanic community, NHLI pays tribute through its prestigious Mujer Awards to the achievements and contributions of exceptional Hispanic women who have served their communities. The Awards were presented on Friday, November 5, at the Gala closing of the 2010 Executive Leadership Training Conference.
The Mujer Awardees are fundamental examples of the remarkable work Latinas are doing every day across the country.
This year’s honorees were:
Chair's Award: Maria Elena Salinas, Journalist and News Anchor, Univision
National Award: Janet Murguía, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
Regional Award: Remedios Díaz-Oliver, President of All American Containers, Inc. and Entreprenuer
Legislative Award: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18)
Maria Elena Salinas
Univision Network Anchor Maria Elena Salinas is the most recognized Hispanic female journalist in the United States. Called by The New York Times, “the voice of Hispanic America”, Salinas has informed millions of Hispanics in the United States and 18 countries in Latin America for almost 3 decades. As co-anchor of the highly rated “Noticiero Univision” and the primetime news magazine “Aqui y Ahora” (Here and Now), Salinas has handled some of the most challenging assignments in modern day journalism.
Salinas’ work has earned her several journalistic awards including three national and one regional Emmys. She was also part of the Univision news team that received the Edward R. Murrow Award for the network’s coverage of the Atlanta Olympic Park bombings. She has interviewed several U.S. presidents and has been face to face with dozens of Latin American heads of state, rebel leaders, and dictators. In 2007 Salinas made history co-hosting the first ever Democratic and Republican presidential candidate Forums in Spanish on the Univision Network. For over two decades she has covered presidential elections and during the 2008 US presidential campaign she interviewed several of the leading presidential contenders including Senators Hillary Clinton, John McCain and the current President, Barack Obama.
Her influence reaches beyond television. She is a radio analyst on Latino issues and is one of few Hispanic syndicated columnists in the United States, where her column is published in over 55 newspapers in both Spanish and English. In 2006, her memoir entitled “I Am My Father’s Daughter: Living A Life Without Secrets” was published, receiving critical acclaim and making the best seller lists for Spanish-language books on several occasions.
She is also the official spokesperson for “Ya es Hora” (It’s Time), a national citizenship and civic engagement campaign, that received the coveted Peabody Award for helping motivate Hispanics to participate in the American political dialogue. In 2000, Salinas launched a scholarship in her name to be awarded to a Hispanic journalism student interested in pursuing a career in Spanish language media. She is one of the founding members of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and sits on the board of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the International Women’s Media Foundation.
Salinas began her journalistic career as a reporter for KMEX-34 television in Los Angeles in 1981. Her insightful reporting on the impact of daily news to increasingly growing Hispanic community of Southern California quickly earned her the credibility that would lead to her assuming the anchor chair of Noticiero Univision in 1987.
Since then her brand of journalism has earned her dozens of awards and recognition from important groups such as the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and the National Organization for Women that honored her with the coveted Intrepid Award.
Salinas has been featured as one of the “Most Influential Hispanics” in the United States in several publications including Hispanic Magazine, People En Español and PODER, and was named one of the top 15 Most Influential Hispanics among Latino voters in a poll conducted by Hispanic Voter Trends.
Salinas was born in Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, where she began her broadcasting career. She resides in Coral Gables, Florida, with her two daughters, Julia Alexandra and Gabriela María.
As someone who has experienced the promise of the American Dream firsthand, Janet Murguía has devoted her career in public service to opening the door to that dream to millions of American families. Now, as a key figure among the next generation of leaders in the Latino community, she continues this mission as President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.
Since 2005, Murguía has sought to strengthen NCLR’s work and enhance its record of impact as a vital American institution. One of her first priorities was to harness the power of the nation’s nearly 50 million Hispanics and improve opportunities for Latino families by strengthening the partnership between NCLR and its network of nearly 300 community-based Affiliates which annually serve millions of people in 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Murguía has also sought to strengthen the Latino voice on issues affecting the Hispanic community including education, health care, immigration, civil rights, the economy, and the rise of hate rhetoric and hate crimes targeting the Latino community. In her role as NCLR’s spokesperson, she has appeared on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, NBC’s Today Show, CNN’s Larry King Live, PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°, and CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight.
Murguía has placed special emphasis on turning Latino growth into empowerment through the Latino vote. In the 2008 election, NCLR along with its partners helped to register nearly 200,000 new Hispanic voters. Other initiatives and partnerships helped more than 1.5 million eligible immigrants apply for citizenship.
Murguía has also focused on strengthening NCLR’s relationship with sister civil rights and advocacy organizations. She has spearheaded efforts to build bridges between the African American and Latino communities in conjunction with organizations such as the NAACP and the National Urban League. She was the also first Hispanic leader to give the keynote speech at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast in Birmingham, Alabama.
The visibility of Latinos in the media has also been a key concern for Murguía. Through her efforts at securing a host of new partners and resources, the NCLR ALMA Awards returned to television in 2006 after a three-year hiatus as part of NCLR’s strategy to promote fair, accurate, and balanced portrayals of Latinos in the entertainment industry.
Murguía is currently a board member of the Independent Sector, a coalition of leading nonprofits, foundations, and corporations; the American Heart Association; and the Partnership for a Healthier America. She is also an executive committee member of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and serves on the board of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda.
Murguía has been recognized on numerous occasions for her work. She has been selected twice as one of Washingtonian magazine’s “100 Most Powerful Women in Washington” and featured in Newsweek magazine’s “Women and Leadership” issue. She has been chosen as one of the NonProfit Times’ “Power and Influence Top 50” leaders, named to People en Español’s “100 Most Influential Hispanics,” and selected as one of Hispanic Business magazine’s “100 Most Influential Hispanics,” Hispanic magazine’s “Powerful Latinos,” Latino Leaders magazine’s “101 Top Leaders of the Hispanic Community,” and Poder magazine’s “The Poderosos 100.” In 2005, she received the KU Law Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus/na Award.
Murguía began her career in Washington, DC as legislative counsel to former Kansas Congressman Jim Slattery. She then worked at the White House from 1994 to 2000, ultimately serving as deputy assistant to President Clinton, providing strategic and legislative advice to the president on key issues. She served as deputy director of legislative affairs, managing the legislative staff and acting as a senior White House liaison to Congress. She then served as deputy campaign manager and director of constituency outreach for the Gore/Lieberman presidential campaign. In 2001, Murguía joined the University of Kansas (KU) as executive vice chancellor for university relations, overseeing KU’s internal and external relations with the public, including governmental and public affairs.
Janet Murguía grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. She received three degrees from KU: a B.S. degree in journalism (1982), a B.A. degree in Spanish (1982), and a J.D. degree (1985) from the School of Law.
Remedios Díaz-Oliver is the President of All American Containers, Inc., a leading supplier in the United States of glass, plastic and metal containers and caps with operations in Miami, Tampa, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Atlanta and Dallas. Its marketing network spans to 50 countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It has become an All American pastime to put liquid consumer products (everything from Beer, to honey, to cleaning products) in safe, sturdy and attractive containers. All American Containers Inc. supports this tradition by making plastic, glass and metal containers for the beverage, chemical, cosmetic, food, liquor, perfume, and pharmaceutical industries.
All American Containers Inc. was founded by Remedios Díaz-Oliver in 1991. As President and Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Díaz-Oliver is entrusted with full administrative and financial responsibilities including financial statements.
In 1961, Remedios Díaz-Oliver started her new life in the US. She worked hard and went to school at night. She also met her husband at a party that neither one had wanted to go to. "We danced, and then we started dating, and then we got married," she says. It all happened very quickly, and they are still dancing together. Diaz-Oliver and her husband, who also works at All American Containers, travel together regularly on business and often, find time to dance. Her son and daughter work in the business and their granddaughters recently started working there as well, while still in school, bringing the number of family members among All American Container's 168 employees to five.
Building a business was a tough challenge for a woman: "Until I proved myself, it was very difficult. Women were not accepted in those years," Díaz-Oliver says. She can recall times when callers would insist on speaking to the person in charge, not believing that it could be a woman and certainly not accepting it at first. She attributes her success to working harder than anyone else. "I read, I learned all the technical things that I needed," she says. She learned the business, and then had the opportunity to start her own company.
"We tried to really establish ourselves as very reliable providers, and that made a difference," she says. Her concept was good service, good quality and competitive prices.
Mrs. Díaz-Oliver also thought about global markets when that wasn't high on the list of others in the packaging industry, a pioneering move that she attributes at least in part to the lessons learned from her father.
All American supplies packaging products to very large companies such as McCormick, Schering, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, Seven-Up, to name but a few. All American has sales offices in Central America in countries such as Panama City, Panama and San Jose, Costa Rica. In South America, in Caracas, Venezuela, Guayaquil, Ecuador Panama City, Panama and Santiago, Chile. Also London, England, The Hague, Switzerland and Sidney, Australia.
Prior to All American Containers, Mrs. Díaz-Oliver was a Director and Consultant of the New World School of Language in Miami, FL, was President of the Association of Exporters, Freight Forwarders and Manufacturers of Greater Miami, President of Emmer Importing & Exporting, Inc., Vice President & Member of the Board of Havana Business Academy and Havana Business College.
Mrs. Díaz-Oliver is a former member of the Board of Directors of Avon Products, Inc., and Barnett Bank (Bank of America). Mrs. Díaz-Oliver is a member of the Board of Directors of The Round Table, Cuban Liberty Council, U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC, Hispanic Heritage (Washington, D.C.), United Way and Emeritus Director of U.S. West Inc in Denver. She was also a member of The Board of Trustees of The Public Health Trust.
Remedios Díaz-Oliver was appointed in 1988 as a member of the Advisory Board Trade Policy, Negotiations and International Policy for the President of the United States and reappointed in 1992. Also in 1991, she represented the United States of America during the inauguration of President Luis Lacalle in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Mrs. Díaz-Oliver has been a member of the National Advisory Council of the Small Business Administration, National Hispanic Leadership Agenda and was selected as Outstanding Woman of the Year by the American Red Cross; Outstanding Woman of the Year by the Miami City Ballet; Business Woman of the Year by the Latin Chamber of Commerce; Entrepreneur of the Year by the Inter-American Businessmen’s Association; Business Woman of the Year by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Established Business-Owner of the Year by the National Association of Women Business Owners. Mrs. Díaz Oliver was the first woman to receive the “E” award (for excellence in export) from the President of the United States and the only Florida woman to be a member of the Board of Directors of three Fortune 500 companies, simultaneously.
Remedios Díaz-Oliver supports giving opportunities, as they have presented to her. She is a role model to many, women and men alike, adults and children.
"My biggest achievement has been to succeed in an area where no other woman was involved," she says. "It was a man's world." The packaging industry has changed and that is no longer the case, she says.
She also has observed in the United States and while traveling throughout Latin America that opportunities have grown for women in business. "In Hispanic society, women are not looked at any longer as the ones who have to stay home," She says. "You see a lot of women as executives." Tough global competition means that employers are looking at people for what they can bring to the table, not automatically assuming they should hire a man, she says.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida’s 18th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives became the first Hispanic woman and first Cuban-American elected to Congress.
She was elected in 1982 to the Florida State House of Representatives, becoming the first Hispanic woman in that body. In 1986, she was elected to the Florida State Senate. When the 18th Congressional District seat was vacated in 1989, she won the seat, and has been strongly returned to Congress since, winning 62% of the vote in 2006.
She is working to ensure that South Florida families who have lost their homes receive the help they need by increasing the supply of affordable housing.
As a former educator, she has been a strong voice for addressing the education needs of her community. While in the Florida Senate, she introduced legislation to create Florida’s first Pre-Paid College Tuition Plan. This plan has enabled students to attend college, equipping them with the resources to reach their highest ambitions.
She has been a strong advocate of programs that address the serious problem of violence against women. As a co-sponsor of H.R. 2876, which reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, she sent a strong message to the community that violence against women is unacceptable, and ensured that programs to address this problem continued to be funded into the future.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is the Ranking Member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Serving in this role, she has been a tireless advocate for the advancement of human rights across the globe.