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For immediate Release:  Friday, October 29, 201
Contact: Cheryl Aguilar;; 202-360-7867 (cell);;

National Hispana Leadership Institute’s Co-founder and Three-Time Presidential
Appointee to be Honored in Miami Leadership Conference

An All-Star Line Up of Prominent Hispanic Women Representing Nonprofit, Government
and the Business Sectors to Be Recognized Among Hundreds of Leaders from Across the Country

(Washington, DC) The National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI), the nation’s premier leadership organization for Hispanic women, will recognize NHLI’s Co-founder and Board Chair Emeritus, Maria Elena Toraño, with a special award for outstanding contributions to the organization and the greater global community at its Executive Leadership Training Conference and Mujer Awards in Miami on November 4-5.

The award presentation will be made at the Leadership Lunch on Friday, November 5 from 12:30-2:30 pm.

Hundreds of Latina leaders from across the nation will convene for two days of leadership and professional development training, dialogue on issues important to Latinas and the Hispanic community, networking, and more, under the banner The Latina Mosaic: Strength in Diversity, which underscores how Latinas are changing the face and strengthening the social fabric of this country, and making major inroads in the leadership pipeline for a growingly diverse America.

Each year, NHLI pays tribute to outstanding Latina leaders whose influence generates and promotes change in their community.

“Maria Elena Toraño is the archetype of a Latina leader; her impressive professional accomplishments and unwavering dedication to serving her community make her a distinguished honoree and paragon in the NHLI family,” said Cristina López, NHLI’s President. “Her vision and push to create an organization to advance Latinas has led many Hispanic women to shatter the glass ceiling,” added Lopez. “She has paved the way for many leaders across the nation.”

A widely recognized and accomplished leader and three-time presidential appointee, Toraño was the founding president of the National Hispana Leadership Institute in 1987 which was established to address the underrepresentation of Latinas in leadership positions. She was essential in shaping the organization’s mission to develop ethical leaders.  Her vision has grown extensively in the last two decades and NHLI has since trained over 10,000 Latina leaders through their leadership conferences and award-winning programs and these women have mentored more than 5,000 young Latinas. NHLI fellows have been appointed to top leadership positions in government, corporate America, nonprofits, foundations or have started their own businesses.

“We had to overcome the obstacles posed by prejudice, few role models, tremendous stress, lack of leadership training, and a resistance to our changing roles.  Those who hold power do not give it away gladly or easily.  Only through hard work, persistence, vision and teamwork, were we able to beat the odds,” said Toraño. “I am honored that my work has made a difference in our communities and to be recognized at an organization I helped build,” she added.

Maria Elena Toraño has also founded numerous organizations and companies that have benefited the Hispanic community and advanced democracy and the free market system.

In 1979, Ms. Toraño became the founding President of the National Association of Spanish Broadcasters (NASB), an organization representing the interests of Hispanic radio and television broadcasters at the FCC and the US Congress. In 1980, she founded META, Inc. which provided environmental, management consulting and financial services to Federal, state and international clients and grew the company to $25 million and 300 employees by her retirement in 2000. In 1989 Ms. Toraño started The asset management company, METEC, which managed a portfolio of over $1 billion in non-performing assets for the Resolution Trust Corporation as a result of the savings and loan crisis.

For her insight into the political, socio-economic, cultural, and business environments of this country and many other areas in the world, Toraño was first appointed by President Carter to serve in his administration. She was then appointed by President Bush in 1988 to the U.S. Commission on Minority Business Development.  In 1993 she was appointed by President Clinton to the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy where she served for ten years, promoting a better understanding of U.S. policy and the need for a new diplomacy based on the information age and the growing power of foreign publics. Currently, Ms. Toraño maintains an involvement in US-Cuba policy issues, seeking a peaceful resolution to a conflict which dates back to 1960. She has increased her involvement with the Council of Foreign Relations, and also served in the board of GAP, a community corporation which assists young women who are held in detention centers.

Other conference highlights include:

  • Over 45 innovative professional development workshops, panels and sessions facilitated by top-level Latina trainers and inspirational speakers
  • Financial town hall with Latina financial guru Julie Stav
  • Style branding for leaders by fashion expert Martin Llorens. VIP shopping excursion at Bloomingdales Aventura with designer appearance by Guy Bedarida for John Hardy.
  • Latina authors book fair including Leila Cobo, author of Tell Me Something True, and Patricia San Pedro, author of Dish and Tell: Life, Love and Secrets , among others
  • Homeownership and foreclosure prevention fair with Chase and Fannie Mae
  • Youth track for college student leaders
  • Community marketplace, health fair and career recruitment
  • Celebration of Latina Leadership through the Mujer Awards honoring Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Emmy award- winning journalist Maria Elena Salinas of Univision Network, Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, and business pioneer Remedios Diaz Oliver; the Rising Stars Awards honoring immigration activist, Gaby Pacheco, and Latina hip-hop artist Maria Isa.
  • Scores of regional leaders including: the Honorable Mayor of the City of Miami, Tomás P. Regalado, Mayor; Mayor of Miami Beach, Matti Herrera Bower; Helen Aguirre Ferré, Publisher of Diario Las Americas; Jorge Plasencia, CEO of República; Aida Levitan, Ph.D; President of the Levitan Group; Miami Dade College’s President Eduardo Padrón; Florida House of Representatives, Anitere Flores, among of scores of distinguished guests.

The Conference will take place from November 4-5 at the Hyatt Regency, 400 South East Second Avenue, Miami, Florida.  For a full schedule of events visit

NHLI 2010 Conference Sponsors include: State Farm® Insurance Companies, Southwest Airlines, MillerCoors, UPS, The Coca Cola Company, Nordstrom, Ford, Merck, McDonalds, Anheuser Busch, Goya, Pfizer, Chase, Fannie Mae, Prudential, The Walt Disney Company, Nielsen, AARP, Nissan, Bloomingdale’s, Macys, Mount Sinai Hospital, NY; Scholastic; Diageo, Tupperware, Baptist Health South Florida, Aries Miami; Media Sponsors: Univision, The Miami Herald, LATINA Style magazine; Media Partners:  República, Hispanic PR Wire, Diario Las Americas,,, CapitalWirePR, Hispanic MPR, LatinVision Media; Outreach Partners: Latinos in Higher Ed, Las Comadres Para Las Americas, Wise Latinas Linked; Partners: Grand Central Publishing, HACR,; Scholarship Supporters: Miami Dade College, City of Doral, Yum Brands; Table Sponsors: All American Containers, Prescient.


Editor’s Note: For press inquiries e-mail Cheryl Aguilar, NHLI’s Communication Manager, at or call 202-360-7867 or Dr. Aida Levitan, President of the Levitan Group, at Internet wired room will be available at the conference for members of the press.