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NHLI 2010 Executive Leadership Training Conference & Mujer Awards

2007 Mujer Awards Recipients


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2007 Mujer Awardees

Click on the recipient's name to learn more about these incredible women.

Rosario DawsonRosario Dawson

She was raised in a Manhattan tenement building by her Bronx-born mother, a professional vocalist, and her father, who worked in construction. Although Rosario's parents separated when she was still young, they continued to live in the same building, allowing Rosario and her brother to remain close to them. New York-born and bred actress Rosario Dawson made her screen debut in Larry Clark's controversial Kids (1995). Literally picked off the street to play Ruby, one of the film's titular teens, Dawson -- who is of Puerto Rican, Cuban, Black, Irish, and Native American heritage -- had never acted before being cast in the film.

Following Kids, she next appeared in Spike Lee's He Got Game (1998) and that same year starred in Side Streets, a series of vignettes about life in New York's five boroughs. Faithful to her New York roots through and through, Dawson has continued to star in films set in her hometown, including Light It Up (1999), a drama that cast the actress as an honors student caught up in a hostage situation, and Down to You (2000), a romantic comedy in which she played a freewheeling stoner. After jamming with Josie and the Pussycats (2001) and landing on the Sidewalks of New York as a teacher dealing with a failed marriage. In 2002 Dawson had the distinction of appearing in two different science-fiction comedies that met dissimilar fates at the box office. She stepped into the female leading Men in Black 2 after Linda Fiorentino decided to opt out of the successful sequel, but Dawson also appeared alongside Eddie Murphy in the infamous bomb The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

She continued to move between big budget films like The Rundown with more independently minded efforts like Shattered Glass. In 2004 Dawson took on the part of the feisty woman who marries Alexander. She showcased her versatility in 2005 by appearing in two very different films. She took on the part of HIV positive drug addict Mimi Marquez in the big-screen adaptation of Rent, and played a hardened prostitute in Robert Rodriguez' Sin City. She also became involved in a legal dispute concerning her maintaining a rent-free dwelling in New York City. She continued working for interesting directors in 2006 playing in Killshot for John Madden, and being the most famous person cast in a major role, as the love interest for the directionless Dante Hicks, in Kevin Smith's Clerks 2.

Founded by Ms. Dawson in 2004, Voto Latino works to promote an enfranchised America by leveraging celebrity voices, the latest technology and youth themselves to promote positive change. The non-partisan Voto Latino, which aims to increase Hispanic voter participation, has targeted young Latinos by entering their world of cellphone text messaging and online social networks, such as MySpace. A simple text message from an interested Hispanic youth, or anyone for that matter, prompts an immediate response on how to get a voter registration form.

Ms. Dawson hosted the 10th Anniversary Benefit for the Lower East Side Girls Club and took part in the “Stay Close” campaign for Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. She hosted a concert event in support of Global Darfur Awareness Day, with the proceeds of the evening going to the International Rescue Committee. She joined the Control Arms Campaign organized by Oxfam and Amnesty International, and donated her time to do a reading in support of halting the spread of weapons around the world. Ms. Dawson also took time to do a reading at the “Any One of Us: Words From Prison” event, where performers used words and song to highlight the connection between violence against women and incarceration.

Gloria Bonilla SantiagoDr. Gloria Bonilla Santiago

Gloria Bonilla-Santiago is a Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor and a Full Professor with the Graduate Department of Public Policy and Administration. She also directs the Center for Strategic Urban Community Leadership and is the overseer and Board Chair of the LEAP Academy University Charter School. Throughout her academic career at Rutgers, she has established a track record in coordinating large scale programs, private and public ventures that bring together external stakeholders from the philanthropic sectors at the local, national and international levels.  She is excellent at Fundraising Capital campaigns, program management and development/ Strategic Planning.

As a leading scholar, researcher, speaker, and International cross-cultural training consultant, Dr. Santiago brings over 20 years of experience in program development, fundraising, and leadership training.  She writes and speaks widely on the areas of community development, policy analysis, migration, diversity management, organizational leadership, and public policy.  In 1993, she received the Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest recognition for teaching given to Rutgers' faculty by the President of the University.

Dr. Santiago’s record of service and the impact of her work on poor children/families, minorities, and community are exemplary by any standard.  She is a passionate and enthusiastic educator, who has focused her professional acumen on helping people to be able to become self-reliant citizens through education and professional development.  Her work on behalf of children and families has resulted in the development of a model charter school in Camden City that today serves 870 students in grades K-12 and has become a hub for serving the families of these children through a number of school-based service centers. Santiago is now taking her vision to the include children form birth through age 5 through the Early Learning Research Academy.

Dr. Santiago’s work through the Center for Strategic Urban Community Leadership is broadening and deepening the leadership base in New Jersey’s communities and beyond. She spearheads a number of signature projects with local and national impact in areas of conflict resolution, diversity management, organizational behavior, leadership development and community development.

As a Faculty member, Dr. Santiago’s agenda in the areas of research, teaching and service provide the impetus for her tireless efforts in developing programs and new approaches to tackle fundamental social problems. She has been successful in translating her research and empirical work into real policy strategies that have garnered a number of important contributions, such as charter school legislation in New Jersey; the enactment of important legislation impacting on women and the education of urban children.  

Dr. Santiago is the author of numerous articles and two books: Breaking Ground and Barriers: Hispanic Women Developing Effective Leadership (Marin 1992) and Organizing Puerto Rican Migrant Farmworkers: the Experience of Puerto Ricans in New Jersey (Peter Lang 1988). 

Dr. M.E. DeFerreireDr. Mary Elizabeth DeFerreire

Dr. DeFerreire is President and CEO of the International Multicultural Psychological Services, Inc Mental Health Clinic in McAllen, Texas.  Dr. DeFerreire holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas in Austin; a Master’s with Honors in Guidance and Counseling from Wright State University, in Dayton, OH, a BA in English with honors from the University of Texas and attended Studies Abroad with the University of Maryland, Munich, Germany Campus as an undergraduate. She has a diversified experience in Academia, Mental Health, Politics, and International Development. Recognized by many organizations in the US and Latin America, Dr. DeFerreire has assisted many NGO’s, Government Agencies, and Universities in the US and abroad in developing comprehensive mental health programs that address the needs of children in need, domestic violence, the criminally insane, and family mental health programs. She has been featured in numerous publications and media networks interviewed often, bilingually. 

In 1999, Dr. DeFerreire decided it was time to leave the Austin State Hospital where she was the only Hispanic Clinical Psychologist and return to her native Rio Grande Valley. Initially, she was employed by a Mental Health Organization from San Antonio but felt that the patients needed to receive better care and attention. She then left that organization and founded her own, the International Multicultural Psychological Services, Inc. She is the only Mental Health provider in the Rio Grande Valley providing full psychological services to the Hispanic and immigrant community. Her attention to the mental health of this fast growing community of McAllen has brought her skill to rescue, aid, and assist over 5700 families. She prides herself in serving the “poorest of poor” in this community bordering the US and Mexico. Additionally, she provides clinical services to the elderly in nursing homes, new mothers with post partum depression, school testing, and is a highly regarded Forensic Psychologists by legal professionals.

Dr. DeFerreire’s love of children has enabled her to find the most destitute families in the Rio Grande Valley where she frequently provides house calls and visitations to the families to ensure they are receiving the assistance needed.  Many of them lived in the most destitute colonias without water, sewage, or heat. She doggedly fights for the rights of the poor to receive subsistence assistance and is an advocate for her families in need.

As an advocate for the Hispanic families needing health insurance, she organized many rallies in the Rio Grande Valley, and ensured the media kept attention on the dire case of children losing their Health Insurance as a result of governmental budget cutbacks. The attention the media gave to her cause resulted in invitations of personal visits to Governor Perry’s Office in Austin, Texas where she discussed with the Governor her deep concern for the Hispanic children and families being removed from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPS).  Her campaign resulted in the Hogg Foundation and the Robert F. Kennedy foundation taking notice of her efforts and cause and producing the documentary “Are the Children Ok?”  The film has been nominated for many awards in the State of Texas and is listed as the most watched documentary in 2004-2005 for the State of Texas.

Dr. DeFerreire’s vitae clearly shows her love of psychology, her passion for excellence, and her ability to lead others. Dr. DeFerreire is also an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. Additionally, she has created internship positions for graduate students from the University at her facility, considered a true teaching institution. She mentors her students, tutors them for the rigorous State Board Licensing Exams, and encourages them to pursue Doctoral studies across the country.  Dr. DeFerreire is also a national expert in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is providing counseling for returned Iraqi War veterans and their families. She is also considered an expert witness by the Texas Court System.