NHLI’s Annual Conference:
An Educational Experience from Beginning to End
Proclaimed as the National Hispana Leadership Institute kick-off day in Albuquerque by Mayor Martin J. Chavez, Thursday, November 5, marked the beginning of exciting two-days of cutting-edge leadership development, networking, educational and inspirational keynotes and for 500+ Latina leaders.
From a variety of discussions on issues important to the Hispanic community and women to skills-building training — including a newly launched youth track — this year’s conference covered topics of interest for a diverse and eager to learn crowd. Half of the sessions were facilitated by NHLI’s alumnae.
During the first day, more than 100 people attended an engaging town hall meeting on health care reform sponsored by Wal-Mart and moderated by award winning journalist Ysabel Duron, NHLI’s ’90 Executive Leadership Program (ELP) graduate and a 2009 Hall of Famer of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. A panel of experts including Dr. Jaime Torres, President of Latinos for National Health Insurance, Belinda Garza, Senior Manager of Federal Government Relations for Wal-Mart,and Esther Garcia (ELP 1999), addressed the proposals being debated in Washington, DC and explained what they mean for women and the Latino community.
Participants at the Town Hall Meeting on Health Care
A significant topic for Hispanics, the health care conversation set the stage and provided a glimpse of what the rest of the conference would be like — an experience filled with information.
College students learned effective communications strategies from Vanessa Cardenas, Director for Ethnic Media at the Center for American Progress.
A panel of bestselling and award winning authors — Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, Regional Mujer Awardee Dr. Emma Sepulveda, Juana Bordas, Founding President of NHLI, and others, including moderator Rosalee Montoya-Read (’99 ELP graduate) — discussed the role of Latina writers in the preservation of language, culture and tradition and encouraged Latinas to record their experiences through writing.
Latina Authors Panel: (L-R) Juana Bordas, Dr. Emma Sepulveda, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez,Teresa Bevin, and Valerie Martinez
Participants learned how to better embrace diversity in the workplace and how to jumpstart one’s career through public speaking by learning to get their message across and connecting with audiences more effectively.
Day one closed off with a lively reception sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company with performance by Ballet Flamenco Yjastro and a presentation of special award to journalist Soledad O’Brien followed with a screening of Latino in America and a discussion of the documentary with Soledad (sponsored by Prudential). Click here to read more reception highlights.
On Friday, the conference opened with a breakfast recognizing three Rising Stars — young leaders under 30 with exceptional accomplishments. Bringing everyone to tears, Sindy Benavides (’09 ELP graduate), Idalia Lechuga-Tena (’06 Latinas Learning to Lead graduate) and Alicia Rascon, CEO and co-founder of Latinitas, promised to continue to make a difference in our communities and to pay it forward. To learn more about them click here.
Following the breakfast filled with energy and hope, participants discovered their X Factor with Dr. Jo Piña (’97 ELP graduate) at a workshop about “executive presence.” Latina Elected Officials including New Mexico Secretary of State Mary Herrera; Elizabeth A. Montoya, Chief of Staff for the Office of Personnel Management at the White House and a ’92 ELP alumna; Patricia Madrid, MALDEF’s Board Chair and former NM Attorney General, and Bianca Werthiem Ortiz, State Director for U.S. Senator Tom Udhall, shared their experiences on how they pushed through the adobe ceiling. Participants left the session, which was moderated by Patricia Chavez (ELP ’91 graduate), inspired and ready to serve, lead and motivate other women.
While some participants learned about resources for the uninsured at a session sponsored by Pfizer who released the New Mexico Health Guide; conference goers also heard about environmental sustainability at a session made possible by Wal-Mart. To learn more about the session click here.
At the Paying it Forward: Investing in Our Community luncheon Lilian Rodriguez (’93 ELP graduate), President of the Hispanic Federation and Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), delivered a powerful call to action encouraging the audience to support and build our own Hispanic institutions. NM Lt. governor Diane Denish gave the luncheon welcome. Thanks to the support of alumnae and friends, NHLI raised over $60,000 in donations.
Conference participants also had the opportunity to meet with the Director of Priority Placement at the White House Office of Presidential Personnel to learn about the Obama Administration’s plan to get more Latinos in high-level positions, openings in various agencies, departments and commissions, and how the application/hiring process works.
Nanci Luna Jiemenez,’06 ELP graduate, and Founder and President of Luna Jimenez Seminars, presented the workshop Hombres at Work: What Helps and Hinders Us to Work More Effectively with Men. At the Social Media Café organized by Fleishman Hillard’s Marieli Colon-Padilla, ’06 ELP graduate, and NHLI board vice chair, participants learned how to effectively use social media for professional purposes.
With Latinas starting businesses at six times the national rate, several sessions were targeted to entrepreneurs including How to Survive a Tough Economy presented by Maria Mari (ELP ’02), and techniques for starting and growing a business presented by Elizabeth Eguia-Garcia, ’04 ELP graduate and owner of Eguia-Garcia Firm.
This year’s conference theme, “Our Time in History,” was a reflection of the gains that Latinas are making at all levels of our society — from the Supreme Court to an increase in graduation rates for young Latinas. The Mujer Awards Gala closed the two-day gathering with a celebration of Latina leadership
Rosie Perez, entertainer and activist, was recognized with the Chair’s Mujer Award; Patricia Diaz Dennis, three-time presidential appointee and corporate executive received the National Mujer Award; and Dr. Emma Sepulveda, Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno and award winning author, was honored with the Regional Mujer Award.
Thanks to our committed Conference Sponsors — Wal-Mart, State Farm Insurance Companies, Nordstrom, Miller Coors, Southwest Airlines, UPS, Prudential, Direct TV, The Coca Cola Company, Aflac, Goya, Fannie Mae, Ford, McDonald's, Merck and Pfizer; Media partners: Univision New Mexico, Más New Mexico, New Mexico Business Weekly, LATINA Style, and Hispanic MPR; and Scholarship Providers: the National Education Association, Bank of America and the Atrisco Heritage Foundation.
Organizing a conference of this size is hard work and having strong local support is key to a successful event. NHLI wants to thank a special group of people who worked tirelessly along with NHLI to promote this conference — our New Mexico Host Committee.
We couldn’t have done it without them: Carlos Acosta, NM Lt. Governor’s Office; Susana Pauline Anaya (’00 ELP graduate), Questa Independent School District; Clara Apodaca, National Hispanic Cultural Center; Patricia L. Chavez, PLC Enterprises; Marisa de Aragon, Hispanic Women’s Council; Patrick Duran, Office of Congress Ben Lujan; Erlinda Gonzalez (’06 ELP graduate), University of New Mexico; Cathy Gonzalez, Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce; Linda Hernandez, USPS; MaryAnn Jones, Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce; Idalia Lechuga-Tena, Albuquerque's Mayor Martin Chavez' adminstration; Loyda Martinez (’99 ELP graduate), New Mexico Commission of the Status of Women, Rosalee Montoya Read, Freelance Writer; Pauline Nuñez (’89 ELP graduate), US Census Bureau; Clara Padilla-Andrews, Mas New Mexico; Catherine Pino (’06 ELP graduate), D&P Creative Strategies, LLC; Sandra Rodriguez,, Ph.D. (’09 ELP graduate), SJR Educational Consulting.
NHLI is fortunate to have a strong and committed group of friends.
We hope you enjoy this special conference newsletter edition and to see you in sunny Miami next November 4-5 at our 2010 Executive Leadership Training Conference and Mujer Awards.
To learn more about NHLI’s 2009 year end review click here.
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