National Hispana Leadership Institute - Celebrating 27 Years of Latina Leadership  

C;lass of 2005 at Harvard University

Executive Leadership Program

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Sponsored By:

Anheuser Bush


Center for Creative Leadership


Miller Coors




Graduates of the Institute

Class of 2005

Ana Acle-Menendez is an editor for The Miami Herald, a contributing editor for Hispanic Magazine and an adjunct professor at The University of Miami. She also serves on the University of Florida Journalism Advisory Committee. Born and raised in Miami, her Cuban parents immigrated to Florida in the 1960s. Her parents’ difficulty in a new country and longing to return to their homeland had a profound influence on her, and is the reason why she chose journalism as her profession. As a reporter with The Miami Herald, Acle-Menendez worked on two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams: the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew (1992) and the Elian Gonzalez story (2000). She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. Acle-Menendez is married and has two small boys, ages 3 and 6. She is a volunteer at her son’s school and mentors up-and-coming Latina journalists.

Annabelle Arteaga, Ph.D. is an organizational Psychologist in Austin, Texas, who runs her own consulting business, A2 Consulting and Resources. Prior to working with business organizations, she had her own Clinical Psychol-ogy practice working with families, individuals and groups for 12 years collectively in Colorado, Arizona and Texas. Annabelle currently serves as a member of the boards of the Girl Scouts-Lone Star Council, Mexic-Arte Museum and the Young Professionals Playgroup, an auxiliary fundraising group for the Austin Children’s Museum. She is a speaker for GenAustin’s (Girls Empowerment Network) Speakers Series and for the Hispanic Mother/Daughter program of the Junior League of Austin and is active in other non-profit and professional organizations.

Toti Cadavid, a native of Colombia, is a marketing strategist with extensive experience in the domestic and international arenas. As co-founder of Xcelente Marketing & Advertising, Toti works closely with her clients in the development and deployment of innovative Hispanic marketing strategies and effective market approach. She held the office of President of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs Denver chapter as well as West Region Vice-Chair, and was the National Marketing Chair for the Hispanics in Technology and Telecommunications. Toti sits on the Latino Advisory Board of the Colorado Secretary of State, on the Latino Advisory Council of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, and the boards of Mi Casa Resource Center for Women, the Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau and the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

Janina Calderon-Ferguson is the Founder and President of Calderon Hispanic Marketing. She earned a B.S. in Marketing and an International Marketing Certificate from Arizona State University, as well as a Broadcasting Diploma from the Columbia School of Broadcasting in Hollywood, CA. She currently serves on advisory boards of The Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Centro Bienestar San Jose and the Minority Enterprise & Educational Development. She has also been involved in varying degrees with the Rocky Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council, the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Mi Casa Women’s Resource Center in Denver, the Colorado Asthma Coalition, Adams City High School, and the Denver Sister Cities program.

Alejandra Ceja is a Program Examiner for the White House Office of Management and Budget where she helps formulate the federal budget for the Department of Labor and the Corporation for National and Community Service. She manages policy issues on international child labor, older Americans, individuals with disability and national service. She received her MPA from Baruch College, School of Public Affairs in New York. She is a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Alumnae Association, the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN), the National Urban Fellows and a graduate of the Presidential Management Internship (PMI) program. She remains an active volunteer with the Latino community in her hometown of Huntington Park, CA and Washington, DC where she currently resides.

Marella De la Torre was awarded a two-year fellowship to advance research in health disparities with the Center for Care Innovation and Research at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis. She was promoted from Supervisor of Cultural Care and Interpreter Services in late December. She is currently earning a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management from Hamline University. Marcella has been a volunteer for Latino parents at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Children’s Hospital, St. Paul, and has participated in the Family Advisory Council. She is currently involved in several projects to improve the health outcomes of minority Children at the Hospital. She recently joined the Minnesota Health Disparities Task Force with the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services.

Amelia De Jesus is the first female within the Caribbean to hold the position of Manager, Transportation Contracts, NY Metro Area DNO at the U.S. Postal Service in San Juan, PR. She obtained her MBA from the University of Phoenix and is a graduate of the Latin American Bible Institute School of Theology. Her focus has been to bring awareness to the Hispanic community the opportunities within the Postal Service. Amelia is a true inspiration to all. She is an active member of the Lions Club and devotes her time counseling the disadvantaged, providing personal and spiritual support. In 2001, she founded and is the primary sponsor of a homeless charity organization.

Monica Garcia is the Chief of Staff to Board President José Huizar at the Los Angeles Unified School District. She received dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and Chicano Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master in Social Work from the University of Southern California. She has been very active in her community promoting and supporting many efforts to increase access and opportunities to higher education for students and their families in the Los Angeles Area.

Eva Gómez, RN, MSN, was born in Spain and raised in Puerto Rico. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Carlow College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a Master’s Degree in Nursing with a focus in Nursing Education from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is the Hispanic Patient Educator for Brenner Children’s Hospital where is an educator and an advocate for the Latino families admitted into hospital. She is a member of the Governor’s Task Force for Healthy Carolinians and a member of the board of directors of the NC Healthy Start Foundation. She is the first Latina to enter the list of “Power Nurses” from the North Carolina Center for Nursing. She is a member of the Society of Pediatric Nurses and Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society. Eva is co-host of a weekly radio show and newspaper column called: “La Clínica del Pueblo”, which is produced by the Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority Health and funded by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. The goal of the radio program is to educate the growing Hispanic community about general health topics, chronic illness, and injury prevention.

Maria Gomez Murphy is Founder, President & CEO of The Way of the Heart: The Promotora Institute in Nogales, Arizona. The Way of the Heart provides free health/life education, advocacy, and referral services to low-income, rural communities on the US/Mexico border. In addition to home visits and group presentations, The Way of the Heart includes strategies that impact knowledge, attitudes and practices on a community level in such venues as health fairs, church and neighborhood meetings, factories, laundromats, and grocery stores. Because border communities share health concerns, Maria produces and hosts a weekly call-in radio program on health, politics, the economy, and other topics related to well-being. This program, “Salud Para la Vida” reaches most of the State of Arizona, from Phoenix to 20 miles south of the border. Maria’s experience in training, program development, management, and marketing of community-based interventions has resulted in invitations to speak nationally on community outreach workers, cultural competency and innovative strategies in the delivery of services to the poor.

Betsy Silva Hernandez is Freddie Mac’s Chief Diversity Strategist were she oversees the development and implementation of a corporate-wide diversity strategy. Prior to joining Freddie Mac, Betsy served as Founder and President of Silva Hernandez Consultants; an international minority owned consulting firm specializing in strategic diversity, organizational development, coaching, career development, and related seminars and conferences. Betsy is currently a Board Member for Plays for Living in New York City. Previously, she was a Board Member for the Winston-Salem, North Carolina Urban League and a commissioner for the Winston-Salem, North Carolina Human Relations Commission. She has served as Chair of the Hispanic League of the Piedmont Triad and is a co-founder of the Hispanic League.

Marisel Herrera is Coordinator of Student Leadership Programs at Arizona State University. Ms. Herrera has a Master of Education from Arizona State University and has worked as a university administrator and instructor for the past 10 years. A servant-leader, Ms. Herrera is President-Elect of Mujer, Inc., a nonprofit agency dedicated to Latina youth empowerment, and is a sought-after presenter locally and nationally on issues related to Latina youth, culture, and the minority educational experience.

Juanita Irizarry is the Executive Director of Latinos United, a housing policy and advocacy organization serving Latinos in the Chicago metropolitan region. Shereceived her B.A. from Greenville College and has completed her coursework toward a Masters of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Juanita currently is a gubernatorial appointee to the Illinois Housing Task Force and serves on the board of Work, Welfare & Families, the resource board and housing committee of the Metropolitan Planning Council, the steering committee of the Humboldt Park Empowerment Partnership, advisory committees of the Loyola University Center for Urban Research and Learning and the University of Illinois at Chicago Natalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement, the Greenville College Alumni Board. She has been very active in her community working as a volunteer for the Puerto Rican Agenda, her church, and many other community-based committees and political campaigns.

Angeles Juarez is the Director of Clinics at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minnesota. She received her BSN from the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, in Mexico City and her MA in Organizational Management from Concordia University. Angeles has been serving inner city children and their families at Children’s for 15 years. In recent years, the dramatic increase of Latino families in the Twin Cities has created new challenges in delivering health care. She has worked to reduce barriers for these families by developing a culturally competent and accessible model for care delivery. Angeles serves on the advisory board of Casa de Esperanza, a non-profit family violence program for Latinas. She is also active in the recruitment of young minority adolescents to work during the summer as interns in the clinics.

Belinda M. Gonzalez-Leon is the Assistant Vice President in Academic Affairs with Education Management Corporation. Belinda received her MBA from Nova Southeastern University and is currently working towards her Ed.D at Argosy University-Sarasota. She has been with EDMC for over eight years after having worked at their Art Institute of Houston campus and New York Restaurant School campus. Mrs. Leon recently presented a paper on Hispanic Female Leaders at the National Association of Hispanic and Latino studies. Her interest in this area will also serve as a dissertation topic and eventually may lead to continued work with Hispanic young women.

Leticia (Letty) Mendez is an enforcement and education program manager at the Washington State Liquor Control Board and is responsible for reviewing and evaluating all aspects of the divisional operation and making recommendations to the Chief of Enforcement. She is a 15-year veteran in public service devoted to alcohol education and substance abuse prevention. She pursued her studies at the UW Graduate School of Public Affairs with an emphasis on policy analysis and organizational management. She is a recipient of General Electric’s Sloan Foundation Scholarship and Equal Opportunity Program affirmative action grants. Letty is a founding member of the City of Olympia’s Hispanic Women’s Network and the Mexican-American Women’s National Association (MANA)-Northwest Chapter/Seattle.

Nicole Quiroga is the Director of Business Development at Telemundo WZDC-64 serving the Hispanic community in Washington, DC and is responsible for strategizing and developing media campaigns that entertain, educate, improve and empower the lives of her Latino community. She has participated on the Inova Hospital Community Action Team Board, the Hispanic Committee of Virginia Advisory Board, the Girl Scouts of the National Capital Area Board, the Latino Student Fund Board and the Leadership Fairfax Community Development Board. She is a graduate of the 2004 Emerging Leadership Institute.

Maria Elena Rodriguez is the President of Mexicantown Community Development Corporation advocating for and building a stronger more prosperous future for this historic, vibrant and diverse community of Southwest Detroit through economic, business and cultural development. She heads the Mexicantown International Welcome Center and Mercado currently under construction at the busiest Northern border crossing. Maria Elena also serves on the Detroit Superbowl XL Host Committee Board of Directors, is a member of the Knight Foundation Community Partners Program in Detroit, Board member of Holy Redeemer Schools, member of the Instituto de Mexicanos en el Exterior, and a board member of New Detroit, Inc.

Shelli Romero is Chief of Staff to Multnomah County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey representing District 1 in Portland, Oregon where she helps shape public policy and works on special projects with a focus on public works, infrastructure and economic development issues. She received her MPA from Portland State University’s Hatfield School of Government and has worked for Multnomah County for nearly four years. Shelli currently serves as President of the Portland Guadalajara Sister City Association and was appointed by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski to serve as a Commissioner on the Government Standards and Practices (Ethics) Commission. She has been very active in her community working as a volunteer for many other local non-profits.

Yvonne Sanchez is currently the Director of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods and is the only Latina in the Mayor’s Cabinet, making her the highest placed Latina in City government. While she was raising three children as a single parent, she received a Ford Foundation Fellowship to complete her graduate degree. She was a founding board member of the Elevated Transportation Committee, keeping the vision real for a Monorail system in the City of Seattle. She served as a founding board member of Islandwood, an educational environmental leaning center on Bainbridge Island serving the region. She currently serves on its education committee. Because of her strong interest in education, Governor Locke re-appointed her to her current position as Trustee for Seattle Community College District IV, which includes North Seattle, Central, and South Seattle Community Colleges. Recently she was appointed to serve on the board of the local chapter of the American Red Cross.

Erica Jacquez-Santos is the District Director for State Senator Martha Escutia of the 30th Senate District, Southeast Portion of Los Angeles County. She received her MPA from the University of Southern California in addition to receiving a certificate in Political Management. Erica was appointed and serves on the State of California’s Domestic Violence Advisory Council and is a member of the National Latina Women’s Business Association and the University of Southern California’s Mexican American Alumni Association. She is also a graduate of the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) Leadership Institute and the University of Southern California’s Ross Minority Program in Real Estate.

Eva Serrano is Director of Community and School Partnerships at Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois. She earned an educational specialist degree from Northern Illinois University, an MBA from the University of Dallas, and a bachelor’s from Mundelein College of Loyola University. She is completing requirements for a Doctor of Education degree from Northern Illinois University. Prior to joining Aurora University, she directed a U.S. Department of Education Title V Grant targeting Hispanic student success, and was a fellow in the USDA’s Hispanic Serving Institutions National Program. Eva currently serves on the boards of Voices for Illinois Children and the Des Plaines Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America. She is also a member of the Latino Council on the Media’s 2005 conference committee where top media executives in Chicago will discuss plans to increase the inclusion of Latinos in the media, and improve the media’s portrayal of the Latino community.

Elena Tijerina is a Human Resources Business Partner at Lucent Technologies, Inc. She received her B.S. in Business Management from San Jose State University.She holds an Organizational Development Certificate from the National Training Laboratory (NTL) and the Society of Human Resource Management certifies her as a Senior Professional Human Resources. She currently serves as an advisory board member for an employee advocacy group, HISPA-NIC. The group’s mission is to maintain a common interest global organization of Hispanics committed to promoting development, growth and advancement, in partnership with other advocacy groups, in order to create a productive and diverse workforce in preparation for corporate leadership and community partnership. She has also been active in her community working as a volunteer on local church efforts focusing on awareness building and cross-cultural communication.