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Latinas Learning to Lead Youth Summer Youth Program

Strengthening Leaders and Communities

The National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) graduated another dynamic group of young leaders on Saturday, June 19, among family and friends of the Institute following an invigorating week of leadership training held at The Catholic University of America campus.

Highlights of the graduation ceremony included powerful and inspiring words of wisdom from Sarita E. Brown, Founder and President of Excelencia in Education, remarks from Lynn M. Quigley, Manager, Community Relations for Ford Motor Company Fund and reflections from the graduates.

NHLI’s President, Cristina López, urged the 2010 class to put their new skills to the test as they return to their communities to implement service projects and mentor other young Latinas.

The 2010 class represented 14 states, and 21 different colleges — 75% of this year’s class are first generation college students. Since 2001, NHLI has trained 198 Latinas from more than 150 colleges and universities from across the country, who in turn have mentored more than 400 young Latinas.

To learn more about the LLL and Class of 2010, click here.

2010 Latinas Learning to Lead 2010 LLL fellows at the Verizon center

Thanks to the generous support of individual donors, NHLI’s Circle of Friends network and corporate sponsors — Ford, The Coca Cola Company, Southwest, State Farm® Insurance Companies, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Verizon, McDonalds, BBVA Compass — NHLI was able to provide young Latinas leaders a memorable experience.

With Latinas grossly underrepresented in the ranks of students graduating from high school, college, and graduate schools — approximately 12% of Hispanic women have four or more years of college compared to 28% of non Hispanic women — education is key to growing the next generation of Latina Leaders.

The LLL fellows spent 8 days adding skills and resources to their leadership tool box. Throughout the week the women gained insights on the complexity and art of politics by visiting the White House and learning about public policy issues that impact Latinos; crafted and practiced elevator speeches, learned the importance of personal branding, workplace and online etiquette, financial literacy and more.

The 22 fellows started their journey with sessions facilitated by NHLI alumna, Nanci Luna Jimenez, President of Luna Jimenez Seminars & Associates, designed to transform their attitudes and views on trust, social change, relationship building, well being, cultural alliances and gender patterns.

They continued their week with sessions on public speaking by Toastmasters Dr. Sandra A. Rivera, NHLI Alumna and Assistant Director, Office of Economics, and Betsy Orlando, NEP Coordinator at the US Department of State.

The fellows learned what a day in the life of a Member of Congress looks like with a session facilitated by Xochitl Y. Yanez, from Corporate Public Affairs Office at State Farm® Insurance Companies. The fellows broadened their presentation skills with a Know Your Personal Brand workshop presented by Denise Castro, Multicultural Marketing, Verizon Wireless, and learned to be fit with an interactive and fun-filled session by Katina Rojas Joy, President of B Fit & Be Fly.

In this economic environment and as college students, participants learned how to manage their finances wisely with a financial literacy workshop taught by Maria Mari, NHLI alumna and Professor at Miami Dade College School of Business.

Financial Literacy workshop

Latinas Learning to Lead fellows were hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) where policy experts discussed pressing issues affecting the Latino community including education, health and immigration and how to get involved and make a difference.

After learning more about immigration and how it impacts her community, Anahi Contreras plans to motivate community members to write about their personal stories and send these letters to their members of Congress.

LLL participants were exposed to national resources and opportunities for college students during an interactive panel with speakers from the Center for Progressive Leadership, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the United States Student Association (USSA) and CHCI.

In between workshops, the participants took a break and toured Washington, DC making stops at Capitol Hill, the White House and historic venues. Connie Moya, from the prestigious Gallup Organization, led the fellows through a session on discovering their strengths and focusing on their talents to achieve success at school, communities and in their careers.

They received workplace etiquette tips and advice on career planning from Latinas in the media, government and corporate fields during an engaging and inspiring panel Latinas Thriving in the Workplace featuring NHLI alumna Sindy Benavides, Director of Community Outreach & Voting, Democratic National Committee; Norelie Garcia, Associate Vice President of External Affairs for AT&T; and Gina Garcia, Producer at CBS.

Some of the fellows changed a tire for the first time at a safety and car care clinic through the Ready, Safe, Drive program by Ford, which has trained over 600 young women nationwide. The clinic was included for the first time in the program and was valued as a great empowerment experience.

Although the Latinas Learning to Lead week may be over, the investment in this year’s participants is long-lasting.

To continue mentoring and providing fellows with leadership skills, they will be matched with a mentor from NHLI’s Executive Leadership Program alumnae, who include elected officials, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, executives at non-profits and powerful decision makers.

To learn more about the fellows, click here.

Latinas Learning to Lead fellows also have the opportunity to reunite, refresh their skills, gain new abilities and connect with their mentors as well as other leaders at NHLI’s 2010 Executive Leadership Training Conference and Mujer Awards in Miami, FL on November 4-5, To learn more and to register visit

In their own words…

“Thanks to your generous support you have empowered me and I have the opportunity to empower my community," said Lorena Tule, an LLL participant sponsored by Verizon and a student at the University of Texas at Austin.

“This program has made a huge impact in my life. The lessons I have learned not only changed my whole mentality about graduate school,” said Anahi Contreras, an LLL participant sponsored by Ford, who will be attending the University of California of Santa Barbara. “I have gained the power of 100 executives.”

“The LLL experience transformed my life. I have been provided with so many resources, connected with powerful Latinas, solidified my drive to pursue my dreams and learned to continue to dream bigger," said Stephanie Nicole Rivera, a student at the University of Chicago.”

“This program definitely changed me as a person. I am more determined to get things done and help out my community as much as I can. LLL helped me improve my leadership skills that I will take and share with my classmates back at home,” said Christina Perez-Camillo a student attending Linfield College.

Click to here learn about each graduate.

Ana Claudia Aguayo, Sprindale, AR (University of Arkansas)

Miriam Armijo, Dallas, TX (Texas Christian University)

Diandra E. Calderin, Miami, FL (Miami Dade College

Gabrielle Carbone, Tobyhanna, PA (King’s College)

Columba Contreras, Santa Ana, CA (Santa Ana Community College;

Maria Corona, Bellevue, WA (Western Washington University Bellingham)

Jessica Fuentes, Hayward, CA (University of California Berkeley)

Cruz Olivia Gallegos, Parma, ID (University of Idaho)

Karla Gomez, Napa, CA (Napa Valley College)

Alexis Ariana Hermosillo, El Mirage, AZ (Arizona State University)

Marisa Mendoza, Ontario, CA (Scripps College)

Anna Victoria Muñoz, Mission, TX (University of Texas-Pan American

Sandra Nanita, Fair Lawn, NJ (Rutgers University)

Candis Nikolic, Plano, IL (Northern Illinois University)

Tessa Anne Otero, Phoenix, AZ (Loras College in Dubuque, IA)

Carolina Andrea Palacios, Miami, FL (Miami Dade College)

Sara Carmen Peña, Fort Collins, CO (University of Northern Colorado)

Christina Perez-Camarillo, Woodburn, OR (Linfield College)

Stephanie Nicole Rivera, Elizabeth NJ (University of Chicago)

Jasmine Rosa, Port Charlotte, FL (University of Central Florida)

Mirella Saldaña-Moreno, Falls Church, VA (George Mason University)

Lorena Tule, Dallas, TX (University of Texas at Austin).

To support future Latinas Learning to Lead classes, click here to contribute and help develop the next generation of leaders.

Thanks to the LLL sponsors:
2010 LLL sponsors