By Gloria Romano-Barrera
Offering various programs for Latinas, LATINA Style takes pride in connecting and providing professional development opportunities for Latinas of all endeavors. On Wednesday, September 10th, LATINA Style hosted the 11th National LATINA Symposium at the Marriott Washington Wardman Park Hotel in the nation’s capital.
Guests were welcomed with opening remarks of Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano, Representative for California’s 32nd congressional district. “It is a great idea to keep promoting our need to have minorities, Latinas, especially in the military. They already have the structure in the military, all you do is shift that training into business and add a little more of substance by supporting them and they will be successful. Latinos continue to crack the glass ceiling. It is hard work that gets you where you want to go. You want to achieve, you can. Everything is possible for any of you. I encourage you to take advantage of these resources.”
After such encouraging words of wisdom, Isella Morera, Supervisor, Material Damage at Nationwide Insurance took stage to address Nationwide’s commitment to supporting military men and women. “We are extremely proud to support this event designated especially for Latinas in the military and in the workplace,” she stated. “At Nationwide we do believe it is important to support veterans in their efforts. On behalf of our country, on behalf of the Nationwide family company we thank you for your support and your service. We want to congratulate the recipients for the distinguish military awards, your achievement, leadership, and commitment son admirables.”
The stage was then taken over by the featured panelists for the Workforce Opportunities… Jobs in Today’s Economy workshop. Moderated by Katina Rojas Joy, President and CEO, KJoy Global Consulting, former Deputy Director, Business Liaison Office, U.S. Department of Commerce, the panel combined a unique blend of professionals in the federal government, the intelligence community, and the military.
Panelists included: Clara Villarreal Varner, Director, Systems Analysis Staff, Advanced Systems and Technology Directorate, Central Intelligence Agency; Judith Priegues-Lopez, Supervisory Special Agent, Unit Chief in the Office of Partner Engagement, Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Maribel Duran, Chief of Staff, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
The second session of the day Global Public Service – Latinas Making a Difference Globally brought together Latinas from the Department of State to showcase international public service from the Latina perspective. Moderated by Juny Canenguez, Recruitment and Outreach Officer, Office of Recruitment, Examination and Employment, U.S. State Department, attendees learned how Latinas have made an impact globally and how to prepare to make a difference too.
Panelists included Kelly Keiderling, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs; Dr. Frances Colon, Acting Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, and Kim Perez, Speechwriter/public affairs Officer, Office of Policy coordination and Public Affairs, Bureau of Consular Affairs.
“In the end connecting the U.S. government, with the people of the world, and connecting American people with international audiences is what underpins the security and the prosperity of the United States and helps increase democracy and social justice around the world,” stated Keiderling. “It’s a very honorable endeavor for one’s life work.”
The third panel Learning Strategies for Success included successful Latina professionals who shared their life challenges and success story.
Moderated by Kathryn Medina, SPHR, Senior Vice-President, Global Human Resources, APCO Worldwide, the panelists included Cindy Cordoba Koziol, GM Supplier Diversity Manager, General Motors; Marcia Gomez Fiore, Director, Titan Marketing, Nationwide Insurance, and Marlene Quijano, VP of Research, Development, Quality & Innovation, Kraft Foods.
Unique to the program, LATINA Style is host to the LATINA Style Hero Initiative, an initiative assisting active duty military enlisted and veterans transition into the civilian workplace. Created in the spirit of empowerment, the last panel Corporate Military Recruitment: Hiring Our Veterans presented by Frank Gomez, Strategic Alliances & Public Affairs Executive, ETS, provided insights on ways private sector leaders seek and hire veterans.
After a full day of workshops, networking and connecting, attendees eagerly convened in the ballroom for the most impactful and eventful part of the day, the Distinguished Military Service Awards Luncheon. Soon after the presentation of the colors, the national anthem, the invocation, the U.S. Coast Guard drill team and remarks provided by Robert E. Bard, Clarence Johnson, Principal Director and Director, Civilian Equal Employment Opportunity at the Department of Defense, was welcomed to the stage to provide his remarks.
“To all our service men, women, and their family especially these awards Latinas whose attributes epitomize the core values or respect, honor, and devotion of duty,” he stated. “This event allows us to convene with key leaders that contribute to our society throughout the country and it is a unique opportunity to recognize on a specific sheet roll those who serve their country with distinction. These individuals, who we honor, certainly put others before themselves and have excelled in having done so. They simply see it as an opportunity to serve something bigger than themselves, an opportunity they take pride on no matter the sacrifice. To our award recipients I want to personally thank each of you for what you do each and every day.
You reflect the very best of the thousands of outstanding men and women who serve and it is a distinct honor to celebrate you and your accomplishments. You are indeed leading the way for the next generation to follow. I thank the award winners for their service, sacrifice, I look forward to hearing about the great things they will do next.”
After reflecting on diversity and Latinos in the military, the audience was invited to hear from keynote speaker Marie Therese Dominguez, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army.
“I want to acknowledge the award recipients this afternoon, their family members and their sponsors,” she began. “It’s a perfect opportunity for the department of defense in particular to take time to recognize the incredible contributions made by Latinos and Latinas made in this country every day and to really reflect on that level of diversity and inclusions. I think it’s really fitting that we honor Latina leadership with a theme of this year’s symposium: A legacy of history, a present of action and a future of success. To our award recipients, I congratulate each of you for your dedication, your energy, your hard work. You truly represent the professionalism that you embrace are really to be commendable.”
Soon after the notable speech, LATINA Style took pride in celebrating leadership and bravery with the Distinguished Meritorious Service Awards Presentation, where 12 Latinas serving in the Armed Forces were recognized for their exemplary service to the United States.
Lastly, William D. Rodriguez, Rear Admiral of the U.S. Navy (Ret.) and president of the Association of Naval Services Officers (ANSO) was awarded with LATINA Style’s President Award. Today, ANSO serves as the leader in recruiting, developing and retaining Hispanics in the Sea Services. “I am extremely humbled and honored to receive this on behalf of ANSO,” Rear Admiral Rodriguez stated. “It’s a great group. ANSO is about growing today’s Hispanics to be tomorrow sea service leaders.”
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