By Gloria Romano-Barrera.
On the evening of February 20th, LATINA Style, Inc., the premier company addressing the needs of professional Latinas in the United States kicked-off the 21st Annual LATINA Style 50 Awards & Diversity Leaders Conference in the nation’s capital with a leadership reception. Award recipients, speakers and sponsors were invited to hear sponsor remarks by Ray Messina, Director of Sales & Marketing, Hyatt Hotels Corporation; Erika Cribillero, Director of Event Planning, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, and Diana A. Rodriguez, SVP, Corporate Communications, Enterprise Team Member Communications, Wells Fargo & Company. Attendees were also invited to meet and greet with Aflac’s icon – The Aflac Duck.
Gathering leaders from across the country, on the morning of February 21st, Robert E. Bard, president of LATINA Style, Inc. greeted and welcomed the audience to the program.
The awards conference began with sponsor remarks provided by Mary Lynn Elizondo, Chief Human Resources Officer, Marriott International, Inc., and corporate remarks provided by James Schenck, President & CEO, PenFed Credit Union.
After the warm welcome, the opening breakfast awards honoring the 2018 Corporate Executives of the Year and the 2018 Employee Resource Groups of the Year followed. In its 10th consecutive year, the LATINA Style Corporate Executive of the Year program honors influential Latinas, selected by their peers, as leaders and examples for the Hispanic community and for the professional women in the U.S. Each year LATINA Style, Inc. recognizes the achievements Latinas are performing at the top of their respective companies and in various industries. This year, Catherine Hernandez-Blades, SVP, Chief ESG and Communications Officer at Aflac was named the 2018 Corporate Executive of the Year.
Responsible for advertising, brand strategy, organizational and corporate communications, sponsorships, social media and philanthropy, including the company’s International SABRE award-winning corporate social responsibility program, Hernandez-Blades joined Aflac in 2014 as senior vice president of Corporate Communications and was named chief brand and communications officer in October 2017. Prior to Aflac, she served as chief marketing officer and then chief marketing and communications officer at Flextronics.
Previously, she served as vice president of Communications and Public Affairs at Raytheon Company’s Space and Airborne Systems business and held various other marketing and international communications-related leadership positions at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is a Loyola University Environmental Communications Fellow.
LATINA Style also presented the 9th Annual Employee Resource Groups of the Year Award in which Accenture was awarded 2018 ERG of the Year. Established in the late 1990s, Accenture’s Hispanic American ERG (HAERG) has a mission to promote cultural awareness in the workplace and give the Hispanic familia a community by which to attract, develop, retain and promote their advancement. The Accenture Hispanic American ERG is comprised of approximately 2,200 members (having grown by 100 more members since 2017). Accenture provides the HAERG with governance, sponsorship and funding as part of their overall inclusion and diversity strategic plan.
Further, Accenture senior leadership supports the ERG at a national, regional and local level through their own participation at events (internal and external) as well as by taking active roles as executive sponsors, coaches, recruiters and mentors. Members of the ERG are empowered to bring new opportunities and clients to Accenture. ERG membership has ample opportunity through their professional memberships and community involvement to create new
connections and opportunities for the company.
Groundbreaking panel sessions followed the awards presentation. Attendees eagerly welcomed the first panel of the day titled: “Corporate Latina Executives of the Year: Celebrating Achievement.” The panel brought together Latina executives performing at the top of their respective companies.
Introduction was presented by Wanda Hope, Chief Diversity Officer, Johnson & Johnson.
Moderated by Jacqueline Maestri, Vice President, Engineering & Property Services, Johnson & Johnson; speakers included Maria T. Lensing, Vice President, Global Business, AT&T; Catherine Hernandez-Blades, Aflac; Gladys Lopez, Senior Manager, Hilton Supplier Diversity and Linda Valdez Thompson, EVP Administration & Diversity, Dallas Fort Worth Intl. Airport.
The second panel of the day titled “Employee Resource Groups of the Year/Empowering the ERGs” opened a discussion on ways ERGs develop a connection between the company and employees by empowering, nurturing and retaining talent.
Creating a culture of success with a systematic approach is essential to nurture and maintain a steady flow of diverse talent to the top. Moderated by Robert Rodriguez, President, Dr. Robert Rodriguez Advisors LLC, speakers included Jamie Maldonado, Senior Manager – Strategy, Accenture; Yovany Jerez, Strategy & Technology Innovation, AT&T; Anila Jivanji, Senior Specialist in Inclusion & Diversity, American Airlines; and Silvina Salazar, Business Strategy & Support Executive L&SS Business Controls, Bank of America.
During the third panel of the day “Investing in Leadership & Development” industry leaders provided the audience a look into how present-day actions by corporations are adapting to a changing corporate atmosphere. A positive environment reflects in the higher quality of work and sustained levels of motivation. A strong mentoring relationship has been identified as one of the key components of an employee’s successful development in the workplace.
Moderated by Nellie Borrero, Managing Director – Senior Global Inclusion & Diversity Lead, Accenture, speakers included Diana Morales, Vice President, Legal, Fire & Security Products, United Technologies Corporation; Celeste Carrasco, Director – Federal Public Affairs – Corporate External Affairs, AT&T, and Nathalie Caillon Rytting, Director of Human Resources, Hyatt Regency Washington.
Impacting the company and community, change agents are the bridge to the C-suite and continued success. The last panel of the day “Agents of Change” moderated by Jon Muñoz, Vice President, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Hilton, focused on ways corporate leaders engaging in mentorships and sponsorships make careers a great success and have a significant
impact on the retention of top talent. Speakers included Alexandra Contreras, Certified Diversity
Professional Senior Analyst, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Colgate – Palmolive; Carla Zanoni, Former Editor, Audience and Analytics at The Wall Street Journal; and Claudia Vazquez, Director of Product Management, Prudential Financial.
Following the morning workshops, the LATINA Style 50 Awards Luncheon Ceremony commenced with welcoming remarks by LATINA Style, Inc. CEO Robert Bard as he recognized and awarded Johnson & Johnson as the company of the year for 2018.
Company of the year remarks were provided by Jacqueline Maestri, Vice President, Engineering & Property Services, Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson topped the chart as the 2018 LATINA Style Company of the Year. Johnson & Johnson believes good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress. That’s why for more than 130 years, they have aimed to keep people well at every age and every stage of life.
Today, as the world’s largest and most broadly-based healthcare company, they are committed to using their reach and size for good. Johnson and Johnson strives to improve access and affordability, create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere.
LATINA Style is thrilled to count on the support of Accenture, Aflac, American Airlines, Ana G. Mendez University, AT&T, Bank of America, Boston Scientific Corporation, Colgate-Palmolive, Comerica Bank, CVS Health, DFW International Airport, Exelon, Fannie Mae, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors Company, Google, Hilton, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, JCPenney, Johnson & Johnson, Marriott International, Inc., MetLife, Nationwide, Navy Exchange Service Command, Parents Step Ahead, PenFed Credit Union, Prudential Financial, Sodexo, Inc., State Farm, United Technologies Corporation, UPS, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Wells Fargo & Company, among others.
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