By Tania G. Davila.
Photos by Jose Padilla.
More than 100 attendees gathered at the 19th Annual LATINA Style Business Series Tour in Dallas, TX, on June 16, 2017. Marking its 126th stop, the award-winning program for Latina entrepreneurs in the nation, sponsored by Nationwide, and hosted by AT&T took place at the AT&T building located at 308 S. Akard Dallas, Texas 75202.
The day began with a networking breakfast surrounded by exhibitors, sponsors and partners that came together to provide resources to an eager audience. Former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem, the Honorable Mónica R. Alonzo was introduced by mistress of ceremonies, Claudia Torrescano, Executive Director of Instituto de la Mujer to commence the program.
Alonzo, the first Hispanic woman elected to represent District 6 on the Dallas City Council, is the first Latina from West Dallas area to serve on this post. Since May 2011, Alonzo served as a business and community leader and is known and respected for her tenacity, tireless effort and professional zeal on behalf of others.
“It was a pleasure to welcome everyone to not only Dallas but to the LATINA Style Business Series,” she states. “It is very important to share as much information for our “hermanas” to have as tools to use to do better in their respective businesses. The sky is the limit, and as a former member of the Dallas City Council and Mayor Pro Tem, to share opportunities available.”
The business series workshops focus on solving some of the most critical business challenges faced by Latina entrepreneurs as they start their business or plan for expansion. Participating in the Accessing Capital: Building Strong Businesses panel discussion was Ana I. Hernandez, Chapter President, Hispanic Women’s Network as moderator. Panelists included: Patricia Rodriguez Christian, President and CEO, CRC Group Inc., Dan Villegas, Chief Lending Officer, Texas Mezzanine Fund, Derenda Fisher, Lender Relations Specialist, SBA, and Claudia Jimenez, Banking Center Manager, Comerica Bank.
“LATINA Style Magazine is bringing relevant content to Latinas who are interested in advancing their careers and businesses,” says Rodriguez-Christian. “The conference gave practical advice on the joys and challenges of being a business owner from a first-hand perspective.”
The next session titled: Leveraging Your Personality for Success was sponsored by Nationwide and was conducted by Frantz Tiffeau, Director Supplier Diversity, Nationwide. This session was introduced and welcomed by event co-chair: Linda Valdez Thompson, Executive Vice president of Administration & Diversity, DFW International Airport.
The Successful Marketing Strategies: Promote Your Business and Yourself panel was moderated by Rebecca Aguilar, Freelance TV & Online Reporter. Panelists included: Brianne Martin, Vice-President and Professional Development Director, SHPE; Rory Lassanske, Founder & Editor, MamaContemporanea.com, and Steven Eiger, Business Marketing – Lead Channel Manager, AT&T.
“Facebook Live + Insta-Stories are the hottest Social Media tools in Social Media platforms right now. Use them wisely,” advises Rory.
The last panel: Entrepreneurs Spotlight: Learning Strategies for Success discussed lessons learned. The session was introduced by Patricia Mota, President, Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE) and moderated by Jessica Narvaez, Chief Diversity Officer, Pinnacle. Speakers included: Gina Puente, President & CEO, Puente Concessions, Inc., Erica Armendariz, Agent Owner, Nationwide, and Lydia Gonzalez, Chef & Founder, Savorista Cafe & Latino Culinary Institute.
During the luncheon Lory Burgos, Sr. Consultant, Enterprise Diverse Marketing, Nationwide, and Event Co-Chair Rosie Kitson, Vice President Channel Marketing, AT&T, delivered inspirational remarks.
Wanda Granier was recognized as the “Entrepreneur of the Year” for Dallas. Granier is CEO for BridgeWork Partners. She oversees the overall success of the firm. Granier’s experience includes 19+ years in talent acquisition, human resources consulting specialties and management. Under her leadership, the company continues to grow in sales, gross margin, client acquisition, and profitability since the inception in 2008.
“Being a Latina entrepreneur for nine years has been one of the most challenging and emotional undertakings I have ever endured. I have encountered new barriers to success at so many turns along the way, but it is a mountain worth climbing,” she shares. “Receiving this special recognition from LATINA Style really touches my heart and inspires me; I am truly grateful to those who believe in me as a business leader. It takes a “village” to raise a leader. I will continue to strive to build BridgeWork Partners, with the support of my team, to make a positive difference in today’s society. God bless you all.”
The keynote message was provided by Chief Energizing Officer Ellen Castro. As a globally recognized leadership coach and business consultant, her clients span 18 industries from high tech and entertainment to education, government and non-profits. Castro is a guest columnist for the Dallas Business Journal as well as a best-selling, award winning author.
“We all have stories but you are not your story, we have the power to change our thoughts, our world; a change of mind changes everything,” she states. “There are no ways to experiences; there are only redirection thoughts and coaching moments. We are always being prepared to do greater works.”
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