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The 14th Annual National LATINA Symposium

By Gloria Romano-Barrera and Amanda Fins.

On the evening of Thursday, September 14th, LATINA Style kicked-off the 14th Annual National LATINA Symposium with a leadership reception at Jaleo restaurant. The program titled “A Celebration of Latina Achievement”, held at the Marriott Marquis in Washington D.C. on the morning of September 15th, commenced with opening remarks by Robert E. Bard, President & CEO, LATINA Style, Inc. In addition, breakfast sponsor remarks were delivered by Brenda Durham, SVP & Regional General Counsel, Marriott International Inc.

The first panel of the day titled “Workforce of the future…Jobs in Today’s Economy” focused on the jobs and careers at the federal government and the intelligence community.

Moderated by Carmen Middleton, Former Deputy Executive Director, CIA and Founder of Common Table Consulting, panelists included Ilka S. Rodriguez-Diaz, Chief Support Hiring Division, CIA; Carmen Cantor, Director, Human Resources, U.S. Department of State; and Arlene Gaylord, Assistant Director, Federal of Investigation Office of EEO Affairs, FBI.

Attendees learned ways to prepare themselves to take advantage of new professional opportunities.

“Work hard and be kind,” advised Gaylord. “It might be a slower path but people will remember you.”

The second panel of the day titled “Military-to-Civilian Transition… Understanding the Cultural Differences Military Transition, focused on the integration of returning military into the civilian workplace. A major initiative for LATINA Style and its partners, the workshop touched on the challenging cultural gap that exists between military and corporate entities toward veterans. Moderated by Brenda Durham, SVP & Regional General Counsel, Marriott International Inc., panelists included Margarita Bauza, Diversity Communications, General Motors; Marc Lopez, Director, Talent Acquisition, Nationwide; Antonia McLaren, Claims Service Manager, USAA and Lauran Bacon, Senior Manager, Military Programs, Hilton.

The panel elaborated on the importance of preparing for the civilian life.

“You have to figure out how these skills apply in the civilian world,” shared Lopez. “A lot of times they do. Confidence is key, don’t be afraid to sell yourself.”

A strong and effective military spouse group is a tremendous asset to both seasoned and young spouses. Michael Sena, DoD Deputy Director of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity provided remarks and introduced the third panel of the day titled “The Role of the Military Spouse.” The panel acknowledged the contributions and sacrifices a military spouse makes for their family and country.

Moderated by Felicitas Rendón, Military Spouse of Superintendent of the USCG Academy, panelists included Ximena Rozo, Founder and Owner of Ximena Rozo Design; Darlene Johnston, Spouse of Rear Admiral Michael Johnston, USCG; Cassaundra Martinez, 2017 AFI Army Spouse of the Year, VP-Dog Tag Alumni Association and Military Spouse and Betsy Eves, Caregiver, Dole Caregiver Fellow – Elizabeth Dole Foundation, President Dog Tag Inc., Alumni Association.

“One word to describe my role as a military spouse…resilient,” shared Rozo with the audience.

Attendees were eager to hear advice on leadership and self-development from leaders in the military during the General Officer panel titled “Discipline, Commitment, Courage and Achieving Your Potential.”

Moderated by Dr. Gladys Brignoni, USCG, Deputy Commander, USCG Force Readiness Command; panelists included Vice Admiral Sandra Stosz, USCG, Deputy Commandant Mission Support; Rear Admiral Christina Alvarado, USN, Deputy Chief, Bureau of Medicine & Surgery Reserve Policy and Integration; and Rear Admiral James Rendón, USCG, 41st Superintendent of the USCG Academy.

“I think sometimes being the only one in a group of people can be empowering,” shared vice admiral Stosz.

After a full day of workshops, LATINA Style honored the accomplishments of women serving in the Armed Forces during the Distinguished Military Awards Luncheon.

Luncheon participants included Mistress of Ceremonies Bianca Barcelo, Assistant General Counsel at the Library of Congress; Presentation of the Colors by the USMC Color Guard; the singing of the National Anthem by Gunnery Sergeant Sara Sheffield, USMC Band. Invocation was provided by Major Luis A. Garayua III, CH, USA.

Welcome remarks were provided by Clearance “CJ” Johnson, Department of Defense Director of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity. The Salute to Fallen Heroes was presided by Lieutenant Commander Johnny Quezada, U.S. Navy, LDO, Retired.

After such distinguished ceremony, Robert Bard welcomed keynote speaker Commander Everett Alvarez Jr., U.S. Navy, Retired, to the stage. Alvarez is the longest-held prisoner of war in American Military History and the recipient of Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, two-Legion of Merit, two Bronze Star and two Purple Heart. The luncheon was also the stage for the President’s Award to honor Commander Alvarez for his distinguished service to the country and exemplary work as a Latino role model.

The Distinguished Meritorious Service Award ceremony followed. Sixteen awardees were honored for their service to the country, leadership, accomplishments, and commitment to building a strong community. Congratulations to the 2017 award recipients: Specialist Melanie M. Adamski, USA; Sergeant Hosana L. Feraud, USMC; Ms. Julia G. Herrera (Civ), USMC; Chief Legalman Alicia R. Cooper, USN; Petty Officer First Class Linda M. Galaviz, USN; Ms. Alma Rubalcava (Civ), USN; Captain Marisa J. King, USAF; Master Sergeant Lucero Stockett, USAF; Technical Sergeant Carmen C. Washington, USAF; Yeoman First Class Ainara Farin, USCG; Colonel Isabel Rivera Smith (Army), U.S. National Guard Bureau; Master Sergeant Yanira Gonzalez (Air), U.S. National Guard Bureau; Cadet Richelle Radcliff, U.S. Military Academy; Midshipman First Class Daniela Pimentel, USN Academy; Cadet First Class Falon E. Little; USAF Academy; Cadet First Class Angel Fay, USCG Academy.

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Leadership and Diversity Through the Eyes of General Officers panel (L-R) Dr. Gladys Brignoni, Deputy Commander, Force Readiness Command, USCG; Rear Admiral James Rendon, Superintendent USCGA; Rear Admiral Christina M. “Tina” Alvarado, Deputy Chief, Bureau of Medicine & Surgery, Reserve Policy and Integration, USN and Vice Admiral Sandra Stosz, Deputy Commandant Mission Support, USCG.

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