Latina Style Inc

The 15th Annual National LATINA Symposium, 2018

By Gloria Romano-Barrera.
Photos by Juan Carlos Briceño (

Since 2004, Latinas from across the country have gathered at the Nation’s capital to address some of the most pressing issues affecting their lives. The National LATINA Symposium recognized Latinas in the military service for their leadership and courage on Thursday, September 6th at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, VA.

Bringing together a distinguished group of national and local leaders, partners, sponsors, and honorees from throughout the country, LATINA Style kicked-off the program with a leadership reception at Jaleo Restaurant in Arlington, VA, on the evening of September 5th.

After an eventful evening, attendees gathered the next morning at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View hotel where attendees were welcomed by opening remarks provided by Robert E. Bard, President & CEO, LATINA Style, Inc. In addition, breakfast sponsor remarks were delivered by PenFed Credit Union President & CEO James Schenck.

“PenFed was honored to serve as the sponsor welcoming everyone to the 15th Annual National Latina Symposium,” states PenFed Credit Union President & CEO James Schenck. “It was exciting to meet so many Latinas from diverse backgrounds and vibrant cultures. We felt a pasión for the Symposium’s mission of advancing Latinas in the workplace and entrepreneurship, creating wealth and financial security. The Symposium was the perfect forum to celebrate all the outstanding work Latinas do to strengthen our workplaces and give back to our communities.”

Keynote remarks were provided by Maja Lehnus, Associate Director for Talent, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); Special guest remarks were provided by Ambassador Julieta Valls Noyes, U.S. Department of State. The award presentations included the following:

Trailblazer Award Presentation: Maja Lehnus, on behalf of the Honorable Gina Haspel, Director of Central Intelligence Agency.

Presentation of the 2018 Veteran ERG Company of the Year Award: AT&T and Hilton.

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 Keyla Hernandez-Ulloa, Associate Division Chief, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), panelists included: Ilka S. Rodriguez-Diaz, Deputy Chief for Talent Acquisition, CIA; Dena Perkins, Community Outreach and Recruiting, FBI; Carmen G. Cantor, Director of Civil Service Human Resources Management, U.S. Department of State; and Ashlee M. Hoban, Supervisory Intelligence Research Specialist, Protective Intelligence & Assessment Division, U.S. Secret Service.

The second panel of the day titled “Veteran Employee Resource Group (V-ERG)…Understanding the Cultural Differences,” focused on the integration of returning military into the civilian workplace, the importance of mentorship, sponsorship and retention programs in the company for Veterans.

Moderated by Johanna Martinez, Military & Diversity Talent Attraction Manager, AT&T, panelists included: Marc Lopez, Director Talent Acquisition-Process Management, Nationwide; Lauren Bacon, Senior Manager, Military Programs, Hilton; Alice Garcia, Product Management Director, USAA; Keith Nattrass, Military and Veteran Affairs, Global Diversity, General Motors; and Kevin Garvey, Human Resource Manager & Chair of Veterans ERG, UPS.

The “Cybersecurity Threat Today” presentation showcased by Laz Andino, Supervisory Special Agent, FBI Cyber Division, Mission Critical Engagement Unit, FBI focused on ways to prepare and protect yourself from becoming a victim. The FBI plays a key role in thwarting these attacks by stopping plots against critical infrastructure and investigating cyber-attacks.

The last panel of the day titled “Diversity in the Military Today…Women Blazing the Trail for Future Flag Officers,” offered attendees an opportunity to hear from our nation’s Latina leaders address the work being accomplished to grow Latina professionals in the military. They offered guidance and advice on leadership and self-development.

2018 Distinguished Military Service Award Recipients Attendees Alberto Marino-METRO; Lina Marino-Lt Gen Jay B CPT Elsa E. Canales; Denisse R. Szmiguel & SFC Alonzo-Mercado--U James Schenck PENFED CEO; Ambassador Julieta V Keynote Speaker-Lieutenant General Jay B L-R Claudia Vivar; Melanie C Gabriel Aguiar, Brian Armstrong, Lauren Bacon and Jon Mun¦âoz Jon Munoz-Hilton; Celeste Carrasco-AT&T - VERG of the Year L-R; Gloria Braddock; John Jones; Lupita; Robert; Raj Karira-all U Lupita; Jon Munoz-Hilton; Johanna Martinez-AT&T; Robert-2018 Veteran ERG Co-Companies of the Year Marines In the House MC- Bianca Barcelo-Asst Metro MG Marion Garcia-USAR and U Olga Custodio; Captain Elsa Canales-Michelle Rosa Remember POW-MIA Salute Robert Bard; Maja Lehnus-CIA; Lupita Colmenero Robert- Olga E Supervisory Special Agent Laz Andino U.S. Air Force Attendees
(L-R) Claudia Vivar, Melanie C. Meeks, Evangelina Torres, Darrell C. Holloway, Veronica Vazquez, Jennifer Smith, and Lupita Colmenero, founder of Parents Step Ahead.

Moderated by Lina M. Downing, US-Marine, HQCENTCOM, CCJ8, Division Chief, Comptroller, panelists included Major General Linda Urrutia-Varhall, USAF, Director of Operations, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; Rear Admiral Melissa Bert, USCG, Director of Governmental and Public Affairs, and Brigadier General Irene M. Zoppi, USA, Deputy Commanding General, Support under the 200thMilitary Police Command.

During the Distinguished Military Awards Luncheon, LATINA Style presents a recognition program honoring the accomplishments of women serving in the Armed Forces. Welcome remarks were provided by Mr. Clarence “CJ” Johnson, Department of Defense

Director, Diversity Management Operations Center. The awardees honored for their service to our country, leadership, accomplishments, and commitment to building a strong community are:

United States Army: Sergeant First Class Carole M. Alonzo-Mercado, U.S. Army; Ms. Denisse Szmigiel, U.S. Army.

United States Marine Corps: Major Amber Coleman, U.S. Marine Corps United States Navy: Lieutenant Kimberly Rios, U.S. Navy; Petty Officer First Class Brenda V. Chavez, U.S. Navy; Ms. Michelle E. Rosa, U.S. Navy

United States Air Force: Captain Gloriemar Torré Santiago, U.S. Air Force; Captain Michelle Cazares, U.S. Air Force; Technical Sergeant Sasha M. Alejandro, U.S. Air Force; Dr. Sonia Esquivel, U.S. Air Force

United States Coast Guard: Yeoman Second Class Rita M. Martinez, U.S. Coast Guard

United States Army National Guard: Captain Elsa E. Canales


United States Naval Academy: Midshipman First Class Jocelyn Rodriguez

United States Air Force Academy: Cadet First Class Sharon Dominguez and Cadet First Class Sarah Kreiser

United States Coast Guard Academy: First Class Cadet Valentina Giraldo Torres.

The following awards were presented during the luncheon:

Presentation of President’s Award: Lieutenant General Jay Silveria, USAF, Air Force Academy Superintendent

Presentation of Trailblazer Award: Lt. Col. Olga E. Custodio, USAF, Retired (First Latina Military Pilot)

Want to comment or have any questions on this article? Email us at [email protected]