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Leading in Diversity: Creating an Inclusive Workspace

You won’t want to miss this panel of extraordinary leaders as they discuss the challenges and benefits of creating workplace diversity and the best practices that should be utilized to be a successful leader.

Elizabeth Atlee

Elizabeth Atlee is senior vice president, deputy general counsel for CBRE, Inc. In this capacity, she manages more than 300 active cases and other litigation globally including reporting to insurers, senior managers and the Board on litigation, developing and managing the e-discovery and litigation hold protocols, managing a small department of lawyers and paralegals. Ms. Atlee is also responsible for outside counsel management and legal spend containment among other responsibilities as a senior legal manager. She is a commercial litigator with experience in state and federal courts. Prior to joining CBRE, Ms. Atlee was a senior attorney at BP, an international energy company, where she managed litigation as well as state and federal investigations and transacted franchise-related retail agreements. She is a member of ACC and on the board of HOPE. She is a guest lecturer at USC School of Law.

Deputy General Counsel, CBRE |

HOPE Board Member

Maria Cristina Gonzalez

Maria Cristina “MC” González Noguera is Senior Vice President, Global Public Affairs, at The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC).  Previously, MC served as Assistant to the President and the Director of Communications to First Lady Michelle Obama.  From June 2013-May 2015, MC was responsible for shaping long-term strategic planning and message development for the First Lady.  During her tenure at the White House, MC led the team charged with developing and communicating the First Lady’s four key initiatives (Let’s Move, Joining Forces, Reach Higher and Let Girls Learn), while simultaneously overseeing her day-to-day communications.

After leaving the White House, MC advised the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority on strategic communications in support of its estimated $9 billion debt restructuring and operational transformation.

Senior Vice President, Global Public Affairs, The Esteè Lauder Companies

Sonia Manzano

For over 40 years, Sonia Manzano inspired, educated, and delighted children and families as "Maria" on Sesame Street. Named among the “25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever” by Latina Magazine, Manzano broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television. Throughout her career, she has continued to contribute to enriching diversity on television, on the stage, and in the educational realm. A first generation America of Latin descent, Manzano’s tale is one of perseverance and courage as she overcame countless obstacles to become one of the most influential Latinas in television. A staunch advocate for education, Manzano shares her extraordinary talent to help children to succeed. A fearless trailblazer, Manzano opened the doors for Latinas on screen. Infusing humor and charm into her presentations, Manzano inspires audiences with her passion, strength and insight into success. Whether speaking out for literacy, diversity, or addressing the issues children face in our media-saturated life, she is a familiar, engaging voice that brings new light to her roles and to our lives.

“Maria” from Sesame Street & Author

Session 1

10:00 AM - 11:05 AM


Leading in Business: Building a Lucrative Microbusiness

This dynamic panel of Latina leaders in academia, finance and business are gathering to highlight recommendations and insights into creating, building and advocating for Latina small business ownership. 

Aime Vizcarra

Vizcarra oversees more than 170 team members at 11 banking stores.  Her district includes the communities of Rancho Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills Estates, and Torrance. Vizcarra, a 20-year Wells Fargo veteran, assumed her current role in 2011.  She was previously a Wells Fargo banking branch manager in Gardena.  Beginning her journey as a teller in Minnesota she achieved various roles within Wells Fargo. Taking advantage of the opportunity to work with several different managers she was able to observe and put into practice the various coaching styles that have aided her in becoming the leader she is today. Vizcarra resides in Norwalk with her husband and four daughters and is active advocate for Financial Literacy in the Hispanic Community.

Vice President & District Manager, Peninsula Harbor District, Wells Fargo

Melina Duarte

Melina Duarte is the Founder and Principal Consultant of MyDuarte Group, LLC. MyDuarte matches organizations and individuals to strategies and solutions and specializes in a wide range of services including organizational development, branding, board development, donor cultivation, public relations and the managing of high profile clients and events. In addition to her consulting work, Melina is also a political strategist who has a passion for working with progressive candidates and campaigns to shape messaging and advise on strategic courses of action. Melina is a self-proclaimed ‘Chingona’ and considers herself to be part of a movement of Latinas who have taken back that term and now wear it as a badge of honor. Her unique contribution is the creation of an official definition for the term, which can be found on a line of products she sells as part of her culture and lifestyle brand aptly named Chingona Definition.

Owner & Chief Consultant, MYDuarte Consulting Group, LLC | HLI’ 14

Elsa Macias, PhD

Dr. Macias consults on research and policy projects related to education, STEM education, information technology policy, and on Latina issues. Her clients include M.I.T., the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), UC Irvine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Macias was previously at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California (USC), where she was an Associate Research Professor. She focused on data-based decision-making to increase excellence and equity in student outcomes at colleges and universities, organizational learning and change, and diversity in higher education. Prior to that, Dr. Macias oversaw the research agenda on information technology policy at the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, affiliated with the Claremont Graduate University and USC, where she established a national reputation as an expert on the use and diffusion of technology in diverse populations.

Research Consultant

Xiomara Peña

Xiomara Peña works as the Southern California Outreach Manager and the National Hispanic Outreach Manager for Small Business Majority, a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization focused on promoting smart public policy that will positively impact small business owners and entrepreneurs. Through in-person and online education to women and minority communities, she has significantly improved a fundamental understanding in debt and equity financing for small businesses and entrepreneurs. In 2016, Xiomara was recognized by the L.A. Mayor's Office of Economic Development for her extensive work highlighting responsible lending and education on access to capital options for small businesses. She currently sits on the Advisory Board for the Women's Mentoring Collaborative Program and the secretary of the Junior Board for El Nido Family Centers.

Southern California & National Hispanic Outreach Manager, Small Business Majority

Career Track 1
Financial Empowerment Track 1



Leading in Higher Education: Priorities for California’s Next Governor

California's higher education system has long struggled with budget cuts and an uncertain future. Hear from experts on why we, the voters, need to hear clear plans from the candidates on the future of higher education under new leadership.

Audrey Dow

Audrey Dow is the Senior Vice President of the Campaign for College Opportunity, a California-based policy and research organization that ensures more students go to college and succeed. She has broad responsibilities for co-leading the organizations’ strategic direction, robust research agenda, and for leading strategic media, communications and coalition building efforts. Audrey is a sought-after expert on issues of college access, success, affordability and racial equity speaking regularly at state and national convenings. She often contributes and is quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, Politico, The Atlantic and National Public Radio. She serves on the Parent Board of the Mayfield Senior School, the Technical Advisory Committee for the California Future Health Workforce Commission, and is the California State Senate’s appointee to the Awards for Innovation in Higher Education Committee.

Senior Vice President, Campaign for College Opportunity | Honorary HLI

Maria Anguiano

Maria Anguiano currently serves as CFO for the Minerva Project. Prior to her work at Minerva Project, she served as Vice Chancellor, Planning & Budget at UC, Riverside. During her three years at UCR she most notably led the redesign of the campus budget model, successfully negotiated the campus’ first design-build contract for a major research facility, guided a Physical Master Plan Study, and contributed to their organizational excellence efforts. Prior to this, she worked at UC Office of the President on financial and strategic system-wide initiatives to improve operational efficiency. Ms. Anguiano has also served as a senior advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Postsecondary Success Team. She currently serves on the board of UC Regents and the James Irvine Foundation.

Chief Financial Officer, Minerva Project | Appointed Regent, University of California, Board of Regents | HLI ‘10

Nora E. Vargas

Vice President of Community & Government Relations, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest | HOPE Champion & HLI ‘01

In her role, Nora Vargas is responsible for leading the development and implementation of the vision and strategy for the agency’s Community and Government Relations department. In addition, she oversees the day-to-day operation of the agency’s political organization, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest, including its Issues Campaigns and Political Action Committee. Vargas was appointed and later elected to the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board, the only institution of higher education in the San Diego County’s South Bay. Most recently, she was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve on the 12-member California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS). Committed to community service, Vargas also serves as a champion of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), as a board member for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), and a board member for Run Women Run.

Community Track 1
Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Ph.D.

Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Ph.D., was appointed by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson as State Trustee for the Inglewood Unified School District effective July, 2017. She oversees all operations for a school district of over 9,000 students in state fiscal receivership. She has served as Chief Executive Officer in the Office of Educational Services for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). As the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Meléndez was responsible for the administrative oversight of multiple educational and business services for the over 1,000 schools of LAUSD, including Food Services, Procurement, School Operations, Student Health and Human Services, Transportation, Office of Environmental Health and Safety, as well as “Beyond the Bell.” Dr. Meléndez’s recognitions include an Alumni Merit Award from the USC Alumni Association (2012), the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation’s 2011 National Hispanic Woman, American Association of School Administrators, California State Superintendent of the Year (2009) and Hispanic Business Magazine’s 2010 Woman of the Year.

State Trustee

Inglewood Unified School District

Session 2

11:10 AM - 12:15 PM 



Leading in Priorities: Examining the Importance of Self-Care

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Today we will examine why it’s essential that we manage a work-life balance and make the right choices for our long-term wellness.  

Noelia Sanchez

After more than a decade of consulting nonprofit organizations on effective branding and online communications, Noelia felt a pull to help narrow the wage gap for women and people of color in the U.S. Her solution, Noteworthy Lab LLC, a leadership development and digital strategy company. Their focus is helping high-achievers leverage their genius to advance into leadership roles and explore entrepreneurial opportunities.

Through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and group masterminds, Noelia gives her clients actionable guidance for building a remarkable personal brand that amplifies their visibility and sets them apart as creative, charismatic leaders.

She holds a BA in Linguistics from UC Santa Barbara, is a certified body Language trainer with the Science of People, and a Content Marketing Expert with Digital Marketer.

When Noelia is not working with thought leaders and change agents, you can find her indulging in her fabric obsession. As a self-taught seamstress, she loves to make her own clothes and teaches the occasional dressmaking workshop.


Communications & Brand Strategist

Career Track 2


Leading in Communities: Strengthen Communities With Social Impact

Be inspired by this heartfelt presentation on the importance of philanthropy followed by a panel of community leaders who practice and believe that our societies are strengthened through generosity and commitment.

Victoria Martinez

Prior to her work as a Councilwoman for the City of El Monte, she devoted her time to her favorite causes, charities serving women and children. Since being elected to the El Monte City Council, Victoria has served at Chairperson to two of El Monte's newest community events; The Back to School Resource fair, where thousands of children have been given free backpacks and other necessities to start off a productive school year; and INSPIRE - a Young Women's Leadership Day, a one day conference for high school girls where they learn about issues affecting their daily lives. This year, she co-chaired the male version of INSPIRE. Also, on behalf of the city, she spearheads an annual purse drive in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Councilmember, City of El Monte

Consuelo Gutierrez-Crosby

Consuelo joined InFaith Community Foundation in 2016 to lead the WomenGive inFaith Campaign. As the Women’s Philanthropy Associate, Consuelo engages women of faith to use their talents to educate, advocate and activate change for women and girls. She facilitates workshops for women engaging them in the exploration of how their faith, values, and passion align with their giving. Before joining InFaith, she spent a decade in higher education working at the Civic Engagement Center at her alma mater Macalester College. At Macalester, she mentored student leaders in developing their passions to engage others in creating change, managed a national program for first generation college students, developed and led trainings at national conferences, and fostered community partnerships with various stakeholders.

Women’s Philanthropy Associate, InFaith Community Foundation

Michelle Jaramillo

In her role, Michelle Jaramillo helps organizations use story, paired with research and evidenced-based messaging, to move people’s hearts and minds around issues that impact all San Diegans. Previously, as Community Impact Director for The San Diego Foundation, Michelle developed and managed systems-change strategies to address the needs of the region. She has also served as Communications Director of the San Diego Housing Federation, and as Director of Communications and Programs for the U.S. – Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership. Michelle is a co-founder and past chair of the Latina Giving Circle of San Diego, a co-founder and chair of the San Diego Chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, a 2014 graduate of HOPE Leadership Institute and The Funders Network 2016 PLACES fellow. 

Director of Narrative Strategy & Communications, Partners for Progress |

HLI ‘14

Rosie Arroyo

Rosie currently manages the California Community Foundation’s immigration grantmaking portfolio which seeks to empower immigrants to thrive civically, economically and socially by promoting just and inclusive policies impacting immigrant communities in Los Angeles County. She also oversees an early care and education initiative that seeks to coordinate and amplify local advocacy efforts to elevate awareness and urgency of the issues among parents and the public. Rosie began her career by working for LAUSD and then went on to work for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. She serves on the board of directors for HOPE, is a member of the American Bar Foundation’s Network for Justice Advisory Committee and is currently a fellow of the 2018 Latina Global Executive Leadership Program.

 Senior Program Officer, Immigration and Early Education, California Community Foundation | HOPE Board Officer & HLI ‘07



Leading in Energy: Championing for Our Communities Future

California is a global leader in energy and environmental legislation. Hear from elected leaders as they explain current energy regulations and the impact they are having on our environment and economy.

Laura Barrera

LB Consulting’s Principal, Laura Barrera, is a public and government relations expert with more than 20 years of experience. Ms. Barrera has worked for many high profile elected officials including California State Controller John Chiang, State Assembly Member Marco A. Firebaugh, Los Angeles Councilmember Jose Huizar, and consulted on projects impacting real-estate development, construction, education, social services, environmental and transportation. She has worked with multiple corporations, municipalities, counties, school districts, nonprofit organizations and in multiple states on project and stakeholder engagement. Her extensive community involvement includes serving on several nonprofit and private boards and volunteering with the East Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club, East Los Angeles Advisory Committee, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Girls Today, Women Tomorrow, and HOPE.

LB Consulting, Inc., Government & Public Relations

Anabella Bastida

As the Executive Director for the Council of Mexican-American Federations (COFEM), Anabella Bastida serves one of the most dynamic movements empowering immigrant families. COFEM is one of the largest member-based organizations in California striving to develop active community leaders and mobilize its membership to improve the educational and socioeconomic attainment of Latino and immigrant families in California. Through her vision and leadership since being named Executive Director in 2012, Ms. Bastida has helped COFEM expand its membership base to not only 13 Mexican Federations, but also two Latina women’s organizations and a youth sports league—all important trust-centers with the Latino immigrant community. 

Executive Director, Council of Mexican Federations (COFEM

Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves

Martha Guzman Aceves was appointed Commissioner at the CPUC by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on Dec. 28, 2016. She previously served as deputy legislative affairs secretary in the Office of the Governor since 2011, focusing on natural resources, environmental protection, energy and food and agriculture. She was sustainable communities program director for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation from 2005 to 2011. From 2006 to 2008, she worked with Swanton Berry Farm on human resources issues including a new employee-stock ownership program. She was legislative coordinator for United Farm Workers from 1999 to 2005, working on labor and environmental issues. In 2010 she co-founded Communities for a New California, a charitable organization promoting increased civic engagement of underrepresented communities.

California Public Utilities Commission

Miguel Santiago

Miguel was elected in 2014 to represent California’s 53rd Assembly District, which includes Boyle Heights, Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, Pico Union and the surrounding areas. In the Legislature he has fought to eradicate homelessness, and build affordable housing, and led the effort to make community college free. His historic legislation, AB 19, to offer a year of tuition-free college to all first-time, full time students was signed into law on October 1, 2017. He is working to stabilize childcare, has authored some of California’s toughest new gun laws, and has taken on a 33 year-old environmental injustice by authoring $176.6 million clean-up bill to tackle the environmental pollution caused by the Exide Technologies factory in his district. Miguel and his wife Celina, who is a key HOPE supporter, are raising their two children in Boyle Heights where they reside.

California 53rd Assembly District

Financial Empowerment Track 2
Community Track 2

Youth Sessions

*Open to pre-registered High School students only


Can I Afford That? How to Manage Your Money and Build Your Career

In this workshop, high school girls are introduced to numerous tips and strategies which will enable them to become financially responsible in preparation for college life. By the end of the session, participants will have gained a better understanding of how to earn and save money. They will gain essential knowledge on various budgeting tools that will help them grasp a better understanding on how to successfully build credit, minimize excessive spending, and take advantage of opportunities to become financially empowered, and prepare for successful futures. The session, facilitated by Girls Inc., will be an interactive and exciting workshop that will guide participants towards making financially smart decisions and wise career choices.

Beth Payne

STEM Coordinator

Sinai Torrejon

Teen Program Facilitator

Katarina Barela

Teen Program Facilitator



The STEM field comes to life in this engaging panel designed to illuminate future STEM opportunities. Participants will learn how the quickly growing fields of science, medicine, technology, engineering and mathematics are awaiting the brilliant minds of young Latina women. With only 3% of Latina women being represented in the STEM field, it is crucial that bright Latina women are encouraged to pursue these careers and make an impact.

Noramay Cadena

Noramay Cadena is an engineer, entrepreneur, investor, nonprofit leader, and mother. She is the Cofounder and Managing Director of Make in LA, an early stage hardware accelerator and venture fund. She holds a BS in mechanical engineering, a SM in engineering systems and a MBA – all from MIT.

Managing Director, Make in LA | HLI ‘14

Leticia Rodriguez

Leticia Rodriguez is the Executive Director of DIY Girls, a Pacoima based nonprofit organization with a mission to increase girls' interest and success in technology, engineering, and making through innovative educational experiences and mentor relationships. Leticia previously served as Director of Development and Communications for South Central Scholars, where she led fund development and external communications to provide college preparation and STEM programs for low-income students across Los Angeles. Leticia graduated from Stanford University with a M.A. degree in Education and a B.A. in Political Science. 

Executive Director, DIY Girls

Sandra Salazar, MD

Sandra Salazar, M.D. is a family physician serving seniors, youth and families. She is a steadfast voice for ameliorating health disparities that plague our community such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes. Dr. Salazar is a product of Public Schools and grew up in South Central Los Angeles. She is a member of the California State Bar Examining Committee and was elected to the Cerritos Community College Board of Trustees in 2012. She is a graduate of the HOPE Leadership Institute and a founding board member of the Southern California Latino Policy Center.

Physician, Kaiser Permanente | HLI ‘09

Maria del Pilar O’Cadiz, Ph.D.

In her role as Education Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center for TANMS at UCLA, Pilar O’Cadiz is committed to engaging diverse youth and young adults in 21st century STEM career pathways through innovative research and other skill building learning opportunities. Previously Dr. O’Cadiz worked as a Project Scientist at UC Irvine School of Education where she completed a three-year study of a statewide initiative aimed at expanding access to quality STEM learning opportunities, and building STEM interest, engagement and career aspirations among K-12 students. 

 Education Director, NSF Engineering Research Center for Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems (TANMS) at UCLA

Youth Tracks
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