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Maria Mangual Latina Leadership Conference

Latinas from throughout Chicago gathered for the Third Annual Maria Mangual Latina Leadership Conference. Focused on empowering, enriching, and connecting Latina leaders, this conference is unique in the Midwest and throughout the United States as one of the few leadership development opportunities to bring Latina professionals, students, and community members together. Latinas are increasingly the primary wage earners, receive higher levels of education, and are one of the highest growing populations in the United States. With enormous power and success on the horizon, Latinas can use that power to affect change in their communities and make a powerful impact through their leadership. The Conference highlights Latina accomplishments and commemorates the rich history of Mujeres and the legacy of Mujeres’ founder Maria Mangual.

More than four hundred Latinas participated in the four morning workshops offered at the conference. The workshops covered a wide range of issues important to Latinas’ personal and professional development, including mentorship, financial planning, philanthropy, and using digital media. Presenters included Laura Garcia, Executive Director of Semillas, Juanita Irizarry, Sr. Program Officer of Human Services & Community Development at the Chicago Community Trust, Veronica Arreola, Director of the Women in Science & Engineering Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Blogger at Viva la Feminista, and Teresa Puente, Chicanisima Blogger at Chicago Now and editor and publisher at Latina Voices.

The Leadership Lunch Plenary and Awards Ceremony highlighted the importance Latinas making a difference in their communities. The plenary included a panel discussion, “Latinas Influencing Public Policy,” featuring Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza; Clarisol Duque, Senator Durbin’s Chicago Chief of Staff; Amalia Rioja, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Office of Governor Pat Quinn; Anayanzi Mendez, Director of External Affairs at the Illinois House of Representatives; and Rose Mary Bombela-Tobias, Principal at Global Diversity Solutions, LLC. The speakers discussed the challenges of being Latina leaders in the arena of public policy and gave advice on how people can influence change in their communities. 

The Maria Mangual Leadership Award and the Emerging Leader Award were presented to two Latinas who created change in their communities. The Maria Mangual Leadership Award, given to a Latina whose work exemplifies the legacy of the organization’s founder, was given to Dr. Ana Gil-Garcia for her tireless efforts to increase access to higher education and mentorship of Latinas. The Emerging Leader Award was awarded to a graduate of Mujeres’ Latina Leadership Program who has shown leadership in the community. Maru Coronel received this award for her volunteerism at Mujeres and in the community.

As part of the conference, Mujeres and co-author Latino Union unveiled the research report Latina Portrait: Domestic Workers. The Latina Portrait delves into the history of domestic work in the United States and the current issues facing the women who clean homes and take care of children, the elderly, and the disabled. The report examines the different federal and state laws that do not include domestic workers and explores the hardships these workers face as a result of this exclusion. For example, domestic workers are not included under Illinois’ Minimum Wage Law and not covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Implementing an Illinois Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights would secure rights and fair treatment for domestic workers. Included in the report are suggestions for individuals, domestic workers, and policy makers who want to effect change.

After the closing ceremony participants left the Maria Mangual Latina Leadership Conference with the skills to advance in their work and professional life and with the passion to advocate for change they believe in.

October 11, 2013 | 9:53 AM