16th Annual National LATINA Symposium

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

2019 Distinguished Military Service Award recipients.

On the evening of Wednesday, September 4th, LATINA Style kicked off the 16th Annual National LATINA Symposium with a leadership reception where sponsor remarks were provided by Lauren Bacon, Senior Manager, Military Programs, Hilton and Pepe Estrada, Director, Public Affairs, Walmart.

After an eventful evening, attendees gathered the next morning at the Hilton Crystal City in Arlington, VA 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 James F. Schenck, Chief Executive Officer, PenFed and Mariana Barrientos Roig, Co-Founder & VP of Strategy, ROIG Communications, LLC served as mistress of ceremonies.

The first panel of the day titled “Nurturing Latina Success,” focused on ways to maximize the visibility of leadership skills. Panelists shared their strategies for success and provided insights on how to prepare for new professional opportunities. Moderated by Martha Flores, Senior Computer Scientist, 453 Electronic Warfare Squadron, U.S. Air Force, panelists included Elsa Gudiel, SHARP BDE Victim Advocate, D-SAACP Level IV (ET-6234-0523), U.S. Army; Sara Salas, Deputy Director, EEO, Fleet Readiness Center Southwest, U.S. Navy; Xiomara Torres Department Manager, Coast Guard Exchange System, U.S. Coast Guard and Roxannet K., Agent, CIA.

The second panel of the day titled “Powerful Leadership Lessons…Leading by Example,” was led by successful Latinas in the military. Each shared their lessons learned, insights gained through their experiences and challenges encountered. Moderated by Maj. Gen. Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall, Director of Operations at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, U.S. Air Force (Ret); speakers included CW4 Sherry M. Coffey, Senior Maintenance Technician, U.S. Army; Gunnery Sergeant, Marisol Horta, Administrative Chief, U.S. Marine Corps; LCDR Margaret V. Cole, Commander, Submarine Group 7, U.S. Navy; CDR Blanca Rosas, Response Department Head, U.S. Coast Guard.

“Successful Transition from Active Military to Civilian and Corporate Careers,” session. (L-R) Jennifer M. Peña, M.D., INOVA VIP 360; Jeannette Holland, General Supervisor, Operations, GM CCA Davison Rd Processing Center, General Motors; and Mark Venzor, LCDR, USN, (Ret), Management Associate, Financial Services Leadership Rotation Program (FSLRP), Nationwide.

The third panel of the day “Successful Transition from Active Military to Civilian and Corporate Careers,” focused on the integration of returning military into the civilian workplace. Moderated by Lauren Bacon, Senior Manager, Military Program, Hilton, speakers included Odalys Fajardo-Guerrero, Walmart’s VP of Global Investigations, Latin America, Jeannette Holland, General Supervisor, Operations, GM CCA Davison Rd Processing Center, General Motors; Jennifer M. Peña, M.D., FACP, Administrator, Virtual Primary Care Providers, Oscar Health, New York, NY, Internal Medicine Physician, INOVA VIP 360; Mel Burns, Diversity Recruitment Strategist, Talent Acquisition, American Airlines in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and Mark Venzor, LCDR, USN, (Ret), Management Associate, Financial Services Leadership Rotation Program (FSLRP), Nationwide.

Clarence A. Johnson, Director of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity, DoD.

After a full day of workshops, LATINA Style honored the accomplishments of women serving in the Armed Forces during the Distinguished Military Awards Luncheon – a one of a kind gathering and an integral part of Hispanic Heritage month activities in the Nation’s capital. Luncheon participants included Mistress of Ceremonies Senior Master Sergeant Sonora L. Vasquez, U.S. Air Force; the Invocation and Benediction by Senior Master Sergeant Latisha Tippins, U.S. Air Force; Salute to Fallen Heroes was presided by Senior Master Sergeant Cristina Gutierrez, U.S. Air Force. Welcoming remarks were provided by Clarence A. Johnson, Director of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity, DoD.

The Distinguished Meritorious Service Award ceremony followed. Thirteen awardees were honored for their service to the country, leadership, accomplishments, and commitment to building a strong community. Congratulations to the 2019 award recipients: U.S. Army: Chief Warrant Officer Five Sherry M. Coffey and Ms. Elsa Gudiel; U.S. Navy: Lieutenant Melissa Ann Rodriguez; Lieutenant Commander Margaret V. Cole; Ms. Sara Salas; U.S. Marine Corps: Gunnery Sergeant Marisol Horta; U.S. Air Force: Master Sergeant Brenda Rodriguez; Captain Amparo Elizabeth Romero-Ortiz and Mrs. Martha P. Flores; U.S. Coast Guard: Commander Blanca Rosas and Mrs. Xiomara Torres (Civilian); U.S. Coast Guard Academy: First Class Cadet Christina M. Gonzales; Army National Guard: 1LT Mairim M. Cosme.

After such a distinguished ceremony, Robert Bard welcomed Major General Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall, USAF, (Ret) to the stage to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Stephen R. Herrera, Deputy for Budget, USAF, and Admiral Charles W. Ray, Vice Commandant, USCG, were honored with the President’s Award.

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