18th National LATINA Symposium

Since 2004, Latinas from across the country have gathered to address some of the most pressing issues affecting their lives. From leadership development to successfully transitioning from active military service to civilian and corporate careers discussions and the one-of-kind military service awards presentation, the National LATINA Symposium recognizes Latinas in the military service for their leadership and courage.

The program kicked off on Thursday, September 23rd with welcome remarks by Robert E. Bard, President & CEO, LATINA Style, Inc. Following remarks included title sponsor remarks by Tracy Dufault, Sr. Vice President, Food Merchandising Operations, Walmart. Sponsor remarks were provided by Col. Mark A. Elliott, US Army (Ret), Head of Military & Veteran Affairs, JPMorgan Chase. Co-Chair introduction and remarks were delivered by Maj. Gen. Angie Salinas, USMC (Ret) – CEO, Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas; Maj. Gen. Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall, USAF (Ret); Brig. Gen. Irene Zoppi, USAR; Maj. Gen. Juan Ayala, USMC (Ret); and Col. Andres Nazario, USAF.

The first panel of the day, titled Powerful Leadership Lessons: Leading by Example, was moderated by Senior Master Sgt. Sonora Vasquez, U.S. Air Force. Panelists included Maj. Gen. Angie Salinas, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret) – CEO, Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas Panelist: Maj. Gen. Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall, U.S. Air Force (Ret). This session gave an inside view on the lessons learned, experiences gained throughout the years, and ways some successful Latinas in the military have overcome challenges.

The second session, Nurturing Latina Success (Award Recipients Panel), was moderated by Master Sgt. Christian Johnson, U.S. Air Force. Panelists included Command Sgt. Maj. Llirenelli L. Mari-Ciriaco, U.S. Army; Lt. Col. Cindy Serrano Roberts, U.S. Air Force; Captain Jo-Ann F. Burdian, U.S. Coast Guard, and Petty Officer 1st Class Lorena Morales, U.S. Navy.

The third session, titled Successfully Transitioning from Active Military Service to Civilian and Corporate Careers (Veteran Panel), was moderated by Ken Barrett, Chief Diversity Officer, General Motors and Ret. U.S. Navy Captain. Panelists included Brynt Parmeter, Senior Director of Military programs, Walmart & Ret. U.S. Army Colonel and Marisa Bryant, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Advisor Lead, USAA & Ret. U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. This panel focused on the integration of returning active military service into the civilian workplace. Attendees learned how Veteran mentorship, sponsorships, and retention programs are essential for corporate success.

The fourth panel of the day Highlight of Corporate Initiatives for Veterans – Presented by Walmart included panelists included Gustavo Torres, Senior Manager, Walmart; Sandra Olivarez, Program Manager, Military Programs, Walmart, and Dionne Adams, Marketing Manager, Walmart.

Following the panels, the distinguished military service awards presentation honoring the accomplishments of women serving in the Armed Forces began with welcome remarks by Clarence A. Johnson, Director, Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity, Department of Defense. Next, keynote speaker Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Navy, was presented with the 2021 Trailblazer Award and Captain Roy Love, U.S. Navy, (Ret) – ANSO, was presented with the 2021 President’s Award.

The awards ceremony was proceeded by mistress of ceremony Senior Master Sgt. Sonora L. Vasquez and included the Presentation of the Colors and National Anthem Armed Forces Color Guard Salute to Fallen Heroes. Special Recognition to the 2021 Veteran of the Year was given to Dr. Jennifer M. Peña, U.S. Army (Ret) Chief Medical Officer, NURX. Dr. Peña is an internal medicine doctor, Army veteran, former physician in the White House Medical Unit under both the Obama and Trump administrations, and expert in digital and telehealth.

Leave a Reply