Virtual LATINA Style Business Series in Orlando, FL
By Gloria Romano-Barrera
On Friday, December 4th, 2020 LATINA Style hosted the Orlando LATINA Style Business Series virtual conference from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST. The award-winning conference for Latina entrepreneurs provided participants the opportunity to learn about business ownership and partake in career development seminars designed to benefit Latina professionals and entrepreneurs. In addition, participants partook in several workshops aimed to address the strains placed by the current pandemic.
The virtual audience attentively listened to Janie Davila-Jalomo, Associate Vice President, Personal Lines Servicing, Nationwide who provided the title sponsor remarks. In addition, the audience heard from Mayor Buddy Dyer, 32nd Mayor of Orlando. Co-Chair remarks were provided by Lourdes Mola, President & Founder, Lourdes Mola Solutions and Karen Vergara, CPA, Fiduciary Financial Advisor, AllGen Financial Advisors, Inc.
The first presentation of the program included a 3-minute meditation session presented by Nationwide. Facilitator Nick Delgado, President, Black Pen White Board provided a mindfulness meditation exercise consisting of a brief instruction, guided sit, and closing. Mindfulness can be especially beneficial to entrepreneurs who are seeking clarity, resilience, and stability. The Financial Survival Guide: Learn How Orlando Small Businesses Are Facing COVID-19 brought together a panel of experts to discuss the current difficult economic challenges. The panel combined a unique blend of professionals with extensive experience in the areas of small business taxes, government assistance, private equity and accounting. Moderated by Karen Vergara, CPA, Fiduciary Financial Advisor, AllGen Financial Advisors, Inc.; speakers included Victoria Guerrero, District Director, SBA, South Florida; Maritza Rabinowitz, Stakeholder Liaison, IRS; Joanne Medeiros, CPA, Manager, MBAF; Patty Juarez, National Diverse Segments Director, Wells Fargo, and Nick Delgado, President, Black Pen White Board.
The Managing Stress During Covid-19 Better You by Blue session presented by Florida Blue Community Specialist Maria Kesti provided strategies for the audience to handle stress, the need for cultivating effective thinking, how to practice mindfulness, and essential relaxation techniques. This session provided tools and resources to help lead productive and fulfilling lives.
The Big Legacies, Extraordinary Stories presented by Nationwide was moderated by Lory Burgos, Sr. Consultant, Diverse Marketing. Special guest Cindy Pedraza, Co-Owner, CocoAndre Chocolatier talked about her success journey. Today CocoAndre produces some of the finest hand-crafted chocolate delights in the world, selling the delectable treats from the quaint family-owned retail store to legions of fans and scores of businesses throughout Dallas and across America. Andrea Pedraza and daughter Cindy Pedraza, and her staff lovingly create pure chocolate confections that serve to make sweet memories to last lifetimes.
The last session Entrepreneurs Spotlight: Learning Strategies for Success was moderated by Lourdes Mola, President & Founder, Lourdes Mola Solutions. Speakers included Marisa Rivera, President & CEO, Mpowerment Works; Wendy Platon, CPA, President, WP Accounting Services; Yanet Herrero, CEO, Kings Service Solutions, and Diane Sears, Central Florida Regional Director, WBEC Florida. Leading successful Latina entrepreneurs at different stages of business maturity discuss lessons learned, and insights gained through their experiences, challenges encountered, and ways to overcome them.
Following the sessions were the LATINA Style Entrepreneur Award announcements. Mistress of Ceremonies, Valezka Gil, EMMY® & SPJ® Award-Winning Journalist, Investigative & Consumer Reporter, NBCUniversal Telemundo 31 welcomed the audience with enthusiasm.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Dr. Antonia Coello Novello, MD. MPH. Dr. PH. Dr. Novello, 14th Surgeon General of the United States, was born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a B.S. degree in 1965 and an M.D. degree in 1970. She completed her subspecialty training in pediatrics and pediatric nephrology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Georgetown University. Following her training, she worked at the National Institutes of Health later becoming Deputy Director of the Child Health and Human Development Institute. She served in this capacity until becoming the U.S. Surgeon General in 1990.
Dr. Novello has a Master’s degree in Public Health (1982), and a Doctor of Public Health (2000) from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. She holds countless awards, among them 57 Honoris Causa degrees. Similarly, she was given the Legion of Merit by General Colin Powell. Dr. Novello was the first woman, and the first Latina to be appointed U.S. Surgeon General. She was appointed by President George Bush in 1990 and served in the position until 1993. After her tenureship, she was assigned to UNICEF as Special Assistant to the Director, and thereafter she became the New York State Health Commissioner (1999-2006), and in 2008, the Executive Director of Public Health Policy at Florida Hospital, until 2014 when she retired. Currently, she is a spokesperson and public health advocate for the prevention efforts regarding coronavirus in Puerto Rico. She is also involved with VOCES Vaccines Coalition, and with the National Guard of Puerto Rico vaccinating for Influenza the whole island of Puerto Rico.
Pioneer Award Honoree was José Nido, Vice President, Global Supplier Diversity, Wyndham Destinations. Nido is the vice president of global supplier diversity at Wyndham Destinations. He is responsible for managing the development and implementation of a world-class supplier diversity program across Wyndham Destinations, growing the number of diverse suppliers within the company’s portfolio and increasing diverse business partnerships while cultivating positive relationships and building goodwill within the diverse business community. Over the years, under Nido’s leadership, Wyndham has been listed on the DiversityInc’s Top 10 Companies for Supplier Diversity specialty list, and in 2014, Wyndham was presented the DiversityInc Top Company for Supplier Diversity Award.
Entrepreneur of the Year Award honoree was Marisa Rivera, President & CEO, Mpowerment Works. Rivera is a social entrepreneur and global citizen who provides dynamic presentations and seminars that captivate the audience and empowers them to become agents of change. She also provides innovative consulting and coaching services on program development tailored to each client’s needs by empowering people. Throughout her career, Rivera has shared her experience and personal knowledge on becoming an effective leader in today’s global marketplace in the corporate, government and non-profit sectors as well as in schools, colleges, and universities both in the U.S. and abroad. “I am humbled and honored to receive the Entrepreneur of the Year award from LATINA Style. I accept it on behalf of the millions of Latinas in this country who are using their innovation, creativity, hard work and boldness to face the many challenges of running a business even during a global pandemic and economic crisis,” says Rivera. “Thank you, Robert Bard, and thank you LATINA Style Business Series for forging the way for so many Latinas and providing a voice and a platform for Latinas to thrive. Latina business owners will continue to lead and be the face of America’s small businesses. ¡Muchisimas Gracias!” Closing Remarks were provided by title sponsor Vanessa Hyden, Director, Claims Quality Assurance, Nationwide, co-chairs Karen Vergara, CPA, Fiduciary Financial Advisor, AllGen Financial Advisors, Inc., and Lourdes Mola, President & Founder, Lourdes Mola Solutions.