The Latinas First Foundation will hold its 7th Annual Luncheon on Friday, May 4, 2018 at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Seawell Ballroom. The Foundation will honor eight Latina Leaders at the luncheon, while also providing participants and sponsors an opportunity to network with more than 750 of Colorado’s Latino leaders. The Foundation will award 9 scholarships to Latina high school, college and graduate students and host over 100 high school students at the Luncheon.
“Each year we honor incredible Latina leaders who have done remarkable things in their respective fields. This year we build on that legacy and will honor women in diverse fields from education, public affairs, telecommunications, government and media. We are excited to honor these women as they continue to blaze a trail for our future Latina leaders to follow,” said co-founder Meshach Rhoades. The 2018 Honorees include Dr. Patricia Baca, Maria Garcia Berry, Belen DeLeon, Sandi Mays and Carmen Morales.
Dr. Baca was the first Latina Superintendent and first bilingual teacher at Denver Public Schools. She has been a long-standing advocate for improving education and services to youth throughout the Denver metro area. Maria Garcia Berry is the Founder and Chairman of the Board for CRL Associates, a public affairs firm she launched in 1981. She has had her hand in nearly every major project in the Denver area and is the first Latina to chair FasTracks, the nation’s largest proposed mass transit expansion efforts at the time.
Belen DeLeon is a meteorologist for NBC4’s weekend morning newscast, “Today in LA”. In 2012 she became the first Latina meteorologist at Denver’s 9News and quickly became one of the most familiar faces in the community. Prior to her career as a meteorologist, she was a Latin Billboard Music Award winning artist performing with the band La Onda. Sandi Mays is the first Latina founder and EVP, CIO and Service at Zayo Group, a leader in global telecommunications providing bandwidth and connectivity over a significant network infrastructure. Known for her passion and customer service for both internal and external customers, she is also a champion for diversity in the tech community. Carmen Morales is the CEO of Santiago’s Franchise and Santiago’s Distribution Inc. and the first Latina CEO restaurateur in Colorado. As CEO of Santiago’s Franchise, she has 28 restaurants and owns 8 restaurants. She has taught all of the Franchise owners how to run a successful Santiago’s Restaurant and helped them open their own restaurants. She has been a prominent member of the Latino community for nearly 40 years.
“We look forward to honoring our trailblazers for their vision and drive. We are also thrilled to honor our Unsung Heroines for their passion and extraordinary contributions to the community,” remarked co -founder Juanita Chacon. “Each year we search for those women to honor that fulfill our mission and have continuously given back to the community in immeasurable ways.” The 2018 Unsung Heroines are: Marcela de la Mar, Dusti Gurule and Michelle McDaniel.
Marcela de la Mar is the Executive Director and President of the Board for the Mexican Cultural Center and prior to that served as the Consulate General of Mexico for 23 years.
Dusti Gurule is the Executive Director at the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights. Prior to that, she was a regional representative for U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska and Executive Director of the Latina Initiative.
Michelle McDaniel is an At-Risk Intervention and Mentoring Program Manager at Denver Health and has spent her career performing outreach and violence intervention for at-risk youth.
The Latinas First Foundation celebrates and mobilizes the Latina community, while focusing on the cultural and historical contributions of Latinas to Colorado. The Foundation also provides critical opportunities and scholarships for future Latina generations. “We are proud to build a community for other women to thrive by providing a critical network and support for Latinas to reach their highest potential through nontraditional scholarships. We look forward to continuing to partner with the community to fulfill our mission,” echoed Meshach Rhoades.
Belen DeLeon will serve as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the 2018 Luncheon. All proceeds raised from the luncheon will support the organization’s scholarships and programs. Since the organization was founded in 2011, the Latinas First Foundation has honored more than 60 women and awarded 43 non-traditional scholarships. The Latinas First Foundation is a 501c (3) nonprofit corporation and generates its funding from corporations, foundations and individual contributors.
To learn more please visit, www.latinasfirstfoundation.org. Follow the Latinas First Foundation on Facebook.
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