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Six Innovative Latinas Took the Stage at the Latinas Think Big Event in NYC

On May 16th, the halls of Columbia University's Barnard College buzzed with excitement, as the inaugural LATINAS THINK BIG event, hosted by ELLA Leadership Institute, opened it's doors. Women and men from across the country united in New York City to celebrate the careers of Latinas and start a conversation about advancing women in leadership.

The event was convened for the official launch of the ELLA Leadership Institute, a professional development center that promotes career advancement and leadership through innovative programs, events and access to influential networks. Attendees mingled and networked amidst live band music, media interviews, laughter and Cuban hors d'oeuvres.

LATINAS THINK BIG: Innovation, Connection and Impact

The LATINAS THINK BIG events feature four 16-minute presentations by trailblazing women who present their big ideas and stories in a powerful showcase of thought leadership, innovation and ambition. The NYC event kicked off a national LATINAS THINK BIG tour that aims to elevate the conversation on Latinas in leadership and the role of women and minorities as innovative leaders in the field of technology, business, academia, the arts and sciences, among others. At it's core, the LATINAS THINK BIG tour is about proactively sharing innovative ideas and important stories of social impact.

Beyond a platform for sharing big ideas, the LATINAS THINK BIG event is a networking event that builds community around innovative projects, and creates opportunities for conversation and collaboration beyond the event.

Live Streaming Via Google Hangout for National Visibility and Educational Purposes

The event was live streamed via Google Hangout, courtesy of Google, the official live stream partner of ELLA Institute. The collection of the 16-minute presentations will be housed on ELLA Institute's YouTube Channel for educational and conversational purposes. View the live stream coverage.

The first presentation was delivered by Samantha Marquez who, at the age of 12, developed a hollow structure of cells she named Celloidosomes, which has "applications in Tissue Engineering, Bioengineering, Environmental Science, Genetic Engineering, and cell/drug delivery as well as many other fields of science." Since discovering Celloidosomes, Samantha has published several peer-reviewed papers and presented her research work around the US, China, Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, and most recently, Russia, where she won first place in the International Space Olympics. Samantha, who is now working on her 8th patent, is also a tireless advocate for the Latino community, encouraging Latino youth and women to develop a passion for STEM fields.

Natalia shared lessons and powerful insights on entrepreneurship, philanthropy and gender. Natalia founded The Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing bootcamp for women philanthropists, to increase diversity in the U.S. angel investing community and create capital for women social entrepreneurs. Natalia holds a BA in Comparative Literature & Economics from Yale. She has been featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, Dowser, Forbes' CSR Blog, ForbesWoman, Mashable, New Prosperity, Reuters Money, TechCrunch, and The New York Times. Women's eNews recognized her as a 21 Leaders for the 21st Century for 2012.

Kety shared her ideas on the intersection between digital media, online engagement and business, and then shared a powerful personal story. Kety is Vice President at Fenton and leads the digital practice for Fenton's Western region. Her commentary has been featured in stories for the Wall St. Journal, HITN, PBS, CNN, Televisa and Univision. Her work has taken her to China and Ethiopia with the UN Economic Commission for Africa. She spent 3 years coaching executives for a Fortune 100 company on human capital and diversity in the US, Canada and Latin America. She directed Latino outreach for a Presidential Campaign and was also the New Media Manager for the National Council of La Raza and the interim CEO for Latinos in Social Media. Most recently she was a VP with Ogilvy and Principal of Esquivel McCarson Consulting.



Three Latina medical doctors took the stage to share their unique journeys as Latinas excelling in the medical field and their partnership as they build their first practice, Every Woman Wellness. Juana L. Cuevas, MD, practices obstetrics and gynecology. Lissette Lugo, MD, is an attending anesthesiologist and instructor, specializing in obstetric anesthesiology and women's health. Monica Simons, MD, practices obstetrics and gynecology.

Latina Presenters Serve as Important Role Models

Presenters pointed to self-determination, mentorship and fearlessness as key factors in their own career success. The audience, predominantly first- and second-generation bi-cultural Latinas, saw themselves reflected in the stories shared by the presenters. Yaritza Abreu, a college student attendee, shared:

"It was beyond amazing to hear from the different speakers and their advice on success in different career fields. I was in awe the whole time. I can't believe I was able to sit in a room with so many powerful, beautiful women who have accomplished so much. After this event, I have really been encouraged to become even more focused than before and go above and beyond to have my PhD in clinical psychology."

Amanda Yassin, a Physician Assistant at NYC hospital, was equally inspired by the event, stating:

"I was moved by many things that night. I loved hearing all the stories the presenters shared with us. Seeing successful women continue to seek opportunities that will enhance their careers or help others was inspiring. Hearing the story of the 16 y/o scientist made me realize I have soo much more to do."

As part of the event, organizers asked attendees to reveal their big ideas, and left the event ready to take action on their own lives, careers and leadership.

Next Stop: Los Angeles! Hosted at Google's Headquarters this Fall

Join us this fall in Los Angeles, where the next LATINAS THINK BIG event will take place at Google's headquarter! To stay tuned for more announcements on the L.A. event, visit ELLA Institute.