Executive Directo for MANA de San Diego

GB: What is your background?

I grew up in El Centro, CA and my parents were immigrants with no more than a 6th grade education. The youngest of 6 children, I was always encouraged to go to college, so I attended UC San Diego where I graduated with a B.A. in Communications. I then spent 15 years doing community relations for local TV where I was responsible for developing personal relationships between the stations and their viewers while having a positive impact on the community.

I am currently the Executive Director for MANA de San Diego, a non-profit Latina organization, where I lead our strategic planning, marketing and operations efforts while overseeing 400+ volunteers who plan and implement our programs. The mission of the organization is to empower Latinas through education, leadership development, community service and advocacy. MANA was established 30 years ago and this is the first Executive Director position we have had so I feel truly blessed and honored. I feel like I am personally a product/beneficiary of MANA in the way that through my volunteering and meeting outstanding professional Latinas, they have supported and pushed me to set high expectations and succeed.

GB: How is MANA de San Diego making a difference for young girls and women?

MANA has been at the forefront of educating and mentoring Latinas of all ages at all stages of their lives. The Hermanitas Mentorship Program encourages 7th-12th grade girls to pursue higher education and follow their dreams by introducing them to successful career women who have similar backgrounds. Since 2006, MANA has had a 100% success rate in our Hermanitas enrolling in higher education! We then support them with scholarships and training through our seminars and conference. One of MANA’s biggest strengths is its impressive network of thousands of professional women, who then mentor these young ladies in hopes that they will come full circle and give back to MANA and our community once they have successful careers.

GB: What is MANA de San Diego’s vision for Latinas in California?

MANA de San Diego’s vision is to foster a community of advocates working together to create a higher quality of life for everyone. Education at all levels, in areas of professional growth, health, environmental awareness and community service, benefit not only the Latina, but her family and community. Our goal is to provide the skills and tools for Latinas to succeed in their professions and encourage them to get civically involved so that our voice is represented in the economic, political, and other arenas, especially for those in our Latino community who can’t speak for themselves.

GB: Tell us about one of your proudest moments – personal or professional

My children are my proudest achievement! I have 10-year-old, boy/girl twins who challenge me and bring joy to my life. They make me want to make this world a better place for their future. And what better way to do that than to work for MANA!

GB: Any great Southwest Airlines travel story that you may like to share?

Southwest Airlines is one of the most generous sponsors of MANA. They provide tickets to our Hermanitas program so they can visit colleges – most girls have never stepped out of their neighborhood, much less traveled in an airplane. Southwest Airlines provides the means for Latina professionals to travel to conferences that will develop their leadership skills. Their support legitimizes MANA’s role in our community and we won’t let them down.