HARTFORD — More than 400 people attended the 20th anniversary of the Latinas and Power Symposium held at the Marriott Hartford Downtown on Thursday. The annual conference was founded by Meriden native Marilyn Alverio with the purpose to motivate Latinas towards success. The event featured panels, keynote speakers and exhibits.
“I knew that there was a need for Latinas to share stories together, to connect with each other, to really have that kind of relationship that is so special in the Latino culture,” she said. “Women came up to me and said, ‘Marilyn, please don't stop. We need this.’”
Alverio came from a corporate background and has since become the CEO of the nonprofit Latinas & Power Corp. She said that less than 2% of Latinas fill C-suite roles and less than 4% fill management roles, even though they are 18% of the U.S. workforce. She added that networking and motivational events like this were important to help women succeed in the workforce.
To celebrate the conference’s 20th anniversary, Alverio was one of a number of Latinas who received an official citation from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, presented by State Deputy Director Joe Rodriguez. Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz also gave a short speech to congratulate the nonprofit on their anniversary. She over 10,000 women have attended these conferences over the past 20 years.
“I love coming to this event because it makes me feel so inspired to see so many current and future leaders,” she said. “Ladies, look around. We are here, we are on our way up and we are leading the way.”
The morning keynote address was given by Deborah Rosado Shaw, author and former SVP and Chief of Global Diversity and Engagement for PepsiCo. Shaw shared her story of overcoming the odds to get her education and encouraged attendees to similarly overcome their performance-inhibiting beliefs.
The afternoon keynote address was given by actor and author Andrea Navedo, who rose to national attention by playing Xiomara Villanueva in the comedy-drama series, “Jane the Virgin.”
Navedo also shared her journey and encouraged attendees to take responsibility for their lives, share their needs and ask for help.
“It doesn’t matter where you come from and your circumstances. You are the captain of your destiny and you can get where you deserve,” she said.
During breaks between the events, women from different backgrounds grew their networks and visited the exhibitors. This was the second year that Sheila Ayers sold purses, creams and watches from her business, Putting on Ayers. She said she was a traveling saleswoman and sells goods at conferences all over the Northeast and added she had a good experience as an exhibitor at the symposium.
“I love bringing nice things to nice ladies,” she said.
Nancy Mendez attended the symposium with her branch manager. She has a background in education, works at the Hartford Public Library and is getting her Master’s degree in Library Science.Mendez also works with a lot of youth programming at the library and says that the fact she is going back to school for an another degree might inspire younger Latinas to also achieve an education
“I just feel really empowered to like to make a difference,” she said. “I love that I see youth here, women of all different businesses and all levels of corporations, which is very powerful.”
Latino Communities Reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation at https://bit.ly/3Pdb0re, To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.