Latinas Empowering Latinas

In 2003, a group of visionary Latinas noticed a large gap in corporate America: There were very little support groups for the growing number of Latina professionals. Some brainstorming, coupled with support from Working Mother Media and the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), brought to life the Madrinas Network.

A 501(c) (3) organization, Madrinas is dedicated to the growth, leadership development and advancement of Latina professionals in corporate America. Through skill building programs, mentoring and networking opportunities, members are afforded the tools and knowledge to move forward in their careers. Now spanning over eight U.S. states, as well as Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, Madrinas has grown into a vibrant national network of highly educated and accomplished individuals. Ninety-six percent of our members are college graduates, most with MBAs. More than half hold middle-level management positions and over 15% hold Executive/Senior Management positions. These same individuals are employed in various industries including banking, pharmaceutical, technology, consulting, healthcare and manufacturing among others.

Led by Board members Josy Laza Gallagher (Future Works Institute), Roseanne Lopez (Lopez Consulting), Miriam Muley (The 85% Niche), Alexandra Contreras (Colgate-Palmolive), Deborah Morales (Sprint), Arisa Batista Cunningham (Johnson & Johnson), Francine Rosado-Cruz (Microsoft), Monica Diaz (Microsoft) and Yesi Morillo-Gual (Citi), our members come together to learn, engage and contribute. We celebrate our rich Latino culture, serve as mentors and role models, and leverage our knowledge and experience to help shape the future of our talented women.

Being a part of Madrinas has become an important aspect for many of our members who have shared the many reasons they love being involved in the organization. Among these is having access to skill building programs, role models and mentors; while having an opportunity to build their leadership skills and expand their network. Of particular benefit is our distinguished “Conversation with Experts” program. Held on a monthly basis, this program features a variety of expert presenters who address key topics impacting Latinas in the workplace and at home. Past topics have covered relevant aspects of leadership and have included networking, resiliency, advancing in the workplace, work/life balance techniques, managing your finances, negotiation, and others.

Members are provided with access to financial advisory services, free or discounted access to national conferences and events; access to free publications and other key resources as well as the opportunity to get involved with Madrinas as we look toward continuing to grow and strengthen the organization. Members also have the opportunity to volunteer on any of our six standing committees, where they are able to discuss issues related to the organization’s strategic plan, make recommendations to the Board, and work overall towards promoting Madrinas’ vision and mission. In the past, committee efforts have allowed the organization to conduct research that has helped us address the needs of our members. We find that we are not only able to support our membership by conducting this type of research, but it allows us to learn about some of the factors that affect Latinas’ development as leaders in the workplace.

Future efforts on this front include conducting research among the larger corporate Latina community; collaborating in studies through alliances with research and educational organizations; and gaining permissible access to private research through partnerships with sponsors and allies. We find that engaging in this type of effort will result in outcomes that will have practical application for members, corporate sponsors and other stakeholders.

All of our efforts are made possible not just through the involvement of our members, but with the support of key sponsors and partners who help promote Madrinas’ vision. Current and past sponsors include Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, National Grid, Colgate Palmolive and the Center for Hispanic Leadership. One very unique and strong partnership has been our collaboration with the prestigious Simmons School of Management. Madrinas and Simmons have worked together to develop strategic programs and provide resources to help Latinas advance, through specialized executive education programs. Members are afforded these education programs at a discount. With Latinas entering the workforce in record numbers, and slated to assume roles in upper management, Madrinas remains committed to the continued development of these leaders.

As we plan ahead, of significant focus is the growth of the network as well as the development of key relationships with sponsors, supporters and alliance partners. Our hope is to offer sponsors and employee resource groups the opportunity to develop their employees and provide a medium where these employees cannot only engage and contribute, but celebrate the rich Latino culture that makes them unique. Providing a forum for the growing number of Latina professionals was the catalyst for the creation of Madrinas and it continues to be our passion. Together we intend to continue building a premier organization to support future Latina leaders and help organizations recognize the value these leaders add. Join our passion at

Yesi Morillo-Gual is Senior Vice President, Financial Services at Citi.