One woman drove nine hours to get there; others cleared their typically crazy afternoon calendars to make the meetup and still others arrived just long enough at the end to exchange hugs with friends previously only known in a Facebook group. What was the occasion? The ELLA Institute – Latina Leadership Network Bay Area west coast launch, just ahead of the San Francisco Bay Area visit of Justice Sonia Sotomayor. In town to launch her now NYT Bestselling book My Beloved World, her presence bonded many Latinas together for an evening of networking, laughter and joy.
Consultants, business owners, professionals, entrepreneurs, students, engineers –Latinas wearing these identities and more, many of whom had only met in the Latina Leadership Network group born last August, suddenly recognized a name on a nametag and abrazos followed.
My personal highlight was meeting Pam Campos, a fellow Latina in the military, and her boyfriend who made the trek down from Oregon. I had the joyous moment of recognizing her effort to join us by providing her a personalized copy of my book.
Ana Uribe Ruiz of New York Life, who joined our firm Gracefully Global Group and LAM network to sponsor the event, surprised us with an announcement that she’ll take girls flying for free lessons. Ana is a private pilot and eager to show her hobby to young Latinas. What a treat to meet her…a fellow Latina with a love of airplanes!
So much more will be written, but most important is a shout out to those who organized this event today: Angelica Perez-Litwin, Hilda Ramirez, Stephanie Bravo, Maria Hernandez. You epitomize leadership. Thank you for bringing the sisterhood together in such a memorable way!