Who is Latinitas?

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Mission:

Empower all girls to innovate through media and technology.

Vision:

Create courageous leaders.

Who We Are

Latinitas was founded in Austin, TX in 2002. Latinitas provides media and technology programs for all girls throughout Central Texas.

Austin Staff

  • Laura Donnelly

    Founder and CEO
    Laura Donnelly is the founder/CEO of Latinitas. She has been a journalist, book publicist and documentary filmmaker. She majored in English and minored in Computer Science at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey and received her masters in journalism at the University of Texas in 2003 where she co-founded Latinitas magazine and outreach in a class. Laura's been honored as an Austin Under 40 winner, the YWCA's Woman of the Year Leader of Promise and Austin Women in Tech's Innovator award for her service empowering Latina youth.
  • Liliana Cortez

    Chief Programs Officer
    Born in El Paso and raised in Laredo, Liliana is a Texas border town girl born and raised. She graduated from Texas A&M International University with a Bachelors in Communication and Minor in Marketing and is now the Programs Director at Latinitas. Being raised in a very traditional Mexican American family, Liliana is no stranger to the inequalities that arises from such a gender biased upbringing. She understands first hand the importance of the work Latinitas does to empower girls to become autonomous and assertive young women. Liliana lives in Round Rock, Texas with her husband, 2 boys, and dog Luna where she previously started and directed a Spanish Immersion preschool. She has a proven track record in developing strong relationships with strategic community organizations and the families she serves. Liliana believes in a perfectly balanced, work and family time lifestyle. When she and her family are not out discovering new trails to hike in the Austin area, you might find her off road biking with her boys at Walnut Creek. On a relaxing day Liliana enjoys hanging out on her hammock and reading a good Historical Fiction novel, or cooking up a storm in her kitchen.
  • Gabriela Kane Guardia

    Development & Engagement Director
    Gabriela is the Development & Engagement Director of Latinitas. Gabriela completed an MA in Latin American Studies at UT Austin with a portfolio in the Arts and Cultural Management and Entrepreneurship Program. Her fieldwork and research engaged Chilean cultural policy and Indigenous representation. She currently serves Latinitas as the Development and Engagement Director. Previously, Gabriela served as the Deputy Director at Texas Folklife, collaborating with culture bearers for the preservation of folk and traditional arts. She holds a BA in International Studies and Spanish from Texas A&M, and previously managed SEAD Gallery in Historic Downtown Bryan. She advocates for public support of the arts, and once interned with Texans for the Arts during the 86th Texas Legislature. Gabriela is passionate about culturally-specific STEAM education, shown through her service with Innovation Collaborative and Latinitas. In 2021, she was accepted into the prestigious cohort of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Leadership Institute. In 2022, she joined the board of Austin Emerging Arts Leaders after a very rewarding mentorship experience.
  • Salwa Yordi

    Communications Director
    Salwa Yordi arrived in Central Texas with her mother and sister and built a life, brand and following from scratch. A Venezuelan immigrant of Middle Eastern descent, Salwa is best known for her entertainment spot on Telemundo Austin’s entertainment segments and also Farandula Texas, a media feed she founded that spotlights Austin’s most exciting cultural and community events. In this work, she became one of the first Spanish-speaking entertainment reporters in Austin. At Farandula Texas she also covers major national industry events including the Latin Grammy Awards, People en Español and the Latin Billboards. Salwa is currently the Director of Communications at Latinitas, Austin’s only 100% bilingual STEM education nonprofit for 20 years after leadership roles at Glimmer Austin, where she handled resource development, communications and administration as well as HomeAid Austin where, as the Development and Outreach Manager, she commandeered initiatives for the homeless and indigent, supplies shortages for families and maximized an alliance of 18-20 realtors and developers to create opportunities and safe spaces for Austin’s homeless. If you know Salwa, you know she is tireless when it comes to community outreach. Above are just her jobs. She shows up, sleeves rolled up, in person volunteering for Austin organizations Code2College, e4 Youth, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, The Other Ones Foundation and dozens more and with her forum she sheds light on causes and events that she also shows up. She moved to the United States in 2001, when she was 15 years old. Not knowing the English language, Salwa’s journey began in Killeen, TX at Ellison High School. Salwa moved with her single mother and sister and had to help support the family by working as a cashier and cleaning attendant at a car wash. She graduated with honors from Ellison and attended The University of Texas at San Antonio.
  • Beatriz Castillo

    Program Manager
    Beatriz Castillo is a Program Manager for Latinitas. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Public Relations. During her free time she enjoys the outdoors and browsing local bookstores in Austin. As a Program Leader for Latinitas, Beatriz hopes to empower the younger Latinx community and show them that the sky's the limit.
  • Mia G. Gomez-Reyes

    Program Coordinator
    Mia is a Program Coordinator at Latinitas. She is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in Theatre. In her free time she can be found working on play script ideas, browsing bookstores, or playing Dungeons and Dragons. At Latinitas, Mia hopes to empower young Latinx girls and to encourage them to be excited to learn what the world holds.
  • Aliyah Zavala

    Program Coordinator
    Aliyah Zavala is a Program Coordinator for Latinitas. She is currently a Senior at Texas State majoring in Social Work. Her passion for wanting to work with minorities such as the Latinx community stems from being raised by immigrants. Witnessing the barriers her parents had to put up with, and encountering them in her own life, she hopes to make it easier on the next generation. She believes the work Latinitas is doing can help bring that much needed change. You can catch Aliyah at the office making jokes and dancing even when there isn’t any music playing. Her free time involves studying to take down the man, cooking her Mami’s recipes, and taking her wife on as many adventures as possible. Her goto catch phrase on any day is “PONTE LAS PILAS”⚡
  • Monica Barrera

    Program Coordinator
    Monica Barrera is a Program Coordinator at Latinitas. She is a UT - Austin graduate from South Texas (puro 956!) who has a passion for and long-standing experience in education. With over ten years of educator experience in Austin, San Antonio, California, and North Carolina, Monica is thrilled to bring their energy and experience to the Latinitas family. Their goal is to serve the Latinitas mission alongside learners and educators in our community! Monica is a happily predictable Taurus-sun whose favorite childhood memories are the times she got to spend in her grandpa’s panadería making marranitos and in her grandma’s kitchen helping make and eat tortillas and tamales. Her adult life continues to center around spending time indulging in meals, warmth, playfulness, and coziness with her friends, family, coworkers, and students!
  • Alexandria Garza

    Program Leader
    Alexandria Garza is a program leader at Latinitas. She is from Houston, Texas, and is currently in her senior year at the University of Texas at Austin where she is studying for a BS in Radio-Tv-Film and a BA in Mexican American and Latinx Studies. She aspires to make a change for the Latinx population in the media and in the community. With Latinitas, she hopes to teach what she has learned to little girls to fulfill the mission of Latinitas and to show them that nothing is impossible (because I'm possible). Alexandria can be seen spending her free time by getting things done, hanging with her friends, or having mother-daughter time with her Mama back home.
  • Ashley Guerra

    Development Coordinator
    Ashley Guerra is our Development Coordinator at Latinitas. She was born and raised in Laredo, TX and made her way to San Antonio to attend UTSA. She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Marketing because she loves networking and meeting new people! Coming from a small border town, she’s excited to work with Latinitas and help other unrepresented individuals and communities have accessibility to empowering and innovative programs. Her role will help spread the word about our organization and encourage others to be a part of creating the courageous leaders of tomorrow!
  • Alondra Adame

    Communications Coordinator
    Alondra is the Communications Coordinator at Latinitas. She graduated from Texas State University with a B.S. in Public Relations and Mass Communication and a minor in Studies in Popular Culture. Growing up with a love for the media and tech, she wished there were more girls that looked like her. As the Communications Coordinator, Alondra hopes to utilize the Latinitas platform to spread the Latinitas mission, in order to help create the diversity that is so desperately needed in the STEAM and media world.
  • Frankie Alaniz

    Content Producer
    Frankie Alaniz is the Content Producer for Latinitas. They focus on creating videos and producing Latinitas’ Podcast, Unrepresented. They graduated The University of Houston with a degree in Media Production and Minor in Technology innovation and Leadership Management. In their free time, they enjoy working-out, cooking, and reading. Frankie is excited to carry the mission empower Latinx students to be their best self and follow their passions within STEAM!
  • Mayra Ramales

    Magazine Editor
    Mayra Ramales is the Latinitas Magazine Editor. Mayra is a media creator and analyst from Queens, NY and currently residing in Austin, TX. She studied science communications at LaGuardia Community College and New York University, and holds a dual Masters of Arts in Latin American Studies and Radio-Television-Film from The University of Texas at Austin. She has been an active concert photographer in the New York City and Austin music scenes for the past decade. She joined Latinitas as Magazine Editor in summer 2022. Her goal is to connect media creation to political issues in order to build awareness and cultivate curiosity, courageousness, and autonomy in up-and-coming young women writers.
  • Camila Dejesus

    Magazine Writer/ Podcast Producer
    Camila Dejesus is a Latinitas Magazine Writer and Podcast Producer. Camila has been writing since she was a child and enjoys all forms from creative writing down to narrative analysis. She graduated from Brooklyn College with a bachelor's in Television and Radio Production and is working full-time at Latinitas Magazine. In her free time, she loves writing stories and doing creative projects such as water coloring or creating poem collections. However now, her greatest passion is trying to find new topics that will engage and inspire Latinx youth.

Austin Board of Directors

  • Karen Mariela Siles

    CO-CHAIR, Delivery Manager for Security Encryption, IBM Cloud
    Karen Mariela Siles is a Delivery Manager at IBM Corporation in Austin, TX. Her current role involves leading the delivery and development of a new Block and File IBM Cloud Service. Karen has been with IBM since 2007 where she has held several positions from Software Development to her current role within the Cloud Business Unit. Karen also spends her time giving back to the Austin community, serving on the committee for our Future Chica Conference and as a member of the board for CommUnityCare Health Centers.
  • Bianca Perez

    Software Sourcing Buyer – Packaged Software Procurement Team Lead, IBM
    Employer: IBM Title: Software Sourcing Buyer – Packaged Software Procurement Team Lead Job Description and Responsibilities: As a Software Sourcing Buyer I help other IBMers purchase software for business use. I am responsible for the purchasing of “Packaged Software” (software you click “I accept” to for the Terms and Conditions) for the US and helping with the global strategy. I lead the team that ensures that IBM has the proper licensing agreements and that we follow IBM, US and global legal requirements and rules for each purchase. I help manage the relationship with the vendor that resells IBM this type of software and help resolve any issues that come up with Purchase Orders, Invoices and our third-party Independent Software Vendors. Austin Partners in Education Junior League of Austin (new member) Through HIP I have volunteered with: Con Mi Madre, Avance, Central Area Food Bank and various local elementary schools. When it comes to strategic planning, I have experience through my job at IBM and my role as the co-chair of IBM’s Hispanics in Partnership (HIP) Business Resource Group. I continuously have to analyze the trends we’re facing and adjust positions to capitalize on them. With HIP, I meet with our Chair on a yearly basis to strategize about our initiatives, analyze how the previous year went and plan out our future endeavors. The University of Texas at Austin ESADE Business and Law School Bachelor of Business Administration, Supply Chain Management Bachelor of Arts, Hispanic Studies BBA Exchange Program in Barcelona, Spain
  • Ricky Murray Ramos

    Director of Marketing and Partner Relations, Zpryme
    Ricky Murray has served as Zpryme’s Director of Marketing, Events and Partner Relations since May of 2016, where he is tasked with the creation and implementation of Zpryme’s digital and physical marketing strategies. Since his time at Zpryme, Murray organically increased the company’s social media presence and increased Zpryme’s marketing database. Prior to his employment at Zpryme, Murray served as Del Valle ISD’s Lead Enrichment Program Specialist. In this position, some of his notable accomplishments include creating and maintaining the district’s after-school programs website and social media accounts. Later enabling the whole district to create their own school specific social accounts. He also set up, monitored, and closed out the grant campus budget including payroll, contract services, materials and transportation for DVISD. Outside of his work obligations, Murray has been involved with Central Texas After school Network, LATT(Learning All the Time), Roy Lozano’s Ballet Folklorico, and Ballet Folklorico de Austin. In his new role as a Latinitas board member, Murray hopes to expand the nonprofit’s scope on a national level, creating a support network in order to provide more in person experiential learning opportunities that will help amplify Latina voices. With his vast experience in accounting, strategic planning and marketing and public relations, Latinitas is excited to see what he will accomplish in contributing to our mission! In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing Latina youth today? Currently, I feel like there is a lack of cultural understanding when it comes to Latinas, and the role that they are assumed to play within their community and family. They are assumed to take on the motherly role, or the caretaker role, which usually results in Latinas becoming nurses and teachers. It might be 2020, but I feel that we still have a long way to come when it comes to empowering our youth and expanding their view beyond their daily interactions. What is your main interest and/or motivation for serving on the Latinitas Board? Being a LatinX professional, I seldom ever work with my fellow LatinX community. I truly believe that Latinitas is an organization that reflects the change that I want to see not just in the tech or media industry, but within the world. Currently, Latinos only make up a very small portion of the tech and media workforce, and that has to change.
  • Ana Villegas

    Vice President for Global Marketing, National Instruments
    Ana Villegas is a Chief Marketing Officer at National Instruments (NI) where she is currently responsible for the Global Marketing strategy and implementation for NI across all regions, customer segments and solutions. She earned an MBA from Kellogg School of Business, a Master in Finance and a BS in Industrial Engineering from Pontificia Universidad Catolica (Peru). Ana is a Senior Marketing Executive with over 26 years of Global marketing and digital experience in B2C and B2B intech, semi, transportation, electronics, aero defense and finance. She launched the NI brand to demand campaign, the Next Generation Dell.com, and Marketing Dell University. Ana also led digital innovation for Dell B2B demand efforts and evolved the field/sales/demand organization at BCP. Ana is an advocate for D&I and sits on the board of Latinitas non-profit, while also being a speaker at Marketing conferences, focused on B2B Marketing, Digital Innovation, Demand generation and customer journey.
  • Veronica Peñaloza Wolfermann

    Account Manager, Facebook
    Veronica Penaloza Wolfermann graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Advertising, while also receiving her B.A. in Journalism from La Universidad Catolica Andres Bello in Caracas, Venezuela. Aside from her studies, Wolfermann has received numerous accolades, including Austin Inno’s 25 Under 25 and her 2014 Harvard Diplomacy Award. At Facebook, Wolfermann manages 25 nonprofit partners and consults product strategy. Her role as an Account Manager for Nonprofits at Facebook helps her work closely with these organizations, actively helping them fundraise to support their operations and spread awareness of their causes. Some of her most notable work includes her involvement with charity: water, a nonprofit centered on providing drinking water to people in developing nations. Her engagement contributed to raising enough money to give 15,666 people clean water for over a year. In her free time, Wolfermann manages her own coffee business, Frontino Coffee, as its CEO and cofounder. Latinitas is grateful for all of Wolfermann’s hard work and contributions, and we can’t wait to see what great things she’ll do serving on our board! What is your main interest and/or motivation for serving on the Latinitas Board? It took a series of lucky events for me to end up in tech, but the need to add diversity in powerful companies can have serious repercussions. Today is the ad boycott from allowing hate against critical communities, tomorrow it might be that VR headsets are not unlocking because they do not recognize brown faces. I have a responsibility as a latina in Facebook, and one of the few who are truly proud and vocal about their immigrant heritage, to give back to my community. It should not be an act of luck to get representation in tech. It is a vocal and active commitment that starts early through programs like Latinitas. In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing Latina youth today? Confidence. Impostor syndrome starts young for us, and while this painful issue is a result of lack of representation in media, systematic racism and terrible regulation, we can stop it while young and enable chicas with critical skills and experiences to believe in their relentless #chicapower.
  • Ramiro Diaz

    Staff Android Engineer at Saks
    After receiving his bachelor’s of science degree in computer science and master’s in software engineering, Ramiro Diaz has been a software engineer for the past 12 years, working at IBM, Imagination Technologies and UnderArmour. Currently serving as a Senior Software Engineer at UnderArmour, Diaz supplements his free time by giving back to the Latinx community through his various involvements.Aside from leading the Android Devices team at UnderArmour, Diaz has formerly served as president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Young Hispanic Professionals Association of Austin (YHPAA). Additionally, Diaz has worked with Un Sabado Gigante in Engineering, where the organization created an event bringing in over 500 students and their parents to the UT Austin campus and introducing them to STEM and college prep literacy.
  • Esther Audelo

    Global Product Management, Dell Infrastructure Solutions Group
    After graduating from Monterrey Institute of Technology with her bachelor’s of electronics & telecommunications engineering, Esther Audelo also received a post-graduate degree in curricular design & evaluation and a master’s in information technology management from ITESM. In addition, she earned a master’s of business administration, supply chain mgmt & international business from the University of Texas at Austin. Aside from her studies, Audelo has garnered over twenty years of experience in high tech, with an emphasis on breadth of experience around operations management, delivering business operational improvements and cost effectiveness in functions ranging from logistics, supply chain, manufacturing and IT. She has a depth of experience in product management for both services and products in technology. Currently working as an independent advisor in the high tech industry, Audelo focuses on working with clients in private investment firms and major consultancies to discuss trends in the servers market, x86 market, sales and operations planning, supply chain practices, amongst other topics. Outside of consulting Audelo has also completed pro bono work, including management consulting for local startups and nonprofits such as Dunti Corp and AIDS Services of Austin (ASA) and Literacy Austin. Through her involvement with ASA and Literary Austin, Audelo helped them put together their strategic plans and technology strategies, revamping their managerial processes. Outside of her work commitments, Audelo has served on the Prospanica board as their education development officer, vice president and then president from 2001 to 2005. In her spare time, she’s also been involved with the Austin Rowing Club and the Texas Bob Bullock Museum.
  • Asif Ali

    Solution Staff Consultant, Oracle Netsuite
    Four years ago, Asif Ali joined Latinitas’ annual fundraiser planning committee. He was introduced by a colleague from Oracle’s Latino Employee Resource Group. He had worked with teammates there developing a professional mentorship program at William B. Travis High School and loved facilitating opportunities for Black and Latino teens in Austin’s tech sector. Without pause he jumped right into Latinitas’ event planning offering to contact every successful entrepreneur in Austin to support a new “Startup Chica level” of sponsorship. Asif Ali brings 4+ years at Oracle and its Netsuite division where he is a Staff Software Implementation Consultant and has been a Sales Development Representative and Oracle for Startups Ambassador. He has also worked in the styling division Amazon while he was earning a business management degree at Texas A&M University. Asif is active in board committees for magazine, fundraising and marketing and Latinitas’ signature Chica Conferences.
  • Diana Melendez

    Attorney, Diana Melendez Law
    Diana Melendez (she/her) is a first-generation attorney who assists immigrant and BIPOC entrepreneurs by helping them protect their family and business through business law and estate planning. Diana is also the co-founder of the Womxn of Color Colllective, an organization that helps create safe and brave spaces for womxn of color to connect and be their authentic selves. Diana, a proud El Paso native, has called Austin home since 2003. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and her law degree from the University of Houston Law Center. Most days, you can catch her jogging at Lady Bird Lake Trail. She enjoys dancing, reading, traveling and connecting with friends and family.
  • Angelica Maldonado

    Assistant Director of Digital Communications, Texas Appleseed
    Angelica Maldonado is a digital communicator and social media specialist. She began her career in marketing and public relations before transitioning to her current role in social media management and digital communications. Across various industries, including media, entertainment, education and nonprofit, Angelica has worked with social media platforms to help businesses and organizations cultivate a digital connection with their online audience through original content and storytelling techniques. Angelica is a graduate of Texas State University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Public Relations and Mass Communication.
  • Allen Bowers

    Finance Executive, Ford Motor Company
    Allen Bowers is a Finance Executive, Entrepreneur and long-standing Austin resident who has been active in the community for 20+ years. Allen became a resident of Austin in 2002 and immediately became involved by joining his neighborhood’s board association with the goal of maintaining a safe neighborhood/community where its residents can also grow and thrive. In 2007 Allen began volunteering for the Obama campaign via Texans For Obama and eventually was asked to work for the Obama campaign with the responsibility to recruit volunteers from colleges across the city of Austin. Allen was voted to represent Austin’s senate district as a National Delegate for Obama in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention in Denver Colorado. Personally, Allen enjoys music, reading, traveling, art and spending time with family.