Latinas Unidas (LU), a student-run organization at Harvard College, firmly believes that Latinas hold a wealth of untapped potential and skills that can benefit the larger community. Every year, LU plans the Latina Empowerment & Development Conference (LEAD) to foster a network of strong and talented Latina women.
The LEAD Conference began in 2007 when Bianca Caban (Harvard Class of 2009) gathered a team of committed leaders within Harvard's Latina community and organized a conference dedicated to facilitating the entrance of young Latinas into the network of professional minorities. The first Latina Empowerment & Development Conference took place on December 8th, 2007 and brought together speakers and a community of Latinas with a common culture that spanned many generations, professions, and interests.
LEAD connects career-minded individuals with successful Latina role models who radiate positive ideals and represent the larger Latino community, and addresses the social, political, and economic issues facing Latinas today. LEAD promotes the development of a professional network, introduces mentoring opportunities, and inspires women to reaffirm their commitment to their profession and goals.
Latinas Unidas de Harvard College is committed to creating an environment that promotes Latina leadership and empowerment. LU connects accomplished Latinas with their cultural hermanas, while continuously contributing to an increasingly diverse and talented workplace.
The LEAD Conference 2018 theme is:
Facing the Future - Together.
- Not photographed is Fernanda Baron.
Aranza Caballero '20 Executive Director
History and Science with a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights - from Brownsville, TX - I am passionate about the LEAD conference because I want to create an intergenerational, uplifting support system for Latinas and the Latinx community. Through the LEAD conference, in particular, we bring together Latina professionals and students, creating mentorship, business, and philanthropic opportunities for ourselves and our allies. Being on the Board of LEAD for the past two years has been one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences in my time at Harvard.
Catalina Ibarguen '18, Executive Director
History and Literature - from Jackson Heights, NY - LEAD is important to me because I think representation matters. Without role models who can speak to our identities, it can be challenging to find our voice, or even feel that we can accomplish our goals. Mentors who can inspire and guide are priceless, and I think this conference is integral in providing that to Latinx students who don't see that on a frequent basis.
Maria Perez Franco '20, Director of Operations
Economics with a secondary in Sociology - from Lewisville, TX - My mom moved to Dallas, TX with my two older brothers and me when I was three as a single mother. As the years have progressed, I have seen my family go from living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment to owning our own house, and my eldest brother has graduated from college while my other brother and I are currently in college. My mom is the most inspiring person I know, and I want to show others just how incredible Latinas are while empowering a younger generation of Latinas.
Karla Chavez '21, Associate Director of Operations
Government - from Alpharetta, GA - I joined LEAD because Latinas are heavily unrepresented in all fields. This conference highlights and celebrates us, and it is a privilege to just have a small role in making this happen.
Jeannie Regidor '20, Director of Marketing
History and Literature with a secondary in Government - from Miami, FL - I joined the LEAD board because I wanted to help organize a conference that recognizes and encourages the success of Latinas. I have been inspired by the many women in my life including my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and sisters.
Fernanda Baron '20, Associate Director of Marketing
Sociology - from Bronxville, NY - I joined the LEAD board because I wanted to take an active role in what the conference would eventually look like, specifically I was interested in creating a singular graphic style for the event. My hopes for the conference is that those attending can not only learn from the speakers but also from each other!
Tessa Muss '18, Director of Corporate Relations
Human Developmental & Regenerative Biology - from Vienna, VA -
Mariana Kessler '20, Director of Finance
Government - from Pittsford, NY - I joined LEAD as a freshman because I wanted to participate in an inspiring and empowering event that impacted the lives of Latinas. LEAD gives people the opportunity to hear the voices of powerful Latina professionals and come together as a community to change the future.
Maribel Nava '20, Director of Social Media
Sociology with a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights- from Houston, TX - I joined the LEAD board because I am passionate about improving the representation of Latinas in major career fields. I am excited to be able to be a part of a wonderful and supportive team whose goal is to empower others and hope the conference attendees learn and connect with each other!
Paula Barberi '21, Associate Director of Social Media
Government with secondary in Psychology - from Wyoming, MI - Before LEAD, my Latina support base had been limited to the women of my family. Now, I am a part of a network of talented and passionate Latinas who inspire and support me both professionally and personally. I joined LEAD to spread that empowerment to other women.
Mika Esquivel '18, Director of Workshop and Speakers
Human Developmental & Regenerative Biology - from San Pablo, CA -
Carolina Jimenez '21, Associate Director of Workshops and Speakers
Sociology and Government - from Boca Raton, FL - I joined the LEAD board because I wanted to have a real impact on the conference. I specifically applied for Workshops and Speakers, because I have attended conferences before, and am aware of the influence that speakers have on attendees. I wanted to make sure that the speakers that attend the LEAD conference, are strong, dedicated, and compassionate. I want attendees leaving the conference feeling that they are capable of anything they put their minds to.
Julia Huesa '20, Director of Outreach
Social Studies - from Laurinburg, NC - This is my first year serving on the LEAD Board and among the reasons I joined LEAD is the fact that I think the work that we do in LEAD is incredibly worthwhile in having a tangible impact in helping Latinas increase their visibility, connect, and fulfill their whole potential as powerful members of society.
Amanda Flores '20, Associate Director of Outreach
Government - from Avondale, AZ - I joined the LEAD board because I wanted to get more involved with the Latina community at Harvard. LEAD and Latinas Unidas are an incredibly welcoming community, and I wanted to be a part of bringing that to more people outside Harvard.
For more information about Latinas Unidas, visit our page at http://www.harvardlatinasunidas.org/