WISE LATINA – April 2012


The CNY Latino Media Consortium is proud to present for the second year, the WISE Latina session within the popular WISE Symposium, a panel-based discussion with Women from this culture. This panel is made of three experienced and successful Latinas, sharing about their personal and professional lives, including their contribution to our communities. Their experiences exemplify the lives of many, with hopes and dreams of a better life for their children and their future generations.

When we look at the workforce, the economy, and the political situation, we know that Latinos already started to play pivotal roles in these shifts, and we want to support the notion that we can play a self-directed, thoughtful and meaningful role. The panelists believes we, as Latinos, need to be prepared to take on leadership, this means to step into positions of power, guidance, and authority. They also believe that when there are no open opportunities for you, you must create your own.





Additionally, this means focusing on leadership skills, developing and learning what works, and sharing our stories with each other. We have to grow ourselves and develop into the role. It’s definitely an everyday struggle for many of us and a lot of other women, but if you are diligent about prioritizing the things that are most important in your life, then you will be able to create that balance… WISE Latina is bringing all this every year, as part of the WISE Symposium

Attendees will gain insight in the struggles and success of these three powerful Latinas as they tell the story of their life’s and how they were able to achieve their goals. Those in attendance will leave with a higher understanding of the Latino culture, and the role we play in today’s society.

PANELIST: Elisa DeJesus, Sonia Martinez and Juanita Perez Williams

MODERATOR: Marisol Hernández

Marisol Hernandez

Marisol Hernandez was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She moved with her family to New York State in 1984, graduated from Empire State College, State University of New York., and lived in Syracuse since 1998, where she served as the second Latina elected official in the history of Syracuse in the School District board, and worked in the Spanish Action League for over 7 years. She has served (and still does) on many boards and committees representing the Latino voice in many organizations.

After serving and running for several local and regional governmental positions, Marisol is now helping businesses and organizations of all types and sizes, to reach and target the Hispanic consumer, not only using her Marketing and PR expertise, but also her strong cultural knowledge and her Life-long Latino background. She does this, being the co-owner and editor in Chief of the CNY Latino Media Consortium, assisting in the Marketing and Advertising department, and also providing her proficiency as an editor and proof-reader; she is also running and coordinating the Translation Division, and many events that this organization creates and manages annually.

Marisol is also involved as a volunteer with the National Kidney Foundation of CNY and the Onondaga County Bridges Coalition, and personally, she is helping the founder Hugo Acosta, to raise a family in the suburbs of Central new York.

Carmen Sonia Martinez

Carmen Sonia Martinez was born in the Dominican Republic. Sonia (as many know her) arrived to the United Sonia MartinezStates in May 1972 to live in New York City. Sonia graduated with an A.A.S. degree in Travel & Tourism from Herkimer County Community College, however her career took a turn towards the healthcare field after her daughter was born. Since then, Sonia has been working in the healthcare field (20 years) with an insurance company Excellus, BC BS.

Upon her arrival to Oneida county back in 1990, she realized that while there were many Latinos in this area, there was not enough awareness regarding different educational or cultural services to guide them towards resources for assistance. One of the many reasons for starting this organization (The Mohawk Valley Latino Association) was to unite the Latino community to act as one voice. There were many times that Sonia spent helping someone with different services such as housing, the department of motor vehicle, immigration, healthcare, social services, court and/or employment issues. Whether it’s a person that has been here all their lives or newcomer, someone is always in need of help and/or information. The MVLA will be there for everyone that needs assistance, Sonia’s long range goal is to see the MVLA organization become a common household name in the Latino communities of the Mohawk Valley, to be a place to find answers to common questions, just as other cultures get their questions, answered.

Sonia has written a motto from her own life experiences, “Every moment of your life has movement and direction” / “Cada momento en tu vida tiene movimiento y direccion”.

It just means that every one moment in your life, can get you closer to the goal that you aspire to reach. She believes the movements made in her life has led her to reach the goal of creating this organization, the Mohawk Valley Latino Association, Inc., and with the help of the other members of the organization we can meet the community’s needs as they arise.

Sonia raised two children, Cristina (22) and Michael (17) in this area hoping that they also follow her, in raising their own children. Sonia realizes there is no better area to raise kids than in the Mohawk Valley.

 Elisa DeJesus

Elisa DeJesusElisa DeJesus was born and raised in Puerto Rico with a long career in human services and child welfare field serving primarily the Latino community in Rochester, NY. Elisa has over 20 years of experience working in the child welfare field. Currently She is Vice-President of Families Services Division at the Ibero-American Action League, Inc. supervising programs that serve children, families and seniors.  She is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico with a Bachelors degree in Human Services and from the University of Rochester with a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Elisa enjoys providing training and presentations on cultural competence, Latino culture and personal growth. She is a business owner as a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant with the goal to become a Mary Kay Sales Director and continue enriching women’s lives in the industry of skin care and in personal growth.  Elisa loves to travel abroad and locally.

Juanita Perez Williams, ESQ

Born and raised in San Diego, California, Juanita Perez Williams is a 3rd generation Mexican-American.  She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego, in 1986, and a law degree from California Western School of Law in 1990.  Immediately following law school, Perez Williams entered the Juanita Perez Williams, ESQUnited States Navy as a Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate General’s Program and was selected to prosecute high profile military cases at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida.  Perez Williams was the first military attorney to successfully prosecute a spousal rape case.   After achieving the rank of Lieutenant Commander, Perez Williams completed her military service and was appointed by the Cuomo administration to a position with the New York State Education Department, specifically the Office of Professional Responsibility. Perez Williams managed an office of investigators and lawyers focusing on negligence and criminal activity of licensed professionals.  In 2001, Perez Williams was hired by Syracuse University as the Director of Judicial Affairs and later became the Associate Dean of Students.  In 2008, she was hired by the Attorney General’s Office and selected as the Regional Intergovernmental Officer for then, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. In 2010, Mayor Stephanie Miner began her first term as the City of Syracuse Mayor and appointed Perez Williams as the City of Syracuse Corporation Counsel.   Presently, Perez Williams is Governor Cuomo’s Regional Representative for Central New York and the regions Department of Labor representative. Perez Williams has four grown children and is a board member of Catholic Charities.

CNY Latino would like to Thank our 2012 WISE Latina Sponsors who made it possible for Latinas in our community to attend this powerful event…

Contact Community Services              WISE Scholarship
Gifford Foundation of CNY                  CNY Latino
State Farm Rochester                         Excellus BCBS
Kassis Superior Sign                           Bebette Baker
Empire Interpreting Services              Iron Mountain
University College at SU*                   Bea Gonzalez*
Clear Channel


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