Martha Diaz Aszkenazy
President Pueblo Contracting Services Inc.
Background: Born in Sun Valley, parents immigrants from Mexico Attended San Fernando High School Received bachelor's degree from Loyola Marymount University In 1984, after brief stint in corporate sales, started Pueblo Contracting Services with husband, Severyn Askenazy.
Accomplishments: Pueblo Contracting has restored some of L.A.'s most renowned historic landmarks, starting with Angel's Flight in downtown L.A . Company has renovated Bullocks Wilshire (now the library for Southwestern University School of Law), El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, Los Altos Apartments on Wilshire Boulevard, and is currently working on the Bryce Building in Westlake Park Ranked by Hispanic Business magazine in 1995 as one of the nation's most influential Latino-owned businesses "When I started out, everybody assumed I was a decorator, and when I said I was the contractor, they'd always ask to see my license," she said.
Buzz: Works at least 10 hours a week for community organizations President of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), which helps young Latinas find out about their potential in business and government "We try to break down the traditional stereotypes of what Latinas are supposed to do," she said. "One of the most common questions I still get asked by these young girls is 'What does your husband think about what you're doing?'"
Rebecca V. Barrantes
Founder, The Sierra Group
Background: Raised in a middle-class family in Santa Fe Springs and Montebello Father was a machinist, mother worked in a potato-chip factory Spent a high school summer in Japan Graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 1979 Got a taste for civic duty as a case worker for city of Montebello Completed master's degree in public administration in 1983 with the goal of being the first Latina city manager Worked for city of L.A. for five years as budget and legislative analyst under Mayor Tom Bradley Joined Southern California Rapid Transit District in 1988 Left when the agency merged with the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission in 1993 Launched the Sierra Group later that year to provide P.R. consulting for business and community development.
Accomplishments: While at the city, oversaw a $30 million-plus budget as the city's half-cent sales tax went into effect Lobbied for funding to build L.A.'s troubled subway system Involved in the merger of the two transit agencies Right out of the gate, the Sierra Group nabbed a $250,000 contract from Caltrans to conduct public relations work and outreach following the January 1994 Northridge earthquake Sierra consults on two of the largest public works project in the United States, the Alameda Corridor and Alameda Corridor East Private-sector clients include McDonald's Corp. and AT & T.;
Buzz: Considered well connected in city politics Recently named 1999 Minority Business Advocate of the Year by U.S. Small Business Administration and Los Angeles Minority Business Opportunity Committee Sierra Group rooted itself in the nonprofit arena by serving as the lead lobbyist for the Latin Business Association of Los Angeles and conducting research for Latino-owned businesses on behalf of the Civil Justice Association of California Firm rang up $1 million in revenues last year Plans to take up ocean kayaking this year.
Attorney, Barbosa, Garcia & Sistos LLP
Background: Born and raised in Long Beach Received bachelor's degree in business administration from UC Berkeley in 1989 Got law degree from Stanford University At Stanford, co-created Latina magazine After graduating from law school, worked the next year on development of Latina's business plan Returned to L.A. to develop a law practice with an emphasis on small businesses Hired by downtown law firm of Barbosa, Garcia as an education attorney.
Accomplishments: As first-year lawyer, served as one of the lead attorneys in multimillion-dollar settlement agreement arising from a precedent-setting class-action lawsuit concerning public education Felt need for an English-language publication for L.A.'s English-speaking Latinos Developed the concept for Boca magazine (boca means mouth in Spanish) in 1997 and launched the first issue in June 1998. Boca is bimonthly with plans to go monthly in August... Funded the publication out of her own pocket.
Buzz: Passionate about the media's responsibility to Latino community "L.A. really needs leaders who take stands on issues that affect Latinos, and the current media wasn't doing a very good job," she said Wants to eventually get out of law and be a full-time publisher Does not speak Spanish Felt that other Latinos like her needed a voice in the media. "The future of the Latino market is going to be in English."
UPN television series,
Background: Bachelor's degree in television production from Loyola Marymount University Immediately after graduation got a job as receptionist for comedian Paul Rodriguez Soon promoted to second stage manager for his show... Went on to work in support role for writers on the short-lived "Sinbad Show," "The Nanny" and "Wayans Brothers."
Accomplishments: Started as writer on "Moesha" in 1994 as trainee in Writers Guild program Submitted spec script for the show to Warner Bros. and was one of the 25 people picked from 2,000 applicants for writing program Quickly rose through the creative ranks from writer apprentice to a producer.
Buzz: Not afraid of hard work and using her contacts to full advantage Traits helped her become the only Latina writer in the industry at age 25 Named to Hispanic Business Magazine list of the most influential Latinos in Hollywood in 1999 because she is one of few writing regularly for network sitcom.
Producer, Ars & Imago
Background: Born in Lima, Peru Father was a banker Originally wanted to pursue a career in chemistry, but failed the college entrance exam Instead, studied communications at University of Lima focusing on the audio/visual field, graduating in 1983 Worked as a camera operator for a number of feature films in Peru Came to the United States to work on a film in Miami in 1988 and stayed.
Accomplishments: Broke into Peru's relatively unknown film industry Adapted to the male-dominated production scene Hired by high-profile Spanish-language ad agency La Agencia de Orci in 1989 as a production coordinator Rose to associate producer in 1992 and broadcast producer in 1994 Produced TV and radio spots for American Honda, MCI, Allstate Insurance Left in 1998 to launch own business.
Buzz: Described as detail-oriented and demanding "She expects the best from people around her," says Maria Elena de la Noval, Deza's former boss at La Agencia de Orci Fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and English Plays the Middle Eastern dumbek drum Studies music and is in the midst of composing a soundtrack of eclectic Afro-Caribbean sounds.
Vice President and Board Member
Background: Grew up in San Bernardino Bachelor's degree in business administration from University of Notre Dame in 1985 Moved to Sacramento after college, where she did property management, leasing and acquisition of property for family business Vanir Construction Management Moved up to vice president and board member for Vanir in 1991 First person in her family to graduate from college.
Accomplishments: Appointed by Mayor Richard Riordan as vice president and commissioner of the city of L.A.'s Quality & Productivity Commission in 1997 Also appointed by Riordan to the L.A. Affordable Housing Commission from 1994 to 1995 Member of the Women's Transportation Seminar since 1998... Has worked on several multimillion-dollar construction projects, such as the Pasadena Police Building, and is managing a $250 million project to improve Pasadena schools With work in 52 school districts, Vanir is the leading school builder in California Recruited to be a delegate for George W. Bush.
Buzz: She is a strong bet to take over the family business, but Dominguez defers to her brothers and uncles when asked about her future Passionate about family and community, and maintaining roots Vanir is expanding into Seattle, Denver, Colorado, Phoenix and Las Vegas.
Debra S. Esparza
Founder: Esparza & Associates
Background: Born in L.A. to an engineer and health care human resources specialist Started working at a bank at age 16 Worked her way through USC as a teller at Bank of America... Continued in banking industry until 1989, rising to level of vice president and manager at Southern California Bank Left banking at age 29 to pursue her MBA at USC.
Accomplishments: Founded the USC Business Expansion Network in 1991 to assist businesses with entrepreneurial training Obtained more than $8 million for operations from private and public sources Taught at USC for two years Left the network in 1998 to launch her own small-business consulting firm, Esparza & Associates First client was a former competitor from her days at the USC Business Expansion Network, the Women's Enterprise Development Corp. ... Other clients include the L.A. Mayor's Office of Economic Development and Southern California Edison.
Buzz: Known for a straight-shooting approach to business strategizing Named the 1999 Minority Advocate of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the city of Los Angeles Honored as the 1998 "Supporter of Entrepreneurship" by Ernst & Young Has a passion for youth-related causes Looking to tap friends and associates to start a foundation for youth.
Commissioner, California Coastal Commission
Attorney, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Background: Raised in primarily white working-class neighborhood near LAX Youngest of five children Graduated cum laude from Harvard and Radcliffe colleges in 1987 with an A.B. in social studies, then enrolled in UCLA's graduate urban planning program Finished degree in 1991 while working as a planning aide for City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, who then promoted Estolano to assistant legislative deputy Became environmental policy advisor to then-Mayor Tom Bradley during his last term Served as a senior policy advisor for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. from 1993-95 Worked as a summer associate in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's land-use practice, joining firm in 1998 after completing law degree Appointed last year by Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa to California Coastal Commission.
Accomplishments: Involved through Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in cable open access debate As coastal comissioner, recently challenged destruction of Huntington Beach wetlands for a proposed housing development Serves on boards of California League of Conservation Voters and Venice Community Housing Corp. While in D.C. fought to keep Clean Air Initiative from being undermined after 1994 elections switched congressional balance of power Has served on board of Heal the Bay and was president of Gay and Lesbian Latinos Unidos.
Buzz: Ambitious, exceptionally bright Very politically connected Strongly committed to preserving public access to coastal areas Very involved in community work, raising profile of gays and lesbians within the Latino community.
Background: Born in Cuba, moved to Teaneck, N.J. at the age of 2 In high school, submitted a tongue-in-cheek article to Seventeen magazine about why not to send kids to all-girl Catholic schools Landed a stint as a guest editor at the periodical Worked as a talent coordinator for Elite modeling agency when she was 17 Tapped by Norman Lear and Jerry Perenchio to be station manager at Telemundo flagship station WNJU-TV in New Jersey at age 22... After a brief stint at ESPN, moved on to develop Latino sitcoms for HBO under the production company Tropix.
Accomplishments: Formed Galan Entertainment in 1994 to produce Latin-centered entertainment in the United States and Latin America for Fox Launched MGM cable network in Brazil in 1996 Responsible for producing telenovela "Empire" and the Bravo Awards In 1998, named president of entertainment at Telemundo, the No. 2 Spanish-language network in the U.S. Led push to move network away from telenovelas and toward Spanish versions of successful English-language shows like "Charlie's Angels." The concept flopped Left the company 14 months later to return to producing at Galan Entertainment.
Buzz: Called the "Tropical Typhoon" in a New York Times Magazine story in 1994... Some say her exit from Telemundo wasn't exactly voluntary, though Hollywood trades said she left because Telemundo shifted its headquarters from L.A. to Miami and she didn't want to move May have gone too far too fast and now has a chance to get back to quality work... About to have her first baby.
Ruth Lopez Williams
Beverly Oncology & Imaging Centers
Background: Bachelor's degree in business administration from Pepperdine University in 1978 Master's degree from Pepperdine in 1990 Completed executive program in managed care at University of Missouri, Kansas City in 1996 Out of college, was hired as market-forecasting administrator for Tran Telecommunications in Marina del Rey Left to start Beverly Oncology with her brother.
Accomplishments: Launched company in 1980 with brother, Dr. John Thropay, who runs the cancer treatment centers Administrator of sister company Americade Home Health Agency Serves as CEO of VivaHealth Services Inc., a health care management company, which she began as the first HMO in the state to target Latinos exclusively Spearheaded expansion of Beverly Oncology to Guadalajara, making it the only cancer center operating in Central America A delegate to the White House on small business since 1995 Chair of the Latin Business Association, replacing Hector Barreto.
Buzz: Known for her intelligence and fierce loyalty to family In 1980 couldn't get a loan to start Beverly Oncology, so she got money from a loan shark, at close to 25 percent interest, and paid it back within the year Driven and passionate about health care for members of the Latino community.
DirecTV Para Todos and International Service
Background: Born in L.A., raised by Mexican parents Father grew up on a rural ranch with no plumbing Spoke Spanish growing up Spent summers in rural Mexico Graduated from Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management in 1992 Spent summer internship at Walt Disney Co., where she was later offered a job Worked briefly at Technicolor before moving on to DirecTV in 1996.
Accomplishments: At Disney, managed planning and acquisition groups enhancing the company's children's programming, including acquiring the rights to distribute content from Jim Henson Co. Created and implemented DirecTV's Latin package, Para Todos, which is now offered in 10 cities and will soon be offered nationwide Opened a dedicated DirecTV bilingual customer call center in Miami Serves on the admissions committee for Northwestern University, interviewing and supporting minority candidates.
Buzz: Very unassuming Currently playing behind-the-scenes role, but insiders say she's going to be more visible Knows what she's doing DirecTV hit 1999 goal for Para Todos subscriptions and bumped up L.A. offering date from March to January 2000.
Background: Born in Mexico City Attended East L.A. College and Cal State L.A. at night while working full time In 1985, had a son born with Down's syndrome Gave up business school and job to take care of son Was hired by Gov. Pete Wilson as chief of legislative affairs for the Department of Developmental Services in 1992, and later appointed to the state Council on Developmental Disabilities In 1994, first elected to City Council in Huntington Park and elected mayor by council Hired as deputy director of Wilson's office of community relations in Los Angeles in 1997 Last year reelected as council member and mayor of Huntington Park.
Accomplishments: Oversaw a 50 percent reduction in crime during her first term Got rid of the chief of police, encouraged community policing, and acquired a police helicopter something previously unheard-of for a city of just three square miles Created awareness for the disabled in the Latino community Founded the first support group for Spanish-speaking families with children with Down's syndrome, FUERZA Inc. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation presented her with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Award in 1995 for her work for the mentally disabled.
Buzz: Considered one of the most effective local officials in Southeast L.A. County Managed to get elected and reelected although she's a Republican in a heavily Democratic city Got strong support from key Democratic Latinos Richard Polanco, Marco Firebaugh and Xavier Becerra Had to walk political tightrope as spokeswoman for Wilson, explaining his position on anti-immigrant propositions 187, 209, and 227, while at the same time making it known that as a councilwoman she opposed these measures.
Background: Raised in Monterey Park, where she still lives... Youngest of three children, older sister went to Stanford, inspiring Martinez to go to college... Mother was very active in politics in the '70s and then went to college when she was 45... Father was a real estate developer... Says parents' mix of community activism and entrepreneurship inspired her... Received master's degree in public administration from USC in 1990... Worked at UCLA Management Program for several years... Helped with Assemblyman Martin Gallegos' 1994 election campaign and then worked part time on his staff.
Accomplishments: Started Smart Temporary Personnel Service in Monterey Park when she was 26... Worked for Gallegos for four years while getting it off the ground... Built company from contacts made in the community while working for Gallegos... Given Female Entrepreneur of the Year award by the Latin Business Association in 1999... Ran for City Council in Monterey Park last year, but lost.
Buzz: Expect to see more of her, especially politically... Has a strong desire to hold office and will probably run for council again in 2001... Committed to helping her community and uses her temp company to inspire young people, especially Latinos, who make up about 75 percent of her workers... Business expected to expand... One observer calls her "a real star in the community."
Dr. Carolina Reyes
Faculty Member, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Background: Grew up in San Joaquin Valley as one of eight children Father worked in raisin plant and mother held job in sprinkler factory Neither had finished grade school Graduated from Stanford University in 1981 Medical degree from Harvard in 1988 Completed residency at USC Women's and Children's Hospital Joined faculty at George Washington University in 1995 Began work at Cedars in 1999 Met husband, Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, at Stanford Couple has three daughters.
Accomplishments: Helped deliver "spontaneous" quadruplets to a 40-year-old woman in 1992 while at USC. Says that was "definite highlight" of career As senior scholar with the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, is studying intimate partner violence and evaluating the effectiveness of programs in health care settings Nationally recognized spokeswoman on reproductive health care Appointed member of federal advisory committee on infant mortality.
Buzz: With husband Becerra is part of emerging L.A. Latino power couple Highly respected and well-liked in the medical community Appointed to government positions because of tenacity and passion for Latino health issues Says "We're at an exciting time in medicine where women can help effect change in health policies and research."
Deputy Mayor for Communications
City of Los Angeles
Background: Born in Brownsville, Texas Father was immigrant from Mexico, mother a native Texan Moved to Los Angeles in 1963 Earned bachelor's degree in business administration from Cal State L.A. while working full time From 1978 to 1993 worked at Southern California Edison, advancing from secretary to director of corporate advertising In 1994 went to work for Mayor Richard Riordan, first as press secretary and then as deputy mayor for communications.
Accomplishments: As deputy mayor she is responsible for press office and managing Riordan's schedule Says work days are 12 hours minimum at office, plus additional time at home As primary speech writer for mayor, she has handled annual State of City address This month was appointed by Riordan as chief executive of the Host Committee for 2000 Democratic Convention Will oversee efforts to raise remaining private funds needed to pay for the event, as well as being responsible for festivities organized by the city.
Buzz: City Hall insiders say she can deal with Riordan better than almost anyone else and that he trusts her completely Skilled in quickly turning a phrase and condensing political rhetoric to catchy sound bites Was said to have support of Riordan and local Democratic Party kingpin Bill Wardlaw to run for city controller in 2001 but decided against seeking the office Role in Democratic convention planning is considered a tough challenge that will have major impact on her future Says for now her entire focus is on convention and she isn't looking at what she might do when Riordan leaves office next year.
Background: One of six children born to working-class parents Mother was a domestic worker, father was a railroad worker and union member who served as a model of political activism for Romero Enrolled at Barstow Community College despite her high school counselor's assertion that she wasn't "college material" Did doctorate work at UC Riverside, completing a Ph.D. in social and personality psychology Taught at UC, Cal State, and at community colleges before accepting tenure-track job at San Diego State's women's studies department First Latina elected to Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees in 1995, serving as board vice president With support of local labor movement was elected to Los Angeles Elected Charter Reform Commission in 1997 Won 1998 race for state Assembly seat in the heavily Latino and Asian 49th district by a landslide.
Accomplishments: Appointed Majority Whip by House Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa after only a few months in Sacramento, making her the only first-term legislator in Assembly leadership Also serves on Appropriations, Revenue and Taxation, Higher Education, and Labor and Employment committees Served as first chair during formative stages of the Elected Charter Reform Commission Co-founded the Women's Advisory Council to the Los Angeles Police Commission.
Buzz: Passionate about women's issues and social and economic justice, pushes hard for to make higher education accessible to poor students Labor leaders regard her as one of their own because of her blue-collar background and longtime community activism, providing key support in her runs for Charter Commission and Assembly seat First involvement in politics was drafting petition to city of Barstow to get her family's street paved for her father.
Maria S. Salinas
Senior Manager for Consumer Products
Walt Disney Co.
Background: Grew up in Highland Park Certified Public Accountant Right out of college, joined accounting firm of Kenneth Leventhal & Co Moved to Ernst & Young, becoming a member of the Real Estate Group Worked closely with California Society of CPAs on securities fraud reform legislation Joined Disney in 1995 as a manager in the corporate controllership group... In 1996, moved to Disney Consumer Products and was promoted to her current position in 1997.
Accomplishments: Founding member of HOPE Education & Leadership Fund, a group devoted to helping Latinas Served as HOPE's first president in 1994 Represented interests of Latinas with groups like the Glass Ceiling Commission... Received a Congressional Recognition Award and a Certificate of Commendation from then-Lt. Gov. Gray Davis and a Certificate of Appreciation from Mayor Richard Riordan for her work with Latino community.
Buzz: After 1992 riots, was recruited by Peter Uberroth to work with Rebuild L.A. as a loan executive... Ended up taking a nine-month leave of absence from Ernst & Young. "We went into some of the neighborhoods, and convinced the big foundations to pump dollars into areas that had never even seen a supermarket," she says Well-liked and approachable Lives in Glendale with husband Raul Salinas, a downtown Los Angeles attorney, and their 15-month-old twin boys.
Deputy Director, L.A. Partnership Office
Background: Raised in Boyle Heights, youngest of three children Mother worked for L.A. Unified School District and father worked for L.A. County as a court reporter Studied psychology, sociology and communications at UC Santa Barbara with intention of becoming a teacher Was sidetracked when her mother died a year after Sandoval graduated in 1986. Went into finance instead Started at Gibraltar Savings Bank as a loan service officer and later went to Bear Stearns, where she spent 10 years working with mortgage-backed securities In 1989, moved over to Smith Barney.
Accomplishments: Joined Fannie Mae's L.A. Partnership Office in 1995, working to develop and fund affordable housing in Los Angeles Helped found National Latina Alliance in 1993, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting cultural awareness and education opportunities Was a Leadership Institute Fellow for Hispanics Organized for Political Equality Led Yolie Flores Aguilar's failed campaign to unseat David Tokofsky on the LAUSD board last year Recently appointed by Supervisor Gloria Molina to serve on the L.A. County Board of Education.
Buzz: Said to be well versed on the issues and a quick study One observer says, "Within five minutes she can show her expertise on almost anything"... Aggressive politically Largely credited with Aguilar's near win in long-shot race against Tokofsky Expected to be more active politically in future but as a star maker, not a star Means it when she says she's not running for office.
Kathleen A. Torres
L.A. County Office of Women's Health
Background: Grew up in La Mirada and Echo Park Oldest of six children Developed interest in health issues as a result of her father and brother having asthma Got pregnant in high school and raised her son with help of parents Master's degree in health care management from UC Berkeley School of Public Health Created national model program for training underrepresented minority graduate students while a university administrator at the UCLA School of Public Health President of L.A. County Commission for Women from 1996 to 1998 Deputy chief of staff to state Sen. Charles Calderon from 1992 to 1995 Appointed director of Office of Women's Health in 1998.
Accomplishments: In 1997 chaired county Women's Health Policy Summit to address women's health care issues that led to establishment of the Office of Women's Health, the first program of its kind in the nation at the local level Launched the first big initiative of the office in January with a two-year campaign to fight cervical cancer, especially among Latinas, which includes free Pap smears for women Named in 1999 as health policy fellow for the National Public Health and Hospital Institute and the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems.
Buzz: Praised for doing good job in tough post Likely will be tapped for bigger government roles in the future Active in civic and community affairs, especially among health-related nonprofits Known for producing results with speed and thoughtfulness while sharing power and building teams.
Anoroc Precision Sheet Metal
Background: Born in Mexico City Moved with parents to Placentia in Orange County Got bachelor's degree in business and accounting from Cal State Fullerton while working full-time, first as a teller and then as a supervisor at K-Mart MBA from USC Worked for several corporations in strategic planning Joined Anoroc in 1978 Became full partner in 1997.
Accomplishments: Helped transform small manufacturing outfit into major subcontractor for aerospace/defense industry Says that as a Latina, has had to work extra hard convincing people to take her seriously (clients periodically challenge her to make sure she knows her stuff) Refinanced her home to help finance expansion During recent slump, employees chose to work four days a week and take a 20 percent pay cut so nobody would have to be laid off Everybody is back to full pay and a full workweek.
Buzz: Was given Outstanding Latina Award in 1999 by the Latin Business Association for her success in a male-dominated industry, as well as for her involvement in the community Heads the education committee of the Gardena Business Association, sits on the board of the Latin Business Association, and is member of the Kiwanis Believes aerospace manufacturers and subcontractors must expand their range of products and services to survive Says biggest obstacle for Latinos in capital-intensive industries, like aerospace, is poor access to capital.
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.
Stories You May Also Be Interested In
- ESTABLISHED-- Latina Powerhouses in Los Angeles
- POLITICS--Latinas Making Great Strides in Elected Positions
- SUCCESS--LA's Latinas
- Who's Who: 25 of the Most Influential, High-Profile Judges in L.A.
- 2019 Women's Council & Awards: Trailblazer Award - Maria Salinas
- PUBLISHING---Circulation Booster
- SPECIAL REPORT: Telling L.A.’s story
- KTTV--Departure of KTTV GM Irks Latino Activists