By Gloria Romano-Barrera
It comes as no surprise that more Latinas are taking the helms of corporations in the 21st Century. Since 2009, LATINA Style has recognized accomplished Latinas by acknowledging them and their work with the LATINA Style Corporate Executive of the Year Award for their merits and dedication. The 10 executives recognized this year are champions of leadership, and are selected by their peers and superiors for their business acumen. This year, we proudly recognize Calline Sanchez, Vice President, IBM Enterprise Storage as the top LATINA Style Corporate Executive of the Year, Congratulations.



Vice President

IBM Enterprise Systems Storage

IBM’s Enterprise Systems Storage Vice President Calline Sanchez began her career with IBM in 1999 as a co-op in Markov Chain Statistical Tools. As the team lead, Sanchez contributed significantly to the development of assertion based models and code in C for FCP, SCSI, and FICON interfaces for both tape and disk products. An ambitious and determined Latina, she took on several assignments throughout the company allowing her to learn and develop her career path.

From a temporary assignment at IBM corporate headquarters in Armonk, New York with Executive Vice President Nick Donofrio, where she visited over 25 countries to engage in projects that he led within Innovation, Technology, Government Programs, Corporate Citizenship, IBM Research, and Education in 2008, to leading the Enterprise Disk Storage Development team in 2009 and then to Backup System Strategy enabling the Virtual and Physical Tape teams as the IBM Data Protection and Retention Development Director in 2011, to Vice President of IBM Systems Storage Program Management where she led a worldwide team of program managers, engineers and scientists representing locations worldwide to deliver the IBM Systems Storage Product Portfolio, Sanchez has risen to the ranks of IBM becoming the Vice President of IBM Enterprise Systems Storage. In this role, Sanchez is responsible for the entire Enterprise Storage portfolio. This includes developing the overall strategic product direction that sustains IBM as an Enterprise Disk Storage leader and the premier industry Data Protection & Retention worldwide leader.

Sanchez’ service to IBM has been recognized with several awards throughout the years and today she feels grateful IBM took a chance on her. “Yes I work hard but I appreciate the leaps of faith leaders within IBM have taken on my behalf,” states Sanchez. “From our first women employees before 1900 until today, IBM has always been passionate about diversity of thought as a business imperative.”

For Latinas like herself, Sanchez affirms that opportunities at IBM are vast. “From accounting, human resources, and other business functions to consulting, marketing, software, hardware, and research – Latinas are a part of every IBM division,” she states. “‘No one knows where the next best idea will come from,’ this was said to me years back at IBM. IBM’s commitment to diversity stems from it being a globally integrated enterprise where diversity of thought and inclusion is core to being an IBMer. This shared partnership and respect enable IBM to work as an integrated whole. IBM has a history enabling equal opportunity for all.”



Executive Vice President, Multicultural Markets and Engagement

As the executive vice president of Multicultural Markets and Engagement at AARP, Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez is a Latina on a mission. She eagerly leverages her 30 years of experience in the nonprofit, government and corporate sectors to ensure that the interests of multicultural audiences age 50-plus are integrated into everything AARP does.

Today, Cortés-Vázquez along with her team have successfully begun transforming AARP to better meet the needs of multicultural audiences, inclusive of Hispanics/Latinos, African-Americans/Blacks and Asians. “My vision is to promote multiculturalism throughout our expansive organization, as well as to foster innovation by serving as an incubator of ideas to better serve America’s increasing diversity,” she states. “In doing so, we established a performance management division to ensure that all efforts are measurable and show impact, document learning and inform future strategies for ongoing success.”



AT&T Louisiana

“I am humbled and honored to be recognized for the work I have performed throughout my career with a company that has championed the same type of values I do,” states Sonia Perez, AT&T Louisiana President. With 35 years of experience at AT&T, Perez has led her team in working with elected officials and business leaders as the company has invested to transform its network in the state. In Louisiana, AT&T’s 4900 employees have empowered customers by building new cell sites and adding wireless and wired network capacity as well as new broadband network connections.

“At AT&T, diversity means promoting an environment of inclusion; one in which each individual is valued and every voice is heard. We recognize all differences – from race, gender, sexual orientation and religion to perspectives, physical and mental abilities, experiences and outlooks,” states Perez. “We realize that diversity is more than the right thing to do – it’s essential if we want to be successful in the global marketplace.”



Specialty Servicing Process, Quality Executive
Bank of America

Born in Argentina and raised and educated in Peru, Silvina Salazar came to the United States 25 years ago. Upon arriving, she joined Bank of America as a teller at a bank branch in California. Today she serves as Specialty Servicing Process Quality Executive for the company, responsible for quality assurance and monitoring across key Consumer Operations areas of the company.

“At Bank of America we work hard to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable bringing their whole selves to work,” she states. “For that to happen, we must all get involved and take ownership – no matter where you are in the company. I take this responsibility very seriously.”

In 2006, she was asked to help lead the bank’s Hispanic/Latino Organization for Leadership & Advancement (HOLA) Employee Network and introduced the first HOLA chapters in California. Salazar was named HOLA Enterprise Lead in 2008. In this role, she provides support and guidance to 30 chapters across the US with almost 7000 members.



Vice President/General Manager Marie Callender’s Brand 
ConAgra Foods

Born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Christiane Brocky joined ConAgra Foods as an associate brand manager in 2001. Brocky has managed many of ConAgra’s leading frozen brands such as Banquet, and Healthy Choice. Brocky is responsible for managing the second largest brand in the corporation setting the strategic vision for the Marie Callender’s franchise.

Grateful to ConAgra Foods for the opportunity it has given her to develop professionally, Brock’s focus is to build a structure that embraces and fosters diversity at the company. “I think this will really pave the way for younger generation to excel in leadership roles here in the United States,” she states. “We serve a very broad base of consumers, and we really need to create an organization that encourages and recognizes very distinct qualities.”



Executive Vice President
Disney Media Sales and Marketing

“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be selected by LATINA Style Inc. as one of the top 10 Latina Executives of the Year,” shares Rita Ferro, executive vice president of Disney Media Sales and Marketing. “My Cuban heritage and upbringing are such a fundamental part of who I am as a leader so it is extra special that this award celebrates the importance and significance of our culture and our accomplishments.”

Promoted to executive vice president, Disney Media Sales and Marketing, Disney Channels Worldwide, in June of 2010, Ferro leads the integrated sales team that represents and maximizes advertising sales, marketing and promotions across The Walt Disney Company’s media platforms serving kids, moms and families.

Working at The Walt Disney Company for more than 17 years, Ferro has seen that the company believes in the importance of having a strong multicultural workforce and in telling stories that represent the ever growing multicultural audiences they serve across the company. “The company’s commitment starts at the top with our CEO Bob Iger and with his appointed executive in charge of diversity who ensures our people strategy includes not only the recruiting of diverse talent but also development programs to encourage promoting strong diverse talent from within the company,” she states.



Vice President,
Global Diversity & Inclusion, Talent ManagementIngersoll Rand

Born in Havana, Cuba Nereida (Neddy) Perez serves as the global vice president and chief diversity officer for Ingersoll Rand. She is responsible for developing and leading the company’s strategies related to diversity awareness, diverse workforce management and business market connectivity.

With more than 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Diversity Management, Corporate Relations, and Corporate Communications, Perez feels fortunate to be part of the corporate culture change and have support from CEO Mike Lamach and Chief Human Resources Officer Marcia Avedon, whom she describes as champions for their diversity efforts. “In addition, we have an amazing group of executive leaders and employees who are actively involved with the various employee resource groups,” she shares. “If we didn’t have their support, we would not be as far along in our journey with regards to diversity metrics, learning, supplier diversity, talent development or recruiting. So it has been very rewarding to work together in building a strong foundation.”



Vice President Community 
Alliances,Events & Engagement,
Nielsen’s Corporate Global Communications

Stacie M. de Armas is Vice President Community Alliances, Events & Engagement within Nielsen’s Corporate Global Communications group. In this role she serves as the lead for the development, activation and continuity of outreach activities, sponsorships, and engagement strategies across all markets in the United States.

Joining the company nearly 16 years ago de Armas feels privileged to have the opportunity to make a difference in multicultural communities on behalf of Nielsen and believes integrating diversity is an essential part of the Nielsen culture. “It’s not just a goal but also a business imperative,” she affirms. “We value differences and create a workplace where no person is advantaged or disadvantaged because of their background. One of the most important investments we can make as a company is ensuring our associates work in an environment that is supportive, offers opportunities for growth while at the same time taping into the breadth of experience and knowledge that comes from diverse backgrounds.”



Vice President
Regulatory and Public Affairs
Entergy Texas

South Texas native, Deanna Rodriguez assumed the role of vice president of regulatory and public affairs since June 1, 2012. In this capacity, she focuses on building and enhancing relationships with government officials throughout the state. She also coordinates the company’s relationship with the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

Recognized for her passion, experience and knowledge in external affairs and government relations, Rodriguez is an exemplary Latina to follow. “While it is certainly an honor for me to receive this type of recognition, I also see it by extension as an honor for our company which has given me so much opportunity and encouragement to fill various leadership roles,” she states. “More than anything, I’m really excited about meeting the other award recipients and learning more about the businesses they represent.”



Vice President of Human Resources
Walmart Latin America

Joining Walmart in 2008, Lina C. George was promoted to serve as the Vice President of Human Resources for Walmart Latin America on November of 2013. In this capacity, she serves 4092 stores spanning Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. In addition to retail operations, Latin America encompasses banking operations and the public entity of Walmex (the second largest public company on the Mexico Stock Exchange).

Feeling honored and humbled for the recognition, George is a believer that Latinas have the potential to occupy the most senior levels of organizations and be true thought leaders. And Walmart is committed to supporting diversity and inclusion at every level. “Diversity and Inclusion is an integral part of our business as opposed to a “program”, she states. “This integration is manifested in how we go about talent selection, management development, merchandising our stores of the community and being relevant to our diverse customer base. Diversity and Inclusion is a part of the fabric of the business and woven into everything we do as an organization.”



LATINA Style recognizes Gloria L. Valdez for her contributions to the advancement of NAVSEA’S mission.

Executive Director
Program Executive Officer,
Submarines. Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition)

Executive Director for the Program Executive Office for Submarines, Gloria L. Valdez serves as the senior civilian official responsible for the daily operations of PEO Submarines, including civilian management, and design, acquisition and construction for submarine platform and undersea systems.

With over 27 years of civilian service with the Department of the Navy and the Department of Homeland Security, Valdez served as the Director of the Investment and Development Division within the Office of Budget.

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Message from 2020 LS50 Co-Chair Catherine Hernandez-Blades