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15 Influential Latinas From The #WeAllGrow Summit You Need To Follow On Instagram For International Women’s Day

Every year on March 8, countries from around the globe celebrate International Women’s Day an official holiday that commemorates the movement for women’s rights. As part of our celebration of the day, we’re talking about 15 fierce Latina influencers who are shaping up the world and harnessing the energy of sisterhood to propel the careers and livelihoods of other Latinas. To create our list, we tallied up Latinas featured at a national conference that occurred this past weekend called #WeAllGrow. In its fourth year, the national summit brought Latinas from across the globe, some whom you’ve seen on screen and others you’ve seen on political stages, in an effort to push for our community.

Here are 15 of the fiercest Latinas from the summit to celebrate, follow and learn from on International Women’s Day.

1. Liz Hernandez

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Liz Hernandez is a Mexican American Emmy-nominated television host and journalist currently working to connect people with project WORDAFUL. Her weekly videos feature the Latina as she breaks down the meaning and power behind words. In 2014, Hernandez joined NBC’s Access Hollywood and became one of the entertainment news program’s first Latina correspondents. The summit finished its final day with Liz as their closing keynote speaker.

Follow her on Instagram here.

2. Heather Conneely

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Heather Conneely is a bilingual, bicultural digital marketing professional whose career in multicultural advertising sales spans a 16 year period. She started her career as a  member of Univision Communications network TV sales department. In 2014, she was hired by Facebook to lead the company’s first New York Multicultural Team. As the head of her department, she worked to educated clients and agencies on the power of multicultural audiences. Today, Heather is a Client Partner for Facebook’s Team Beauty and she follows digital transformation journeys for some of the country’s biggest beauty brands.

Follow her on Instagram here.

3. Millana Snow

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Millana Snow has been part of the entertainment industry as an actress and model for over 12 years. She is also a practitioner of Reiki healing, a meditation teacher and the founder of Serene Social. During the summit, she led a talk regarding the importance of incorporating synchronicity and flow in our lives.

Follow her on Instagram here.

4. Candy Calderon

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Candy Calderon is a certified holistic health and wellness coach and promoter of healthy lifestyle living tips for today’s modern, busy woman-entrepreneur. Her blog candycalderon.com addresses taboo subjects. Her side hustle, creating signature detoxing and healthy living programs, has been harnessed by people across the globe. During the #WeAllGrow keynote, she spoke on the importance of preventing and reversing illnesses through wellness.

Follow her on Instagram here.

5. Yarel Ramos

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Yarel Ramos is a journalist and anchor of the Univision Los Angeles mid-day digital show “Edición Digital California.” Her eight-year career in television has seen her take on the role of host, emcee, and anchor. She is a co-founder of Repartiendo Amor Y Oportunidades (RAYO) a non-profit organization in Los Angeles that works to provide Latino students with the right resources and tools to obtain higher education. She is also co-host of the Wait Hold Up Podcast and was at the summit to discuss how to give tips on how to produce a podcast.

Follow her on Instagram here.

6. Mariela Rosario

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Mariela Rosario is the Afro-Latina editor-in-chief behind Hip Latina. As a writer, editor, and digital content strategist she has racked up a total of ten years in the Latinx space. She led CafeMedia’s first site for Latina moms and went on to develop Vivala.com. She is currently the Editor in Chief at HipLatina.com and recently created Galchemism, a new platform that empowers and educates women of color in arts & tech. Her writing has been featured in The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, and Latina.

Follow her on Instagram here.

7. Rosa Clemente

@rosaclemente / Instagram

Rosa Clemente is an organizer, political commentator, independent journalist, and creator behind Puerto Rico on the Map, an independent Latinx media group founded in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Her activism and political drive pushed her to become the first Afro-Latina to have ever run for Vice President of the United States in 2008. This year, the Hollywood’s initiative #TimesUp invited her to join them on the Red Carpet in an effort to turn the spotlight on issues around sexual assault, Puerto Rico, restaurant workers, farmworkers and Black women.

Follow her here.

8. Xochitl Oseguera

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Xochitl Oseguera is the senior campaign director behind MomsRising.org, a grassroots organization advocating for mothers and their children. Her work has pushed her to collaborate policy partners to educate the public and empower mothers of the online digital media space.

Follow her on Instagram here.

9. Zandra Zuno Baerman

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Zandra Zuno Baermann is the senior vice president of Communications and Marketing at UnidosUS where she serves as strategic communications advisor to the CEO and senior leadership. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with and advised companies like Kaiser Permanente, Nintendo of America, Walmart, and Wells Fargo.

Follow her on Instagram here.

10. Jessica Molina

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Jessica Molina is a journalist, producer, digital content creator, and podcaster whose work typically highlights efforts of the Latinx community. As a co-host of the podcast @waitholduppod, she interviews guests about the “wait, hold up” moments that have changed their perspectives on life. Jessica also serves as the Sr. Producer at Hip Latina where she oversees daily editorial content and creates weekly videos that cover upcoming trends in the Latinx community.

Follow her on Instagram here.

11. Evette Rios

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Evette Rios has hosted shows on HGTV, A&E, and TLC and made frequent appearances on the TODAYShow, TheChew, Rachael Ray, Trading Spaces as well as Telemundo and Univision. Her lifestyle brand encourages audiences to embrace the multicultural American experience.

Follow her on Instagram here.

12. Kathleen Pagan

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Kathleen Pagan abandoned her successful finance career in corporate America to pursue entrepreneurship and became the lifestyle Youtuber and blogger behind Endlessly Elated. Her content teaches her followers how to create food, cocktails and home décor. Last year, the content creator shared with her followers that Endlessly Elated would make women’s empowerment its primary mission.

Follow her on Instagram here.

13. Brenda Blanco

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

For over 6 years, Brenda Blanco has hosted, produced and directed radio, television and multimedia shows for Univision and BuzzFeed. These days she produces content for BuzzFeedTasty and has worked to grow and diversify the Tasty audience. Her experience and love for Latin American cultures led her to become an influential power over Tasty’s Spanish food channel: Bien Tasty.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Valeria Hinojosa

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Valeria Hinojosa was in the private banking industry as a VP for 5 years until deciding to embrace her passion for lifestyle content and started WaterThruSkin. The Miami blog about how to pursue a lifestyle with a sense of social and environmental awareness has pushed her to travel the world and explore exotic and eco-friendly destinations. These days she uses her travels as a means to acquire and promote eco-friendly brands, different cultures, green design and plant-based cuisine.

Follow her on Instagram here.

Jocelyn Ramirez

@weallgrowlatina / Instagram

Jocelyn Ramirez is a vegan chef, professor, and yoga instructor. In 2015 she founded Todo Verde a brand that promotes Mexican and South American inspired plant-based meals.

Follow her on Instagram here.


Read: We Spotted These Three Latina Owned Accessory Brands At The #WeAllGrow Summit And We Are Totally Here For The Empowerment They Bring

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The Pulitzer Board Announced That They Will ‘Welcome’ Junot Diaz Back After Sexual-Misconduct Investigation

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The Pulitzer Board Announced That They Will ‘Welcome’ Junot Diaz Back After Sexual-Misconduct Investigation

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz found himself in the middle of a #MeToo controversy earlier this year. After winning the grand literature prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the Dominican-American author became a literary darling, authoring more books including children’s book “Islandborn” earlier this year. However, after publishing an essay with The New Yorker in which he wrote about being raped at the age of eight and the subsequent trauma and behaviors that followed the assault, the author was accused of sexual misconduct and misogynistic behavior by another author on Twitter. It didn’t take long for more stories to surface. A month later, in June of 2018, Díaz was cleared of misconduct allegations by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This week, however, Díaz is being welcomed back by the Pulitzer Prize Board after an independent review “did not find evidence warranting removal.”

The Pulitzer Prize Board announced that they would “welcome” Diaz to complete his term, which ends in Apri of 2019.

According to USA Today, the Pulitzer Prize Board took Díaz’s allegations seriously and they have been under a five-month review conducted by the Washington D.C.-based law firm Williams & Connolly.

In a statement released last Friday, the Pulitzer Board said that the law firm conducted “a thorough, wide-ranging, fair, and independent review” following the “public allegations” against the author. After the months-long process, which “involved interviews with dozens of witnesses and analysis of hundreds of pages of documents (as well as audiotapes, where available),” the Pulitzer Board made their decision.

Sexual misconduct allegations against Díaz surfaced last May after author Zinzi Clemmons tweeted that Díaz had forcibly kissed her when she was a grad student and alleged he had done this to others.

At the time, Díaz denied the encounter, telling The Boston Globe that he was “shocked.”

“I was, like, ‘Yo, this doesn’t sound like anything that’s in my life, anything that’s me’,” he said to the publication.

However, not everyone was convinced. After Clemmons’ allegations came out, others came forward with misogyny claims against Díaz. Meanwhile, some called for Díaz to come forward about the “hurt” he himself alleged to in his The New Yorker essay. And others still felt that his silence and humility in the face of allegations was a performance hiding the “violent thing underneath.”

Since news broke that the Pulitzer Prize Board will “welcome” back Díaz, Twitter has exploded with reactions varying from doubtful to concerned to joyful.

Some are wondering whether the review of Díaz was truly as thorough as the law firm and Pulitzer Prize Board claim it has been. “The world being what it is,” writes Twitter user @heathquinn, “can’t guarantee they have found every stone that could be turned over” after another user, @hoperhenderson pointed out that “mistreatment/abuse of women is often treated as no big deal.”

Others questioned the validity of those who still claim that accusations against Díaz were a conspiracy.

Many on Twitter are claiming that the #MeToo allegations against Díaz were part of a conspiracy but, as Twitter user @hoperhenderson points out, a massive conspiracy that included women of color seems unlikely. Still, the law firm review seems conclusive enough for the Pulitzer Prize Board and the news is being vastly celebrated on Twitter by fans of the Dominican-American author.

Meanwhile, author Michael Deibert, who is working on a book about the history of the United States in Puerto Rico, added an interesting tidbit to the conversation.

Whether or not Díaz was “brutal” or a “really humiliating professor” seems to no longer be an issue of concern for his employers since he has remained a professor at MIT after their internal investigation. When it comes to sexual assault allegations, the latest news from the Pulitzer Prize Board has cleared him for now. His original accuser, Zinzi Clemmons, has yet to comment on Twitter about this result. Carmen Maria Machado, who also shared on Twitter about her misogynistic interaction with Díaz, has also made no recent comment.


Read: The Recent #MeToo Claims About Junot Díaz Remind Us What It Means For WOC When The Giants We Look Up To Turn Out To Be Abusers

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Isabel Allende is the First Spanish-Language Author to Receive the National Book Award Medal

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Isabel Allende is the First Spanish-Language Author to Receive the National Book Award Medal

Bestselling Chilean author Isabel Allende received an honorary Lifetime Achievement National Book Award on Wednesday night, making her the first ever Spanish-language author to receive the honor. Allende is most famous for the blockbuster success of her 1982 novel, “The House of Spirits” that has sold more than 65 million copies worldwide. In total, she has written over 20 books.

The National Book Award medal is one of the highest honors in literature, previously being bestowed on literary greats like Arthur Miller, Joan Didion, and Toni Morrison. The fact that the National Book Award Committee awarded the medal to an author who writes exclusively in Spanish cannot be understated.

When accepting the award, Allende delivered a stirring speech that touched on themes of memories, alienation, and the power of storytelling.

Allende began her rousing acceptance speech by accepting the award “on behalf of millions of people like myself who have come to this country in search of a new life”. She went on to describe her life experience as that of a constant foreigner, as although she was born in Peru, she was raised in Chile. She said these experiences make her recognize the universal “incurable desire to belong in a place.”

But her speech didn’t stop there. She devoted the rest of her time on the podium to talk about her writing process, which she described as “taking notes” on her experiences.

“I draw on other people’s lives, especially the strong and passionate women that I meet everywhere,” she said. “I draw on the sorrow and the struggles of every day, on the joy of being alive and not afraid of death. I’m not afraid of life either. I refuse to live in fear and let alone to vote in fear”.

A former refugee herself, Allende didn’t back away from some painful topics.

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At Miami Airport onto Atlanta. #inthemidstofwinter

A post shared by Isabel Allende (@allendeisabel) on

Allende explained that she used her painful past to enrich her storytelling. “I was a political refugee for 13 years in Venezuela after the military coup of 1973 that ended a long tradition of democracy in Chile”, she said. “And I have been an immigrant in the United States for more than 30 years”. She went on to decry the international apathy towards refugees and displaced persons who “are forced to leave everything that is familiar to them and undertake dangerous journeys to save their lives”. According to her, Allende writes to keep their memories alive.

Allende concluded the speech with a touching message of unity and hope: “I write to preserve memory against the erosion of oblivion and to bring people together. I believe in the power of stories. If we listen to another person’s story, if we tell our own story, we start to heal from division and hatred.” She received a standing ovation.

Allende wasn’t the only Latina to sweep up prizes at the National Book Awards.

The 69th edition of the awards saw Latinx Dominican poet Elizabeth Acevedo and Chinese-Panamanian writer Sigrid Nunez accept awards as well. Acevedo won the award for young people’s literature for her book Poet X. Nunez won the honors in fiction for her novel “The Friend,” which focuses on a  writer who takes care of a friend’s Great Dane after they were driven to suicide.

Latina Twitter was quick to congratulate Allende on the prestigious recognition and thank her for her work.

This Cubana knows that a Lifetime achievement award is worth a Felicidades or two.

The fact is, Allende is one of the few Latina voices to be read by millions of people, regardless of nationality, across the globe.

The impact of her voice is profound.

This Latina made a point of explaining how important it is to read a story that echoes your own.

Indeed, there are countless Latinas in the US and elsewhere who are also “finding their own space” as foreigners.

Some Latinas applauded Allende’s speech that was chock-full of cutting wit and self-deprecating humor.

Talking about her “brave” lover, Allende held nothing back. And why should she? She is a proud, strong, passionate woman like the characters in her books.

But, Allende wasn’t the only Latina recognized with a National Book Award on Wednesday. Dominicana author Elizabeth Acevedo won the award for Young People’s literature for her book, “Poet X”, and Chinese-Panamanian author Sigrid Nunez won the prize for fiction for her novel “The Friend”. In the end, it was a powerful night for Latinas and Latina representation in the arts.

You can read Allende’s full acceptance speech here.


Read: First and Last Confession: What This Xicana Learned Marrying a Mexican

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