Top Latinas in Corporate America

What makes these powerful Latinas powerful?


Story By: Pablo Schneider

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It is a privilege and a pleasure to know many of the leaders in this issue’s Top 25 Latinas in Corporate America list, most of whom were recognized at ALPFA’s 50 Most Powerful Latinas of 2017 event hosted at Columbia University last month. Taking a step back and thinking about what makes them powerful, several types of power come to mind. There is the power of the positions they hold ranging from corporate board seats, to senior executive roles, to leadership in professional firms, to the ownership of companies, etc. There is the power of professional capabilities, of expertise, skills and knowledge.


Indeed, these Latina leaders have a breathtaking breadth and depth of professional capabilities across career disciplines, sectors, and geographic areas, etc. There is the power of their personal influence. These awesome Latinas are super-connected and highly influential among the top leadership of America. There is the power of personal brand, of reputation, and of positive notoriety. These have been painstakingly built throughout their entire careers and all of the Latinas on this list are known nationally for their extraordinary excellence.


Geisha Williams

CEO and President, PG&E Corporation

ON MARCH 1ST, Geisha Williams became the first Latina to lead a Fortune 500 company. She has come a long way from the day she fled Cuba with her parents in 1967 at five years of age.

Today she leads a team responsible for providing safe, reliable, and affordable power to 16 million people in northern and central California. During her tenure at PG&E, she oversaw the company’s move to bring nearly 30% of its energy from renewable sources. The power company has also become a leader in renewables integration, grid modernization and smart grid technologies under her stewardship, while also achieving the best electric reliability in company history.


Maria Moats

U.S. Assurance Leader, PwC

MARIA MOATS is the U.S. Assurance Leader of PwC, where she serves as a member of the U.S. Leadership Team and the Global Assurance Executive Leadership Team.

With extensive experience with retail, consumer, and industrial product clients, she previously served as PwC’s Regional Assurance Leader for the East Region, overseeing operations from Boston to Florida. She was also the Chief Diversity Officer from 2011 to 2016, where she led the strategy and execution of the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts.


Gabriela Franco Parcella

Chariman, President, and CEO, Mellon Capital (BNY Mellon Corp.)

GABRIELA FRANCO PARCELLA is the Chairman, President and CEO of Mellon Capital, where she provides strategic leadership to all areas of the firm, and chairs the Board of Directors. With 22 years of financial services, legal, operations, risk, and regulatory experience, she has been a key contributor to Mellon Capital’s international expansion. Parcella is the founder of the San Francisco Region Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) and is a Trustee and Chair of the Schools of the Sacred Heart San Francisco Board. She is also a life member of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals for America). She received her JD from Stanford Law School, and her MPA from the University of Texas at Austin.


Grace Puma

SVP, Chief Supply Officer, PepsiCo

GRACE PUMA leads three areas that support all PepsiCo businesses In the global procurement role, she manages nearly $25 billion of spend across all lines of the business. She also oversees manufacturing operations in 11 countries and across the global supply chain.

Finally, Puma establishes the global strategy on next generation capabilities. She is credited for doubling the year-over-year productivity delivery rate post-transformation for five consecutive years, and delivering over $2.8 billion in productivity over five years. Prior to joining PepsiCo, she has held leadership positions at United Airlines, Kraft Foods, Motorola and Gillette, and has served on the boards of Marietta Corporation, Institute for Supply Management and LifeLink Corporation.


Adriana Cisneros

CEO, Cisneros

ADRIANA CISNEROS de Griffin leads a third-generation family-owned business focused on media, interactive, and real estate. She is also the President of the Fundación Cisneros, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education in the region. Cisneros is also the co-chair of Endeavor Miami, the Director and Executive Committee Member of the Board of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, a Trustee of the Paley Center for Media, and a board member of MoMA PS1 and MoMA’s Latin American acquisitions committee.

She holds a BA from Columbia University, a Master’s Degree in journalism from New York University, and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Program for Leadership Development.


Sonia Dulá

Vice Chairman, Latina America Bank of America

SONIA DULÁ has run all three divisions of Bank of America’s Latin America business: Corporate, Investment Bank, and Wealth Management. Working with Mexico’s Ministry of Communications, Dula recently closed a multibillion-dollar deal to bring mobile connectivity to more than 90% of Mexico’s population.

Prior to joining BofA, Dulá has held senior posts at Pemex, the Mexican national oil company, as well as Goldman Sachs. As CEO of Grupo Latino de Radio she operated over 500 radio stations in Latin America and the U.S. reaching over 75% of the U.S. Hispanic population. Born in Mexico and raised in Brazil, Dulá speaks five languages fluently and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude in Economics from Harvard University, and received her MBA from Stanford University.


Ofelia Melendrez

U.S. VP and General Manager, Southern California Region McDonald’s USA

OFELIA MELENDREZ-KUMPF is accountable for the management of a $2.1 billion business unit, including more than 800 McDonald’s restaurants. Joining McDonald’s more than 20 years ago as a manager trainee, she advanced quickly through all phases of restaurant management and supervision, in both the U.S. and Latin America. In 2010 she was the recipient of the company’s most prestigious award for her inclusive leadership practices, and has been recognized by the Women’s Business Leadership Network and the Hispanic Operators Association, as well as Latina Style Magazine. She holds a Bachelor in Science in Business Management from the University of Phoenix.


Myrna Soto

SVP & Global Chief Information Security Officer, Comcast

MYRNA SOTO oversees the security of all information and technology assets for Comcast. She also specializes in technology risk management & strategy, business/technology integration, and vendor management & strategic sourcing.

In addition to her role at Comcast, she is also on the board of directors for CMS Energy & Consumers Energy and Spirit Airlines, and the Hispanic IT Executive Council where she is Vice President. She received a Masters Certification in project management from George Washington University, and an MS and MBA from Nova Southeastern University.


Gisel Ruiz

EVP and COO, Sam’s Club

GISEL RUIZ oversees operations for over 650 Sam’s Clubs in the United States and Puerto Rico.

She began her career at Walmart 24 years ago, as a management trainee and has climbed to key roles within the company, including EVP for the International People Division at Walmart, and Walmart U.S. COO.

Ruiz has been honored by Latina Style as Latina Executive of the Year in 2010, and by Fortune magazine as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in 2012, 2013, and 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Santa Clara University, where she also completed the Retail Management Institute program.


Aleida Rios

VP of Operations, BP Gulf of Mexico

ALEIDA RIOS is responsible for the safe, reliable and compliant operations on BP’s four offshore platforms in the deepwater gulf, which produce 250,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

She received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University and began her 25-year career at BP as an intern in the oil fields of West Texas. Rios has held a variety of leadership posts in operations and engineering, including vice president of operations for BP’s North American onshore business. Today, she oversees a team of over 1,000 and manages a $1 billion operating budget.


Maria Martinez

President, Global Customer Success & Latin America, Salesforce

WITH MORE THAN 30 years of experience in transforming businesses and customer success, Maria Martinez is the President of Global Customer Success at Salesforce Latin America, and the GM of the company’s Latin and Central America business.

Prior to joining Salesforce, she managed Microsoft’s global services business, where she outperformed revenue targets and increased Microsoft’s customer satisfaction rating. She was also the President and CEO of Embrace Networks, and held senior roles at Motorola and AT&T.

Martinez holds a Master’s Degree in computer engineering from Ohio State University and a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Puerto Rico.


Cynthia Hudson

SVP General Manager of CNN en Español and Hispanic Strategy, CNN

Cynthia Hudson leads 200 employees, stringers, and correspondents around the globe, overseeing all original Spanish-language content for CNN worldwide, including television feeds for Latin America, Mexico and US Hispanic markets reaching almost 40 million households. She

launched CNNE’s digital business which now has a monthly average of 25 million unique users. Her digital accolades include: #1 Spanish news Twitter account, top 6 Twitter account in the world in any language, the world’s #1 Spanish language Facebook page, and # 1 Google Plus page. Hudson began her career as a news producer and reporter at Univision, and has held numerous creative and executive positions at United International Holdings, SBS, Mega TV and Cosmopolitan TV. She has won eight regional Emmy Awards and was named as one of People en Español’s most powerful women.


Priscilla Almodovar

Managing Director and Co-Head of the Real Estate Banking business within the Commercial Bank at JPMorgan Chase.

Priscilla manages a team of real estate professionals that provide top-tier real estate developers, investors and operating companies with the financial resources, specialized expertise and insights to navigate market cycles. Prior to this role, she led JPMorgan Chase’s Community Development Banking, a national real estate business that lends to and invests in community and economic development projects in underserved markets. Priscilla also serves on the firm’s Real Estate Council and on the board of directors of Enterprise Community Partners, a national community development financial institution.


Yasmine Walker

Regional CEO, Community and State Central Region, United Health

AS CEO of Central Region United Healthcare Community & State, Yasmine Winkler serves nearly six million Medicaid members in 24 states. Under her leadership, UnitedHealthcare has launched numerous products including myHealthcare Cost Estimator, myClaims Manager with Bill Pay, and the Health4Me mobile app.

Prior to joining United Healthcare, Winkler has held positions with BlueCross/BlueShield of Illinois, Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Her B.A. degree is in English and Environmental Studies from Northeastern Illinois University, followed by an M.S. in Health Care Delivery Science from the Tuck School of Business and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College.


Francis Hondal

EVP, Credit and Loyalty Solutions, Mastercard

FRANCIS HONDAL brings 25 years of experience in consumer marketing, finance and management to her role at Mastercard. Prior to joining the company, she launched a business development and marketing service firm after an 18-year career at American Express, where she was Regional VP and General Manager for the International Consumer Card Services Division in Latin America and Canada. Hondal is a first generation Cuban-American with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and International Business and an MBA from Florida International University. She is also a member of the College of Business’ Dean’s Council and was inducted into the College of Business Administration Hall of Fame in 2015, where she received the Global Leadership Award


Belinda Pestana

Partner and Regional Business Tax Services Leader, EY

As a Partner and Regional Business Tax Services Leader at EY, Belinda Pestana works with leadership on strategy for tax advisory and planning, and is the Global Tax Account Leader on one of the firm’s largest clients, managing $50 million plus of tax revenue.

A daughter to Cuban immigrants, Pestana is involved in various firm initiatives focused on diversity and is currently the Diversity & Inclusion Champion for the NY Banking and Capital Market Group. She is also a founder of Sound of Gol, a nonprofit dedicated to the development of youth through soccer. She attended St. Peters College and Villanova University, and received her BS in Accounting.


Gina Orozco-Mejia

VP, Gas Operations SoCalGas

GINA OROZCO-MEJIA oversees all gas distribution operations for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). Since joining SoCalGas as an engineering intern in 1990, Orozco-Mejia has held a variety of increasingly responsible roles in engineering, field services, gas system operations, environmental, international development, and operations staff. She previously served as director of labor relations and was responsible for working with the unions that represent approximately 5,000 SoCalGas employees.

Orozco-Mejia has a master’s degree in business administration from Claremont Graduate University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from California State University, Los Angeles. She is also an alumna of the Southern California Leadership Network and Leadership California.


Maria Fernanda Mejia

SVP, Kellogg Company and President, Kellogg Latin America

MARIA FERNANDA MEJIA is SVP, Kellogg Company, and President, Kellogg Latin America since November 2011. Prior to joining Kellogg, Mejia previously held a variety of global marketing  and management roles at the Colgate-Palmolive Company, including Corporate VP and General Manager, Global Personal Care and Corporate Fragrance Development, Corporate VP of Marketing and Innovation for Europe/South Pacific, and President and CEO of Colgate-Palmolive Spain. Mejia is currently a non-Executive Director on the Board of International Consolidated Airlines Group, and has been a member of the Board of the Council of the Americas since October 2014. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Distribution from Texas A&M University.


Miriam Hernandez-Kakol

Advisory Principal and US Service Line Leader of KPMG’s Customer and Operations business, Global Lead Partner KPMG

MIRIAM HERNANDEZ-KAKOL is the U.S. Service Line Leader for KPMG’s Customer & Operations business, which is focused on delivering industry-specific solutions to address the front-and middle-office challenges of Fortune 500 clients. She oversees a team of more than 1,000 partners and professionals, and leads a critical growth area for KPMG. She is also KPMG’s Global Lead Partner for one of KPMG’s premier global clients. Committed to diversity and the advancement of women and girls, Ms. Hernandez-Kakol is a member of KPMG’s Women’s Advisory Board and has served on the leadership team for KPMG’s Network of Women. She actively serves on the National Academy Foundation’s STEM committee and the New Jersey Junior Achievement Board.


Bernadette Aulestia

EVP Global Distribution, HBO

BERNADETTE AULESTIA oversees $5 billion in annual revenue and distribution of the HBO’s networks and platforms worldwide. Internationally, she is responsible for the operations of HBO branded networks in 67 countries. Domestically, she leads distributions for the premium networks HBO and Cinemax, whether it be through cable, satellite, and telco companies or in the critical lodging business.

Aulestia oversees HBO’s Affiliate Marketing group, which is responsible for the acquisition and retention of subscribers across all distributor partners. She also heads digital distribution efforts, including streaming products HBO GO, MAX GO, the newly launched HBO NOW, and HBO Home Entertainment. She holds a BA in Economics from Brown University.


Nina Vaca

President & CEO, Pinnacle Group

UNDER NINA VACA’S leadership, Pinnacle Group has been providing innovative IT workforce solutions for nearly 20 years. The company’s revenue has quadrupled since 2010 and exceeded $1 billion dollars in gross revenue in 2015.

Through her success with Pinnacle, Vaca has been recognized as an NBC innovator, Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernest & Young, and Most Intriguing Entrepreneur by Goldman Sachs. As a White House appointed PAGE Ambassador, she has traveled to five continents to share her story and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs. She is a member of the board of Cinemark USA, Inc., Comerica Bank and Kohl’s Corporation. Vaca has a BA from Texas State University-San Marcos and a Doctorate from Northwood University.


Maria Elena Lagomasino

CEO and Managing Partner, WE Family Offices

A NATIVE OF CUBA, Maria Elena Lagomasino is a founding partner of WE Family offices, a completely independent global advisory firm offering family office solutions to ultra high net worth families. Prior to WE, Lagomasino was the Chairman & CEO private banking at JPMorgan Chase and Vice President, South America Private Banking at Citi Bank. In 2012, she was listed in the Top 25 Women in Finance by American Banker. She received her MBA from Fordham University, an MS from Columbia University, and a BA from Manhattanville College.


Maria Sastre

President and COO, Signature Flights Support

MARIA SASTRE has been leading successful acquisitions and integrations for Signature Flight Support since joining in 2010. Prior to her role at Signature Flight Support, she served Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises as VP and United Airlines as VP of Worldwide Customer Satisfaction. She is also an experienced public and private corporate board director and has served on the boards of Darden Restaurants, Publix Supermarkets, Laidlaw International and various non-profit organizations in Miami.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Sastre holds an Associate’s Degree in Accounting from Miami Dade College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from New York Institute of Technology.


Kim Rivera

Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, HP Inc.

KIM M. RIVERA is the Chief Legal Officer & General Counsel for HP Inc., where she manages the worldwide legal department, overseeing all aspects of legal, government affairs, compliance, and ethics. She has more than 20 years of experience advising Fortune 500 companies on significant corporate transactions, governance matters, securities, compliance, risk management, audit, and litigation matters. Previously, she served as the Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary for DaVita Healthcare Partners, a Global Fortune 250 healthcare services companies. She was also the Chief Compliance Officer and Head of International Legal Services at The Clorox Company. Rivera has a BA Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies from Duke University and a JD from Harvard Law School.


Dorene Dominguez

Chairman, President & CEO, Vanir Group of Companies

AS CHAIRMAN AND CEO of Vanir Group of Companies, Inc. and its subsidiaries, a group that is a nationally recognized leader in program, project and construction management and real estate development, Dorene Dominguez oversees 17 offices throughout the United States and more than 360 executives, architects, engineers, construction managers, developers, and contractors.

In addition, Dominguez serves on the board of CIT Bank and is the founder of The Dominquez Dream, which empowers children in underserved communities to achieve in literacy and S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). Dominguez is also a minority owner of the NBA Sacramento Kings. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BS in Finance.


Congratulations to all of this year's top Latinas

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