The nature of Latinitas brings volunteers to our doors as old as 70 and as young as high school, but when young people do volunteer we get extra excited. That kind of initiative is unique, especially for a college freshman just getting her bearings in Austin, TX. Lucero Estrella came to Latinitas Austin in the Fall of 2014 looking to continue a thread of social justice advocacy and mentoring she started living in Brownsville, TX where she worked with youth tutoring and instilling cultural pride through a city program. She took to leading a Latinitas club like a mariachi to tight decorative pants and mentored 20 girls at Zavala Elementary last year. This past summer, she was back committed for 4 weeks of leadership and currently she is our facilitator on site at the Housing Authority of the City of Austin teaching families how to use digital technology to record memories, goal set, create a permanent resume and more. Grateful for volunteers like Lucero – we wanted to get to know her a little better and asked her about herself.
Boris Pilev started helping Latinitas last year first with some great workshops on taking advantage of Google’s suite of free apps and then later providing strategy support for Latinitas’ alumni. His enthusiasm for matching his technology savvy with non-profit need is so appreciated by Latinitas staff, board and program participants. We asked him a little bit about himself and what he liked about volunteering at Latinitas.
Q: What do you like about Google’s outreach programs to community?
A: Being able to help in the communities where we work and live has so much impact because I am able to see the changes in front of my eyes. Austin is a special place and I am still in love with the community here.
Q: Talk about your origin and how that relates to helping a group like Latinitas –so focused on culture.
A: I was born and raised in Bulgaria, small country in Eastern Europe. My family immigrated to the US when I was in my last year in high school. Moving to central Illinois I found myself in predominately Latino neighborhood where most of my friends were Spanish speaking. This is how I started speaking Spanish, even before I learn to speak decent English.
I am fortunate to have lived in multiple different cultures – some widely different than the others but this to me is an incredible gift. I can relate to more people, I can find common language ( literally).
The moment we came to the Latinitas offices I felt taken back to the organizations in Urbana-Champaign, IL who helped my family – the vibe was the same.
Q: What kind of training did you have to work at Google?
A: I can speak of my personal background. I have undergraduate degree from University of Illinois in International Studies with minors in Anthropology and Spanish and Masters in HR Management, with added focus in European studies and Portuguese. When I finished, I joined Deloitte Consulting in their Human Capital consulting practice where I spent 2 years before joining Google as Recruiting Coordinator for Latin America.
Q: What do you do for fun?
A: I am an avid photographer and I travel as much as I can (both are very complimentary). Experiencing new places and meeting new people is another form of education for me and I cannot get enough of it. My last voyage was to Perú this summer and I am already working on my next trip
Latinitas Uses Media, Tech and Musician/Health Enthusiast Suzette Quintanilla to Debunk Confusing Health Messages
AUSTIN, TX- Media has such power and influence, directing mixed messages at teen girls about diet, esteem, body image, sexuality, happiness, achievement and much more. Latinitas’ Healthy Chica Conference, Oct 24, 9am-4pm at ACC Eastview for any girl ages 9-18 puts the message-making in girls’ hands and is an opportunity to re-script confusing perspectives about what is and isn’t healthy . Conference attendees will use video, photography, blogging and other digital media methods to explore nutrition, exercise and mental wellness.
Suzette Quintanilla, sister to the late Selena Quintanilla and drummer for the Los Dinos, will kick off the morning by sharing her journey to a fit lifestyle. Girls and teens at Latinitas’ Healthy Chica Conference will also be visited by nutritionists, doctors, dentists, acupuncturists, hospice workers, girls’ health experts and social workers who will share their career experiences during lunch. Girls will also complete an exercise circuit sampling CrossFit, yoga and martial arts.
Latinitas is a non-profit organization focused on empowering girls and teens using media and technology. It also publishes the first and only magazine made for and by young Latinas. (www.latinitasmagazine.org)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics report 73 percent of Mexican American women are overweight or obese, ten percent more than the general population. More than half of Mexican American women do not report any leisure exercise and are consequently at greater risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. As the U.S.’s largest Latina population, statistics paint a dire picture about the fate of Latina female health, overall. And, these numbers are only addressing physical health. One out of 7 young Latinas attempt suicide, a majority afraid to get help due to dated and cultural stigmas about depression. In many ways, Latina girls’ and teens’ health and wellness is in crisis.
“Media manipulates what ‘good health’ is photo-shopping bodies to an unreachable body ideal. Ad-driven, it’s also hard to know what is really good nutrition and what is a fad.” Said Laura Donnelly Gonzalez, Latinitas founder and COO. “This event lets Latina and other girls define healthy living on their own terms, a point of view not covered well in mainstream media.”
Registration is $10 and includes lunch. Girls and teens can register at www.laslatinitas.com or by calling 512.900.0304. Scholarships are available upon request or girls can post a picture of a healthy habit (ex. lacing up tennis shoes for a run, grabbing an orange as a snack) to Latinitas social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) with the hashtag, #healthychica for free admission.
# # #
Contact Laura Donnelly Gonzalez at 512.809.4618 or firstname.lastname@example.org for an interview.
Latinitas and Google Fiber Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Las Voces: Austin Latinas in Journalism
Local and National Journalist Panel Discuss Diverse Voices in Media
Women represent just 35 percent of newspaper supervisors according to the 2014 American Society of News Editors newsroom census. Same goes for TV and radio, where women make up just 28 percent of news directors in the top 25 U.S. markets and 26 percent of radio news directors at stations with 1M listeners or more.
Shifting the lens to women of color, Latinos, overall, are just one percent of U.S. newsroom staff and national coverage of Latino issues in a country where 90 percent of American children under 5 are Hispanic is…wait for it…under one percent, with issues limited singularly to immigration and crime.
WHAT: Bringing together Latina journalistic voices in print, radio and television, Latinitas and Google Fiber present for the first time Las Voces: Austin Latinas in Journalism, a panel discussion on cultivating diverse voices in media and the shifting American narrative.
WHO: Las Voces Panelists include:
Josefina Casati, Editor in Chief, Ahora Si
Gissela Santacruz, Editorial, Austin American Statesman
Alexa Ura, Politics and Demographics Reporter, Texas Tribune
Veronica Zaragovia, News Reporter, KUT-FM
Moderator: Leslie Montoya, Univision and Alejandra Charre Otero, Latinitas
WHEN: Wednesday, Sept 30, 5:30 pm doors open, event goes until 7:30
WHERE: Google Fiber (201 Colorado). Food and drink served.
RSVP HERE (FREE EVENT): https://fiberevents.
“Representation is key in a providing authentic narratives in media. We thank Google Fiber for providing the forum and space discussion strategies for cultivating more diverse voices in media and also a platform to celebrate women in the trenches doing it right now.” Said Latinitas founder Laura Donnelly.
Latinitas is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to empower young Latinas through media and technology. Founded in a class at UT Austin in 2002, Latinitas is also the first and only digital magazine made for and by young Latinas (www.Latinitasmagazine.org). Twenty five thousand readers per month and thousands of articles later with 20,000 served through the magazine’s outreach programming that includes digital media education camps, clubs and workshops, Latinitas continues to grow with new chapters in El Paso, TX and programs in Las Cruces/Silver City, New Mexico.
About Google Fiber
Google Fiber is an Internet and TV service that is available in Austin. Fiber customers get access to a range of products from Gigabit Internet to Google Fiber TV to the Basic Internet product. Go to fiber.google.com to learn more.
AUSTIN, TX (DATE) – Engineer Lina Nilsson shared her woes about the low numbers of females working in engineering in a recent New York Times Opinion piece[NM1] . She cites legitimate issues of workplace discrimination and a lack of female role models, but also points out what attracts women towards STEM careers is different than their male peers. That difference is starting to change the numbers of female enrollment in STEM classes.
Nilsson said when societal causes are attached to collegiate classes on engineering tech and science – women enroll.
At the interdisciplinary D-Lab at M.I.T., which focuses on developing “technologies that improve the lives of people living in poverty,” 74 percent of over 230 enrolled students this past year were women. She also cited Arizona State University as a school whose humanitarian engineering courses and study options have twice as many women as its traditional engineering classes.
Capitalizing on this important trend is Austin-based Latinitas, a nonprofit focused on empowering Latina and other girls and teens using media and technology and local software supplier, Blackbaud.
Latinitas will visit Blackbaud for a 10 hour coding boot-camp July 30-31. Girls ages 9-14 will meet Blackbaud engineers, designers, testers and programmers, and work in teams to create an app that helps community. Community is defined as the girls themselves, their families, neighborhoods, cultures or the world. Blackbaud staff will assist with coding lessons and will then test guide girls through testing, documentation and product marketing.
“We polled our Latinitas about what motivates them overall and the general consensus is ‘helping others.’ Blackbaud’s engineers, programmers and other technology professionals are going to help us connect girls’ passions for change with the development of an actual piece of technology innovation,” said Laura Donnelly Gonzalez, Latinitas founder and COO.
“Blackbaud is interested in promoting methods that encourage more women to study and work in technology, so we are excited to help the girls in Latinitas leverage that desire to help others into a technology product that causes societal change,” said Sally Ehrenfried, manager of philanthropy and volunteer engagement at Blackbaud.
Founded in 2002 by Alicia Rascon and Laura Donnelly, then-journalism students at UT Austin, fed up with the misrepresentation of Latinas in media, Latinitas has served over 20,000 girls and teens through after-school clubs, weekend workshops, camps and conferences at 112 schools, libraries, community centers. The organization also publishes Latinitasmagazine.org, the first and only magazine made for and by young Latinas. Latinitas has evolved with Austin and its evolution as a tech sector, first by providing digital media training to students who lacked that access and now as a source of coding, app development, video game design and robotics education programs for Hispanic and other youth and their families.
Blackbaud is a leading global provider of software and services specifically designed for nonprofit organizations. Its products focus on fundraising, website management, CRM, analytics, financial management, ticketing, and education administration.
Contact Laura Donnelly Gonzalez at 512.809.4618 or email@example.com for an interview.
Laura Donnelly Gonzalez
Founder, COO Latinitas
( o ) 512.900.0304
( c ) 512.809.4618
Empowering young Latinas using media and technology
Austin, TX –– August 2015 - Alamo Drafthouse is happy to announce the return of its annual Summer Kids Camp screenings – now 100% better, stronger and fun-er! Programmed specifically for families, Summer Kids Camp is affordable fun for all with a mix of new favorites and classic kid-friendly films.
New for this year is a “choose-your-own-ticket price” model ranging from $1 to $3 per person – you choose the amount! This new model not only allows for tickets to be purchased online, in advance with reserved seating – parents, take a moment to rejoice here – but also 100% of ticket sales will be donated to local nonprofits helping families. Now, families can have summer fun while also helping their communities.
“Kids Camp reaches almost 100,000 kids and parents during the summer, providing affordable and fun movies for everyone,” says Director of Family & Community Engagement Amy Averett. “We are excited to grow this program to support great local nonprofits through ticket sales donations.”
Some of our inaugural nonprofit beneficiaries include: Latinitas (Austin, TX), The South Plains Food Bank (Lubbock, TX), Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes (Kalamazoo, MI), and the YMCA (Houston, TX).
“We’re also excited about the variety of titles being offered this summer,” says Averett. From classics like MARY POPPINS and the original PARENT TRAP, to literary inspirations like MATILDA and CHARLOTTE’S WEB, there is a wide range of choices for families. Also, we know that summer’s hottest new releases like JURASSIC WORLD may not work for our younger guests. Kids Camp provides age-appropriate alternatives like THE LAND BEFORE TIME and NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM.”
Check your local drafthouse.com webpage for showtimes and keep an eye out for special Kids Camp menu discounts. Let the summer fun begin!
Join the Alamo Drafthouse Family Facebook page to keep up with all the family events at the Alamo Drafthouse: https://www.facebook.com/AlamoDrafthouseFamily
THE LAND BEFORE TIME
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM
CHARLOTTE’S WEB (2006)
MUPPETS MOST WANTED
THE PARENT TRAP (1961)
KUNG FU PANDA 2
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
FOLLOW THAT BIRD
Kids Camp screenings are open to ages 3 and up. Please, no infants (parents, check out Baby Day screenings instead). All children must be accompanied by an adult. Our regular “No Talking” policy is still in effect, so noisy families may be asked to leave.
Press Materials Available Here:
Kids Camp Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxxQGSpPEh0
Kids Camp Poster: http://tinyurl.com/pwskld3
Kids Camp Series Webpage: http://drafthouse.com/packages/2015-summer-kids-camp
For Alamo Drafthouse Media Inquiries:
CONTACT: Brandy Fons
About Alamo Drafthouse
Tim and Karrie League founded Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in 1997 as a single-screen mom and pop repertory theater in Austin. 17 years later, the now 19-location chain has been named “the best theater in America” by Entertainment Weekly and “the best theater in the world” by Wired. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has built a reputation as a movie lover’s oasis not only by combining food and drink service with the movie-going experience, but also introducing unique programming and high-profile, star studded special events. Alamo Drafthouse Founder & CEO, Tim League, created Fantastic Fest, a world renowned film festival dubbed “The Geek Telluride” by Variety. Fantastic Fest showcases eight days of genre cinema from independents, international filmmakers and major Hollywood studios. The Alamo Drafthouse’s collectible art gallery, Mondo, offers breathtaking, original products featuring designs from world-famous artists based on licenses for popular TV and Movie properties including Star Wars, Star Trek & Universal Monsters. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is expanding its brand in new and exciting ways, including Drafthouse Films, which has garnered two Academy Award nominations in its short three-year existence, and Birth.Movies.Death., an entertainment news blog curated by veteran journalist Devin Faraci.
Why Code Chica?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, by the time girls in middle school now go to college, there will be one million more computer science jobs than computer scientists to fill them. When we look at the number of females pursuing that career path, things look bleak, women of color pursuing technology – nearly nil . Less than one percent of high school girls express interest in majoring in computer science in college and the American Association of University Women reports only 19 percent of computer and information-science majors are currently women, less than one percent of engineers right now are Hispanic women.
Latinitas Empowering Using Media and Techology!
To combat the current underrepresentation of women in the tech industry, Latinitas, in a partnership with Google’s Made with Code campaign, developed the Code Chica Conference with the aim of getting girls excited about coding and sparking an interest in tech jobs. The first Code Chica conference was held on October 25, 2014 at Austin Community College’s Eastview Campus. Sixty girls and teens at the conference were introduced to coding with the help of professionals and graduates from local coding academy MakerSquare who facilitated the coding seminars throughout the course of the day.
Kick off! The event kicked off with a key note address from Latina engineer Karen Siles who spoke about being one of the few female employees with her job title at IBM in Austin, TX. She shared, “There is jobs waiting to be filled by a qualified woman candidate. The issue is not that there is not jobs for women in technology, the issue is that women are not choosing to take the path of attaining degrees in computer science.” Tung Huynh, an admissions recruiter at ACC Eastview, also spoke about working in tech with just one female colleague. His company eventually hired more women who became some of the best product managers, coders, developers, engineers, account managers, and sales directors. He explained, “That’s the whole funny thing about this- girls are shy about competing and then they come in and they do better than the guys do.” Similar to Siles experience, there were more jobs than women applying. He said, “I think today is going to go a long way towards changing that.”
Girls were introduced to the concept of coding as a means to create actions with a visual demonstration of a robot. One of the Makersquare seminar facilitators pretended to be a robot and the girls had to direct the robot to the door. Then, they visited a Disney website and were guided through the process of using code to change a website, font colors and sizes, and delete pictures. They also used an online web based coding platform and CSS to embed video games. Girls expressed excitement as they passed from one level to the next.
Women in Tech at Lunch
At lunch girls were visited by many local powerful women in technology today. These women shared their personal, academic and professional journeys in technology. The roundtable set up made the connections more personal and powerful. Women came from Rackspace, Google, Dell, BB&T Bank, local PBS station KLRU-TV, Accruent and start ups like Stretchrecipes.com and SheHacksATX. . Miczeh Reeze (A code chica) expressed how she will remember how the speakers gave inspiring quotes to follow their dreams.” Jackie Lopez also noted,” The one thing that I will remember from this event are the people that visited the tables.”
Miranda Dawn from TV’s “The Voice”
It wouldn’t be a Code Chica event without having just as much “chica” as coding and so Latinitas welcomed former volunteer and current alumni from last seasons’ “The Voice,” Miranda Dawn (Miranda Oropeza), a singer/songwriter and member of her own band Dawn and Hawkes. She performed but also invited girls on-stage.
When the “Code Chicas” returned to their assigned computer labs, they continued coding and practiced manipulating code by changing the Latinitas website. Over 60% of the attendees surveyed said they had never been to an event like this. Many of them expressed how they wished they had Latinitas at their schools. Several of the girls were also active members of Latinitas clubs and camps and expressed excitement about Code Chica. When asked if they would tell their friends about Latinitas programs and events, surveys showed a resounding “yes!” Seventh grader Elizabeth Hernandez said, “I would absolutely tell my friends about Latinitas because it’s a place where girls can dream big and have fun.” She also said,”I liked the fact that girls were able to connect with technology.”
Code Chica presented coding on girls’ terms through fun exercises that incorporated some of their favorite brands and videos. Coding was demystified for many girls and thanks to dedicated instructors, lunchtime career presenters and Latinitas model of empowerment, more chicas in Austin are putting themselves into the shoes of developers, designers and definitely: coders.
La Malinche, or actually Malinalli, was not the Aztec princess legend says. She was royalty in the Aztec empire, but was discarded by her mother as a baby out of preference to her siblings and dodged being sacrificed upon the intervention of her loving and mystical grandmother who raised her. Well, so relays acclaimed author Laura Esquivel who is writing about a legendary character born in a time when public record was chiseled rather than written. Esquivel brought us one of the most adored narratives in Latino literature: “Like Water for Chocolate,” a novel also became an award-winning movie.
La Malinche tells us the story of a young woman finding out who she really is through the power of language. And, though it is set in the late 1500s, early 1600s, it’s as timeless as any story about a girl finding her power in her own voice, beliefs and self.
If you are not familiar with La Malinche, legend says she is the mother of all Mexico, or, for many, she is also remembered as the destroyer of all Mexico . La Malinche, represented by the character Malinalli in Esquivel’s book, was multi-lingual and could translate Nahuatl of her elders to Spanish and vice versa. As a result, she gained the fondness of Spanish conquerer Hernán Cortes. In Esquivel’s story it’s clear Cortes is drawn to Malinalli, but we are not sure if it is his bloodthirst for power that drives his admiration. Feeling discarded by her mother, Malinalli gains worth in Cortes’ troops as a translator and in a romance with him that produces beloved children of her own.
But, after Cortes repeatedly uses her to conquer and kill the native people of Mexico, she sees him more for the short, unhappy, power hungry villain that earned the nickname early on: La Malinche, in which she was named for. It is so rare we get to read a story of Mexican or any Latino history from the point of view of a girl. It is also rare to get a whole sensory experience in a book and Esquivel is all about revealing tastes, smells and what a time feels like. Malinalli shares that the Spanish soldiers reek of the garlic they eat and don’t bathe often. Though we have perceptions of “primitive” life, such as that of the tribes that existed in what is now Mexico and that Spain was “developed” or “advanced,” in just a few short lines we realize native peoples of America were leaps ahead of their European visitors – even if it was just about good hygiene.
What I most loved about this book which I’d recommend any teen reader is how La Malinche is not demonized in this story as she is in most accounts. She is made human. We find out her need for human love, the rejection of her mothers’ love and her place as a girl in a society where human sacrifices were necessary and common. We learn about her bravery, contributions to Mexican history and a broader picture of who Malinalli (La Malinche) was.
Janani Janakiraman is Latinitas favorite kind of volunteer. Though highly qualified on her own as an engineer at IBM, Janani never comes alone – she comes with a task force that includes her oldest daughter Divya and her twin sisters Priya and Kavya and some of their friends from Westwood Highschool’s Spanish Honor Society or the engineering program at the University of Texas at Austin. This Spring, Janani led “Robot Chica” – Latinitas first Lego Mindstorms workshop. We are also grateful to Janani for acquiring some of our first tablets at Latinitas – she truly comes to youth empowerment with a lot of gifts.
Latinitas: What was your experience like teaching Robot Chica?
Janani: I had a lot of fun teaching the kids how to program a Robot. I was amazed to see how even kids as young as second grade picked up programming via Lego Mindstorms very quickly. Programming involves logical thinking, creativity and patience to complete tasks. Its always interesting to see the spark in the kids eyes when they are able to build things on their own.
Latinitas: You get your own daughters involved in volunteering also – why?
Janani: I have three daughters and we volunteer as a family. I work full time and it started out as a way for me to spend more time with my kids and volunteer at the same time. We made fun shared memories while doing STEM based activities. It has now evolved to me depending on them to do most of the training when we host these workshops. My girls enjoy being role models for the other kids, especially girls, to show them that STEM is fun.
Latinitas: What were you like as a girl and how do you think that helped you become an engineer?
Janani: I grew up in India and was fortunate enough to be in a family where we were never held back. My mom was a high school math teacher, my dad an engineer and my hometown was filled with engineers working in the steel industry. So I grew up with great role models. I was always curious about how things worked and math was my favorite subject in school. I gravitated towards engineering without too much thought.
Latinitas: Where is your favorite place to be in the world?
Janani: My favorite place is a museum. Whenever we travel, we look for museums to visit. My favorite museums are ones which are hands on. Did you know that Austin has tons of museums and in September, on free museum day, you can visit all the museums for free?
AUSTIN, TX – May 28, 2015 – Celebrating it’s 8th annual Fotos de mi Alma photography auction,
Latinitas will mark the occasion by featuring a number of pieces representative of the cultural
work of Austin‐based photographer Diego Huerta.
The event will highlight Mr. Huerta’s remarkable work, and will be complemented by a
collection of photos from photographers around the world. The sale of these pieces will serve as
the major fundraising effort of the year for Latinitas, a non‐profit organization dedicated to
empowering young Latina girls through media and technology education.
The auction will take place Thursday June 11th from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the IBC Bank
Community Suite located at the bank’s Austin headquarters at the corner of Fifth and San
Joining the event as keynote speaker will be film director Carmen Marron, whose exceptional
journey into the competitive world of film‐making, has made her into a true Hispanic role
model. Her films include “Go for It”, a coming of age movie about goals and choices, starring
Gina Rodriguez of “Jane the Virgin” fame.
“We couldn’t be more proud to have Diego’s work as the foundation for this year’s auction.”
Said Latinitas board president, Ana Ruelas. “His artistic accomplishments deserve to be
recognized for the cultural contribution he is making to elevating perceptions, not only of
Mexico, but of all of Latin America. That we have him working out of Austin is a huge privilege
and source of pride for our community.”
Mr. Huerta has dazzled audiences with “31K Portraits of Peace”, a photo documentary of the
majesty of Mexico’s people and places. His work has been an effort to counter the negative
perceptions of Mexico as a dangerous and unlikeable place.
“The outstanding collection of photographs in this year’s auction should be a real treat for all
those who appreciate the power of photography as a story telling platform,” said Latinitas cofounder
and executive director, Laura Donnelly. “I expect this year’s event to be the most
successful in our organization’s history.”
Tickets for the event can be purchased online at:
Founded by Laura Donnelly and Alicia Rascon, Latinitas is a non‐profit organization dedicated to
helping enable young Latinas to achieve personal and academic success through media and
technology education. With a variety of enriching experiences, Latinitas discover their voice and
develop media skills while building a solid foundation for their future.
Contact: Laura Donnelly, Executive Director. 512‐900‐0304 firstname.lastname@example.org