Healthy Chica Conference Gives Girls Tools To Create a Movement

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. (

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 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 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.


“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.

About Latinitas

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 ( 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 to learn more. 

Blackbaud Inc. Partners with Latinitas to Get more Girls of Color Coding

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, 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 for an interview.       

Laura Donnelly Gonzalez

Founder, COO Latinitas

( o ) 512.900.0304

( c ) 512.809.4618

Empowering young Latinas using media and technology


 [NM1]I would hyperlink to the article

Latinitas Honors Renowned Photographer Diego Huerta

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

Antonio streets.

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:

About Latinitas

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

Fotos de mi Alma Photography Auction

Fotos de mi Alma Photography Auction No. 8

WHEN: June 11 from 6pm-9pm

WHERE: IBC Bank Community Suite
IBC Bank Plaza, 500 West 5th Street, Austin, TX 78701

WHY: Photographs are a glimpse of what may lie deep in the soul of a landscape, a seemingly everyday situation or a person. Good ones grab us by the imagination, they make us question, dream, think. Perhaps that is why Fotos de mi Alma, a photographic odyssey capturing Latino life through the lenses of professional and amateur photographers is our most successful fundraiser for Latinitas.

This year, Fotos de mi Alma No. 8 takes place at IBC bank’s new community space on W. 5th street in downtown Austin with a breath-taking balcony view overlooking Austin’s burgeoning growth. Cocktails and hor d’oeuvres will be served compliments of event sponsors’ Glazer’s fine spirts and Kurant Events catering. Latinitas presents two special guests: Diego Huerta, ( international photographer and Carmen Marron, writer/director/producer whose new film “Endgame” hits theaters this month.

WHO: Established in 2002, Latinitas, a 501 ( c ) 3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to empower young Latinas through media and technology, has been a vital part of young Latina’s lives through after school programs, teen internships, Saturday and Summer camps, special events and the very first digital magazine for young Latinas – The bilingual magazine, written for and by young Latinas, provides a vehicle whereby these girls and young women not only see themselves positively reflected, but are also a part of the production. Fotos de mi Alma No. 8 really reflects Latinitas’ decade long reputation creating systemic change through many types of lenses – media to technology.

Latinitas Multimedia Arts Camps

SUMMER CAMPS – This Summer, girls in Austin & El Paso, TX have an opportunity to get a taste of what their life could be like as a movie star, a news anchor, a photographer, a fashion reporter, a radio DJ, a magazine writer, a poet, a graphic designer and more in Latinitas multimedia art camps. Through intense week-long day camp program, girls can find their creative expression outlet by producing original media arts projects.The Latinitas camp is led by a team of women educators, role models and mentors experienced in guiding girls in hands-on lessons, interactive presentations, team challenges, and fun games that address girl issues and encourage self-esteem, expression, confidence and empowerment. Girls will produce original multimedia arts projects and master techniques in photography, writing, design, radio production and filmmaking. REGISTER NOW!

Fotos de Mi Alma

June 11, 2015
IBC Bank Community Suite
500 W. 5th Street Austin, TX 78701

Photographs are a glimpse of what may lie deep in the soul of a landscape, a seemingly everyday situation or a person. Good ones grab us by the imagination, they make us question, dream, think.  Perhaps that is why Fotos de mi Alma, a photographic odyssey capturing Latino life through the lenses of professional and amateur photographers is our most successful fundraiser for Latinitas.  This year Latinitas welcomes international photographer Diego Huerta, whose photo-documentary series 31K put the lens on Mexico’s majesty, so tarnished by singular impressions that the country is a cartel state.  Diego splits time between Austin, TX and Monterrey, Mexico and will be present and honored a the event by Latinitas.  Our key note is writer/director/producer Carmen Marron, whose film “Endgame” hits theaters in May 2015 starring Rico Rodriguez of “Modern Family” fame.  Marron’s films spotlight the beauty and authenticity of what it means to be an American Latino and a youth.  She will address event goers and share her travails navigating Hollywood as a successful Latina.

Latinitas MezcladaGirl Photography Show and Contest

Latinitas Joining E.A.S.T. with MezcladaGirl  Photography Show and Contest:

Girls Present Self-expression and Storytelling Through Photography

WHAT:   Latinitas, a nonprofit organization focused on empowering Latina youth through technology and media, is taking part in the East Austin Studio Tour for the first time with its own photo show of girls’ work: Mezclada Girl.  The show will feature photography generated in Latinitas’ Club Latinitas programs at 12 AISD elementary and middle schools and through a partnership with Foundation Communities.

WHEN:   Saturday, Nov. 221 p.m. to 5 p.m.
             Reception and photo contest: 3-5pm

Cost: Free. Light snacks provided. Open to everybody

WHERE:  Latinitas, Inc. Austin Headquarters
               4926 E. Cesar Chavez, building A (blue building)
               Austin, TX 78702

WHY:    For 12 years, Latinitas, a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization, has been empowering Latina youth using media and technology, providing direct digital media and technology training and esteem-boosting services to nearly 3,500 girls and teens across Texas annually. Founded by two journalism students fed up with the lack of representation of Latinas in media and technology industries, Latinitas presents enrichment programs at Texas schools, libraries and community centers that use culture as a thread to teach web and graphic design, blogging, video and audio production, photography and of late: video game and app development and coding.

Young Latinas in Austin are one half of our city’s largest youth population.  But, she is not monolithic. In a way, she’s indefinable – she’s a Spanish speaker and she’s not, native and foreign born and she likes and doesn’t like guacamole, maduras and California rolls.  Latinitas presents a visual “punto de vista” using photography and mixed media generated by hundreds of Latina girls attending Latinitas after school enrichment programs focused on empowering Hispanic girls and teens using media and technology.  Photography sale will benefit Latinitas college scholarship fund for its program leaders

Latinitas Code Chica Conference (Austin, TX)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 17, 2014

      Contact: Lindsay Ketchum or Whitney Herrick

(512) 472-9599 or


Latinitas to Host Code Chica Conference

Hackathon-Style Workshops Aim to Excite Girls About Coding in Conjunction with Google’s Made with Code Initiative

WHAT:   Latinitas, a nonprofit organization focused on empowering Latina youth through

technology and media, is hosting its first Code Chica Conference. Girls and teens at the

conference will receive lessons in code languages, brainstorm a project to apply such

skills and then will carry out the project implementation in a hackathon style with the

help of experienced coders.

This event is backed by Made with Code, a movement started by Google to inspire millions of girls to try coding and to help young women see coding as a means to pursue their dream careers. 

WHY:    According to the U.S. Department of Labor, by the time girls in middle school 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 girls and women pursuing that career path, things look bleak. 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. When you put the lens on Hispanic women, that number shrinks to 1 percent.

To combat the current underrepresentation of women in the tech industry, Latinitaswith support from Google’s Made with Code, developed the Code Chica Conference with the aim of getting girls excited about coding and sparking an interest in tech jobs.

During lunch, notable women of color from the technology industry will visit attendees.

Cost: $15 (includes lunch), open to ANY girl or teen between the ages of 9 and 18; discounts available for families. FREE for participants of Latinitas.

Register online at, or call (512) 900-0304.

WHO:  Latinitas Code Chica Conference

Event partners include Google’s Made with Code, SXSW Interactive, MakerSquare, an Austin-based coding education company, Dell and Blackbaud, Inc.

This program is made possible by a recent grant from Google.

WHEN:  Saturday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

WHERE:  Austin Community College Eastview Campus
              3401 Webberville Road
              Austin, TX 78702

TECH Chicas Changing The World

Karla Leal from Telemundo kicked off the conference with some TECH Chica cheering! Photo: Hanne VH

If you ask young Latinas if there are social issues in their community that are not addressed sufficiently in the mainstream media or that they think are urgent to spread more awareness about, they will most likely present you with a long list of topics ranging from misrepresentation, discrimination and cyber-bullying to sexism, teen pregnancy and racism.

So how can these young ladies with tons of ideas and concerns actually make their voices heard and do something about these issues? Well, actually they have more options than what it might seem like. And this was exactly the topic to be explored during Latinitas’ 1st Annual TECH Chica girls’ conference on October 6, 2012, at ACC Eastview Campus in Austin. This conference was presented on the occasion of Hispanic Heritage Month.

More than 60 girls ages 9-18 participated in Social Media, Blogging and PSA/Podcast workshops in which they created social media campaigns for good. The girls came up with important issues around which they would create their campaigns, and professionals from the media and technology field facilitated the workshops.

Girls shooting their PSA about Sexist Stereotypes. Photo: Hanne VH

One group worked around the problem of bullying. In the Blogging workshop a girl wrote clearly:

Bullying needs to stop now. It messes with feelings

Another girl, from a group that addressed the issue of bullying of people with disabilities, wrote:

Bullying is not cool at all and it needs to stop!! Peoplle kill themselfs just for geting bullyd. It dosen’t matter if  people are diffrent. We all dont’t have to be the same.

Caroline M.’s group created a campaign focused on feminism and gender inequality, and she stated that:

I think we should stand up for ourselves more often because if we don’t we will be looked downn as minors and they would boss us around. (…) We woman and girls deserve to be treated equally.

TECH chicas blogging about social issues. Photo: Hanne VH

A girl from the same group had experienced gender inequality in person:

My grandma always gives more money to my older cousin than me and my sisters .I always ask my self WHY?!

One of the teen groups focused on the issue of teen pregnancy, and Thelma, one of the participants, pointed out an important question in her blog:

Why were you with me before and not after? (…) There should not be a baby with out there 2 parents. Two people made them two people should take care of them.

Lunch panel: Women Who Lead and Succeed! Photo: Hanne VH

On Latinitas’ own social networking site, MyLatinitas, you can read all the blogs posted by the TECH Chica participants on October 6.

During lunch, four successful women from the media and technology field presented at the panel: Women Who Lead and
Succeed. Evelyn Castillo, Editor of Latinometro, Alexandra Landeros, Writer for Latinometro and Austin Post, Ana Villegas, Dell Marketing Director, and Crestina Chavez, Managing Editor at YNN. T hey talked about how they use social media and new technology in their daily work and they answered questions from the girls about everything from career goals and path to life/work balance and income.

At the end of the day the results of the girls’ hard work were presented to everyone: 6 PSA’s over 3 important issues: Bullying, Gender Stereotypes and Teen Pregnancy. See all the videos on the following links:

Girls and the panelists. Photo: Hanne VH

Fight Bullying – By “Group Onderful”

Stop Bullying – By “Group Onderful”

Preventing Teen Pregnancy – By Group 3

Preventing Teen Pregnancy 2 – By Group 3

Stop Sexist Stereotypes – By “Group Awesome”

Stop Stereotypes – By “Group Awesome”


All in all this conference was a great success. Among the comments in the participating girls’ evaluations was that they appreciated the panel’s advice, they loved shooting video and using computers, they liked learning about how to blog and use social media in a useful way, they were inspired to become journalists and leaders, and they made new friends. Many of the girls even stated that they will start their own blog after this conference.

Come back next year for another fantastic TECH Chica Conference!

TECH Chica was covered by a variety of local media, including a YNN article by Jess Mitchell and a Telemundo article by Karla Leal.


For more photos from TECH Chica 2012 see volunteer Kimberly Carmona’s photostream and Latinitas Facebook album.