Center for Multicultural Initiatives

Closing ceremony for Hispanic Heritage Month: Profiles of Excellence -Chingona 101 Panel

This panel discussion will help redefine the term Chingona in celebration of community leaders who exemplify what it means to be a Chingona in male-dominated fields.

hispanic, latinx, heritage,

icon of a calendarOctober 11, 2023

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Closing Ceremony for Hispanic Heritage Month: Profiles of Excellence Event-Chingona 101 Panel
Hispanic Heritage Month concludes with Profiles in Excellence, chingona 101 panel discussion on Thursday, October 12 in Gold Room A of the Oakland Center at 11:30 a.m.

Attendees at the closing ceremony for Hispanic Heritage Month on Thursday, October 12, can enjoy the Profiles of Excellence, Chingona 101 panel discussion, a master class on how to redefine the term Chingona in celebration of community leaders who exemplify what it means to be a Chingona in male-dominated fields.

The in person and Zoom event is scheduled for the Oakland Center, Gold Room A from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is sponsored by LatinxERG.

Panelists for the discussion include Loida L. Tapia, Vanessa Reynolds, Ed.D, Avec O'Brien and Dr. Sandra M. Gonzales. Read more about them below.

Loida L. Tapia has dedicated her career to building capacity for communities to engage in public policy and government both at the state and federal level. Loida is leading MI Poder, a new 501c4 in Michigan. MI Poder engages Latino communities across the state in civic participation and political advocacy. She previously led Redistricting Initiative for Michigan Nonprofit Association, where she led the largest statewide redistricting engagement program. In 2020 she led the ACLU of Michigan’s Election Protection Program. In 2019 Loida established the Office of Public Engagement in the Michigan Department of State. Prior to her work in Michigan, she served as a Senior Advisor on Workforce Planning and Talent Development to the Obama Administration. As a White House appointee to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, she led strategic outreach in workforce development in diversity and inclusion. Loida’s previous roles include working in the U.S. Senate for the Assistant Minority Leader Dick Durbin, both of President’s Barack Obama Campaigns (2007-2008) (2011-2012), and for the late Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid’s 2010 Senatorial campaign. She is a proud resident of Detroit.


Vanessa Reynolds, Ed.D.,
is a higher education advocate, community leader and first-generation college graduate. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership, and most recently, a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Wayne State University (WSU). Her dedication to higher education and passion for student success is reflected in her years of experience as an Admissions Counselor at WSU’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Providing educational opportunities to students and contributing to their advancement has been one of her highest objectives. As the past chair of WSU’s Latinx Faculty and Staff Association and various other initiatives across campus, Vanessa has demonstrated her influence to enhance diversity and inclusion across the university. Her efforts have expanded beyond WSU, currently serving as co-chair of the board for Advocates for Latino Student Advancement in Michigan Education, a non-profit organization committed to making college education a reality for Latino students across the state, and as a member of the Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling Conference Planning Committee. Her commitment to this career is empowered by the encouragement she gives to hundreds of students to pursue higher education and the mission of her alma mater to prepare a diverse student body to thrive.

Avec O’Brien is the chief financial officer at Walker-Miller Energy Services LLC. Previously, O’Brien was the U.S. and Mexico controller for Mastronardi Produce. Before that, she was the chief financial officer of the Detroit Science Center. O’Brien also worked as an audit manager at Deloitte and Touche, LLP., as an office manager at Heidrick and Struggles, and as a senior accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mexico City. Simultaneously, O’Brien was an associate professor at the MBA program of the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. O’Brien serves as a board member and as a volunteer of several Detroit-area nonprofits. O’Brien earned her MBA with distinction from the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business, and her Bachelor of Business Administration in Public Accounting from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. O’Brien is a certified public accountant and a chartered global management accountant. O’Brien currently serves as a board member on the National Board of Financial Executives International (FEI) and is the immediate past president of the FEI Detroit chapter. She serves on the Ascension Michigan Ministry Market board and on its finance committee. She also serves on the Southwest Solutions board.

Dr. Sandra M. Gonzales is an Associate Professor of Bilingual/Bicultural Education in the Division of Teacher Education at Wayne State University. She received her master’s and doctorate in International Educational Development from Columbia University, Teachers College. Her research interests include: Latinx identity and belonging; K12 school reform efforts; culturally and linguistically responsive teaching and learning practices; and the revitalization of elder and Abuelita epistemologies, such as testimonio, stories and storytelling centering on Detroit’s Chicanx, Mexican and Indigenous Mexican community. Gonzales coordinates the Native Development Network and Learning Community, a student success initiative for Native American students and allies at Wayne State University. She is also the faculty PI for the College of Education Upward Bound program, a TRIO pre-college initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Zoom link: http://oakland-edu.zoom.us/j/99014820033?pwd=aXhXWkdaeUxpZFFNdWNLZ0t1K3l0UT09

Meeting ID: 990 1482 0033
Passcode: 779191

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