Nationally Recognized Business Leaders Aída M. Álvarez and Deborah Álvarez-Rodriguez Speak at USF’s Latinas in Leadership Forum on Jan. 30

SAN FRANCISCO (January 22, 2015)

The University of San Francisco (USF) will spotlight the innovative leadership that inspires, supports, and develops the success of the Latina and Chicana community during the USF Stakeholder Community Forum: Latinas in Leadership, on Friday, Jan. 30, from 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Keynote speakers and sisters Aída M. Álvarez, board member of Walmart Board of Directors, and Deborah Álvarez-Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Seam Innovation, will speak about their personal stories of extraordinary success.

“Aída and Deborah, together on stage for the first time ever, will share the challenges they faced and choices they made that helped propel them to prominent positions and notable executives in America,” said USF Vice Provost Mary Wardell Ghirarduzzi. “Latinas are leading the growth of entrepreneurial endeavors in California and are emerging as a force throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, yet their contributions have not been fully recognized or visible in mainstream media or business. Our goal with this event is to advance and strengthen existing pathways for education, workforce preparation, and innovative leadership for Latinas throughout the community.”

Aída Álvarez was a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet from 1997 to 2001, and the first Hispanic woman to hold a United States Cabinet-level position as head the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). She presided over record activity including $61.5 billion in guaranteed loans and venture capital financing during a four-year period. During Alvarez’s leadership, SBA’s lending to women tripled and funding to minorities doubled. Prior to her federal service, Álvarez’s career started as an award-winning journalist at the New York Post. She earned an Emmy nominee and was the recipient of the Associated Press award for journalistic excellence for her series on the war in El Salvador. A Harvard graduate, Álvarez was elected to serve on the Harvard Board of Overseers, and currently serves on a number of other boards, including the Board of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C., and the Board of Governors for the San Francisco Symphony.

Deborah Álvarez-Rodriguez is a nationally recognized leader, TED Talk speaker, social entrepreneur, and sustainability champion with more than 25 years of executive management experience, and recipient of numerous awards and recognitions for her civic and professional service commitments. Her strategic advising practice, Seam Innovation, serves leaders and enterprises throughout the country. Under her nine-year leadership as President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin, Álvarez-Rodriguez created more than 700 jobs, doubled revenue to $44 million, and operated more than 22 award-winning businesses and programs. The San Francisco Business Times has awarded her “The Most Admired CEO” and the “100 Most Influential Women Award” seven times.

Latinas in Leadership will also feature the voices of outstanding Latinas from the USF and greater Bay Area as they engage in discussions moderated by USF Trustee Emeritus Rose Guilbault, who will be available to sign copies of her book The Latinas Guide to Success in the Workplace. The half-day conference will include a musical performance by singer, songwriter, and activist Diana Gameros.

The Stakeholder Community Forum: Latinas in Leadership, developed by USF’s Office of Diversity Engagement & Community Outreach, in partnership with San Francisco Business Times, will take place in the McLaren Conference Center on the USF campus. This event is free to USF students and faculty, and open to the public for a $25 registration fee.

There are fee waivers available for those who do not have the funds needed to attend. Those interested in a fee waiver should contact the Office of Diversity Engagement & Community Outreach at or (415) 422-2821.

The purpose of the Stakeholder Community Forum Series at USF is to advance the public’s awareness of issues that affect diverse and disproportionately represented San Franciscans. By leveraging the intellectual capital of the University and wider community, the Jan. 30 objective is to facilitate conversations to address challenges, issues, and opportunities in leadership development for Latinas.

Media interested in attending Latinas in Leadership, or to request an interview, please contact Anne-Marie Devine Tasto, senior director of media relations, at (415) 422-2697 or

About the University of San Francisco

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