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“Community Over Competition:” Prospanica Milwaukee to host 4th annual Latinas Event on Saturday at the Spark Building

Attendees take a quick group photo at last year's Annual Latinas Event.

Prospanica Milwaukee will host its 4th annual Latinas Event on Saturday, April 13, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Spark Building in downtown Madison. The event, which will be held in Madison for the first time, is titled “Discover the Power of Community Over Competition.” 

Prospanica is a nationwide organization that has worked to advocate for the advancement of Hispanic professionals for the last 35 years through scholarships, career opportunities, professional development, community access, and more. Jesus M. Maldonado Reyes is the president of the Prospanica Milwaukee Chapter.

Jesus M. Maldonado Reyes

“Today, we have 47 chapters of Prospanica throughout the United States and our mission is to empower and enable Hispanic business students and MBA business professionals,” Maldonado Reyes tells Madison365. “And we do that in a variety of ways including giving scholarships: We have given over $8 million in scholarships. We also have a national conference and we do professional development and career development. 

“This is the first time we will do an event in Madison which is important because we represent the entire state,” he adds. “We’re partnering with the Business School at UW-Madison for the 4th annual Latinas Event.”


The goals of Saturday’s Latinas Event are to foster professional growth and networking opportunities for Latina students and professionals through engaging presentations, panels and community connections. The keynote speakers will be Dr. Merary Simeon and Alisa Manjarrez, co-founders of the What Rules!? podcast and the co-founders of Zera Consulting, a company that equips leaders with skills and strategies that advance multicultural women in the workplace. The two women will explore the empowering theme of “Community Over Competition.”

Alisa Manjarrez

“Our podcast What Rules!? is dedicated to helping multicultural women through what we call rule-breaking strategies,” Simeon tells Madison365. “So we highlight multicultural women in VP, C-suite, corporate America who have achieved these roles, and they share with our audience how they got there, and what are the cultural norms or rules that they have broken.”

Simeon and Manjarrez are looking forward to expanding on the theme of the Fourth annual Latina Event which is “Community Over Competition.”

Dr. Merary Simeon

“You always hear organizations that are marketing to the Latino population, and it’s mathematically impossible for them to succeed without the buying power just because it’s one of the fastest growing populations,” Simeon says. “What we’re seeing here by the numbers with Latina entrepreneurs, is that we have not only a huge buying power, but a huge influence. So how do we help each other and come together as a community?  

“As a Latino community, we are all very good at being resilient,” she continues. “The issue lies when a strength becomes a derailer because we have so much resilience, we feel we need to do everything ourselves … but it is about the power of community and, in this case, Latinas and how we can help each other be successful in our businesses.” 

Simeon stresses that Latinas need to be at the table and working together.

“There’s so much division in our country right now that I truly believe all of this chaos and noise around us is taking away the focus of the real issue at hand,” she says. “And that is, number one, that we need to be at the table. And number two, how can we work together?”

At the end of the day, Simeon adds, there are just three Latina CEOs in the Fortune 500. And that has to change.

“Latinas are getting degrees at a faster rate than many other groups, yet we aren’t at the table,” she says. “If we’re not intentional about using our numbers, we’re going to be left out of those decisions at the corporate table that impact our communities every day. So that’s why we’ll be talking about ‘communities over competition.’

“I think this is a fabulous opportunity for Latinas to really own the market and just support each other and lead the way in a time where the nation is so divided,” Simeon adds. “It’s time to really lead the growth of our communities in a way that’s going to continue to help grow the economy.”

Panelists for the afternoon session at the 4th annual Latina Event will include Amanda Moran, MBA candidate at the UW-Madison School of Business; Andrea Contreras, an associate at American Family Insurance; and Karen Soraya Burch, vice president of community engagement and marketing at United Way of Dane County. 

Margarita Avila

Margarita Avila is the membership experience officer for Prospanica Milwaukee and the director of workforce development at the Latino Academy of Workforce Development here in Madison.

“We’re not just bringing Latina leaders to this event to share their expertise, but we’re also inviting the students,” Avila tells Madison365. “It’s an important event for them to be able to meet and learn from and network with Latinas that are already doing amazing things but also for them to see real examples here and to feel like, ‘Hey, I can be a director one day’ or ‘I can be a CEO one day’ or ‘I can be an entrepreneur.’

“From the panel, they will hear different perspectives and see how different women were able to get to where they are right now,” she adds.

Sponsors of the event include American Family Insurance, Associated Bank, and Church Mutual Insurance. Community partners include Latinas Connect Milwaukee, Latino Professional Association, Inc., Mivoz.com, and the UW Business School Women in Business Student Club

Lunch will be provided by El Chisme. All allies are welcome to this event. Registration will end on Wednesday, April 10. Register here.