NAWBO Talks: ¡Dale! Leveraging Perseverance to Drive Our Success | NAWBO

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 -
5:00pm to 7:00pm

¡Dale! Leveraging Perseverance To Drive Our Success

NAWBO Chicago is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a dynamic panel of successful Latina women. Together, we'll discuss how our amazing panelists have approached business ownership, work/life balance and Latinidad. Join us to laugh, learn and remember that we're in this together.

The evening will kick off with drinks and appetizers at our host facility, Right Bee Cider. Our featured panel will begin at 6:00 pm.

Emcees for the event are Vanessa Jackson of the Lemon Ad Stand and Candace Washington of Pivotal Impact, LLC.

Update: We are excited to announce there is a virtual attendance option for ¡Dale! Leveraging Perseverance to Drive Our Success. If you prefer to join remotely, after you register through the Eventbrite page please email and she will send you the Zoom link to tune in on Sept. 22.

Please note: This event is still taking place in-person. NAWBO Chicago is pleased to offer a hybrid choice so that all attendees may participate within their own comfort level.

Masks: In accordance with Gov. JB Pritzker's executive order, beginning on Monday, August 30, 2021, all individuals in Illinois who are age two or over and able to medically tolderate a face covering (a mask or cloth face covering) shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when in an indoor public place. Illnoisans should also consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings and for activities that involve close contact with others who are not full vaccinated. Face coverings may be removed temporarily while actively eating or drinking including in bars or restaurants.

Meet the Panel:


Clerk Iris Martinez

Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County Iris Y. Martinez was sworn into her first term in the Illinois State Senate on January 8, 2003 to represent the people of Illinois’ 20th Legislative District. Her election marked the first time a Latina had been elected to the State Senate in Illinois history. She made history once again by serving as Assistant Majority Leader from 2007-2008, a position never before held by a Latina. Martinez was named Majority Caucus Whip in 2013 and became Assistant Majority Leader again in 2018.

As a state senator, Clerk Martinez used her position to advocate for affordable housing, expanding health care access, and ensuring seniors and the disabled populations receive proper care. She is a strong champion for Illinois’ children; working on initiatives to keep children safe and annually hosts a Family Wellness and Back to School Fair, where hundreds of children received health screenings, dental checkups, immunizations, and backpacks filled with school supplies every year.

A tireless advocate of programs designed to improve the quality of education for youth in Illinois Clerk Martinez fought for the Grow Your Own Teacher initiative, an effort that placed 1,000 teachers in low-income, hard-to-staff Illinois public schools by offering forgivable student loans to paraprofessionals, parents and other community leaders who wish to become teachers. She also supported the Annual Golden Apple Scholar Program, which places highly qualified teachers in the state’s hard-to-staff schools.

Clerk Martinez’s involvement with the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus, including previously serving as a Co-Chair, gave her a platform to work on initiatives of importance to minorities. She championed a law allowing people who a not comfortable speaking or understanding English, as well as those who have trouble hearing, to be aided by an interpreter in the court room. Another law she spearheaded ensured that all health care facilities treating Medicaid patients in managed care plans must develop and implement language services.

On November 3, 2020 Iris Y. Martinez made history by being elected the first Latina Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, the largest of 24 judicial circuits in Illinois as well as one of the largest unified court systems in the United States. She has also served as past President of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), and is currently the 4th Congressional District State Central Committeewoman for the Democratic Party of Illinois, City of Chicago’s 33rd Ward Democratic Committeeperson, and Chairwoman of the Hispanic Caucus for the Democratic National Committee.

Clerk Martinez was born and raised in Chicago’s West Town community. She resides in the city’s Albany Park neighborhood and has a daughter, Jacklyn Nicole.

Alicia Ponce

A registered architect in Illinois and Wisconsin, Alicia Ponce is the founder and principal of APMonarch, a Chicago based Female and Latinx owned Architecture firm. Her expertise and passion to design healthy buildings and equitable communities have supported many clients in designing radically better projects. Under Alicia’s direction, the firm provides architectural services, community engagement and sustainability consulting for projects throughout the City of Chicago and in Latin America.

Alicia refers to APMonarch as the pollinators of the built environment designing healthy environments that look good, feel good and perform great. Her reputation for resilient and nature inspired architecture provides her clients with architecture that is ambitious, thoughtful and healthy. Her growing list of notable projects include Exelon, The Field Museum, the University of Chicago Keller Center and Centro Amazing in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Alicia currently serves on the Chicago Landmarks Commission, serves on the board of United Way Metro Chicago and is the founder of Arquitina, a national leadership and licensure initiative for Latina women pursuing their architectural license. Their mission is to raise the less 1% of licensed Latina architects in the U.S.

Neli Vazquez Rowland

Neli Vazquez Rowland hails from one of Chicago’s immigrant communities called ‘Little Village.’ Today she is an influential force and a passionate advocate for the homeless. In 1994, Neli and her husband Brian launched A Safe Haven to address and heal the root causes of the growing opioid and homeless epidemics. Now, the organization is frequently lauded as one of the most successful, vertically-integrated delivery systems and continuum of care models that provides people access to transitional housing, and individualized social services, including job training and placement and supportive and permanent affordable housing.

A Safe Haven has helped 130,000 people transform their lives to short and long-term independence and self-sufficiency. Her authentic, courageous, and visionary approach to confronting and solving one of America’s most challenging issues has made her a highly sought-after speaker by top media, academia, and local, national, and international public policy stages.

She is an award-winning humanitarian and entrepreneur, an author of landmark State legislation, and the creator of Chicago’s first medical COVID-19 respite center serving vulnerable populations in need of a place to isolate. Neli also serves on various business association, academic and governmental boards. She is also the author of the book HEALING, an anthology of personal success stories told by alumni of A Safe Haven and soon to be released her memoir called “An Elegant Solution.”

Food for this event is provided by Ponce Restaurant.


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