"Building Strong Latina Leaders from the Inside Out:
    tapping into passions to find balance and energize your life."

Women of ALPFA Conference

Los Angeles, California

Giselle Fernandez,

June 9, 2012




Good afternoon ladies. Beautiful Latina Furezas de la Naturaleza... forces of nature are we...

It's great that we gather like this together... this Saturday afternoon.

When most women come together to speak of passion these days... they are most likely speaking of "Shades of Grey," right?

It's the rage. And you know when they're doing it... they're all secret... noses buried in this thing in the bus, on the beach, airport cafes... all book covers covered with brown paper. You know, shades of grey...

Well, we Latinas got our own thing going on today. When we speak of passion -- it's all shades of brown! And that's is what I'm passionate about.

We come together at such an important time in history. For us, and it's clear we Latinas play a vital essential role.

Just take a look at the duality of the moment. On the one hand we are in positions of power globally we never have been.

We have three Latina presidents of three Latin countries - simultaneously leading us into a new age.

Women presidents of the region, both past and present.

Dilma Rousseff, in Brazil 2010 - of the ruling Workers' Party - a nation of almost 200 million people, and a rising global power. They call her the "New Iron Lady." While a student in the 1960s, she joined the left-wing armed resistance against the military dictatorship. Although she says she was never involved in violence herself, she was seen as a key figure within the movement. She was arrested and held for three years, during which time she was tortured. But she came back to lead her nation today.

There's Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica. She is known for her work campaigning on human rights and women's rights.

There was Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile until 2010. The first woman to hold the office of president in Latin America.

And, of course, in Mexico, the first woman to ever run for president in our macho culture is campaigning hard as we speak.

Here in our own country, we are certainly not where we will be. But we have made huge strides as corporate leaders. Giselle Ruiz, the COO of Wal-Mart, the biggest company in the world.

Susan Santiago, vice president of food and beverage for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.

Yvonne Garcia, Director of Segment Marketing for Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Our ranks are growing in the boardrooms and in political offices. We have Sonya Sotomayer at the U.S. Supreme Court.

And we are rising in leadership at such a profound time for us.

On the one hand, we are the fastest growing demographic with a trillion dollars buying power. Could swing the presidential election.

On the other hand, 36 percent of our kids live in poverty, we were hit hardest by the mortgage crisis and we have the highest unemployment in the country. Twelve percent of us graduate from college and yet we make up nearly a quarter of the entire college age population today. Unless we do something, we will not be educated to compete in a global economy and that's not a brown problem, that s a green problem. And face deep discrimination still as we see in these anti- immigrant laws in Arizona, etc. That type casts so many of us collectively as drains on this country and not the contributions we are.

So while we have emerging Latina leadership all over the world and here at home, we lack the leadership deeply needed at this critical moment to attend to the great needs of our people - all people of color.

When Herman Kane stood up and said "just fry 'em at the border," we didn't have our own Jesse Jackson to stand up on our behalf and raise our voice to say, "This is unacceptable."

This is not because we are not fired up about this... it's because so many do not feel empowered. And that is why focusing on the times we live in is so vital right now, on all levels, personally, collectively and spiritually.

It's all lining up. And we are being called as never before. Especially Latinas, to awaken with passion and lead now with conviction with a powerful, deeply connected voice.

You know it's always been who we are. It's in our cellular history to be champions of our people. Our children.

We are brave and soulful warriors. We, women of the sun. We indigenous spirits.

We know so much about the Mexican Revolution. For example, Pancho Villa, Zapata, but there were also daring dames who fought the good fight against the ruling classes when it counted.

The fighting soldaderas of 1910. Do you know of them, the Latina freedom fighters?

Solores Jimenz Yemury, outspoken, fearless and willing to risk everything for the sake of her country. Zapata named her a brigadier general and she was one of the key contributors to the framing of the constitution.

Juana Belen Guteires Mendoza, a colonel in the revolution who, not only fought on the front lines, but also started a newspaper which became the central voice for the rebels and powerful voice for social order.

And my favorite, Beatriz Gonzalez Ortega, known better for her healing than her fighting. She was a tireless nurse on the battlefield and often helped the wounded from both sides. She was known to defy the great Pancho Villa after one battle, refusing to tell them which of her patients were from the other side, since she knew that they would be killed.

I evoke the spirit of these women who came before us because they are a part of our history. Her story. Our story.

To know who you are, and certainly where you are going, you need to know from where you have come - on who's energies you carry on with you. We don't often honor that which we are made of.

Even in our most immediate history. I come from a Mexican flamenco dancer father and a Jewish-American mother from New York.

I come from generations of gypsies on both sides of my lineage. I come from a people of great civilizations in the Mayans and Aztecs. Who in the 5th and 9th centuries built systems of astronomy, agriculture and science beyond our imaginations? I come from that genius. ZI come from a decimated people taken over by Europeans. And on my Jewish side, I too, know that betrayal. To be enslaves, over thrown, kicked out of my homeland.

It is no wonder I have in me this DNA to fight for what is right. For the rights of the underserved, the discriminated against. It is my being to right these wrongs.

Who do you come from? The blood that courses through their veins is the same that courses through yours. Their spirit, energy, DNA is in you. Do you tune into that?

In my life they have been such a critical key to my confidence, conviction and courage. The three C's required of true leadership that only comes from tapping deeply into your eternal you - your inner world. We all have an inner world and an outer world. We may spend more time from here, which never gives you a firm foundation. You can't build upon a structure that does not have a solid foundation.

It will crumble beneath the weight of dreams. It did for me. No matter how successful a TV journalist I was, no matter how many successes I have achieved. Traveled the world, done amazing stories, I always had insecurities and questioned my voice. When destiny put me in positions to lead, I always questioned, "Who am I to lead?"

I concentrated on my faults and miss-steps. My deep longings as what really defined me, and not the accomplishments I had achieved. And I was successful, on the air, making millions of dollars. Traveling the world, and yet I never felt quite there.

But as long as you can hide behind your human doings, you can avoid really looking at the human you are being... human doings vs. human beings.

It was when I left broadcasting and went through a major transformation in my life that I finally was forced to confront who I was without the title, the job, the doings, the trappings. All I knew that defined me collapsed, and I was just left with me.

Who was I? I felt this great duality. Much like we experience today in the outside world. Of there being a great need for change and a deep calling to lead that charge. But at the same time, asking who am I to lead the way?

That complexity of energies tormented me. It's so confusing, knowing you are here to be great and yet not knowing how.

Depression is a suppression of who you are. Not being able to exercise your true purpose. It's your soul crying out to you to wake up. I went through such searching, trying to figure out, "who am I to lead the way?"

And I came to the awakening that the best way to describe who I was, was by telling you what I was passionate about. What I truly believed to be true - my values and ideals. If jobs, titles and wealth could not be counted on to define me, what could?

And what I knew beyond measure was that I believed all people are created equal.

I believed each human being is a child of God and deserves respect, dignity and an ability to pursue his destiny.

I believed each life was precious and worthy. That discrimination of any kind was unacceptable. That we must protect and give voice to the voiceless.

And as I tapped into these core and passionate beliefs, I felt myself rise within me, proud to embody this sense of justice for all. This is who I am.

And this came with such pride, sense of conviction, honor and confidence. Such driven energy. As if my soul woke up after a long sleep saying, "Yes, this is who you are."

I am a journalist at heart. A storyteller by trade. I believe in the power of story to empower a people So I looked at these convictions I knew defined me, and that is when I asked where does this come from?

My mom certainly embedded this sense of individualism in me. She left a Jewish life in America to marry a flamenco dancer and followed her own calling. To be a mariachi singer. She didn't paint by numbers.

Then I looked at my people... the Mayans of thousands of years ago - to see upon whose shoulders I stood.

I looked in more recent history to learn of great protests and calls for justice, and learned of a young Totzil woman named Comandete Ramona who came down to Chiapas.

Owning that voice within, knowing your story, the story of your people, the story of now. And how you can write new chapters, so critical to owning your purpose for being here.

Which brings me to the one level of story we have yet to delve into that has such resonance for us. For we of indigenous blood. And that is the story of the Cosmos.

We are completing a huge chapter in our existence. This all according to the Mayan calendar and this great prophesy that I am very much attuned to. It has great resonance with we people of the sun, the earth.

It talks of a time that we no longer should be asking what we want out of life. But instead, what life is asking of us. Of you.

I may not be reading "Shades of Grey," but I am heavily into reading about the Mayan calendar, these great people who are our ancestors. The builders of these great civilizations from the 5th and 9th century, they didn't only create a timetable. Their calendar describes the evolution of consciousness. Unfolding as I speak.

It's great prophesy is not that the world is ending on December 21st, but that this is a critical time for human beings to truly align themselves with the cosmic plan, to be a part of this conscious convergence. This time of great transformation and renewal.

And what's fascinating for us is that this great prophesy actually focuses on the transfer of power and reawakening to the Divine Feminine.

A shift from masculine forces of greed, materialism and delusion, to a more elevated awareness, less equated with money and more with the spirit and inspiration.

According to the Maya, the age in which we are currently living marks the end of a 500-year long cycle that they call the "Trail of Tears." All that we know must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones who we have been waiting for. That, for the first time in a long time, life gains a higher and deeper meaning and has a purpose.

We are now entering what is called the "Universal Cycle." Where it is said time begins to speed up and things will be manifesting incredibly fast.

The Maya, Hopi, Laika and Inca tribes all these diffusions of which we are part, foretell that we are at the end of a long cycle of expansion in consciousness and the beginning of a Golden age.

What the Maya call "Transformation into Unity Consciousness. And their prophecies state that when we complete this cycle of transformation, we will forever leave the consciousness of this singular galaxy and become integrated into the consciousness of the Universe.

According to the calendar, in order for us to play our role, fulfill our purpose in this evolutionary transition, we must find a way to raise our vibration and achieve balance and harmony in our lives. Starting within the Self. Connecting deeply with the energy of the Sacred Feminine. Opening our hearts for healing and personal balance within. That this will give you access to a fuller you!

The prophecy states we all have an inner world as well as an outer world. By knowing how to discover our inner world we will really understand our unique passion, how to implement it and manifest it into the outer world.

Leadership first and foremost is learning about energy. It is learning how to develop this energy in your self and how to use and demonstrate it. To be an energetic leader with passion you must love yourself. Learning to love your self builds energy within so that you can extend this power in your leadership in truly creative, powerful and compassionate ways to others.

The objectives - experience how to talk and listen to your unconscious; how to effectively use your intention and where to put your attention; how to remove emotional barriers that inhibit action; how to deal with impossibilities; and learn how to use the basic recipe of EFT (emotional freedom technique).

Copyright © Giselle Fernandez - 2012
All rights reserved.