News Column

Powerful Latinas to Offer Wisdom Saturday in Houston

Oct. 25, 2012

Maggie Galehouse

Powerful Latinas

Inspiration, straight talk and practical advice.

The Adelante Tour, visiting Houston on Saturday, promises all three.

A free forum to empower Latinas offers presentations by three women: Adelante Movement founder Nely Galan, author Sandra Cisneros and founder of the "Count Me In" nonprofit, Nell Merlino.

Latinas are emerging as a powerful economic force in this country, says Galan, an independent producer at Galan Entertainment and former president of entertainment at Telemundo.

"I want Latinas to understand that there are government contracts earmarked for them, small-business loans available to them, franchises that want them to apply," says Galan, who learned about these opportunities from research done by consumer product companies.

Galan, who has produced more than 700 television shows in English and Spanish -- "I'm Tyler Perry Latina," she jokes -- pulls from her own experience to help other women.

Starting at age 12, she paid to keep herself in a Catholic school her parents could no longer afford by selling Avon products from her locker.

As an adult, Galan has worked at different times for five billionaires, including media mogul Rupert Murdoch, American television writer and producer Norman Lear, and Univision owner Haim Saban. From them, she discovered that the philosophy she and many others grew up with -- follow your bliss and the money will come -- was utterly bogus.

"In a bad economy, the money does not always come," Galan says. "A more grounded approach is to recognize that you live on two parallel tracks: money and mission. Money? You have to go make it. It doesn't have to be your life's passion. ... When you're lucky, the two things come together, but 90 percent of the time that's not the case."

In her own life, she says, TV work is up and down.

"In the time that I made money, I bought buildings in foreclosure and I fixed them up and rented them," she says. "I have made more money in real estate times five than in my TV life."

These are the types of lessons she hopes to pass on.

Cisneros will open the Adelante (best translation, "Move it!") event with an inspirational talk about how to find your voice.

"She's pretty fiesty," Galan says. "She's our Maya Angelou."

Then Galan will discuss how to take that special something and turn it into a business.

Merlino, the woman behind "Take Our Daughters to Work Day," will follow with how to write a one-page business plan.

"Nell is my inspiration," Galan says. "I raised money for her nonprofit when I was on 'Celebrity Apprentice.' She helps women start businesses -- from soup to nuts."

The event will close, Galan says mysteriously, with a powerful ceremony:

"It's all about women bonding and realizing that if we all bought from each other, we'd be rich."

Source: (c)2012 the Houston Chronicle. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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