2010 Woman of the Year Awards
WOY 2010

HispanicBusiness Magazine Celebrates the 8th Annual
Woman of the Year in Los Angeles - June 4, 2010

WOY Finalists 2010

Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana

Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana
Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education
US Department of Education

Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana was confirmed as assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education at the Department of Education by the U.S. Senate on July 24, 2009. In this position, she plays a pivotal role in policy and management issues affecting elementary and secondary education. She directs, coordinates and recommends policy for programs designed to assist state and local education agencies with improving the achievement of elementary and secondary school students. She helps ensure equal access to services leading to such improvement for all children, particularly children who are economically disadvantaged. She fosters educational improvement at the state and local levels, and provides financial assistance to local education agencies whose local revenues are affected by federal activities. She also serves as the principal adviser to the U.S. secretary of education on all matters related to pre-k, elementary and secondary education.
Prior to arriving at the Department, Meléndez served as superintendent of the Pomona Unified School District (Calif.) since 2006. During her tenure in this very diverse district serving 31,000 students, three-quarters of whom were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and 44 percent of whom were English language learners, she was directly responsible for the three highest increases in the Academic Proficiency Index in the district's history as well as the second highest gain in the API for all California school districts. Two high schools in the district were ranked in 2007 by U.S. News & World Report as among America's top 500 high schools out of 18,000 nationwide. She also designed and launched a mathematics and science magnet school and a charter school for grades 7 through 12 at-risk students. She created a health sciences and an engineering academy as well as a partnership with California Polytechnic University, among other universities, to create a health career pathway. In 2009, her success as an education leader was recognized by the American Association of School Administrators, which voted her California Superintendent of the Year.
From 2005 to 2006, Meléndez worked on district-level reform in her position as program manager at the nonprofit Stupski Foundation. Here she focused on creating high-performance learning organizations to raise student achievement and close achievement gaps. Her portfolio included the 23,000-student Pasadena (Calif.) School District and the 40,000-student Illinois School District U-46. She also served on the foundation's Executive Leadership Team.
From 1999 to 2005, Meléndez served as deputy and assistant superintendent and chief academic officer at Pomona Unified, where she redesigned instructional services to increase student achievement and support to school sites. In these positions she achieved a 50-percent decrease in the number of low-achieving schools as measured by California accountability standards.
Prior to her work at Pomona Unified, Meléndez was director of school-family initiatives at the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project, where she oversaw grants for the Annenberg Foundation and implemented schoolwide accountability reform in 15 Los Angeles County school districts. From 1992 to 1997, she served as an educator in the Montebello and Pasadena Unified School districts, assuming the positions of director of instruction, principal, assistant principal and teacher. And from 1990 to 2002, she served in various faculty positions at universities in California.
Meléndez has been recognized frequently for her educational leadership. In 2009, she was named California Superintendent of the Year. In 2007, she was named Latina of Excellence, a national honor accorded to six Latinas "of great distinction in their fields" by Hispanic Magazine, receiving the Educationalist award. In 2006, Meléndez was selected to be a fellow in the Broad Superintendents Academy, a national honor awarded to 18 "outstanding, dynamic, entrepreneurial" public school leaders. In 2005, she was recognized as an Outstanding K12 School Leader & Distinguished Partner for Educational Excellence by California State Polytechnic University at Pomona. And, in 2003, she was named Outstanding Educator of the Year by the Los Angeles County Bilingual Directors Association.
Meléndez earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, where she was in the Rossier School of Education program specializing in language, literacy and learning. She earned a bachelor's degree cum laude in sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles. She is married to Otto Santa Ana, a professor in the Department of Chicano Studies at UCLA.

Alicia Abella, Ph.D.

Alicia Abella, Ph.D.
Executive Director Network and Services Research Lab
AT&T Labs, Research
Fortune #8 2008 Rev. $124,028 million

Dr. Abella is Executive Director of the Innovative Services Research Department, where she manages a group of multi-disciplinary technical staff specializing in data mining, user interfaces, IPTV, mobile services, SIP/VoIP technology, and environmental sustainability. In 2008 she became a member of the elite group of AT&T Science and Technology Medal award winners. She was also a recipient of the 2008 Hispanic Engineers National Achievement Award for Outstanding Technical Achievement. In 2009, she was recognized by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute(CHCI) for her contributions in the area of green technology. This recognition was bestowed at the CHCI Annual Awards Conference attended by President Obama and the First Lady, and by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor.
With 15 years of research experience, Alicia has held positions that allow her to demonstrate her skills in a broad research spectrum which have unfolded into her team's current responsibilities:

  • Collaborative Technologies and Tools: The goal of this research effort is to allow people to work on projects at a distance and over time. This significantly reduces costly and environmentally damaging travel, with the added social benefit of improving lifestyle. Projects in this area include: (a) a web-based framework for collaborative problem solving that allows people to collect all their documents, discussions, conference calls, and contact information for each of their projects in a single place; (b) a collaborative video sharing tool that allows businesses/consumers to comment and mark up video content for distance education, training, and entertainment; and (c) an iPhone application for on-demand audio conferences that can bring together people very spontaneously for urgent meetings wherever they are.

  • Data Mining and Visualization: Two critical components of AT&Ts business is interacting with its customers either via human agents or machines, and protecting its customers from malicious attacks to their services. This research area focuses on creating algorithms and tools for analyzing and evaluating these interactions and malicious events.

  • SIP/VoIP Technology: Creating software frameworks for the rapid development and testing of converged IP services. An example of such a service is a powerful teleconferencing system used by most of AT&T, with features that improve the conferencing experience, reduce user frustration and the need for travel.

Besides her technical contributions, Alicia has been a strong advocate in fostering the development of minorities and women in science and engineering. As Executive Vice President for the Young Science Achievers program, a program she has been involved with for 8 years, she has worked tirelessly to bring an interest and excitement in science and engineering to high school aged women and minority students through a program of mentoring and scientific achievement. This is a substantive volunteer activity for her that truly touches the lives of the students involved, which includes many Hispanics. She also chairs the AT&T Labs Fellowship program, a program she has been involved with for 15 years, in which she helps encourage, advise, and evaluate candidates for a prestigious graduate scholarship from AT&T targeted at women and minorities, again including many Hispanics.
Following completion of her Ph.D. in computer science from Columbia University, Abella joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ where she began her work in the problem of natural language understanding and dialog management. In addition to her doctoral work, Abella received a MS from Columbia and bachelor's from NYU, both in computer science. She lives in Morristown with her husband Alex and their son Mark.

Ignacia S. Moreno

Ignacia S. Moreno
Assistant Attorney General
Environment and Natural Resources Division

Ignacia S. Moreno was nominated by President Barack Obama to be Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division on June 8, 2009. She was confirmed by the United States Senate on November 5, 2009.
Ms. Moreno is a leading practitioner in the field of environmental and natural resources law, with over 19 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. She began her career at Hogan & Hartson LLP in Washington, D.C. where she practiced with the firm's environmental and litigation practice groups from 1990 to 1994. President Clinton appointed Ms. Moreno to the Department of Justice, where she served with distinction as Special Assistant (1994-1995), Counsel and then Principal Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division (1996-2001).
From 2001 to 2006, Ms. Moreno was an Of Counsel and then Partner at Spriggs & Hollingsworth in Washington, D.C. where she specialized in environmental and mass tort litigation with an emphasis on science-based advocacy. From 2006 until her confirmation, she was Counsel, Corporate Environmental Programs at the General Electric Company. Ms. Moreno received a Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University in 1986, and a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law in 1990.
Ms. Moreno has served pro bono as General Counsel to the Hispanic National Bar Association, on the Board of Advisors for the Center for International Environmental Law, on the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees for the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and on the Advisory Board for BNA's Environmental Due Diligence Guide. Ms. Moreno is a past President of the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia. She has held leadership positions in the American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources and served on special committees of the District of Columbia Bar.

Carmen Nazario

Carmen Nazario (Confirmed September 22, 2009)
Assistant Secretary for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Until her recent nomination, Carmen R. Nazario was an Assistant Professor at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, where she taught social policy and coordinated the Social Work Practicum at the School of Social Work. Nazario has vast experience in public service with a focus on improving services to children and families within the United States and around the world, dating back to 1968. From January 2003 December 2008, she served as Aministrator of the Administration for Children and Families for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, where she led an agency of 4,000 staff with a budget of over $220 million. Prior to that, she served as the Senior Resident Investigator for the Jordan Poverty Alleviation Program, where she developed and implemented a national poverty reduction strategy for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and advised leaders in the nation on the delivery of social services.
During the Clinton Administration, she first served as Associate Commissioner for Child Care in the Administration on Children, Youth and Families and later became the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Nazario joined the Clinton Administration after serving as Secretary of Health and Social Services for the State of Delaware from 1993-1997, and, prior to that, she was the Director of Social Services in Norfolk, Virginia, and Loudoun County, Virginia.
Nazario has held a number of national leadership roles, including Vice President of the Board of Directors of the American Public Welfare Association, President of the National Council of Local Public Welfare Administrators, and Secretary of the National Council of State Human Service Administrators. Nazario is from Bayamon, Puerto Rico. She received a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico in 1967, and was awarded her Master of Social Work degree from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work in 1973.

Carmen M. Ortiz

Carmen M. Ortiz
U.S. Attorney
District of Massachusetts

On January 11, 2010, Carmen Milagros Ortiz was sworn in as the first woman and Hispanic US attorney in Massachusetts. Carmen Milagros Ortiz was nominated by President Obama as the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts and was later confirmed by the United States Senate on November 5, 2009. As the chief federal law enforcement officer in Massachusetts, Ms. Ortiz supervises the prosecution of all federal crimes and the litigation of all civil matters in which the federal government has an interest. She oversees the work of more than 200 attorneys and support staff in Boston, Worcester and Springfield. Ms. Ortiz has spent much of her professional career in public service. Before becoming United States Attorney, she was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Economic Crimes Unit of the United States Attorney's Office in Boston for twelve years. While there, Ms. Ortiz also served as Grand Jury Supervisor. In addition to her federal service, Ms. Ortiz served as an Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County, where she worked for a total of eight years, overseeing the District Court and prosecuting homicides, sexual assaults, robberies and other felony cases. In addition to her public service, Ms. Ortiz was a senior trial attorney at the law firm of Morisi & Associates, P.C., concentrating on civil, criminal, and governmental agency litigation. She also was a Program Associate and Training Coordinator at the Harvard Law School's Center for Criminal Justice from 1989 through 1991. There she worked on the Harvard/Guatemala Criminal Justice Project, which entailed collaborating with the judiciary of Guatemala and other legal professionals to implement criminal justice reforms in that country. In 1991, on behalf of the National Football League, Ms. Ortiz investigated allegations of sexual harassment that were made by a sports writer against the New England Patriots. Ms. Ortiz is a graduate of Adelphi University (B.B.A.) and George Washington University Law School (J.D.).

WOY Sponsor
Community Sponsors
Levene, Neale, Bender, Rankin & Brill L.L.P.
Adorno, Yoss, Alvarado, & Smith
Adorno, Yoss, Alvarado, & Smith
2010 WOY Slideshow
Hispanic Business 2010 WOY

Play Slideshow