Hispanic Heritage Month: Perspectives on Fundraising and Philanthropy

WOC’s the WORD kicks off by honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month (NHHM). Observed each year from September 15th to October 15th, NHHM celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors come from Spain, the Caribbean and the Americas. Our inaugural conversation will feature celebrated Mexican philanthropist and founder of Procura A.C., Marcela Orvañanos de Rovzar, and Elisa Charters, WOC Advisory Committee member and founder of Latina Surge, a nonprofit that educates and advocates for diversity, inclusion, and gender parity on executive boards in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Marcela, Elisa, and Yolanda will be joined by WOC Advisory Committee member Martha Lauria in dialogue about fundraising and philanthropy through a Latina lens. Please join us as we celebrate this vital part of the fabric of the Americas while learning about the future of our sector in the Latina community!

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Procura A.C.

Mission: Procura is a Mexican non-profit organization, founded in 1995, whose mission is to strengthen the institutional capacity of civil society organizations seeking to build a more just and equitable society. One of the tasks performed by the organization is teaching a diploma in institution-building and fundraising composed of six modular courses. This preparation aids organizations in their efforts to reduce poverty in Mexico and Latin America, specifically in their institutional development and fundraising, with a focus on financial sustainability and permanency. Since its founding, Procura has trained more than 18,000 students, all of whom are connected to non-profit organizations. Another of the activities of the organization is the implementation of a Self-Assessment and Planning Program, dropping down to which to do a self-analysis organizations to develop a plan of development according to their abilities and needs. Since this program has helped rehabilitate more than 130 schools in Mexico.

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Latina Surge

Mission: The empowerment of Latinas and the Latinx community continues to grow with all women in this nation, as a powerful body with the ability to have a positive global and economic impact. We are an integral part of the overall health of corporate and Main St. America. Any product, service or issue we choose to SURGE, will make a significant difference. As such, we highlight and reward companies, that treat women with parity and with appreciation as integral contributors of the workforce. Our mission is to advocate for diversity and inclusion, and to seek representation on corporate and government boards, reflective of the diversity of our growing dynamic in American society at large. Our organization effectuates inclusion by energetically empowering Latinas and other underrepresented individuals to access education, networking, technology and supply chains. Our vision is to lead from the top-down. We aim to SURGE vigorously towards a most effective workforce and nation, one where diversity is understood, valued and embraced.

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About Our Guests

Marcela Orvañanos, Founder, Procura, A.C.

Both in the organized civil society environment and in the entrepreneurial world in the Americas, Marcela Orvañanos is an outstanding and highly recognized leader. A Mexican philanthropist, she is the founder of several social and humanitarian organizations in Mexico and in the United States.

As an expert in professional training for fundraising and institutional development for the social sector, Marcela’s work has had a very positive influence on philanthropic activities, not only in Latin America but also in the United States.

Being the founder of Procura, A.C., the most prestigious training institute for fundraising and institutional development in Mexico, an organization that since its creation has trained over 25,000 individuals in Latin America, the Philippines and the United States, Marcela has been able to provide its graduates the capable and well developed skills required to allow them to establish their own organizations, in a professional, efficient and effective manner, to produce a higher impact on the community they serve.

Thanks to her devotion to ethical and consistent work, from the establishment of Procura to this date, Marcela has had an alliance with The Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. This alliance has given way to have the courses taught by Procura receive all the professional recognition that is necessary in the world of civil society.

During 2006, jointly with Alexis, her husband, Marcela established Qualitas of Life Foundation in the metropolitan area of the City of New York, a foundation devoted to teaching basic financial education courses to Hispanic families. In that same year, she established in Mexico City Fondo de Estrategia Social, A.C. (FES), whose mission is to invest private resources in causes promoting social investment.

She is also the founder of Fondea Asesorías, S.C., a corporation established in Mexico City in the year 2002, a consulting firm having as purpose to assist on the development of social impact projects, both for the public and the private sectors. Among its many clients we find Mexico’s Secretaría de Desarrollo Social and Secretaría de Educación Pública. She is a consultant on financial campaigns for Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) and Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), as well as for Fundación ACIR, Museo Horno 3, Fundación Nextel, Centro Mario Molina, Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA), Universidad Panamericana (UP), Instituto Panamericano de Alta Dirección de Empresa (IPADE) and Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey-

Marcela is presently the Chairperson for UNICEF’s Consulting Board in Mexico. She was nominated to the Eisenhower Fellowship Award, and was also one of the finalist candidates to Avon’s Sacil Award, granted to the best entrepreneurial women. She received the Senior Fellowship Award at the Center of Philanthropy and Civil Society of the City University of New York (CUNY), center whose Directive Board is chaired by her.

Among the academic and honorary awards received by Marcela, we find that she is a member of The Philanthropy Workshop (TPW) at the Rockefeller Foundation, has earned a certificate on Administrative Management and Fundraising for Nonprofit Organizations granted by The Lilly School of Philanthropy, and a certificate on Entrepreneurial Social Responsibility by Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. She also earned a Liberal Arts Degree from the The New School University in New York, where she graduated with honors, and she also received the Global Master of Arts Program (GMAP) degree at The School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Besides being the Chairperson for Qualitas of Life Foundation in New York and a member of Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales, A.C. (COMEXI), Marcela’s efficiency and capabilities to advise organizations, has given her the opportunity to act as consultant for several institutions, such as Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey, Procura, A.C., Fundación CEDIC, A.C., Consejo de Audiencias de “A Favor de lo Mejor” A.C., the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University, and other.

As the Mexico representative for The Lilly School of Philanthropy at the Indiana University, she has had an outstanding role promoting training, and since her life has been devoted to ethical fundraising, Marcela was awarded the Henry A. Rosso medal, that is the most prestigious award granted by this School.

In the year 2015, she was honored by the Society of Foreign Consuls in New York, Inc. as a result of her exemplary and continuous work to empower members of the Hispanic communities in that city, and received the Circle of Mercy award granted by one of the most important community organizations in the City of New York, the Mercy Center, to show their appreciation for her creative energy and her generosity to the Latino community.

As a wife, Marcela shared her family life with Alexis Eugenio Rovzar de la Torre, with whom she had four children: Marcela, Mónica, Mariana and Alexis. She now has eight wonderful grandchildren that fill her life with joy.

Elisa A. Charters, President, Latina Surge

Elisa Charters is a passionate advocate for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), community and small business development. In 2014, Elisa co-founded Latina Surge National, a 501c3 start-up with a mission to educate and advocate for D&I and gender parity on executive boards in government, corporate America, and higher education. In 2017 and 2018, Latina Surge National was one of seventy-five leading networks from a pool of 47,000 globally, recognized by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and Co-Founder of the Lean In organization.

Professionally, Elisa is an entrepreneur and consultant, having conducted international trade, and wholesale and retail apparel sourcing from South America. She is a seasoned executive strategist with extensive public-sector finance and transactional experience. She negotiated major economic development, infrastructure and transportation initiatives throughout the NY/NJ region.

In 2012, Gov. Christie appointed Elisa to the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority (NJHCFFA), where she served as Vice Chair for four years. During her tenure, NJHCFFA approved over $2.6 billion in financing for hospital expansions and health care entities, and achieved 21% MWBE participation among co-leads in the State. Prior to this appointment, she was commissioned by Rutgers University student organizations and statewide Latino community organizations to lead the #MP4RBOG coalition supporting inclusion. It succeeded with Gov. Christie’s appointment and confirmation of Martin Perez, Esq., a civil rights activist, who is the second Latino ever confirmed to serve the university’s board in its 240+ year history.

In 2008, Gov. Corzine appointed Elisa to the State of Jersey’s Minority and Women Business Development Advisory Council where she served for four years to address disparities in the State’s procurement pipeline. Prior to this gubernatorial appointment, Elisa served as President of the Port Authority Hispanic Society (PAHS) employee resource group, where she represented Latino/a/x employees from a total base of 8,000 employees. She pioneered inclusion efforts, successfully negotiating staff promotions with Port Authority of NY & NJ’s (PANYNJ) C-suite Diversity Council, including the PANYNJ’s promotion of its first Latino Chief of Police.

Her achievements include being the GM/Assistant Comptroller of the Port Commerce business at PANYNJ, an agency she served for 14 years. As a survivor of 9/11, she served as Lead Negotiator of Acquisitions and Operations for the WTC Redevelopment effort post 9/11, developing key strategies for the Master Lease Agreement and relevant sub-agreements on behalf of PANYNJ ($11.6 billion project cost).

She continues to serve in higher education as an Advisory Board Member of New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Martin Tuchman School of Management focusing on the inclusion of women in business and in STEM fields; as President of the Latino Alumni Association of Columbia University (LAACU), and most recently, as an Advisory Member of Montclair State University’s Feliciano School of Business.
Elisa is a certified Cornell University/ILR D&I Management professional. She is a graduate of New Jersey Institute of Technology, New York University and Columbia University with advanced degrees in Environmental Science, Real Estate Finance and International Finance and Business, respectively. Elisa resides with her husband, Brian, and two children, Remy and Lucian, and elder cousin, Manuela, in Short Hills, New Jersey. As a family, they are committed to WE.org helping to bring clean water and education to children of the Masai Mara of Kenya, Africa.



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