Los Angeles 2017 | Advancing leadership and empowerment of women from Los Angeles and around the world

2017 marks five years of partnership between Bank of America and Vital Voices on the Global Ambassadors Program, an initiative that advances women’s economic empowerment through mentoring. We held the program in the U.S for the first time in 2017 – initially with a Charlotte, NC program in May, followed by a Chicago, IL program in September, and culminating with a Los Angeles, CA program in November.

The Los Angeles Global Ambassadors Program brought together women from the Los Angeles area and international locations such as Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Uruguay and Ecuador. The participating women represented businesses and nonprofits, touching a diverse array of sectors including design, marketing, consumer goods, communications, technology, education and health care.

“We recognize that women entrepreneurs are critical to the growth of local economies,” said Janet Lamkin, California state president, Bank of America. “Bringing the Global Ambassadors Program to L.A. is one way we are advancing women in small business in the region, helping them build a network and connecting them to tools and resources that help them advance their organizations.”

About the Global Ambassadors Program

This highly competitive program, launched in 2012 by Vital Voices and Bank of America, connects women leaders of small and medium sized businesses and social enterprise for mentoring and workshops focused on building organizational management, financial acumen and leadership skills. Global Ambassadors, a group of high-profile, distinguished women executives from a range of organizations, including Bank of America, serve as mentors and are each paired with a mentee to build critical business skills and strategies needed to grow and advance her organization.

In the five years since inception, the program has reached more than 112 women mentees from more than 60 countries, through more than 4,000 hours of mentoring expertise. Past locations have included Poland, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Qatar, Singapore, Brazil, India, South Africa, Haiti, Japan, England, Australia, most recently Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, IL and now Los Angeles, CA.

“Hosting GAP in the U.S. this year presents an extraordinary opportunity to share locally what we’ve learned from women leaders globally,” said Alyse Nelson, president and CEO of Vital Voices. “From vastly different geographies come the most innovative solutions to universal challenges.”

This program is part of Bank of America’s broader efforts to advance women’s leadership and economic empowerment both within the company and in communities around the world. In addition to global initiatives like its partnership with Vital Voices, the bank partners with many other national and local organizations that work to improve the lives of women and advance thriving economies.

Learn more about the Los Angeles program from Vital Voices, or visit the Global Ambassadors page. Follow @BofA_News and @VitalVoices for updates via #GlobalAmbassadors.

Los Angeles Global Ambassadors

Carrie McKellogg
Chief Program Officer, Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF)
Los Angeles, California

As chief program officer, Carrie is responsible for implementing REDF’s strategic plan to significantly grow and support the social enterprise sector to employ 50,000 people nationwide by 2020. REDF is a pioneering venture philanthropy that has, for the past20 years, invested exclusively in social enterprises businesses focused on employing and supporting people who otherwise would be excluded from the labor market because of the significant challenges they are working to overcome.  For people with histories of incarceration, homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, and limited education, social enterprises provide paying jobs and services they need to stabilize their lives, develop a work history, and build the skills and confidence they need to succeed.

Since 2015, Carrie has worked closely with the staff and stakeholders of the organization to expand REDF’s programs nationwide, design a rigorous evaluation of the impact of REDF’s work, and provide impact investments to further grow the social enterprise field. Inspired by core values that promote inclusion, she’s committed to using innovation to achieve REDF’s goals and ensure it remains a leader in the field.

Prior to her role at REDF, Carrie spent 15 years in international economic policy at the U.S. Treasury focusing on issues including international debt restructuring and debt policy, operations and policies of development finance institutions. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Carrie also has an MA in International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Nensy Bandhoe
Executive Director of the Lobi Foundation Suriname
Suriname

Nensy Bandhoe is the executive director of the Lobi Foundation, a private NGO focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights. When she took over in 2013, the organization had steep losses but by 2015, through strict financial management, Lobi reached a positive fund balance. The foundation’s mission is to become the leading organization in the country providing integrated comprehensive reproductive health and rights services for all.

Nensy was asked to join a technical working group entrusted with developing a national cancer control plan for the ministry of health in 2016. She drafted a model for a national cervical cancer-screening program as well as a pilot project for testing this model. The model integrated the evaluation results of the first national cervical cancer-screening program, a project she worked on in her former position as senior health advisor at the Dutch Embassy. In addition, the model incorporated the experiences of the Lobi Foundation since 2013 with a new community-based approach aimed at bringing the preventive services closer to the clients.

Nensy often represents the Suriname Ministry of Health in regional fora like the RINC/UNASUR Network and the Caribbean Cancer Control Leadership Forum.


Claudia Herreramoro Juan
Director – Communications Latin America
México, D.F.

Claudia began her career at Procter & Gamble México 25 years ago. During this time she has held various positions within the organization in Manufacturing, Marketing and External Relations/Communication in México, Switzerland, Chile and the USA subsidiaries.

In 2006 Claudia made a career move to External Relations, becoming responsible for building and protecting P&G and its brands in México and then Latin America. During this time, Claudia has led Government Relations, Public & Media Relations, Influencer Marketing, Social Responsibility, Corporate Communication and Regulatory Affairs, achieving top reputation rankings, familiarity and trust for the company.

Due to a global organizational restructure in July 2014, Claudia’s role evolved to the newly created Corporate Communications director for Latin America, leading media relations, crisis and issues management, employee and executive communications, and P&G social and environmental sustainability for the region.

Claudia graduated with honors as an Industrial Engineer from Anahuac University in México City. Later she joined Clemson University (Italy & USA) for a master’s in Business Administration. One of Claudia´s interests is the development of female talent in both the company and the region and she is currently the president of the United Way México board of directors.

Veronica Soto
Founding Partner, GID Industries SA DE CV
Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico

Soto Parra is a lawyer by profession and decided to start on the adventure of being an entrepreneur and founding partner of GID Industries SA DE CV, currently coordinating the Companies Montacargas Store and Ms Trucking.

In 2013, she was selected from more than 800 women nationwide, to receive a scholarship in the Second Generation program of 10,000 Goldman Sachs and ITESM Women, of which she was graduated among 100 women, on the topic of Business Model.

She is currently President and Founding Partner of 10,000 Mujeres Unidas por México AC., An organization that actively participates nationally and internationally to support and provide business mentorship to Mexican women, with five chapters in the Mexican Republic, Canada and Guatemala. She is Evaluator of the National Recognition of Export since 1996, Bond & Insurance Agent, with international recognition in Chicago, San Francisco California, Barcelona, and Buenos Aires.

Soto has a master's degree in Constitutional Law and Amparo by the Universidad Iberoamericana León, Guanajuato.


Geraldine Laybourne
Chairman and Co-Founder, Katapult Studios
New York, New York

Geraldine Laybourne is currently chairman and co-founder of Katapult Studio, a technology start-up company for the creative generation. Gerry is a serial media entrepreneur. She founded Oxygen Media, a 24-hour cable television network for young women, where she served as chairman and CEO until she sold it to NBC Universal in 2007.

Gerry was a cable programming pioneer in the 80s and 90s: she led the team that created Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite. She also served as president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks (From 1996-1998) where she ran cable programming for the Walt Disney Company and its ABC subsidiary.

Gerry has been singled out for her many contributions to the industry. She was ranked No. 1 among the 50 most influential women in the entertainment industry by the Hollywood Reporter in 1996 and named one of the 25 more influential people in America by Time Magazine that same year.

She serves on the board of directors of Symantec Corporation, 9 story and Betaworks. She is on the board of trustees of Vassar College and on the board of Vital Voices.

Cecilia de la Paz
Founder and General Director, E.dúcate Uruguay
Uruguay

Cecilia de la Paz founded E.dúcate Uruguay in 2009 when she was a television producer for UNICEF and met Nicolás, a talented rural kid who´s future was constricted because of socio-economic vulnerability, geographical isolation and low quality education.

After graduating as a primary school teacher in 1998 she started her quest to connect children with learning in a meaningful way in the United States. It was in 2001, living in Ecuador, when she was moved by the harsh reality of children and she turned her professional journey into a personal commitment to give access to valuable education to kids restricted by their socioeconomic and/or geographical reality.

This commitment led her work at different organizations in the United States, Ecuador, Uruguay and New Zealand, using capacity building, technology and communication media to leverage change, creating different endeavours to platform ideas and projects to empower children and teachers in vulnerable conditions.

How can we generate genuine connection between curiosity, wonder and the will to learn in every school? How can we help unprivileged children to access educational experiences that empower them to move forward and aim higher? These questions have been pivotal drivers of her journey. E.dúcate Uruguay is one of today’s most representative NGOs for improvement in rural schools of the country reaching out to more than 6,300 children and 600 teachers in 400 schools.

Cecilia was a TEDx Montevideo speaker in 2013; she was honored with the National Prize for Citizenship Excellency in 2014 and in 2015 E.dúcate Uruguay was recognized as National Label of Quality by the Uruguayan government.


Gabriela León
CEO & Co-Founder, Gresmex
Naucalpan, Mexico

Gabriela León co-founded Gresmex in 1999, a company at the forefront of a nano-biomolecule development with a granted patent in 10 countries and pending in 130 more.

She has participated in a variety of domestic and international forums such as the International Day of the Intellectual Property, The American Forum of UN SMEs, The U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue, and the APEC Business to Global Market, and The Summit of Americas of the Clinton Foundation.

Gabriela has received numerous awards and recognitions, including Designated Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in the social impact category in 2012, DWEN network member and The National Health Award in 2016.

Her company was also appointed as strategic with nationwide priority by the Mexican Ministry of Economy and was nominated as a World Economic Forum 2015 Technology Pioneer. As a humanitarian response, Gresmex donated its new antiseptic and disinfectant product to combat Ebola in Liberia.  
She graduated from the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana School of Engineering with a degree in industrial biochemistry.

Ariela Suster
Founder/Creative Director at Sequence Collection
El Salvador

Born and raised in El Salvador, Ariela grew up during the Salvadoran Civil War and her family experienced violence firsthand. It rocked Ariela to her core, but also lit in her a desire to change it. She felt determined to one day influence the sequence of events that kept her country – and its people – in violence. Ariela went on to forge a name for herself in New York’s fashion industry, holding senior editorial positions at InStyle, Lucky and Harper’s Bazaar.

Leaving the editorial world to follow her heart, Ariela returned to El Salvador and was struck again with an urgent desire to positively influence her home country. She saw an opportunity to disrupt its story of violence by employing – and empowering – a group of at-risk youth to create beautiful, handcrafted artisanal products in their own community.

Ariela is an award-winning social entrepreneur with a reputation as an expert in fields related to ethical fashion, social impact and women in business. She has spoken at the United Nations, Yale University, NEXUS Global Youth Summit, and the Microsoft World Wide Partnership Conference. She recently received the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award for Economic Empowerment and is a CALI and Aspen Institute fellow.


Maria de Lourdes “Lulu” Sobrino
Founder & CEO Lulu’s Foods, Inc.
San Antonio, Texas

An entrepreneur at heart, Lulu Sobrino’s first business was in the tourism industry in Mexico City and later expanded to a travel agency with locations in Mexico and Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Lulu had to close her Mexican travel business due to unstable economic conditions in Mexico; however, her entrepreneurial spirit grew stronger and she began to explore other passions and ideas.

Lulu came up with the great idea of ready-to-eat gelatin when she discovered that despite its presence as a staple food in her native Mexico, the concept was new to the U.S. and a novelty when she introduced it to American grocers in California in 1982. From the initial production of 300 cups of gelatin a day, Lulu’s has overcome many challenges and obstacles to become a leading maker of ready-to-eat desserts.

Lulu is the author of Thriving Latina Entrepreneurs in America and has been invited to share her story to speak, educate and motivate Hispanic entrepreneurs with their dreams of starting their own businesses. Recently, Lulu relocated her operation to San Antonio, Texas in order to be closer to her core customers and to explore export opportunities.

Dahlia Wilde
CEO, Pretty Smart Woman Company
Los Angeles/ New York City

Dahlia Wilde is a writer, director, actor, producer and entrepreneur. She is the CEO of Pretty Smart Woman Company through which she creates projects for theatre, film, television, radio, new media, print, educational and community initiatives to encourage girls and women to be smart, courageous, creative and innovative.

She graduated from the prestigious Bronx High School of Science in New York City and then attended Duke and Oxford Universities as a Harry S Truman Scholar in Public Service. Upon graduation from Duke and Oxford, she received the Benenson Art Scholarship award for bridging the disciplines of Art and Science. She was also supported by the Dr. Steven Wainwright Fellowship for her creative work on design in nature. She was funded by the Kaltenborn Foundation and the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women to travel around the world with the International Honors Program and leaders from Harvard such as noted film philosopher Stanley Cavell, PhD. She produced a project on the perception of aging in Europe and Asia and how film reflects our ideas of aging.

Dahlia appeared on Fox Television shows in addition to several plays. Dahlia wrote the award winning play “Gangsta Love”, directed by Garry Marshall, which explores violence towards women. Dahlia is now producing an extended version of the play in NYC with a proposed event in Central Park to take back the park for girls. Another of Dahlia’s projects is her “To Be or Not To Be” documentary about the renaturalization of Jewish families to Germany. It is based on her own family’s experiences in the Holocaust and her return to Germany with this documentary to promote healing for the younger generations of Jewish and German families. She has had extensive support for this project so far, including from the German Consulate and Rabbi David Wolpe, one of the most influential Jewish thinkers in the world.

Dahlia is the recipient of several awards and fellowships including, but not limited to, The Walt Disney Feature Writing Fellowship, The Fox Searchlab Writing/Directing Fellowship, the CBS Directing Fellowship, The New York Foundation for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, The Kesselring Playwriting Grant from the Dramatist’s Guild, etc. She is a recipient of the Large Hadron Collider US Atlas Outreach Creative Fellowship from CERN in Geneva to fund her new particle physics play “THE OH MY GOD PARTICLE SHOW!” designed to encourage girls to enter STEM careers. Her movie “OXFORD GIRL” is in active development, among other projects..

Through her Pretty Smart Woman Company Dahlia continues to teach and encourage girls to write. She is helping to support meditation in all Los Angeles public schools with Russell SImmons. She has also created a sports project that will help fund initiatives for creative programs for girls. Dahlia also continues to perform in theatre, television, voice-overs, animation and radio and has done so since 1995 as a member of the Screen Actors Guild, Actors Equity and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. She has shared valuable stories to the news media like BBC WORLD NEWS, NBC NEWS and digital and print media.


Marilyn D. Johnson
Founder, MarilynJspeaks.com; CEO (retired), International Women’s Forum and Vice President (retired), IBM Corporation
Washington, D.C. USA

Marilyn Johnson serves as a principal spokesperson, keynote speaker, facilitator and global ambassador to promote and support women in leadership. She has extensive management experience in sales and marketing in the information technology industry.

Prior to founding MarilyJspeaks.com, Marilyn was the CEO of the International Women’s Forum, a nonprofit with a global mission to promote women in prominent senior leadership roles internationally. In 2012 she retired from IBM as vice president, Market Development. In this capacity, she led an organization responsible for developing IBM’s strategy for marketing to businesses owned or operated by Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and women in the Americas. In that role she expanded her mission to include women-owned and women-led businesses in selected markets around the globe.

A graduate of John Marshall University, she holds two advanced education degrees, and has held executive positions on the boards of numerous organizations, including the United States Council for Better Business Bureaus. Recognized for her commitment to mentoring and coaching, Marilyn has received numerous awards, including the "Corporate Supporter of Women Entrepreneurs Award" and “The Profiles of Prominence Award” from the National Women of Achievement, Inc.

Gizella Greene
General Manager and Co-Founder, SuperFoods
Ecuador, Quito-Ecuador

After Gizella Greene earned an MBA (Adolfo Ibañez – Chile) and worked for 10 years, she decided to quit her job, become a mother and start her own enterprise. It wasn't easy for her to get pregnant, so she made lifestyle changes. Along the way, she researched health and holistic nutrition, eventually becoming a health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), a nutrition and holistic health school. That led to the creation of SuperFoods Ecuador in 2015, and, to the arrival of a beautiful baby boy.

Gizella created an inclusive enterprise, run by a group of entrepreneurial and empowered women. It promotes wellness, integral nutrition and healthy lifestyles, by offering a space with a flexitarian restaurant, an organic store, and healthy cooking classes. As a pioneer in this industry in Ecuador, Gizella promotes gender equality, environmental awareness and generates a positive impact on society, working with more than 300 small businesses and entrepreneurs whose families depend on what they sell.

Gizella has offered marketing and customer service courses at UDLA University and has conducted more than 80 workshops, healthy cooking classes and one-on-one coaching.


Vera Futorjanski
Head of Global Communications, Dubai Future Foundation
Dubai, UAE

Vera is the head of Global Communications of the Dubai Future Foundation, a core entity of the Dubai Government that was launched by the office of the Prime Minister of the UAE to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of Dubai through innovation. She is also a part of the founding team for the Dubai Future Accelerators which was launched to pair the world’s most exciting technology companies with leading government departments to create transformational solutions with a global impact.

Before joining the government of Dubai, Vera set up the chapter of Techfugees, a social enterprise mobilizing the international tech community to respond to the refugee situation. Prior to that, Vera came to the Middle East as an Entrepreneur in Residence and then later became a Founder for one of Rocket Internet’s tech ventures.

Before her career in the tech world, Vera completed her MSc at the London School of Economics and served as a political consultant in the European Union in Brussels. She has lived in 10 countries and is fluent in five languages.

Amy Friedman
Co-Founder and Executive Director of POPS the Club
Los Angeles, California

Amy Friedman’s decision to co-found POPS the Club to support youth impacted by incarceration grew out of her personal experience raising the daughters of her ex-husband who was incarcerated through their youth. In 2002, Ms. Friedman remarried, and she and her husband decided they must find a way to help young people overcome the hurdles associated with incarceration.

The mission of POPS the Club is to establish and sustain high school clubs for students who have been impacted in any way by the prison system. The clubs nourish, empower, and inspire through creative expression, emotional support and development of community. POPS the Club fosters healing and empowerment among the students served, providing them with the tools and confidence to educate the broader community through their published works. POPS the Club’s vision is that no one shall struggle alone or bear the shame, stigma and sorrow too often connected to those who endure the pain of the prison system.

Ms. Friedman has published hundreds of articles, seven books and the story column Tell Me a Story for Universal Press Syndicate.


Kerri Schroeder
Commercial Credit Executive, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Seattle, Washington

Kerri Schroeder is the West Region Commercial Credit executive for Bank of America’s Global Commercial Banking and Business Banking groups. In this role, Schroeder is responsible for leading the team that underwrites and approves credit for companies in the western United States with revenues from $5 million to $2 billion.

Schroeder has 22 years of experience in the banking industry. Prior to her current role, Schroeder served for four years as the national credit executive for Bank of America’s Specialized Industries group which covers clients in the healthcare, education, not-for-profit, sports and restaurant sectors. Since joining Bank of America in 1999, she has held a variety of executive and management positions in both credit and treasury management in middle market banking, specialized industries and public sector banking. Prior to joining Bank of America, Schroeder spent five years with US Bank’s Business Banking and National Corporate Banking divisions in Seattle, Washington.

A first generation Irish-American, originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Schroeder graduated magna cum laude from Pacific Lutheran University where she earned a degree in Economics and a minor in Business Administration. She is active in her community having served on the boards of directors of several non-profit organizations over the years, including most recently serving as the Treasurer of Atlantic Street Center, an organization that helps disadvantaged families raise healthy, successful children. She serves as a mentor for the Global Ambassadors Program, a partnership between Bank of America and Vital Voices, which advances women's leadership and economic opportunity around the world. Schroeder resides in Sammamish, Washington with her two sons.

Bárbara Cendejas
CEO and Founder of Macademy DPS
Cuernavaca, Mexico

Bárbara Cendejas the CEO and founder of Macademy DPS (DIgital Promotional Services). Born in Mexico, she has always had a drive to create, innovate and lead. In her family, challenges have always been welcome, and she has sought best practices to overcome obstacles and achieve success.

Bárbara inspires her Macademy DPS team to help small and medium size enterprises improve their digital ecosystems to increase their exposure, acquire new clients, or gain better visibility. Over the years, Barbara has supported women entrepreneurs and their startup companies with knowledge to better implement their strategies.

Bárbara is also the co-founder of Productive y Realizable, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering women who are socially and economically challenged. In recent years, she has received awards from WEConnect International and the American Chamber of Commerce Foundation.


Shelley Diamond
Chief Client Officer, Young & Rubicam
New York, New York

Shelley Diamond is the Chief Client Officer at Young & Rubicam, serves on Y&R’s Executive Board and is practice lead for Y&R Inspire Change. She is a passionate builder of global brands and business, with expertise in integrating and activating platforms across communications disciplines. As one of the highest-ranking female executives in advertising, Diamond has helped champion marketing transformation for domestic and global clients, in both the consumer and B-to-B spaces.

She has a unique understanding of the world of giving from her experience working with global brands such as Campbell’s, Xerox, Dell and Tyson, and nonprofit organizations such as UNCF, UNICEF, Ad Council and the United Nations. Throughout her career, driving social-good initiatives and partnerships with for-profit and nonprofit client partners has been her passion, both personally and professionally.

Shelley is committed to Y&R’s women in leadership initiatives. She is both an advocate and a mentor for women across industries and geographies. She serves on the board of W.O.M.E.N. in America, and is a pioneering mentor of the Fortune / U.S. State Department Global Mentoring Partnership. Her honors include being named the 11th Most Powerful Woman in Advertising by Business Insider in 2013, and in 2005 she was recognized as a "Working Mother of the Year” by AWNY and Working Mother magazine. She is on the board of Women in America and previously served on the board of PAETEC.

Agustina Fainguersch
US Managing Director and Partner, Wolox
San Francisco, CA

As the US managing director and partner at Wolox, an innovation studio that grows dedicated design and engineering teams for digital product creation, Agustina Fainguersch is responsible for the international growth of the company. She is also the co-founder of Muzi, a health tech startup that aims to democratize health diagnostics.

Agustina is a serial entrepreneur, global innovator and software engineer from Argentina who has founded different companies, initiatives, hackathons and tech events, mostly focusing on how to leverage technology for good and women's empowerment. She is now a mentor to many startups and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and Latin America and has spoken widely on women in tech and entrepreneurship.

Agustina has extensive experience as a developer, manager, director, project manager, event organizer, and marketing and growth consultant. She has had the chance to experiment with robotics, artificial intelligence, learning perceptrons, cryptographic and security systems and image recognition.

She was named one of the MIT Innovators Under 35 in 2017 and remains committed to using technology to make a positive impact on the world.


Dr. Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson
Founder and CEO, RaceYa
New York, New York

Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson is the founder of RaceYa, an educational technology company that is building the next generation of creative thinkers. RaceYa uses fun, fast, customizable radio-controlled cars to teach kids about the power of iteration and persistence through science.

Abigail has a PhD in anthropology from Columbia University. An expert in communication and human behavior, with more than 15 years of commercial and academic experience of large-scale research projects, she founded RaceYa to teach kids how to turn failure into productive, creative problem solving.  In her spare time she is a confectionery roboticist making moving, blinking and occasionally exploding cakes.

She is a regular speaker on UX design and testing; the challenges for girls in STEM education; the understandings of gender that infuse how we encourage children's play; and the complexities of crowd-funding and crowd-investing. She and RaceYa have been featured in multiple publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Alley Watch, and on Good Morning America, PBS and Cheddar TV.

Teyra Ehlers Bilgray
Founder and President, Administra PTY
Panamá

Teyra Ehlers Bilgray is a lawyer, founder and president of Administra PTY, a company that provides horizontal property management and consultancy services in Panama. Administra PTY works with homeowner’s associations (HOAs), building lasting relationships with the HOA boards of directors. Administra PTY has a network of trusted service providers to respond quickly to any client’s need.

Administra PTY’s social responsibility program is “Creando Valor” (Creating Value) which promotes a culture of coexistence and strengthens community values through education and social responsibility. Better educated homeowners and residents leads to the development of better communities and increases the value of the properties.

Administra PTY currently employs 23 women, offers a scholarship aid program for staff members and has a support network to allow personnel attend medical and school appointments during work hours without salary deductions. Administra PTY is a Connect Americas verified company.

Teyra holds a bachelor’s degree in law and political science and an executive master’s degree in business management, both from Universidad Católica Santa María La Antigua. Her postgraduate degree in mediation is from Universidad Nacional de Panamá. She is a mentor with Voces Vitales Panama and a 2016 Vital Voices VV GROW fellow.


April Francois
Chief Financial Officer, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Charlotte, North Carolina

As the CFO for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management (MLWM) and Retirement and Personal Wealth Retirement Solutions, April is responsible for strategic financial analysis, reporting and financial planning for MLWM. April also leads the finance team that supports GWIM’s institutional retirement business. April has served in multiple other finance roles since joining the bank in November 2002.

April recently completed a rotation as one of the Enterprise Co-Leads for the LEAD for Women employee network. This role was focused on leading, managing and advancing the LEAD for Women employee network and connecting with stakeholders across Bank of America.  From 2009-2013, April served as part of the CFO Diversity & Inclusion Council leadership team with a focus on recruiting and retention initiatives and, since 2016, has served as the co-chair for the Charlotte CFO D&I committee.

Prior to joining Bank of America, April was an audit manager with KPMG focusing on large financial institutions. April holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in accounting from UNC-Chapel Hill.

María Kaltschmitt
Managing Partner, Zen Interactive Media
Guatemala City, Guatemala

María Kaltschmitt co-founded Zen Interactive Media almost five years ago with the vision of creating a new, dynamic and boutique digital agency in Guatemala. At Zen, María is leading the team to differentiate the agency by giving clients a more personalized service tailored to digital industry trends.

María has several years of experience in the advertising and digital industry in Guatemala, as she has also served as the managing partner of InterAD, a local Communication Consulting Agency and Logan Media, a Mobile Marketing Company (for the Central American and Caribbean region). She has worked with lists of clients, including several multinational companies and local business conglomerates. After graduating in 2006 with a B.A. in Advertising from Southern Methodist University, she also went for a specialization program with honors in Marketing and Sales Management from San Francisco University, and in 2015 she finished her master´s degree in Corporate Communication at IE Business School in Spain.

In 2011, María was selected by Georgetown University as the first Guatemalan to form part of the Global Competitiveness Leadership Program, a full scholarship given to a group of young talented change agents that come from the private, public and non-for-profit sector from all across the Ibero-American region. The World Economic Forum also selected María as the first Global Shaper for the Guatemala City Hub and was the first elected curator to lead the hub. She currently is a faculty professor at Universidad Francisco Marroquín, a co-organizer of Creative Mornings Guatemala City´s chapter and recently elected as the youngest board member of FUNDESA, Guatemala´s most important private sector foundation.

María was awarded as one of Guatemala's top 10 Women Entrepreneurs in 2015 by Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization. In 2016 she was selected as one of 33 entrepreneurs in technology under 35 by Win Magazine, and she was named one of the 12 women of the year by Look magazine. María is a wife, a marathon runner, a master scuba diver and a pet lover.


Open Location
Open How we're involved