Alicia Galarza

Alicia GalarzaCurrently working as a professional mortgage specialist in Toronto, Canada, Alicia Galarza holds a degree in Business Management and a Specialization in Marketing. Parallel to her expertise in the Financial Industry, she has developed a successful marketing career working for some of the most influential multicultural newspapers.

In addition, Alicia is an active member of the Hispanic Community of Toronto and an advocate for social change. She is the current President of “Cono-Ser” – a scholarship program for students of Hispanic origin based at York University – and of the Parent-Child Tutoring Program “Teach to Learn”.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am the current president of CONO-SER, a Scholarship fund created to provide financial assistance to first year Hispanic students at York University. One of our goals is to help decrease the drop out rate of Hispanics, we recognize a scholarship alone cannot do this and have incorporated other groups to help empower our youth. This scholarship fund also works with Teach2Learn, a tutoring program for Hispanic students that not only tutors students but also help them and their parents become more familiar with the Canadian education system. Recently, the “Encontrarte” youth collective project has joined under our umbrella. This enthusiastic group of youth will be providing dance lessons in a high-risk neighborhood.

In the past four years I have also volunteered promoting C.C.I.E Festival of Images and Words, which helps showcase the richness of the literary and artistic abilities of Hispanic-Canadians. In 2009 I was the Press Director of A.E.O (Ecuadorian Association of Ontario) during this time my goal was to promote Ecuadorian tourism, culture and art within Ontario. It was an honor to be nominated in 2009 along with 34 others by the Hispanic Business Association as one of the The 10 Most Influential Hispanics.

I take great pride and joy in working for my community and I am glad that the projects I have embarked on have tangible results. Colleagues have told me that my balanced mixture of inspiration and hands on strategies have contributed to the success of my undertakings. I firmly believe that my integration into Canadian society has been a smooth one because of my involvement in community work as it helps me better appreciate the diversity and multiculturalism within Canadian society.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a woman entrepreneur and in a Canadian company?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced since moving to Canada has been integrating into the Canadian work force. I understand that many women in Canada do experience discrimination based on their gender, but I can say that in my situation the difficulties I experienced originated from a lack of knowledge of how the industry works. Once I became more familiar with Canadian labor practices I was no longer afraid to ask for advice, look for help and network. That experience cost me money, but has made me the person I am today, I am no longer afraid to speak up, ask questions, negotiate, invest or take risks.

What advice do you have for other women who have unusual (or challenging) career goals?

The advice I would give any woman is to be persistent and always stay true to her goals and herself. Make sure you always have a strong work ethic and are disciplined; most importantly I would say network, network, network! Networking is not only a great way to find new opportunities, it is great to socialize, and also helps to inspire and keep you on track with your goals. Be serious, passionate and very organized, make sure you are always planning ahead and setting realistic goals, be down to earth and do not be afraid to fall or take risks.

Give us an example of how you’re currently helping other women advance professionally or fulfill their career goals.

I am always encouraging women to fulfill their career goals; I have been able to guide some of my female colleagues by encouraging them to take risks and by giving them advice from my own experiences when they require it. I believe it is important to lead by example, and do so for my daughter who is completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto. I support her involvement in various activities. I believe balance is the key to success, therefore, I encourage her to study, work, volunteer, play sports and enjoy time with her friends. All these activities are key in becoming a fulfilled professional and human being.

Could you mention one or more women who have helped you get to where you are now?

I have three women who have inspired me throughout my life. The first is my grandmother, her values, knowledge and love helped shape me as an individual. I am very grateful for the wisdom she imparted and her advice to not fear making sacrifices or taking risks because as long as I did those I would be in control of my success. The second woman who has served as a great source of inspiration is my friend Margarita Feliciano, as a University Professor she is a great example of how hard work and persistence pay off. She is a great leader and has inspired me to continue studying, and learning and has allowed me to view the world with a new perspective. From her I have learned that sacrifice is a source of happiness, the greater the struggle and sacrifice, the greater the happiness that will follow. The third woman who has inspired me is Mississauga Major Hazel McCallion who is one of the longest serving elected politicians in history. At 91 years old she still works to serve her community and continues to work with passion, she is great proof of the success that comes when one is persistent.

You can get in touch with Alicia Galarza clicking here.

Loredana Thoenig

Loredana ThoenigPlease tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Romania 37 years ago during the harsh communist regime. I grew-up in a modest family in a small town. At 16 years old, I was chosen (from 800 girls) as one of the finalists of the national beauty contest: Miss Teen. Then, right after graduating high school I worked as a journalist for one of the most important local newspapers. At 19, I managed to leave the country to follow my dream of seeing the world’s wonders.

To my big surprise, that fantasy world turned out to be hostile, rough, and sometimes cold. I frequently felt like an alien but I worked hard to stay above the discrimination that I often experienced in my job as a model.

My path wasn’t easy at all, but I’ve never lost my free spirit. I kept the passion alive and kept focused on my dreams; and during the hardest moments I just surrendered and let myself be driven by the superior forces of life.

Life has blessed me with two amazing children whom I’m honored to bring up. In Spain, where I’ve been living for more than 12 years, I’ve studied dramatic art, Psychology, NLP, Prenatal Education, Counseling and now I’m getting a certificate as a Women’s Life Coach at the SWAT Institute. I currently work with low-income pregnant women through The Madrina Foundation.

You went from being a model to giving back to the community by working with low-income pregnant women who are mostly teenagers. What has been the most challenging part of that transition?

My experience of becoming a first time mother in a foreign country, the fact that I felt really lonely, away from my family and with little real support during such a vulnerable and important moment, made me connect with the suffering of all those mothers in the same situation. I’ve learned the hard way that when a woman becomes a mother, especially for the first time, she needs the total support of her own mother.

After my son’s birth I felt alone in this world, without my mother or “any” mother by my side. That made me experience postpartum anxiety and depression. But all that suffering led me to a deep personal and spiritual growth and that’s when I’ve actually decided to help other women.

What are some of the challenges that women face in the workforce in Spain?

Although it is not discussed much, one of the real barriers that women increasingly find in their work in Spain is motherhood. Bringing a baby into the world is bad news for a high number of employers around the country. Many pregnant women are victims of workplace harassment called mobbing. As the dismissal of a pregnant woman is against the law, the employers harass many of them in order to obtain their resignation.

The Madrina Foundation, with which I collaborate, brought out last year a study done in Spain on the maternal mobbing phenomenon (present actually in companies worldwide), a study that identifies pregnancy as the main cause for dismissal or harassment in Spanish companies.

What do you find the most satisfying part of your current work?

Accompanying another woman in her journey of becoming the best version of herself profoundly transforms myself every single time.

I fill my heart with joy when I see a “sister” blooming and when one just opens her new discovered wings and flies. It makes me happy to see them walk straight when they no longer need my support and they can follow their path with complete power and self-confidence.

I’m pleased to do what I love, to share my passion of creating a new vision, a new perspective of reality for others. I love giving women the hope and strength to create their own destiny and their own lives. It gives me total satisfaction to guide them towards becoming the women they dream to be.

What advice do you have for other women who have unusual (or challenging) career goals?

Special women have unusual career goals. So, be special! The fact that someone is not able to see what you see doesn’t mean that you’re “wrong”. Surround yourself with people who share the same passion and do not waste your precious energy and time justifying what you’re doing to those who don’t believe in you.

Be unusual! Be unique! Be brave and follow your dreams! If you don’t do it who will then? If not now, then when?

Give us an example of how you’re currently helping other women advance professionally or fulfill their career goals?

Although, for the moment, in my work I focus more on the personal aspect of a woman’s life, I can say that when I support young mothers their professional concerns are always coming into discussion. Women worry and care about their jobs and career sometimes more than anything else.

So I invite them to take the time of the pregnancy as an opportunity to redefine their life path, to embrace the moment as a welcomed brake for rediscovering their dreams and passions in order to become whom they decide to be. Pregnant or not, we should all take the time to conceive, nourish and birth our new life the way we choose to.

My goal as a future professional Life Coach is to become the facilitator for women to re-discover and free their Authentic Power, to be able to embody and cultivate their Feminine Essence in order to live a purposeful life according to their True Nature.

Could you mention one or more women who have helped you get to where you are now?

One is the wonderful Julie Gerland, founder and Director of The Holistic Parenting Program: Preconception to Birth & Beyond, international presenter, co-author, workshop leader and professional trainer. She is the Chief United Nations Representative of the World Organization for Prenatal Education Associations. I met Julie in California and I instantly fell in love with her from the moment I heard her talking at the APPAH (Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health) Congress in 2009. She is today for me a great friend and a trustful professional guide.

The other one is the amazing Crystal Andrus. She is not only my Life Coaching teacher at the SWAT Institute, but also my professional mentor and, after our group trip to Italy in September we became “soul sisters” as she calls us. Crystal is a worldwide leader in the field of self-discovery and personal transformation, best-selling author, motivational speaker, and a women’s advocate. She is the founder of the SWAT Institute (Simply Woman Accredited Trainer) —an online Personal Empowerment Coaching Certification Program designed for women to support and encourage other women to fully express their gifts, passion, and purpose.

Both Julie and Crystal inspire me. Through their teachings and magnificent example they’ve both catapulted me directly into my “Red Shoes” with which I am standing powerfully and confidently, exploring my talents and abilities, walking towards my constant progress as a woman.


Carmen Gloria Gorigoitia, founder of Mundo Mujer

Carmen Gloria GorigoitiaCarmen Gloria Gorigoitia is the founder of Mundo Mujer, a powerful online/offline platform that help women acquire the tools they need to fulfill their career dreams whether that means working for themselves or for someone else.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Valparaíso, which is one of the oldest cities in Chile and one of its most important ports. However, I grew up and got my education in Viña del Mar and I currently live in Santiago.

Regarding my job as a coach, I have studies in PNL, Mindfulness, the Eneagram, the Ontology of Language, HR and Communications among others.

You are the Executive Director of Mundo Mujer. Tell us about this organization. What do you do? What are the organization’s goals?

Mundo Mujer is a community open to all women whose main goal is to support their career and leadership development and to provide them tools to this effect. Our value add is the Communities of Women which are in-person get togethers where peers meet to exchange knowledge, experiences, success and defeat, as well as to strengthen self leadership and enrich the quality of their lives. Part of our goals is to establish partnerships with Latinamerican organizations in order to contribute to the development of women around the world.

How did you get to this point in your career? Did you always want to have an organization like this one?

After a career as a successful executive where I observed in me and in women in general a lack of self-leadership tools, poor self confidence, little self-knowledge and lack of support networks, I launched this initiative. My observations moved me to action. Taking advantage of the benefits of technology I first created a website, Mundo Mujer where we propose topics that contribute to the development of Latinamerican women regardless of where they live. This digital platform is the launch pad for many in-person activities such as conversations, workshops and the program called: “Women Communities.”

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a professional woman in Chile?

As a professional woman in Chile one of the biggest challenges I faced in the beginning of Mundo Mujer was to overcome the obstacles to make my project a reality. There’s a lot of bureaucracy, gender prejudice, lack of access to financing opportunities, and lack of support networks.

What do you find the most satisfying part of your work?

To offer my small contribution to the improvement of the quality of life and interpersonal relationships among men and women, first in the Chilean society and then in the Latinamerican society.

What advice do you have for other women who have unusual (or challenging) career goals?

To create space within their lives so they can take a pause. To pay attention and listen to their intuition, to define their dreams and above all, to be part of peer organizations where they can give and receive support.

Give us an example of how you’re currently helping other women advance professionally or fulfill their career goals?

We are currently starting a program to support entrepreneurialship for 60 women in 2 regions of Chile. It entails 8 months of free advice on how to write a Business Plan. This program will provide technical and social tools to 60 women so they can fulfill more successfully their business idea.

Could you mention one or more women who have helped you get to where you are now?

One of the women who has helped me get to where I am now is the Chilean anthropologist Patricia May. I had the chance to meet her when Mundo Mujer started and I participated in her workshops. It was thanks to the information I acquired during her programs that I started to believe more in my own project.

Another woman who has helped me get to this point is Verónica, one of my sisters. Her technological skills have been a great source of support for our platform from the very beginning.

You can connect with Carmen Gloria Gorigoitia on Twitter: @cgloriagori, on FB and Linkedin: Carmen Gloria Gorigoitia and through her blog:

Zoe Dolan, Trial Lawyer in New York City

Zoe DolanOne of the Most Inspirational People in Law: Zoe Dolan

It’s true: The number of women entering law school has increased substantially in the last few decades (46% of 2010 class). But in 2012 women made up just 31.1% of all lawyers, only 23% of equity partners, and an even smaller percentage of trial lawyers.

The reasons range widely from a lack of effective mentoring relationships to the resistance to change of most firms and a failure to provide female associates the opportunity to view an entire case instead of asking them only to complete a discrete assignment. Despite these dismal statistics Zoe Dolan has built a successful, although unorthodox career as a trial lawyer and in the process has become one of the most inspirational people practicing law today.

For either gender Zoe Dolan’s chosen path is quite unusual. But it’s particularly unique for a woman to be in this space. Her practice spans from the criminal defense of alleged terrorism, to international money laundering and drug-trafficking cases to various civil and commercial matters. Zoe’s focus in life has been on experiencing as much as possible — she has lived in the U.S., Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, and through her studies and travels she has become proficient in Arabic and Spanish. A proud member of the LGBT community, Zoe was born in a boy’s body and gender- transitioned to female as a young adult. These factors, which play a role in her ability to see a multi-layered reality, all contribute to her incredible career success. ** UPDATE: Zoe was profiled in the New York Times in February 2014.

Zoe Dolan: How one of the most inspirational people practicing law chose her career

There are a lot of women who are lawyers, but not that many who focus on your area. What attracted you to this field?

Zoe Dolan: How one of the most inspirational people practicing law chose her career

Zoe Dolan: How one of the most inspirational people practicing law chose her career

On the criminal side, I handle a range of federal matters, such as cases involving allegations of international drug trafficking, capital murder and multimillion-dollar frauds. In the realm of civil litigation, I currently represent a group of plaintiffs in an action against numerous banks and financial institutions for racketeering fraud in connection with a foreclosure scheme. I also represent individuals and small business for a variety of purposes.

The national security field interests me because cases in this area give me an opportunity to put my background to use on behalf of clients. Because I am proficient in Arabic and have lived in Muslim countries, I am able to offer a cultural perspective that informs strategic and legal decisions.

Why do you think there’s a gap in women representation at the partnership level at law firms?

I think we are entitled to an answer to this question from the firms themselves. While the female partnership among law firms is increasing, it still falls short of parity, especially given the growing number of women lawyers in recent decades. That said, more and more of my female peers are becoming partners every year, and it is a joy to see them succeed.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in this industry and in your job?

I prefer to view challenges as opportunities. The biggest one I encounter is the multitude of options at any moment in time. I believe there are no limitations in life except those that we create ourselves. I suppose the challenge is to remove those obstacles as soon as they arise, even if it means admitting they are figments of the imagination.

What do you find the most satisfying part of your work?

It is the combination of helping clients and being paid to think in the process.

Zoe Dolan’s advice to women

What advice do you have for other women who have unusual (or challenging) career goals?

Use the glass ceiling as a launch pad.

Give us an example of how you’re currently helping other women advance professionally or fulfill their career goals?

"My grandma and my mom instilled in me the belief that I can do whatever I want" - Zoe Dolan

“My grandma and my mom instilled in me the belief that I can do whatever I want” – Zoe Dolan

The idea of distinguishing between men and women in helping people seems strange to me. There are any number of ways to help others in the profession, from bringing co-counsel onto cases to serving as a sounding board for colleagues when needed. My own view is that the best service I can provide is loyalty, which is reciprocal.

Could you mention one or more women who have helped you get to where you are now?

My grandma and my mom instilled in me the belief that I can do whatever I want, provided that I apply myself. I probably would not be a lawyer today if my first year Torts professor had not kicked me in the ass and told me, basically, to get with the program. I am also grateful for mentorship at the outset of my career from a solo practitioner here in New York City and general counsel for a multinational corporation based in Switzerland. And of course there are all my girlfriends over the years, who have given me sustenance in the pursuit of my dreams. Since I believe gender is largely a social construct, I am compelled to add that there are many men who have helped me along the way and continue to nourish my spirit.

You can connect with Zoe via her website:

"More and more of my female peers are becoming partners every year, and it is a joy to see them succeed." - Zoe Dolan

“More and more of my female peers are becoming partners every year, and it is a joy to see them succeed.” – Zoe Dolan

Becky Sandoval, Owner of Small Lots Big Wines & Vino Latino

Becky SandovalTell us a bit about yourself (where were you born, where you live, what degrees you have…)

I was born in San Diego, the daughter of a career naval officer. When I was 3 my dad got stationed at Mare Island in Vallejo, CA. We bought a house in Napa where I still live today. I don’t actually have any degrees. I went to school but never finished due to having kids. But I’ve worked in the wine industry for the past 15 years.

You have three wine-related businesses. Tell us about them.

I have two wine clubs. One is Small Lots Big Wines and the other is Vino Latino. SLBW features wines from small producers. Vino Latino features wines that are owned or made by Latinos within the USA. Both clubs are set up the same; we ship twice per year and allow the member to choose how much they want to spend per bottle and how many bottles they want per shipment. But we also do in-home wine tastings and we sell wine via our newsletter year round.

The other business I have is Small Lot Wine Tours. For this business I drive your car or rental for you (fully licensed and insured to do so). We take you to small family owned wineries in Napa and Sonoma based on your palate, price point and desired experience.

For 2013 we are adding Vino Latino Tours where we will take you to meet Latinos in the wine industry, including vineyard managers, cellar masters, etc.

Where does your interest in wine come from?

The truth is that at the age or 27, living in Napa, I just needed a job. My sister was the secretary for Franciscan Estates, before it was sold to Constellation. She got me a job in the tasting room. I didn’t know a thing about wine, but I knew and liked people. It was a great learning experience and that’s where I first discovered I had a very good palate. I would often win at blind tasting contests against sommeliers and other wine professionals with whom I worked.

Are there a lot of women in your industry? Where are they concentrated and where do you see a gap?

There are a lot of women in my industry. Most often wineries are owned by a married couple. Usually, owning a winery is the dream of one or the other. So there are many women vintners.

Women are all over in hospitality, especially with organizing events. Where I see the biggest gap is that there are not many female winemakers, although one of the most famous winemakers in the world is a woman, Heidi Barrett. But on average you just don’t see a lot of female wine makers, though you are seeing it more and more.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in this industry and in your job?

Any business that sells a product or service shares the same challenge, getting customers. This is especially true of the wine industry. There are tons of great wine clubs, tons of small wine shops where to buy wine, and most of all, it’s hard to get people to try the brands I represent because they are not well known like the big boys such as Mondavi, Cakebread, or Silver Oak.

Just as there are a lot of people who sell wine, there are many tour companies as well. We have the challenge of convincing people to choose our tours over others as well as making sure we are easy to find via a search.

What do you find the most satisfying part of your work?

I love wine education. There is nothing better than helping someone discover wine. Many times people do not like wine because they have only had mass produced wine which is often harsh and not very tasty. Getting people to try a true handcrafted wine and seeing their eyes widen is awesome. I do a lot of wine education on my tours and in the in-home wine tastings. One guy, after spending the day with me and buying wine all over the place said, “The thing I learned today is that for my entire life I’ve been drinking crap.”

What advice do you have for other women who have unusual (or challenging) career goals?

The one thing that has always helped me is to think outside of the box. More than likely someone is doing what you are doing, so what can you do differently? Looking at something from a different view, and promoting that view, will get you noticed.

Give us an example of how you’re currently helping other women advance professionally or fulfill their career goals?

This is what I love about my industry. The wine industry is all about helping each other. We are always referring people to other businesses, some of them are even competitors. The other way is by not being afraid of the fact that I’m a woman. I don’t feel that I have to prove myself more or less just because I’m a woman and I think I am in an industry that agrees. The key to success, whether you are a woman or not, is being confident in who you are and what it is you want to accomplish.

Could you mention one or more women who have helped you get to where you are now?

My sister helped me a lot when I first got started. She too is in the industry and she is always telling everyone about my businesses. My former business partner for Small Lot Wine Tours, Rebecca Johnson, really put that company on the map. She’s great with sales and marketing and if it weren’t for her efforts than we would probably have no customers. I also found a lot of inspiration in Tracey Reichow. She’s the vintner, farmer, and winemaker for Black Cat Vineyard. She planted her vineyard, harvests her own grapes, and does all her own winemaking. She can drive all sorts of machines and tractors. She wears work boots and jeans. And yet, she’s beautiful and 100% woman. She’s never ever complained about being a woman in her industry. Rather she has proven herself by producing a quality product. I met her when I first started and I’m so grateful I did.

Get intouch with Becky Tyner Sandoval: