WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy took a leading role in the 8th annual National Latina Symposium in Washington, Sept. 8.
The event, presented by Latina Style, Inc., and the Anna Maria Arias Foundation, is the largest annual gathering of Latinas in the nation. The symposium brought together more than 300 leaders from corporate America, the government and military to address issues facing the Hispanic community and to honor outstanding Latina role models in the community.
Headlining the event was the Distinguished Military Service Awards Luncheon, during which Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead was awarded Latina Style's President's Leadership Award and Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Juan M. Garcia received the organization's President's Recognition for their leadership in creating opportunities for Latinas and promoting diversity.
Additionally, Rear Adm. (select) Raquel Cruz Bono, currently serving as deputy director, Medical Resources, Plans and Policy, received the President's Trailblazer award in recognition of her selection as the first Latina to achieve the rank of rear admiral in the Navy.
"During your watch, we have the first Latina admiral in the U.S. Navy," said Robert Bard, president and CEO of Latina Style, to Roughead when explaining the significance of the award. "During your watch, things have changed so dramatically because you have innovated the thought of diversity as a national security issue. As the country's population and demographics change, where are the new leaders going to come from? They're going to come from all of us. And as the population changes, the numbers and the people are going to change. But nothing gets done unless there is very strong direction from the top."
Garcia also provided keynote remarks at the luncheon and touched upon the legacy of service of Hispanics in the military.
"Five hundred thousand Hispanics served in World War II. They sweat, they bled, in some cases they made the ultimate sacrifice, right next to their counterparts from across the country," said Garcia. "They served to save the world for democracy and returned back home. In certain parts of the country they found they still couldn't serve on a jury, have access to certain public accommodations and send their children to certain schools, yet they knew something had changed. They knew they'd earned a place at the American table."
"Today, every one of those new recruits standing on the Yellow Footprints or reporting to Great Lakes knows they have a father, a tio, or an abuelo who served before them, and they know the difference that service made in their lives."
Several uniformed service members and civilian employees across the Department of Defense were also awarded for their achievements during the luncheon. Lt. Lisseth C. Calvio, Ph.D., a medical service corps officer and clinical psychologist who recently completed an individual augmentee tour in Kandahar, Afghanistan; and Erika J. Colón, a Navy civilian in the office of the Chief of Naval Personnel, received Latina Style's Meritorious Service Award for their efforts in supporting the DoD mission and demonstrating role model qualities.
According to 2010 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics comprise 16.3 percent of the total U.S. population, or 50.5 million people, forming the nation's largest racial or ethnic minority. Further, today there are more than seven million Hispanic women in the workforce.
The Navy's workforce reflects this diversity - today, nearly 60,000 Hispanic active duty and reserve Sailors and officers and nearly 10,000 Hispanic civilians serve in the Navy Total Force, including three Hispanic flag officers, 158 Hispanic master chiefs and five Hispanic members of the Senior Executive Service.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.