Cecilia Zamora of San Rafael’s Latino Council has won one of North Bay Business Journal’s Latino Business Leadership Awards.
Tell us your story and that of your organization:
Latino Council was a seed project of the United Way of the Bay Area. At the time, there was only one agency serving Latino Spanish-speaking residents in Marin. When it closed due to financial reasons, the United Way was asked to explore the issue and the Latino Council was a result of that community research. The Latino Council helps other organizations (nonprofits, government, businesses) create culturally responsive approaches to their work with the Latino community. The Latino Council was a founding member of the Marin Human Rights Roundtable on Hate Violence, the Breast Cancer Coordinating Council of Marin, Legal Self Help Center of Marin and the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council. We represent Latino community concerns on the Workforce Alliance of the North Bay, San Rafael City Schools Community Network, and Equal Employment Advisory Committee. Currently, the Council is working on a statewide project, the California Advocacy Network on Aging Latinos, with 3 other nonprofits across the state. This is the 20th year Anniversary of the Latino Council. In addition, I am the President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Marin (celebrating 25 years in Marin).
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?:
In March 2017, during National Women’s History Month, Senator Mike McGuire named me “Northern California Woman of th e Year.” To be honored in this way, with a California State Senate Resolution, was quite an honor.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?:
For the past 19 years, I have been chairing and facilitating the San Rafael Leadership Institute (a program of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce). Leadership development is one of my passions. I am most proud of helping to lead others to find their own leadership path. And I continue to learn and grow my own leadership. I am a fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute of the California Women’s Foundation and a graduate of HOPE (Hispanas Organized for Political Equality).
What is your biggest challenge today?:
I find it disturbing that we are still live in a racially divided country. In particular, I feel that professional Latinos are invisible to the world.
As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?:
I do not recall being discriminated against professionally as a Latina, but I did feel too young, too female and too short at the beginning of my career. After college, I worked for the phone company in San Francisco. All the executive management were tall, white men. But I was also given the opportunity to succeed and to learn during those years of working in the Financial District. I learned early that getting to know the receptionist or Administrative Assistant was as powerful as knowing the CEO. The dynamics of leadership and how its played out in the corporate world helped me to hone my own leadership style. As a nonprofit Executive Director, I better understand the great potentials of public/private partnerships and have used my corporate experience to enhance the nonprofit work that I do now
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?:
734 A St., Suite 6, San Rafael 94901
www.latinocouncil.org (under construction)
Residence: San Anselmo
1980–1982: Corporate recruiter in San Francisco
1982–1994: Ran own recruiting firm, Zamora Associates, a high-tech recruiter and headhunter
1994–1997: Assistant vice president, United Way of the Bay Area
1997–present: Executive director, Latino Council
Education: California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo