I have enjoyed this Jefa Series a ton. Truly excited for you guys to dig into part 2 of the series. As a quick refresher the term Jefa refers to a “female boss or leader; a woman in charge.” If you haven’t checked out part one of the series, you are missing out. Such a good read on triumph, adversity and beating all odds. In the months to come I will make sure to carve out to time feature other Jefa’s. So if you know a poderosa Latina doing great things for her family, life or career send me an email.
Some have asked me why I deiced to feature women for Hispanic heritage month. My response is always the same, why not? For far too long across the world women have had no real value. Women in particular are victimized, enslaved, not believed and written off. Proverbs 31 states that women of noble character should be honored “for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” This means women of strong noble character, Jefas, should be honored and praised by those that love them most. That is exactly what I am doing with the Jefas Series. Scripture goes on to say that “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” I wanted to take time to write about women because there is value in women rising, thriving and sharing their struggles in the world.
To me, a Jefa is clearly described in Proverbs 31. Jefas don’t always get it right. We are not supposed to. Honestly, the true test of a Jefa is in the girt and grim of life. It’s in those hard moments that shine the brightest. I’d like to you to meet two women who have carved a way through academic barriers and reinventing themselves later in life. See how their grit paved a way for their future. I often talk about striding; “to walk with long, decisive steps in a specified direction.” I hope through this post you will see how these Jefa’s took long decisive steps to reach their purpose even when it meant going at it alone.
What makes a Jefa?
Jefa’s know it requires hard work but its not impossible
Rocio was born in Queens, NY to Dominican parents. Rocio also happens to be my cousin and daughter of my favorite uncle. When Rocio turned 10 her parents moved to New Jersey. Rocio has many passions from fashion, e-commerce, real-estate to her charity work.
When discussing her education, Rocio shares that she encountered a lot of challenges with learning while growing up. Noting that “many didn’t think I would make it to college, let alone graduate.” On top of that, the percentage of young Latina women being successful is slim. According to Excelencia in Education, only 22% of the Latino’s in the United States have obtained an associate’s degree.
Rocio knew she would have to prove everyone wrong and that is exactly what she did. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the City College of New York. While in college, Rocio interned for the P. Diddy clothing brand known as Sean John. Rocio shares that “while still in college Sean John introduced me to a company that offered me a Jr. account executive position in corporate America for a children’s apparel company working with brands like DKNY, Nicole Miller, Puma and Ferrari. This opened the door for me to design in the toy industry, watches, child accessories.” Later on, Rocio began her partnership with companies like Skip Hop, Carter’s, and Movado. She now works for De’longhi.
Rocio’s love of fashion and art have led her to grow and develop professionally. She is passionate about growing the E-commerce and succeeding in making it easy for all customers to shop. She primarily focuses on the customer experience as an Ecom account manager and representative. Rocio works with accounts in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Australia, and Dubai. In addition, to developing her career in fashion, Rocio is also passionate about real estate. Together with her husband, they love to purchase properties rent them out or flip them.
Of all her greatest passions Rocio’s shares that her charity work is one of her biggest passions. Rocio shares, “I went to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010 for two weeks on a mission’s trip. It changed my life forever. We worked at a school and orphanage full of children that lost their parents after the earthquake. It was heartbreaking to see the despair. The gravity of that loss would impact anyone. I haven’t been to Haiti since 2010 but with the help of Movado Group Inc in 2017, we were able to feed and send 30 boxes to the Petit-Goave community.” Rocio shares “I always have Haiti in my heart and on my mind. Being far doesn’t stop me from helping and reaching out to them. No matter how much I succeed in life, keeping in touch with them helps me understand what matters most…loving people well.”
When asked what it means to be a Jefa, Rocio shares “A jefa is ok with being different. Jefa’s empower each other and somehow make the impossible happen. Jefa’s embrace everyday challenges with conviction. Jefa’s know what is more important in life. Being a Jefa is impacting those who surround you either at school, work or in your community. Being a Jefa is hard work but not impossible.” What makes Rocio a Jefa to me is in the way she is raising her daughter. Rocio shares that she and hubby “live by example helping her understand what it takes to be an independent, God-fearing woman. We pray together as a family and help her understand that all achievements have been reached by putting God first.” Get ready world, little Jefa Sarita is coming! Rocio lives in New Jersey with her husband of 7 years and their daughter Sarah, age 4.
You can find Rocio on Linkedin
Madeline and I met at Nyack College in 1993. When I met her, she was already paving a way for her career to flourish. For many years, Madeline has been in the global banking business. Madeline started as a customer service rep and worked her way up to accomplish her goal and became a Vice President for J.P. Morgan in the Network Management Division. In this role, she had an opportunity to grow in what Madeline considers “one of the most key objectives in business and personal life, and that is relationship building. The role allowed me to be exposed to other cultures and grow business relationships across borders and supported the strengthening of the financial atmosphere in Latin America.” In addition, Madeline was given the opportunity to run our technology group for that team. Even though Madeline did not have any experience, it was a challenge to be taken, as not many Latinas are known to be in a technology role. Though Madeline was in the role for a short period of time, not only did that equip her for the next step, but hopefully it paved more opportunities for other fellow Latinas to move into this field. She has worked in the financial industry for over 25 years and has a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management.
This year, Madeline and her family moved to South Florida where she has taken on a new role in the legal arena. Currently working as a Paralegal for a prestigious law firm allows Madeline to help her Latino population in areas of personal injury, workers compensation, and criminal and immigration cases. She shares that “this has led me to consider pursuing my masters with a concentration in legal affairs. It is never too late to continue to learn. It is never too late to affect others in a different field. It is a privilege to directly affect people’s lives in tangible ways. I am glad that I can bridge the language barrier for my people who struggle with communicating in English."
What does it mean to be a Jefa? "I think one of the things about being a “Jefa” is not being afraid to reinvent yourself. Jefas take all they have learned and experienced to evolve to their best self. Jefa’s have the courage to start over. It is important that you allow your past, whether good or bad, to continuously catapult you to the next transformation. Jefa’s take calculated risks. A Jefa is like a Phoenix always arising from the ashes to forge on." What ( make the what and do bold here)do you say to other Jefas? "Have the courage to start over. Have the courage to allow life to make you flexible and adapt to change. It’s ok to go back to the drawing board and tweak who we are. Nothing ever flows from being stagnant."
What makes a Jefa?
Jefa’s aren’t afraid to reinvent themselves
Madeline is happily married and living in PSL with her husband, 12-year-old daughter Grace, her Maltese/Shitzu dog named Toby and her fat little parrot Federal LOL.