Latinitas’ Top 7 Moments of 2017

2017 was a momentous year for Latinitas, from rebooting our El Paso office to celebrating fifteen years of empowering Latina youth! To wrap up this incredible year, we want to highlight seven of our favorite events and moments of 2017, as well as thank all of the people and companies that made these events possible.

1. Latinitas’ Quinceañera Gala

Since 2002, Latinitas has been serving Austin by empowering girls to innovate through media and technology. To celebrate the last fifteen years, we decided to make our annual fundraiser a modern, chic twist on the traditional Latin American quinceañera and celebrate all of the incredible people who championed Latinitas’ mission since its origin through their work and dedication. The Latinitas Quinceañera Gala would not have been possible without the help of our “padrinos” and “madrinas,” such as Dell, H-E-B, Univision, and Cirrus Logic, who sponsored our event at Gather/Impact Hub.

Latinitas co-founder and CEO Laura Donnelly (center) with Latinitas’ campeones/honorees (L to R) media scholar Dr. Federico Subervi-Velez; Dell Marketing Director, North America Commercial, Ana Villegas; Producer/Vice President at Troublemaker Studios Elizabeth Avellan; Alina Patina and Senior Vice President of Univision LA — ATX Luis Patino; and former Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez.
Cake by Sugar Mama’s Bakery

2. Latinitas Reports from South by Southwest 2017

This year, some of our Latinitas Austin staff were given the opportunity to attend the renowned South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival. For five days during the Interactive portion, our staff attended panels and presentations on various topics, including diversity in tech and Hollywood, virtual reality, empowering women, and so much more. Some of our staff also received the opportunity to attend the “Seed” movie premiere, hosted by Emmy-award winning actress Gina Rodriguez. South by Southwest was an incredible experience that allowed us to connect with people from all over and get their perspectives on issues affecting our world. We are looking forward to next year when Latinitas–in collaboration with Black Girls CODE, Border Kids Code, and Google Fiber–will be having a panel on engaging kids of color in tech.

Female filmmakers at SXSW talking about the gender gap in the filmmaking industry
Latinitas staff with Gina Rodriguez (left) at the Seed Movie Premiere

3. Design Chica Conference in Austin

The first conference of the year was Latinitas Austin’s Design Chica Conference. The one-day conference gave girls of all backgrounds the opportunity to learn design thinking and work with user experience designers to create their very own website. The day also included demonstrations of virtual reality technology from Google Fiber and Owlchemy Labs, as well as the opportunity for girls to meet with career presenters in various roles in the tech sector during lunch. We want to thank our sponsors Cirrus Logic, Google Fiber, and Austin Community College for making this conference possible!

About 60 Central Texas girls ages 9–18 attended Latinitas Austin’s Design Chica Conference on April 15th, 2017, along with a similar amount of mentors and volunteers.

4. Latinitas Austin and El Paso Summer Camps

This summer, Latinitas Austin and Latinitas El Paso both had four week-long summer camps that gave girls the opportunity to learn about media and technology utilizing the themes of fashion, art, film, health, and technology. During the camps, the girls were also taken on various field trips to places such as Dell, Indeed, Blackbaud, Univision, and The Blanton Museum of Art.

Latinitas in Austin with Indeed’s Global Inclusion Director
Latinitas in El Paso during their field trip to Univision

5. Frida Night in El Paso

This year, Latinitas El Paso hosted its very first Frida Night Fundraiser. During this event, attendees were able to get a portrait painting lesson by El Paso artist Diego Robot while enjoying live music and food. This sold out fundraiser was a total hit and allowed Latinitas El Paso to work with some of the city’s best artists, musicians, and vendors. Thank you to our sponsors Mesa Street Grill, Kahlo Kitchen, and Desert Modern Florals for helping make this night such a huge success.

Food from Kahlo Kitchen for Frida Night

6. Startup Chica Conference in Austin

The Latinitas Austin fall conference this year focused on entrepreneurship. At the Startup Chica Conference, girls spent the day learning how to turn their bright ideas into businesses. As teams, working alongside community mentors, they came up with innovative solutions to tackle important issues, such as housing, clean energy, and education, from the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and pitched the product to a group of judges. Girls also heard an inspiring keynote speech from 13 year-old Mikaila Ulmer, the founder and CEO of Me and the Bees Lemonade. Thanks to eBay, Bumble, HomeAway, Capital Factory, Wells Fargo, LevelUp Institute, Donn’s BBQ & Catering, and Yummi Joy for sponsoring Startup Chica and helping make it such a huge success!

7. STEAM Chica Conference in El Paso

To close out the year, the Latinitas El Paso office held their STEAM Chica Conference. Throughout the day, girls of all backgrounds attended workshops on topics ranging from robotics, mathematics, virtual reality, animation and so much more! The day also included a fair with organizations from all over the city including the EPCC Chemistry Club, ACM-W UTEP Student Chapter, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold and many more! Mil gracias to our sponsors TecH20 Center, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and Cementos de Chihuahua for helping make STEAM Chica possible.


This year has been a year full of growth, celebration, and learning, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our incredible sponsors, volunteers, and supporters!

Stay tuned for an even bigger 2018! We’re got exciting plans, starting with a website redesign and a magazine relaunch, as well as our first-ever Game Chica Conference coming to Austin.

Compiled and edited by Latinitas Staff