2016 FIERCE WOMAN HONOREES
Gloria M. Rodríguez, is the Founder & Director of DeAlmas Women’s Institute, a community-based organization launched in 1998. Literally meaning “of the soul”, DeAlmas is dedicated to providing women the opportunity to reclaim, honor, and express their divine feminine gifts and human potential through spiritual and personal transformation. Ms. Rodríguez presents workshops, keynote addresses & lectures to national and international audiences at major colleges, conferences and retreats.
Ms. Rodriguez is a tenured Professor of Psychology at Bronx Community College of The City University of New York and holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. Her interests and ongoing research include women’s, multicultural, spiritual, positive and transpersonal psychology. She is also a Certified Spiritual Life Coach.
Gloria has authored articles for academic peer-reviewed journals and released her first published book, You Are More Than Good Enough in 2011, which won First Place awards in the Self-Help and Spiritual categories, and Second Place in the Women’s Issues category at The International Latino Book Awards 2012. She has received numerous community awards by various women’s and community organizations, most recently being honored by The National Puerto Rican Day Parade Committee, Dedicate to Educate, Inc. and The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diasporic Institute.
Gloria practices New Thought/Ancient Wisdom teachings and is an initiate of the Diety Oshun in the Yoruba/Lukumi religious tradition. She is a mother and adoring grandmother. Gloria enjoys travelling, the arts, and experiencing the infinite beauty that exists within the global community.
Mariela Regalado, is a Dominicana from Brooklyn who works as a College Counselor, helping to change the landscape for students of color attending institutions of higher learning. She works for the Young Women’s Leadership Network, College Bound Initiative program. Mariela chose to work at a middle school and high school located in the same neighborhood she grew up in. She was born in the Dominican Republic and raised between the Williamsburg and Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhoods in Brooklyn. She is able to pour her passion and experience into the work she does with students because she grew up with the same obstacles and circumstances they currently fight against.
Mariela was recognized as a “Hometown Hero” in Education in the series created by the New York Daily News. The Daily News presents the Hometown Heroes in Education to showcase NYC educators who display generosity, compassion, dedication, selflessness and ingenuity. She was nominated for the award by Johileny Meran, a former student, and homeless teen with Cerebral Palsy. Johileny currently attends NYU and lives on campus on a full scholarship thanks to the guidance of Mariela in helping her craft a winning application and apply for financial aid.
Last Fall, she was presented the award by James Milliken, the Chancellor of CUNY. A large percentage of her students attend CUNY schools, while 95% of her graduating class attends college upon graduation. During her birthday she was given the honor of introducing Mayor Bill De Blasio for his press conference on “Education & Equity”. It was because of her personal story and her work as a college counselor.eran
She was inspired by her 7th grade ELA teacher to write. Recognizing the importance of giving students a safe space to create and find themselves through Art, she co-facilitates creative writing and poetry workshops. She hosts these monthly workshops with “Brooklyn Gypsies” at the Brooklyn Public Library for teens to unlock their creativity and strengthen elements of style. She is also a member of the Full Circle Ensemble and has performed with them in several events at the National Black Theater in Harlem. Mariela is currently working on documenting her multidimensional experience through bilingual poetry and prose. She is a daughter, sister, friend, counselor, mentee and mentor, foodie, writer, Latina, and the proud mom of a Pomeranian Yorkie named Lola.
Emani Davis is the co-creator and partner at Life.Beautiful Event Planning, serving Westchester County, NYC and the Tristate area. Over the years, Emani has grown a commendable portfolio in social work relating to family counseling, rights of the child, rehabilitation and community leadership in New York and California. Staying true to her mission, Life.Beautiful is committed to serving clients whose work expresses the company’s commitment to social justice and equality.
Prior to launching Life.Beautiful, Emani was an independent consultant, providing criminal justice related consulting services to various agencies and programs in New York and California. She has been an advocate for the rights of children of incarcerated parents and in 2004 was the first American nominated for the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child for her work on behalf of children of prisoners.
Emani has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology with a concentration in African Studies from Manhattanville College, NY, certifications in health education and massage therapy from the National Holistic Institute (2005, CA) and is a certified facilitator of Framework for Breaking Barriers and Framework for Recovery, cognitive restructuring programs (2006, Gordon Graham and Company). She has taught parenting classes for fathers in New York State prisons and Rikers Island, and in various prisons throughout the U.S. Her training and experience has helped her to successfully prepare incarcerated fathers to take a responsible role in raising their children from prison and following release.
In addition to her academic and teaching portfolio Emani has led the implementation of new program initiatives nationally, including a mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents in northern California and a defender-based advocacy program for parents in San Francisco, as well as C.A.S.A.’s Project Family Connect in New York City’s Family Courts. She has provided a wide range of youth and children’s services in East Oakland and Richmond, CA including direct case management services, violence interruption, and gang intervention. Emani also provided training and technical assistance to the Oakland Police Department on youth violence related issues.
When asked how she uses her platform to inspire and empower other women Emani says:
“Representation is a form of social justice, but that is where we start, it is not where we end. In the event planning industry, there are few women of color. Therefore, when any of us do anything, we have to be responsible for the precedent we set. Still, we are able to infuse a knowing about the people that our clients serve so that we can create an experience that is culturally relevant and necessary. Thus, we must be thoughtful of the work that we do and share. At the same time, we align ourselves with causes we believe in; causes that make our communities and ultimately, the world, better and more inclusive.
Every interaction we have with other women is based on possibility because we know that we’ve done something that many women do not give themselves permission to do. I never miss an opportunity to let a woman know that I am a business owner. I want women, especially women of color, to know that it’s for us, too. It’s not just reserved for well-to-do women. In doing this, I hope to inspire women to know that whatever their abilities and talents, business ownership is possible. We reject the gendered notion that women are supposed to think, live, dream and play small.
Similarly, our intention and presence gives others permission to see themselves living out their dreams while using their gifts for the greater good. I started this business as a single mother. As mothers, we are now responsible for the lives of others. I know that this responsibility often discourages women from taking risks. But even through the fear and financial anxiety, motherhood can serve as motivation and inspiration to pursue your dreams. It makes me proud that my daughter is growing up knowing that her mother is a business owner. She is provided with a firsthand example of what fierce dreaming and goal setting can mean for her own life.