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Elizabeth Oliver-Farrow: Empowering Latinas for Corporate Board Success

By: Sandra Ortiz

Explore Elizabeth Oliver-Farrow’s journey from the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to the Latino Corporate Directors’ Association, uncovering key insights for Latinas aiming to join boards. Learn how to leverage Chamber of Commerce memberships and empower underserved communities in this insightful vodcast episode of ‘Her Money Moves’.

Elizabeth Oliver-Farrow, Board Chair of the Latino Corporate Directors Association and Vice Chairman of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, shares invaluable insights from her distinguished journey serving on various boards. With a steadfast commitment to championing Latina representation in corporate boardrooms, Elizabeth has shattered glass ceilings, notably as the first female chair of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the inaugural elected Latina Board Director of CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield. In this candid discussion, she discusses topics including uplifting underserved communities, fostering Hispanic student participation in higher education, and empowering Latinas to leverage their distinctive skill sets in boardroom leadership.

Empowering Latinas, Elevating Communities

How did Elizabeth’s journey unfold as she became the first woman elected Chair of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC)?

Elizabeth made history as the inaugural female Chair of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC). Reflecting on her experience, she underscores the significance of inclusion, particularly as a Puerto Rican among predominantly Mexican American business owners. She emphasizes the value of mutual empowerment within the community and stresses the importance of cultivating relationships. Above all, Elizabeth’s journey underscores the vital lesson of fearlessness: the unwavering belief in oneself and the determination to overcome obstacles.

What are some skill sets for Latinos joining boards? 

She emphasizes the importance of not just joining but actively participating and engaging in these endeavors, which fosters invaluable leadership skills. Elizabeth underscores the significance of listening and remaining open to learning, highlighting the necessity of humility. Moreover, she emphasizes the pivotal role of advocacy in boardroom participation, emphasizing its impact on policy-making. Elizabeth advocates for the cultivation of partnerships, coalitions, and inclusivity, stressing the importance of nurturing relationships throughout the journey. 

What’s the International Women’s Fund and how can the Hispanic Scholarship Fund enhance your leadership skills?

Established in New York in 1979, the International Women’s Fund (IWF) provides a platform for accomplished women to engage in candid conversations about their experiences, obstacles, and aspirations. Elizabeth highlights the IWF’s fellows program as a valuable avenue for individuals to cultivate the requisite skills for potential nomination to the organization. Additionally, she elaborates on the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, a scholarship organization dedicated to offering support, mentorship, and leadership prospects through its HSF Scholars program. This initiative serves as yet another avenue for individuals to make a positive impact on their community and uplift one another.

How do you leverage Chamber of Commerce memberships? 

Elizabeth emphasizes that membership alone isn’t sufficient; one must actively engage. She advises joining committees, interacting with fellow members, and taking on leadership roles. According to her, active participation in the local USHCC Chamber amplifies influence, abilities, and leadership potential. Elizabeth explains that building connections within the community enhances visibility and attracts attention from corporate entities. Ultimately, she emphasizes the importance of investing effort, as it’s the connections forged that truly make a difference.

Wisdom from Elizabeth’s Journey

“When it comes to these organizations, it’s not just joining, it’s getting engaged, becoming part of a committee, chairing a committee. So you build up your leadership skills.”

“If you don’t include Latinos in your board room, you are leaving money on the table.”

– “The most important thing for me is building that leadership skill, being able to walk into a board room, listen and learn about the business. Take a look at who is in that boardroom and what their strategy is.” 

– “Understanding Robert’s Rules of conducting a board meeting really led me to the executive committee of the board because I knew what I was talking about.”

“When they are looking for board members they are looking for an expertise that they don’t have in the board room.”

WATCH THE FULL VODCAST HERE:

About the author: Sandra Ortiz

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Sandra Ortiz Juárez studied Communication Sciences in her native Mexico and obtained a master's degree in Audiovisual Journalism in Spain. She has worked on radio, television and in digital media such as AOL Latino, Mamás Latinas and in the magazines Siempre Mujer and Ser Padres, where she served as digital director. She has interviewed celebrities such as Carolina Herrera, Isabel Toledo, Natalia Jiménez, Luis Fonsi, William Levy, among many other personalities. In her free time she likes to dance and experiment in the kitchen. She confesses to being addicted to the internet and sushi.

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