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Go Latinas! conference empowers and encourages women

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Women who hear stories of business success from local Latinas are “empowered to take the next step,” says Rhonda Johnson, third from left, regional manager of the Roswell office of WESST, which hosted the fourth annual Go Latinas! conference Saturday at the Elks Lodge. From left are speakers Lori Ordonez, Brenda Cruz, Manuela Ramirez and Dr. Angelica Rodriguez. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Latina women were given some practical advice and some heartfelt encouragement about achieving their goals by successful businesswomen at the fourth annual Go Latinas! conference Saturday.

The event at the Elks Lodge on North Montana Avenue drew about 70 registrants to listen to four speakers and to network with each other.

This year’s speakers were Lori Ordonez, vice president of Valley Dairy Products of Dexter, which she and her husband operate and co-own; Manuela Ramirez, a manager of both Roswell branches of First American Bank; Brenda Cruz, a partner with her husband in Elite Medical Clinic and Palace Spa in Roswell, which she manages; and Dr. Angelica Rodriguez, an audiologist and owner of Dr. Rodriguez Audiology and Hearing Clinic in Roswell.

The event is coordinated annually by the Roswell office of WESST (formerly Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency Team), a statewide small business development and training agency affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Regional Manager Rhonda Johnson said that she heard from attendees in previous years the event informed them about the support and services available from WESST and motivated some to progress in their own entrepreneurial goals.

“They were able to tell us how to partner with them, and they were able to appreciate the support and advice that we can provide, that we won’t just let them flounder,” she said. “They were just empowered to that next step. We might not have all the answers, but we have a large team and people we can refer them to who are the experts. It is a blessing to see the people here today and to see them a couple of years later knowing all that they have achieved.”