Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit 2016



by Linda Castillo

This is the fourth year that Modern Latina has covered the Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit (SVLLS). Every year I am always impressed by the caliber of speakers and the panel discussions that really tap into the pulse of the important topics and issues impacting the Latino leaders in the business community. The theme for this year’s summit was Diversity Builds Leadership and panel discussions focused on advancing the Latino talent agenda in corporate America and diversity in the workplace. A key theme of taking ownership of our stories emerged from all the presentations and conversations – from the stories that we tell, the stories that we share and how we are changing our stories as Latino leaders today.

Latinas Paving the Way

The Summit opened with a presentation from Laura Gomez, CEO of Altipica. She shared her experience as the first Latina employee at Twitter to now being the CEO of Altipica. Altipica is a startup that applies big data and machine learning principles to recruiting while increasing diversity in the applicant pool.

Laura Gomez, CEO of Altipica

Laura Gomez, CEO of Altipica

Later that morning, Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca shared the DREAMer’s Roadmap, a mobile app that helps undocumented students find scholarship opportunities. These two Latina leaders are changing the status quo and providing access for Latinos to advance.

Latino Start-Up Pitches

The Latino startup community is growing in Silicon Valley and this year for the first time the Summit featured “Es Tiempo Nation Start-Up Pitch” where four Latino-owned companies presented their pitches to the panelists who provided feedback. The four companies were:

  • Evrybit, a mobile-first live storytelling application
  • Phon2action, supplies advocacy and civic engagement tools that connect constituents with their elected officials
  • Savio, cultivates and nurtures exceptional tech talent
  • SmileyGo, a data-driven philanthropy platform.



Recognizing Visionary Latino Leaders

Every year the SVLLS recognizes three visionary individuals who have paved the way for future leaders to succeed. This year the SVLLS awarded the following outstanding recipients:

  • SVLLS Trailblazer Awardee: Monica C. Lozano, Chairman, Aspen Institute Latinos & Society Program
  • SVLLS Pioneer Awardee: Tim Campos, CIO & VP of IT, Facebook
  • SVLLS Visionary Awardee: Fidel Vargas, CEO, Hispanic Scholarship Fund


One of the highlights for me was hearing publisher and Chief Executive Officer of La Opinión, Monica Lozano. With pride she shared the history of her grandfather founding La Opinión, a Spanish-language daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California. This year marks 90th Anniversary for the paper carrying on her grandfather’s vision to serve the community and take ownership of our stories. For me, as a Latina publisher, it was truly inspiring to meet Monica in person and learn more about a Latino family-owned media corporation’s success story.

During his acceptance speech for the Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit Pioneer Award, Tim Campos, CIO of Facebook provided some invaluable tips that he learned along the way navigating his career.

“Your role, your title, your job does not define you. You define you,” said Tim.

Tim shared some key takeaways including the importance of perseverance and hard work, building relationships and taking advantage of opportunities others had given to him. He concluded the final thought that “we must take time to invest in each other” which in my mind encompassed the spirit of the Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit.

Inspiring the Next Generation

At the heart of every SVLLS is the importance of empowering today’s Latino leaders and ensuring the success of future generations. A moving part of the summit is the Young Latina Project Certificate presentation. In collaboration with the Ivy League Project, the Young Latina Project selects 10 high school students with exemplary grades (3.5-4.24 GPAs) and demonstrated dedicated community involvement to attend the summit. It is an opportunity for the young students to connect with Latino professionals and be recognized for their hard work and leadership.


The SVLLS is changing the stories of the Latino community by connecting and elevating Latino leaders and investing in our community to develop more leaders. I left the conference invigorated and inspired to not only create my own story as Latina leader but also inspire the next generation.

Linda Castillo is the Founder and Executive Editor of She writes on topics that empower and inspire Latinas including art, motherhood, green living, culture, travel, and issues transforming the Latino community. Linda has earned a B.S. in Business and a M.S. in Mass Communications from San Jose State University.