From a Dream to a thriving Latina business in the Nation’s Capitol

By Ingrid Duran & Catherine Pino, CEO & Founders of D&P Creative Strategies, LLC (D&P)

D&P is 100% minority and women-owned business certified as a WMBE, WBE, WOSB and an LGBTBE*. Collectively, we represent more than 40 years of experience in our core service areas of strategic philanthropy, public affairs, government relations, issue advocacy, political communications and community outreach. Our clients include both Fortune 100 and small corporations, nonprofit organizations, and trade associations. We pride ourselves in offering innovative solutions that help our clients meet their business and legislative objectives.

In 2004, we made a decision that changed our lives: to live, love and work together. We both left our awesome jobs in philanthropy (Catherine was Deputy Director or Urban School Reform at the Carnegie Corporation) and in the non-profit sector (Ingrid was the President and CEO of Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute) because we wanted to impact social change and get involved politically—and we certainly couldn’t achieve that from the positions we held at the time.

We launched our business with a vision for creating change and building a bridge between the two communities we care about: Latino and LGBT.

D&P didn’t have a traditional written business plan with the five and ten-year goals or the necessary access to capital, for that matter. But what we did have was passion, a vision, and a dream to make it happen.  We started in one room of our small townhouse with a computer and a laptop. We created our collateral (logo, letterhead, business cards, website) and we let our networks know we were leaving our positions and starting our own business.

Many people thought we were crazy to launch a business without a “business plan,” contracts, or capital.  But that did not scare us—we knew if it didn’t work out, we could always go back into the traditional workforce. We knew that if we didn’t at least try, we would always wonder “what if.”

When we started our business, we did so with the intention of being our authentic selves, and that meant working as out Lesbians. Some questioned our decision to be out in our business and said it would hinder our ability to secure business.  However, we were determined to prove them wrong and set an example for others.

Our first contracts came through our vast networks that included people who knew our expertise, were familiar with our ability to deliver, and who believed in us. Once the first contracts came through, others followed, and we found our niche working with multi-cultural communities in government relations and public affairs

We are a unique government relations firm: not only do we lobby on Capitol Hill but we also create targeted and strategic partnerships for our clients. Eleven years later, we are still the only Latina-owned government relations firm in Washington, DC.

We work with our clients on a variety of issues. Some of them include: telecommunications, technology and innovation, patent reform, cyber security, Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), energy, workforce development, Latino college completion, entrepreneurship, health and wellness, Latino LGBT issues, and U.S.-Spain bilateral relations.

Having our own firm has enabled us to get involved in other causes and initiatives, like starting a political action committee (PAC) for Latina candidates and creating two media production companies.

Because we know the best way to affect social change is through media and positive story-telling, we decided on creating two production companies. We have produced three films for HBO: Latino List One & Two and the Out List, and one film for PBS: the Boomer List. Our first foray into film was as Associate Producers on an award-winning documentary about the exploitation of migration farmworker children called The Harvest/La Cosecha. Our dear friend, Eva Longoria, was an Executive Producer of the project and asked us to help her raise funds and develop a political strategy for the film.

Our business has grown from a team of two to a team of five full-time employees.  We created a D&P Fellowship program and work with the Washington Center on their Mexico 100 Program, which provides internships to young students from Mexico. We’ve been able to give young people an opportunity to learn about our business and work with Congress and Corporate America. Our tag line is Consulting with a Social Conscience and we strongly believe in the notion that when you succeed its your duty to give back and empower the community.  We look forward to continued success, growth and, as always, giving back to our communities.

About the Authors:


Ingrid M. Duran and Catherine M. Pino are Co-Founders & Principals of D&P Creative Strategies, a company that founded in 2004 to increase the role of corporate, legislative and philanthropic efforts in addressing the concerns of Latinos, women, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) communities. You can read more about Ingrid and Catherine here.


Still Missing: Latinas in Corporate Leadership

by: Mary Jean Duran

The data shows that Latinas are not only missing, they aren’t even a rounding error on the Boards of California’s largest corporations! In 2009 HOPE published Missing: Latinas In Executive Leadership in California’s Corporations based largely on data from the 2009 UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders. UC Davis released an updated report last week.

Ms. Amanda Kimball, author of the UC Davis study, notes that 91 California companies appear on the Fortune 1000 list. The highest role in corporate leadership is the Board of Directors. Those 91 companies have 883 directors in all, of those 149 are women, and THREE are Latina.

That is not a typo. THREE TENTHS OF ONE PERCENT of directors of California’s largest public corporations are Latina. Even within the subset of women directors, Latinas only comprise 2% of the total.

Why does this matter?

The issue of corporate leadership matters because for California to thrive, we must all contribute to the best of our abilities. As individuals, small businesses, corporations, government, et al.

The Davis study showed that “the top 25 companies by percentage of women leaders generated twice the revenue and net income of the average company” in the study. Some characterize this as a “chicken or egg” issue. Is the company successful and therefor has time and resources to develop the best possible leadership team, or does the diverse leadership team drive better results?

I’m an “and” person. A successful company spends the time and resources to develop the best possible team, and the high-functioning team drives bottom-line results. Results mean you grow, invest, hire more people, give back to your community, etc.

The Davis study also showed that 25.3% of California’s largest 400 public companies had NO women in the top five executive positions. Can they honestly think they have the best and brightest teams assembled?

Latinas are 18% of all Californians. To believe that Latinas must immediately or even in the short term be represented at that level across all organizations is naïve and just nonsensical. But there is a lot of room for progress between .3% and 18%!

Behind the numbers

Education: The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2013 94% of White 25- to 29-year-olds had received at least a high school diploma or its equivalent while the number for Hispanics was 76%. For Hispanics, achievement has increased 14% points in just ten years, but there does remain a significant gap. The percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds who had attained a bachelor’s or higher degree was 40% for Whites and only 16% for Hispanics.

Age: The UC Davis study showed that the average age of women directors is 59 years old. The Latino community skews far younger than the average population. According to Pew Hispanic Research the average age of Hispanics in California is 27, while the average age for non-Hispanic Whites is 44.

The pool of Latinas qualified (ie: time in position and education) for corporate leadership is statistically smaller than for many other demographics. But that isn’t an excuse and doesn’t tell the entire story.

The number of Latinas starting businesses is a frequently discussed number. According to the 2007 Census (the most recent data available) there were 205,309 Latina owned businesses in California. HOWEVER, only 11,440 of those (or 5.5%) actually had employees, versus over 12% of companies owned by Hispanic men and 20% of all businesses in California.

Latinas aren’t “starting businesses” in the sense of buying plant and equipment and developing a scalable venture. They are leaving their employers to become self-employed “businesses” of one. At what cost to their previous employers (experience and training) and themselves (long-term net-worth)? A major issue mentioned when women leave to form their own venture is work / life balance. So we must also ask, to what benefit to themselves and their families?

Action Items

HOPE’s 2009 report made recommendations in three areas: Corporate, Education, and Individuals that merit revisiting. My summary:

  • Corporate: stop the talent drain by creating an environment where bright, ambitious people want to stay, develop, and thrive.
  • Education: focus on curriculum that are relevant to real career opportunities. Encourage all capable students to participate in math and science courses.
  • Individuals: Seek out a mentor and develop peer support groups. The women of HOPE are a good start! But also keep in mind that the best mentor may not necessarily be another Latina. BE a mentor to others. Be bold, take a chance, learn from mistakes, and keep moving forward.

In 10 years (as I noted earlier) Hispanic educational achievement has made dramatic progress. I am confident that, with focus and effort, the same dramatic progress can be accomplished in corporate America. The result will be a more robust and internationally competitive business community benefitting our families, communities, California, and the United States of America.

Note: The opinions herein are solely my own and do not necessarily represent HOPE, its staff, or Board of Directors.

About the Author:

Mary Jean (MJ) Duran, HLI Class of 1999, is a communications and public policy consultant. She has worked for world class brands including Xerox, PepsiCo, and Disneyland, was a Presidential appointee to the US Small Business Administration, and has served on numerous non-profit boards. Ms. Duran earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary’s College of California and earned her MBA from Georgetown University.

2009 State of the State

Yesterday the Governor gave a sobering State of the State address where hefighting-over-money called on the legislators to put aside their ideological differences and continue their work on the state budget. The Governor stressed $42 billion deficit and the fact the California, the eighth largest economy in the world, would be insolvent by the end of the month without a solution. On December 31, 2008, the Director or Finance Mike Genest released the 2009-10 Governor’s Budget General Fund Proposals. In it the Governor outlined his proposals for balancing this year’s budget as well as closing the gap projected for last year.

In addition to these proposals, the Governor ordered the beginning in February, most state offices, like the DMV, will be forced to close the first and third Fridays of each month. All this in an effort to cut waste, reduce spending while increasing revenue, keeping people in their homes and stimulate a slow economy. The economic downturn has had a huge effect on the state revenue collections which has made the budget situation all the more urgent.

Below is a brief overview of the Governor’s budget proposals:

• Cut spending by $17.4 billion with most reductions in the largest areas of the budget: education, health and human services and prisons.

• Raise $14.3 billion in new revenues mainly from a temporary one and one half cent increase in the state sales and use tax.

• Borrow $10 billion

HOPE will continue to monitor the budget situation and the effects on Latinas and their families.


What do you think of the state budget? Post a Comment and let us know!