Maria Pilar Rodriguez, MD Hispanic Business Conference, Executive Director


Veronica Cool, CEO, Cool & Associates Inc.; Founder, Latino Innovators’ Pitch

Lanaea C. Featherstone, CEO, William & Lanaea C. Featherstone Foundation


  •   Angela Neira, Life Asset LLC
  •   Carolina Martinez, NetBlue Media LLC
  •   Jessica Nelson, Thrivent Financial
  •   Milvia Garrido, Montgomery County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Axa Advisors
  •   Mayra Bayonet, Communities Connect LLC


Julio C. Parra, Parra Consulting Group, Inc.
Maria Pilar Rodriguez – Executive Director, MD Hispanic Business Conference


Asian American Chamber of Commerce
Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Salvadoran American Chamber of Commerce


Mayra Bayonet is president and founder of Communities Connect, an organization that helps governments, organizations and businesses create opportunities for citizen engagement and participation. She has 34 years of experience in community planning, development and outreach which includes her strong background in public service at the city and county level. She has a strong background working with government agencies and has an exemplary record of strengthening communication between communities and organizations. Bayonet is a recognized force in the community who is present at many community outreach and advocacy events. She is constantly creating connections between community groups that yield positive outcomes for her beneficiaries. She holds a degree in architecture/urban planning.

Lanaea C. Featherstone, a Baltimore native, is president and co-founder of the William & Lanaea C. Featherstone Foundation. She is an award-winning leading nonprofit executive with more than a decade of international and management experience. She has been a featured panelist for U.S. News & World Report on topics related to the Latino community. Featherstone received official Governor’s citation from the State of Maryland for her work promoting economic contributions for the Latino community. She received the Maryland Daily Record Newspaper’s Very Important Professionals (VIP) Successful by 40 award.” In 2013, Lanaea received a prestigious Open Society Institute Baltimore Community Fellowship, from a pool of 150 applicants, where she created citywide computer literacy initiative that helps Latino immigrant parents secure better paying jobs and help their children academically.

Featherstone holds a master’s degree in Spanish and Latin American studies from The American University in Washington, DC and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Louisiana State University. She holds a PMP® certificate in project management, which is recognized all over the world as the gold standard and is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers. She is fluent in Spanish and has traveled to fifteen countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

Milvia Garrido, a native of Colombia, is a registered representative who offers securities through AXA Advisors. Garrido has a strong background in international sales, marketing, and client relations. She received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Universidad Santiago de Cali. She’s is actively involved in leadership positions. She sits on the board of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Montgomery County and an Advisory Board member of the Women Empowerment Project. She speaks fluent Spanish.

Angela Neira, a native of Colombia, is a senior loan officer and small business specialist at Life Asset, Inc. With her strong background in entrepreneurship, she provides technical assistance and microcredit analysis for small business owners. Throughout her career, she has empowered more than 3,000 small business owners in the Washington metropolitan area and has helped entrepreneurs create more than 400 businesses. . Neira started her career as a portfolio manager and small business manager at the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) where she mentored small business owners about the start-up process and operations management. She’s held many positions in academia including her role as the operations manager at Ana G. Mendez University. She holds a master’s degree in project management from American InterContinental University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Universidad Externado de Colombia. Neira also works as an instructor for the small business program at Carlos Rosario Charter School in DC, where more than 150 entrepreneurs have graduated.

Carolina Martinez, a native of Colombia, is the founder of NetBlue Media. In 2016, her passion for authentic and innovative media campaigns led her to launch her own company. Martinez created NetBlue media to help companies create and maintain a strong social media presence. Her firm focuses on advertising, search engine optimization, social media marketing and website design. As a digital strategist, Martinez works with U.S. and international companies to develop cutting-edge social media campaigns. She holds a master business administration in marketing from Strayer University and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Universidad Piloto de Colombia. She speaks fluent Spanish.

Jessica Nelson is a bilingual financial representative who seeks to work with people from all walks of life! She was born in the Bronx, as a first-generation American. Her parents instilled pride of her Dominican culture. As a result, she continues to be proficient in Spanish and services her community in both languages. She recognizes, based on her humble beginnings, that in order to see your wealth grow you should follow these basic principles: Spend less than you make, Be wise with debt, protect yourself against setbacks, have short-and-long-term plans and give back to your community. Jessica knows that with a plan, patience, relationships, and prayer all things are possible! She worked for 18 years as an educator and was passionate about taking her role as teacher to share her talents and treasures with thousands of young minds! Now she is thrilled about taking her second journey, as a financial representative, and utilizing her teaching skills to educate others about financial literacy in her community! Jessica is a licensed Insurance Producer and is currently on the track to receive her securities license and wealth management credentials to better serve her clients. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Linguistics and a minor in International Relations from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and a Masters Degree from Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Maria Pilar Rodriguez, a native of the Dominican Republic, is executive director of the Maryland Hispanic Business Conference. As an entrepreneur, she’s the founder an interpreting, translation and multi-services company, MPR Translations, LLC. Previously, she worked as a paralegal in New York and Maryland. With more than twenty-three years of experience, she has a background in civil litigation, workers’ compensation and immigration law. Rodriguez has received multiple awards and recognition for her community service. In 2012, the Daily Record of Baltimore recognize. Rodriguez as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women. Her community outreach includes: the William & Lanaea C. Featherstone Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association, Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, the Dominican Association and the Federation of Hispanic Organizations. Rodriguez received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from John Jay College and holds additional certifications from the Paralegal Institute in New York City.