For the first time in LCLD history, LCLD Fellows traveled outside the United States last November for a two-day Learning Experience in Mexico City (see agenda here), cementing a cross-cultural relationship years in the making.

They were hosted by Abogadas MX, a non-profit organization founded by 2013 LCLD Fellow Valeria Chapa-Garza, Assistant Vice President, Senior Legal Counsel at AT&T México. Inspired by her experience in the Fellows Program, Chapa-Garza created Abogadas ("female lawyers") to provide similar opportunities for support and relationship building for women attorneys in Mexico.

In 2018, LCLD and Abogadas MX formed a partnership that allowed five Mexican attorneys to participate in the Fellows Program; in return, Abogadas MX would host an LCLD Fellows Learning Experience in Mexico City.

The Learning Experience began with a Welcome Reception hosted by the Mexican law firm of Nader Hayaux & Goebel at Club de Empresarios. The Fellows were hosted by 2018 Fellow Vanessa Franyutti, Nader partner and Abogadas MX board member.

The next day, the Fellows were honored guests at the Abogadas MX Fourth Annual Leadership and Development Conference, attended by more than 400 Mexican attorneys, most of them women. Conducted almost entirely in Spanish, the meeting was accessible to Fellows via live translation services provided by Abogadas MX.

The keynote speaker was Alejandro Pinillos, CEO of Bonafont, a Mexican bottled water company. Pinillios stressed the importance of women leaders and described the company’s initiatives to be more inclusive of women.

The next speaker, Chris DeSantis, was familiar to the Fellows as a faculty member and frequent presenter at LCLD events. He engaged the audience with his insights on generational differences, and successful strategies for working across generations. He was followed by a representative of Reinserta, who spoke on prison reform in Mexico. She also spoke about the charity event that Abogadas MX hosted to support her cause.

Chapa-Garza moderated the next panel, which featured four 2012 LCLD Fellows: Corey Lee, Chair of the LCLD Fellows Alumni Executive Council (EC); Cassandra Headrick, Chief Data Officer of the EC; Gerard Gregoire, At-Large Member of the EC; and Jin Liu, former Program Development Committee Co-Chair of the EC. They discussed the history of LCLD and how the Fellows Program has grown since its first class in 2011. The audience heard about and witnessed the close relationships the Fellows have formed and how the program has enhanced their careers. 

A video compilation of activities during the Abogadas MX Learning Experience in Mexico City. Video by Jonathan Zúñiga. 

After the Fellows panel, a nationally recognized figure, Eufrosina Cruz, addressed the conference. Cruz hails from the state of Oaxaca, and is the first female indigenous politician in Oaxaca. She inspired the audience with her story of overcoming adversity to become a champion for gender equality and the rights of indigenous communities.

The afternoon lineup included a session with Alexandra Haas, President of the National Council to Prevent Discrimination; a panel on change management featuring Mexican CEO’s (Maria Ariza, CEO of Bolsa Institucional de Valores (BIVA), Paula Santilli, President of PepsiCo Mexico Foods, Santiago Suarez, CEO of Mezcal Amores, and Jorge Gutierrez, CEO of Fiinlab); an interactive presentation by Gabriela Solorzano, a Mexican performance coach; and an interview with Javier Tello, a political analyst and commentator.

The closing keynote was delivered by Stacey Maris, Senior Vice President, Assistant General Counsel, and Secretary at AT&T. A cocktail reception closed the meeting. 

While the Fellows spent their first day behind closed doors with hundreds of attorneys at the Abogadas MX conference, day two allowed them to explore the Mexican capital.

The day began at the Federal Antitrust Commission (COFECE), an autonomous body formed to promote and protect free market access and economic competition. There the Fellows had a private audience with Commissioner Brenda Gisela Hernandez Ramirez, who briefed them on the history of antitrust law in Mexico and the state of legal affairs in the country. Although the presentation was mainly in Spanish, there was live translation and the Fellows were able to ask questions of the Commissioner.

The Fellows next traveled to the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCDJN), where they engaged in a discussion of human rights in Mexico with Maria Vallarta, General Director of Promotion and Human Rights. They also discussed relevant cases in the Supreme Court on minority rights and gender inequality. After the presentation, the Fellows toured the SCDJN building, including politically charged murals by Jose Clemente Orozco and Rafael Cauduro, among other painters.

After lunch, the Fellows were transported to the National Museum of Anthropology and History, where Abogadas MX had arranged a guided tour for them in English. The day ended with a group dinner in the Santa Fe district.

This Learning Experience would not have been possible without the hard work of the Abogadas MX team, especially Valeria Chapa, President and Founder; Antonia Rodríguez, Executive Director; Elisa Garcia, General Coordinator; and the Abogadas MX 2018 Fellows: Bertha Alicia Ordaz Avilés, Monica Bichara, Vanessa Elizabeth Franyutti, Maria-Teresa Pailles, and Tanya Quiñonez.

For more information about the LCLD Fellows Program or to host a corporate Learning Experience, please contact Nichole Velasquez, LCLD Program Manager.