THE GODDESS OF ELA INNER BEAUTY PAGEANT & SCHOLARSHIP
Monica Salinas- Community Organizer, Counselor
Carmelita Maldonado is a versatile creative talent hailing from Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. With expertise in writing, acting, directing, and producing, Carmelita's career highlights include her award-winning film "La Wija," recognized for its unique blend of horror and comedy.
Having honed her skills in theater, Carmelita transitioned seamlessly into the world of film, commercials, and music videos. Collaborating with esteemed organizations like Casa101 and Teatro Frida Kahlo, she's demonstrated a commitment to culturally rich storytelling.
Carmelita's partnership with visionary Diana Diaz led to the creation of a promo video for the Goddesses of East L.A Inner Beauty Pageant & Scholarship fund. Joined by collaborator Ashley Karp, they're embarking on a transformative documentary project, inviting the community to join in their storytelling journey.
Blanca Espinoza works for Los Angeles Unified School District where she holds a position as Healthy Start Coordinator/Student & Families Resources at the department of Student Health and Human Services. She has been a strong advocate for the East Los Angeles Community since 1993 where she organized a group called The Townsend More Advocates for Safer Homes with the support of Supervisor Gloria Molina. She advocated for a child care center and youth center as well as a park for her community. A few years later the Union Pacific Child Care Center was built to help low income families with child care as well as a place where teens can go and participate in various enrichment activities and keep the off the streets. Soon-after Parque de Los Suenos was built across from the center. Blanca served and led the Sheriff’s Advisory committee for several years.
Blanca was a board member of the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce where she was voted president twice. She also coordinators the Annual Christmas Toy Distribution providing toys to less fortunate children in East Los Angeles since 1999. Blanca is a dedicated advocate for victims of domestic violence; she has served as a community organizer for incarcerated women who were victims of domestic violence. Blanca is also on the East Los Angeles Advisory Committee where she collaborates with various community partners and non-profits.
Blanca has served many families for almost 3 decades to ensure they children receive supplies for schools and at the least turkey's for Thanksgiving to those in need, warm blankets & coats for the homeless, eyewear for children that do not have insurance, new shoes for children in need. She always serves as resources to anyone in need. She was given the Key to East Los Angeles in honoring her efforts to her community a few years back. Because of Blanca's strong interest in meeting the community's needs she was elected Woman of the Year in 2007 representing the 58th District Assemblymen Charles Caldron.
Kristina Martel was born in the San Gabriel Valley and raised in Highland Park, California where she proudly calls home. She is a graduate of California State University Los Angeles and New York University Tisch School of the Arts Film School. As a second-generation, Mexican American, she identifies as a multicultural Latina and is passionate about equitable representation of the diverse people and cultures of the City of Los Angeles, where her family roots go as far back as 1919.
In her 22-year career at the American Cancer Society, Kristina has led national and regional marketing communication strategies as Integrated Marketing Director and more recently in her leadership role as Strategic Director, Diversity Equity & Inclusion for the ACS California Guam Hawaii Division. Kristina oversees DE&I initiatives driving impact through philanthropic partnerships in areas of health equity, access to care, cancer screening, and research in diversity. Her partnerships with local and national media outlets, corporate partners, community, and nationwide DE&I leaders have yielded impact in marginalized communities across the Western U.S. Kristina’s documented storytelling of Indigenous people including Native American, Native Hawaiian, Alaskan Native, and Latinos disproportionately impacted by systemic racism is unwavering.
Kristina’s storytelling extends to KQBH Radio 101.5 FM in Boyle Heights, where she hosts and produces two public radio shows “Super Mujeres” and “CMTY Live,” elevating local femme and LGBTQ+ artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, activists, and socially conscious innovators. Kristina also sits on the board of “The Goddess Mercado,” wherein she proudly amplifies a beacon of hope and space lead by founder Diana Diaz, for all women and femmes to shine, lead, and empower the next generation.
Angie Vizcana- Founder Diosa Cosmetics
Diana Diaz is a single mother born and raised in East Los Angeles, and she is the daughter of Mexican immigrants that introduced her to the world of street vending. These intersectionalities inspired her to create Mexichic Crafts, the first chicana luxury leather brand from East Los Angeles. This fashionista activista pays homage to her cultura with exclusive and colorful designs that inspire alegria. Diana has been interviewed and showcased on Telemundo’s Accesso Total, Un Nuevo Dia and KTLA’s Unscripted news show.
Moreover, in 2021, Diana dared to dream big when she founded The Goddess Mercado and The Queer Mercado Nonprofit Collectives. Its mission is to create safe market spaces for youth to express themselves creatively, gain lucratively, and with the support of the local community and schools. In addition, her organization promotes entrepreneurship to help redress the inequities that underrepresented Latina women, youth, and the LGBTQ community face by assisting the market vendors with branding, logo, graphic design, mobile boutique presentation, marketing, etc. The Queer Mercado was featured in the front page of Los Angeles Times, LA TACO, The LAist, The Eastsider, The Daily News, and was highlighted in Fred Segal’s Guide to LA for pride month.
In October 2021, Diana spearheaded the opening of The Goddess Mercado Boutique with 12 local Latina brands. This project is an extension of her mercados. The participating vendors pay a minimal fee and a work one volunteer shift monthly to help run the space and still allow for these brands to reinvest and grow their business. The boutique grossed over $150k its first year with much support from the community.
Diana lives in City Terrace and works in East Los Angeles as a school counselor at Garfield High School. She also sits on the advisory board of the East Los Angeles Artwalk and formerly for In The Making, a community nonprofit providing job training for youth.
Mexichic Crafts products are available at MOLAA, La Plaza de Cultura y Arte, Casita del pueblo in Uptown Whittier, Mercadito Monarca in Pasadena, and and The Plus Bus- Highland Park
Diana’s leadership with the Goddess Mercado has been recognized by councilwoman Hilda Solis and councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, and the county board of supervisors. On May 30, 2022, Diana was invited by Hilda Solis to be the keynote at the Breakfast Power Hour for women’s history month to speak about her entrepreneurial journey at the Breakfast Power Hour.
This year, Diana was appointed 2023 Commissioner for the Commission on Art and Culture by Councilwoman Solis and “Woman of the Year” representing District 1.
Tina Serrato- Community Organizer & Educator Tina Serrato is a retired teacher who dedicated 34 years of her life to educating young minds in the Pre-K and Kindergarten levels at LAUSD. She was born and raised in Boyle Heights, a vibrant neighborhood that shaped her into the amazing person she is today. Adopted by her cousin and raised in a multicultural family she met her husband at the tender age of eight. As a wife and mother of three, she always managed to balance her family life with her career. In fact, her passion for teaching and her dedication to her students earned her the prestigious title of Teacher of the Year in 2014. However, teaching isn't her only talent. Tina is also an avid artist and crafter, and her creativity shines through in everything she does. She can turn any ordinary object into a work of art. She even served as an Arts Program Coordinator, bringing the joy of art to countless students. When she's not busy with her artistic endeavors, you can find her swimming, as she absolutely loves it. Tina Serrato is a retired teacher, a loving wife and mother, an award-winning educator, a talented artist, a swimmer extraordinaire, and a pillar of our community.
Claire Risoli- is a bilingual, bicultural, native Angelina. Her mother is from Sonora, Mexico and her father, of Eastern European descent from Brooklyn, NY. Claire grew up in the entertainment business, she was a signed recording artist with MCA Records at 19 years old and has appeared in many national commercials, TV shows and films in both English & Spanish. In her adult years, she was a freelance producer in Latino Marketing when she discovered an opportunity with a health & wellness, network marketing company called, Arbonne International. For the last 12 years she climbed up the ranks to the top 1% and parlayed her success to pursue yet ANOTHER dream. Claire is a serial entrepreneur. Although the timing was not ideal, her entrepreneurial spirit led her to boldly open the doors of her own Modern Mexicana restaurant concept called, Pocha LA in Highland Park, CA on April 10th, 2020. She loves cooking with her 14 year old son, Rocco who you also might see at the restaurant working alongside her and learning the ropes.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Blanca Espinoza- Community Organizer
Mexichic Crafts- Founding Organizer
In the making Los Angeles- Founding Organizer
Crystal Lopez- Creative Director