Women’s History Month: Female leader of Hispanic organization helps businesses succeed

ORLANDO, Fla. — This Women’s History Month, Channel 9 is highlighting the women who are leaders in the community and those who are making a change in the workplace.


The number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies reached an all-time high last year.

Fifty-three women led major firms.

One local woman is working to drive that number even higher.

Read: Winter Park’s first female mayor talks to WFTV about the city’s future

Whether supporting the community or leading in her role as President of the Hispanic Economic Advancement Foundation, Gabi Ortigoni knows how to take charge.

After six years of leading the Hispanic Chamber of Metro Orlando, she left that role to fill a gap that others didn’t see. She introduced the idea for the Hispanic Economic Advancement Foundation.

The chamber accepted the idea and saw her vision of advancing local businesses.

Read: Women’s History Month: Pastor at local church breaks down barriers, voices challenges

“The state of Florida is second went it comes to the largest number of Hispanic-owned businesses,” Ortigoni said. “But when it comes to scaling up the business, when it comes to creating jobs, with businesses being able to create contracts with large corporations, we’re not at the top numbers.”

Her role as president focuses on growing established businesses and their leaders with executive training. Ortigoni said when it comes to women in leadership roles, she often encounters a lack of confidence, even when a woman has the same experience as their male counterpart.

“Sometimes you’re the youngest, or you’re the only woman, or the only Hispanic or all three combined,” she said. “It’s intimidating.”

And Ortigoni knows from facing it herself.

Read: Women’s History Month: Local female leader keeps Central Florida economy running

“I came here not knowing any English,” she said. “I challenged myself. I know I still have an accent, but that hasn’t prevented me from being in positions where I have worked with top CEOs and top executives in Central Florida, and I have gained their respect.”

But she said her work with the community built her leadership skills, and it’s something all women can do.

“When you volunteer maybe at your church or other organizations, you’re going to learn about finances, you have to learn about public speaking, you have to learn about managing volunteers, and these are skills that as you develop them in your career,” she said. “It’s building you to be a good leader.”

She is using those skills to move our local economy forward.

“This is going to be a new venture that is going to help really move the needle for the Hispanic business community,” Ortigoni said. “The effect isn’t just going to be for Hispanics; it’s going to be felt economically by the entire region.”

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