53 - Long Beach, CA
"My motivation is the reminder that I was one of these girls. I was a C student that came from a large family of four boys and four girls and was expected to work in the family business which did not allow me to pursue my personal career goals. I can identify with these girls in so many ways. I'm so humbled by the work I do, it's all worth it. I'm dedicated seven days a week at any given hour. The girls in ELLAS know that my door is always open and I do not think twice about working tirelessly to assure a diversity of resources are available to them, in my commitment to encourage underprivileged youth to expand their educational, social and career paradigms ."
In 2003, Pilar founded an organization called Embracing Latina Leadership Alliances (ELLAS). ELLAS is dedicated to the educational, professional and political advancement of Latina youth. Pilar's passion stems from the belief that, investing in oneself is the greatest strength we can build from, that education is the foundation of the American dream, and considered the pathway to ensuring healthy communities and productive lives. Pilar has devoted herself whole-heartedly to seeing that these students
truly benefit, and take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. She has funded this organization primarily with her retirement account, and has stripped her living expenses to the bare minimum in order to dedicate her professional expertise and day to day involvement without a salary.
Pilar and all who support ELLAS Program have positively affected more than 2,400 girls, since 2003. A total of 94 percent of participants matriculated into higher education. Within the overall program 98 percent of students gained academic support, financial information, scholarships, resume development, part-time employment and various government certificates of recognition for their community engagement and leadership. Intelligence without ambition is like a bird without wings; Pilar lets you hatch out of your egg and prepares you for flight. That's why Pilar is a 2011 Woman of Worth!