The mission of 100 Hispanic Women, Westchester Chapter is to lead Latinas towards excellence in leadership.

Success Story: Marlene Lantigua | Goya

We celebrate the achievements of Latina women. Here are their stories.

Marlene Lantigua
Marlene Lantigua


My name is Marlene Lantigua.  I am 22 years old and I intern at Goya Foods, Inc., in the Public Relations department since 2007.

In 2007, Goya sponsored the movie premiere of “Bella”.  Part of the sponsorship included hosting the movie’s premiere and donating movie tickets outside of the theaters in various cities through out the US.  The film’s producers, as well as various executives from Goya, were outside the movie theater donating tickets to people walking by.

At the New York City movie premiere, Mr. Ryan Wolfington, one of the producers of “Bella”, was handing out tickets.  Mr. Wolfington, saw a group of teens walking by and proceeded to give them free tickets.  The teenagers rudely refused the tickets.

I was among the group of teens but quietly watched my friends.  I decided to turn back and apologize to Mr. Wolfington for my friends’ impoliteness.  I had a brief conversation with the gentleman and promised that I would be back the next day to view the movie.

When I returned the next day Mr. Wolfington was very surprised to see me.  I arrived well in advance of show time and offered to help distribute tickets to people passing by.

I saw the movie and afterward, Mr. Wolfington and I went for a cup of coffee.  We had an engaging conversation and he asked me where I saw myself in five or ten years and how I planned to accomplish my goals.  Before we parted, he asked me to write about what we talked about and how I plan to realize my goals.

The following day I purchased a poster board, and with my friend’s help, I made a table on one side with my goals and the other side with how I planned to accomplish them.  After I finished the board, I called Mr. Wolfington to tell him I completed my goals and action plan.

He was surprised to hear from me, and told me he was leaving for the next scheduled premiere but he wanted to see my goal board before he left.  He invited me to a breakfast meeting he had previously scheduled with Goya Food’s President, Bob Unanue, and Director of Public Relations, Rafael Toro and other staff members on his team.  Although I was nervous to attend, I accepted the invitation and showed up to the meeting with my goal board.

After introducing me and having several conversations, Mr. Wolfington told Mr. Unanue that young people like me should be given opportunities to accomplish their goals.  In other words, Mr. Wolfington asked Mr. Unanue if he could help me get a job at Goya.  Mr. Unanue did not hesitate to ask Rafael Toro if he had an opportunity for me at Goya.  Mr. Toro decided I could intern in the Public Relations department.

Thanks to Ryan Wolfington and the generosity of Bob Unanue, and Rafael Toro, I have been a member of “La Gran Familia Goya” and employed at Goya for five years.  I started working at Goya in my senior year of high school.  I am proud to say Mr. Toro attended my high school graduation!  Since then Mr. Toro has been my supervisor and mentor.

My responsibilities at Goya include assisting the Director of Public Relations, Mr. Toro, and his assistant.  I keep track of the department’s budget, which consists of various types of spending.  I provide the finance department information they need to prepare financial statements and do some departmental filing.  I also help coordinate events Goya participates in such as parades, festivals, business expos, and donations.

In addition to working 35 to 40 hours per week during the summer and part time during the year, I finished an Associate Degree and currently I am working on my Bachelor Degree in Business at Baruch College.

I have learned that personal responsibility is the key to the delicate balance of school and work to insure that one does not negatively affect the other.  I am committed to my personal and professional goals.

In October 2011, I was thrilled to participate as a panelist at the Latina Leadership Forum produced by the Westchester Chapter of 100 Hispanic Women.  The theme of the Forum was Transformation Through Education.  I was one of five participants that spoke of our experiences as Latinas in various stages of higher education.

My fellow panelist were a 21-year-old recent bachelor degree graduate, an untraditional college student and business owner in her early 40s, as well as a doctoral graduate in her early 30s.  The President of 100HWW, Nereida Quiles, moderated the panel.  Ms. Quiles completed an undergraduate and graduate degree while working full time (just as I am).  All of the panelists were Latinas and wonderful role models!

I am happy to work at Goya and I am a proud Latina!