8:25am | Long Beach resident Pilar Pinel has been honored as a Woman of Worth by L’Oréal Paris for her work with Embracing Latina Leadership Alliances (ELLAS), an organization dedicated to the educational, professional and political advancement of Latina youth. Pilar is one of ten honorees from across the country that will be recognized for her extraordinary volunteer achievements and positive influence on her community.
As an American-born Latina, Pilar was raised in an environment in which it was uncommon for women to attend college or obtain careers outside of administrative services or teaching. She quickly realized that most women were instead encouraged to get married and start families. With this knowledge and background, Pilar realized her life’s goal was to help Latina women expand their possibilities and career options, as well as teach them how to reach their full potential.
In 2003, Pilar founded Embracing Latina Leadership Alliances (ELLAS) using primarily her retirement account. She has stripped her living expenses to the bare minimum to fund ELLAS’ wide range of services and ultimately adjust educational inequities amongst young Latinas. Realizing that higher education is the first step in empowering the Hispanic community at large, Pilar works closely with ELLAS’ participants and their families through hands-on engagement. The program, which starts when girls are in seventh grade and continues through high school, maps out their academic success through empowerment training, sessions on self-esteem and personal development workshops.
To date, the program has positively affected more than 2,400 girls and counting. A total of 94 percent of participants graduated high school and continued on to receive a higher education. Additionally, 98 percent of ELLAS’ participating students gained academic support, scholarships, resume development, part-time employment and various government certificates of recognition.
“I am so honored to be chosen as a L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth," said Pilar. “This generous award is going to allow ELLAS to continue making a positive impact in my community and beyond. It is truly a privilege to be among the company of these ten amazing women.”