Patricia “Paty” Funegra, founder of the Arlington-based La Cocina VA as well as founder and president of Global Development Advisors and Moon Dancer Fund, has been honored with the inaugural Champion of Inclusivity Award at Letts Consult’s State of the Woman 2022 conference, held recently at the Sagamore Pendry in Baltimore.
The conference “exceeded all our expectations for this event. It all started with my vision of bringing women together to empower each other, and it became an amazing reality,” said Gail Letts, founder of Letts Consult. “Our speakers and panelists were incredible; our attendees were engaged, enjoyed fun experiences and formed new friendships throughout their three days together.”
Funegra was honored with the Champion of Inclusivity Award for the “wonderful work she is doing,” and the awards ceremony “capped off an evening celebration where everyone realized how we can all make a difference,” Letts said.
Nominees for the award were evaluated on their programs, practices and results that have been achieved through specific and measurable efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace and communities.
Funegra received the honor in recognition of the work that she does to support immigrants and low-income individuals in the U.S. as well as the entrepreneurship communities in Central American countries.
She founded Global Development Advisors in 2020 to bring resources and capital to the countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala to empower the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem and strengthen their economies to reduce the root causes of massive migration from those countries to the U.S.
“We can solve the migrant crisis,” said Funegra, but it will require “new sources of capital and access to strategic capacity-building [to] foster economic growth, job creation and employment opportunities for those in need.”
“I am honored to receive the first Champion of Inclusivity Award, and hope that more individuals and businesses do their part in the ever-growing and much-needed role of emphasizing the importance of equality for all,” the honoree said.
In 2014, Funegra was the founder of La Cocina VA, a workforce and entrepreneurship-development nonprofit, to help immigrants and low-income individuals find jobs in the food-service and hospitality industries.
Clients are mostly unemployed women who suffer from chronic poverty and food insecurity. The programs provide vocational job training, English-language training and job placement for the unemployed, as well as healthy meals to the hungry and underserved populations.
The State of the Woman 2022 conference brought together approximately 100 professional and executive women from across the nation in an intimate setting to share leadership lessons, discuss obstacles and barriers in the workplace, and work together to move women forward in business and communities.