Natale, Panel, Breast Health Awareness

On the opening day of the Women: Engine of Change conference, Gaby Natale, a Fort Worth-based, EMMY-award winning Spanish-language talk show host, told her personal story of struggle and reinvention. Natale has lived through two major crises – the collapse of the Argentinian government and economy and the great recession of 2008. Both events transformed her life.  Her address titled “From Carpet Warehouse to the Red Carpet” chronicled her journey.

“I received my Master’s Degree in Journalism in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the final days of the government’s total collapse. The country had five presidents in five days and unemployment was at historic highs, 20 percent,” she said. “There were talk shows where people competed for jobs, not money.”

When a friend called to ask her to help with an international conference, she grabbed it, but she was told “there is no pay.” Her assignment was to greet attendees, pass out flyers and rearrange chairs. “I was despondent,” Natale said. She wanted to get out of the agreement as gracefully as possible.

Her mother shocked her into action. “My mother told me to put on my clothes and makeup as if I was making $1 per minute because you never know what can happen.”

The conference proved to be a turning point for Natale. She was pressed into service as a translator for an English-speaking delegation. The group was so impressed with her, a member asked about her situation. She shared her contact information with one individual. Later, when an opening came up in a Washington, D.C. public relations office, she was first in line.

“If I had canceled that event, I would have missed a chance to change my life,” she said. “My mother pushed me to do something. Playing it safe is riskiest move of all.”

Natale went on to become a news anchor in West Texas for four years, received her green card, and decided to take another risk – quitting her job and pitching a talk show to local television stations called Super Latina. She jumped at an opportunity to set up in a space in a Carpet Warehouse on Saturdays while customers shopped nearby, and she was launched. In 2008, the economy crashed and so did her shdow.

“I have a Ph.D. in crises and recessions,” Natale laughed. Instead of folding up her tent, she moved aggressively to expand her distribution because content had dried up for struggling stations. She launched the first Spanish-language programming on PBS. She has now produced and hosted her own talk show for 10 years. Natale owns her own studio and media company, an unusual status for a woman in the media business.

“In my years interviewing successful people about what has defined them, I found shared philosophies that I call the Virtuous Cycle,” she said. At another conference where she reluctantly told her personal story, a literary agent suggested she write a book. “Again, taking a risk paid off.” Her book, The Virtuous Cycle, describes the lessons that can be learned from successful people.

Following her keynote speech, Natale moderated a panel discussion by successful women in various fields, Dr. Elva LeBlanc, executive vice chancellor and provost, Tarrant County College, Sandra McGlothlin, co-founder, Empire Roofing, Monica Alvarez Nemer, public official and business owner, Toluca, Mexico, and Tonya Veasey, founder of Open Channel Public Relations Group.  All of the women in the group struggled in childhood and rose to high levels of success through a sense of purpose and vision.

Breast Health

Maria del Carmon Castrejon Espinosa founded a non-profit, TETERIAS, to educate young women in Mexico about breast health. “I heard that by 2020, there would be 19 million new cases of breast cancer,” she said.  Alarmed, she acted. Her nonprofit founded in in 2010 conducts breast health outreach through activities, health, art and education.

The artist-advocate discovered that many young women were seeking treatment too late. She pressed a doctor to help her by sitting in his office all day until he agreed to meet with her.Castrejon Espinosa  created a video with testimonials from victims to encourage high school students to get mammograms. She also developed a wearable model of a women’s torso with six tumors inside the breasts to educate women about how to detect masses.

“We use simple language and demonstrations to describe how to do self-examination and what to look for,” she said. “Most women don’t know how to identify masses when they do an exam.”

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WOMEN’S POLICY FORUM   |      P.O. Box 11246   Fort Worth, Texas 76110