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The Providence Journal, R.I.

Failure Not An Option For Diverse Group Of Female Pacesetters In Rhode Island

Paul Grimaldi

9 January 2005
Copyright © 2005 KRTBN Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. All rights reserved.

Jan. 9--A new generation of women is emerging in Rhode Island. These women serve as leaders and behind-the-scenes players in business, finance, technology and government.

Their growing influence will shape the direction of the state well into the future as Rhode Island decision makers grapple with changes in the state's population and the region's economy.

The Journal's business news staff identified the following [woman] as exemplifying the qualities of this new generation. There are many more such women who Rhode Islanders need to pay attention to in the coming year.

Vanessa Toledo was a marketing major at George Washington University in 1988 when she won an internship at AT&T.

She turned the opportunity into a 10-year career with the communications giant, working in sales and marketing in Puerto Rico, where she was born and raised, then in Spain, and at the company's corporate headquarters in New Jersey.

Toledo took advantage of an early-retirement program that AT&T offered in 1998 and moved to Newport, where she started Virtual Marketing Associates, a firm that helps companies develop Internet marketing programs.

In 2001, she joined Mike Chase to cofound Ethnic Business Partners, which helps companies develop marketing plans targeting the Hispanic market. She continues to run Virtual Marketing as well.

In February 2004, Ethnic Business Partners hosted The New England Hispanic Market Summit for corporate managers looking to sell to members of that growing ethnic group.

In September 2004, Ethnic Business Partners published the Hispanic Market Report, a compilation and analysis of demographic and social trends associated with the nation's Hispanic population, particularly in New England.

Toledo, 38, is a member of the board of directors of Save the Bay and is chairwoman of the environmental group's nominating and governance committee. She is a member of the board of governors of Rhode Island Hospital and is a volunteer with the Rhode Island chapter of the American Red Cross, helping to guide the organization's outreach to Hispanics in the state.

Last month, she was named one of New England's influential Hispanics by Hispanic Image Magazine.

--Paul Grimaldi


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