Submitted By: Katrina Salokar
Latin Times Media and Magazine honored Florida’s Top Latino Leaders at the 3rd Annual Ford Taste of Latino Festival. The event occurred recently in Historic Ybor City at the famed Centro Asturiano, a site listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The following excerpts from award winner Alina Maria Gonzalez-Dockery’s interview with Latin Times Media and Magazine will help the reader get to know Alina while illustrating why Alina received the honor.
What area of Florida do you live and work in: Naples, Central and Southwest Florida
What is your Hispanic Heritage: Cubana
What is your profession: Attorney at Law and Public Speaker
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about what you do for a living and how you got into it
AlinA: I have the honor of celebrating 25 years as an attorney, serving my clients and communities in my career’s differing and evolving chapters. My greatest influence in my becoming an attorney was my Grandmother, Angelita. Grandmother would tell me stories about my grandfather, Antonio “Ocho” Garcia-Cuervo, a great attorney in Cuba and a community leader who positively impacted people’s lives. Ocho took great pride in his advocacy for his clients and his contribution to his country. He died in his 40s, but his lasting impact on his loving wife and those who knew and remembered him is why I chose this career path.
I am also greatly inspired and influenced by my grandfather’s legacy as he too was charismatic, cheerful, friendly, and a great speaker. Father would tell me that I am very much like Ocho in my community advocacy and involvement.
It is my hope that in my continuation as an attorney and now a public speaker, I too can create a legacy that positively changes our communities and families lives, improve our political and cultural climates to one of collaboration and decorum, and most especially to empower women, children, and their families to realize their potential and greatness.
Latin Times Magazine: In your industry, what would you say separates you from your competition
Alina: I am not the stereotypical attorney. My career path has blessed me with opportunities to grow and expand my zone of expertise and realize my passions and purpose. I began, like so many bright-eyed young attorneys, in private practice. I partnered in and managed a small firm from 1999 to 2008, honing my advocacy and litigator skills and becoming more involved in my community through volunteer organizations, such as the Junior League of Greater Lakeland. It was through volunteering, seeing the positive impact and sheer joy on those we served, that my passion for a more significant impact in the community blossomed. And in 2009, I was hired as the Executive Director of Heart of Florida Legal Aid Society, a non-profit, where my community involvement, leadership, and passion flourished. My time collaborating with the county government, other non-profits, and private businesses allowed my growth and my influence to grow in the community. It also brought me to Southwest Florida in 2014, when I became Executive Director of the local legal aid. After about three years with Lee County Legal Aid, I decided to reconnect with my initial desire to assist clients one-on-one, reevaluate my passion and desires, and step into my next chapter.
Having been in social justice advocacy, private entrepreneurship, and community leadership gives me a foundation of greater compassion and understanding. This foundation helps in doing the work I am hired for and is also suitable for opportunities to expand my involvement in my community, my state, and more.
Latin Times Magazine: During Covid-19, tell us about your Biggest Challenge/obstacle and how you overcame it/or are overcoming it?
Alina: In terms of business, being shut down for two months was challenging for the lack of clients and net income, but it was an excellent opportunity for me to add services and modalities in providing counsel and representation. My estate planning practice grew in 2020 thanks to people realizing the importance of planning and ensuring that their lives are taken care of. I experienced great results by pivoting my practice to offer virtual service, which allowed me to expand into other counties in Florida.
I also was able to transform my speaking opportunities from being live on stage to appearing on Podcasts and on-line venues. Many tools which I will continue to perfect in my practice going forward.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about your biggest achievement, and how you achieved it (Covid or non-related)
Alina: I would say that my biggest achievement was becoming the first minority and Hispanic President of the Junior League of Greater Lakeland in 2007/2008. My years with Junior League provided the basis, the learning, and growth in various areas within the organization and community as a leader. This organization opened my eyes to my potential. I learned event planning, budgeting, public advocacy, speaking, and leadership through the various roles I took part in, from the chair of a fundraiser, treasurer, and financial VP to President. Most importantly, I was part of a larger organization internationally, learning from powerful, like-minded women from around the country and realizing a passion for making community advocacy and social change. My involvement with the Junior League paved the way for me to become director of legal aid, be an active participant with the United Way of Central Florida, and take leadership roles within the partner agencies of central Florida. And now being an executive board member of Florida Prosperity Partnership, a state-wide organization whose mission is promoting the financial stability and empowerment of families in Florida.
Latin Times Magazine: What is next for you? What can people expect to see from you?
Alina: After taking a step back these past few years, reconnecting with myself, and creating a successful legal business, I am now ready to step out on a grander stage. I am launching a new company that combines my passion for working with groups, advocacy, and speaking. In it, I will be cultivating an environment of mentoring and coaching where individuals will learn to enrich their own lives.
Since I was a little girl, I have been called to speak with people, seeing the good in them and believing in their potential and greatness. We are at a pinnacle time for women, Latinos, and as a country, I feel compelled to be more visible as a leader bringing about change for women and children and promoting civility and change. By building collaborations, we all can focus on the root causes of disenfranchisement and bring unity through open communication, which promotes common-sense policy. This will have the net effect of refocusing our political and social systems to their true purpose of working for the greater good of our citizens and country.