Barnard women have broken boundaries and set new standards in a variety of fields, both on campus and beyond. Some have become floral designers and dancers, while others went into politics and journalism. This month, we highlight six women of Latinx and Hispanic heritage and their success in the arts, film, law, and in cultivating an inclusive community. These women tell the world their culture deserves a seat at every table — in all industries. They are change-makers, groundbreakers, and power players. Learn about them below.

Carla Acevedo-Yates ’00

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Carla Acevedo-Yates headshot

Art has always been a central focus for Acevedo-Yates, from her start as a burgeoning poet at Barnard, where she won the Clara Schifrin Memorial Spanish Prize for poetry. Since graduating, she has worked as a curator, researcher, and art critic at institutions across the U.S. and the Caribbean and is now the Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Puerto Rico-born Acevedo-Yates has a particular passion for supporting the work of Latinx artists. “Since the beginning of my curatorial career, I have always strived to create transcultural dialogues to shed light on the shared affinities and poetics between artists from Puerto Rico and other cultural spaces,” she said in a 2019 Barnard interview.

 

 

Cristina García ’79

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Cristina García headshot

García migrated to the United States during the 1960s wave of immigration from Cuba to the U.S., and she brought her inspiring words with her. After earning her political science degree at Barnard, she worked at Time magazine and published her first novel, Dreaming in Cuban, which was a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. Recently, García adapted the novel for the stage, and in June 2022, it was performed at the Central Works theater in Berkeley, Calif. Her work often centers on culture and identity. 

 

Tiffany Kontoyiannis-Guillen ’16

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Tiffany Kontoyiannis-Guillen

A writer, producer, and director, Kontoyiannis-Guillen works to spark change through her filmmaking. While pursuing her undergraduate degree at Barnard, she worked on a variety of film projects, including A Day On My Wheels, featuring Sarah Kim ’17, a former Barnard student with cerebral palsy. Her award-winning film Welcome Back (2020) highlights a Venezuelan mother-daughter duo and furthers Kontoyiannis-Guillen’s desire to diversify the film industry. This inspiring movie earned her a Director’s Guild of America award in 2020. 

 

Gloribelle Perez ’05

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After receiving an economics degree from Barnard, Perez went on to study law and now serves on the New York State Industrial Board of Appeals. With her husband, Perez owns Barcha, an East Harlem mom-and-pop restaurant serving Latin Mediterranean-inspired comfort food. As an alumna, Perez has worked to strengthen the community of Barnard women of color through the Alumnae Association. 

 

Georgia Pestana ’84

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After graduating from Barnard, where she was a first-generation student, Pestana went on to NYU Law School — and the rest is, well, historic. In 2021, she became the first woman and the first Latina to lead New York City’s Law Department as the 80th Corporation Counsel, which she called “the greatest legal job there is.” She leads the 1,800-person agency with the confidence she gained from her Barnard experience. “One of the things Barnard does is instill a sense of confidence in women, something that has definitely been helpful to me,” Pestana told Barnard Magazine in 2016.

 

Julia Rocha ’20

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Julia Rocha headshot

Rocha found their start in the communications world at Barnard by serving as a Barnard Library and Academic Services (BLAIS) communications assistant her sophomore year. After graduating, Rocha became an associate producer at Latino USA. Working in audio journalism and radio, Rocha sees themself as a “story facilitator.” They strive to uplift underrepresented groups, with a particular focus on the work and lives of gender-nonconforming people of color.