Karina de Oliveira Rodrigues, 2022 Hispanic Woman of Distinction, Assistant County Attorney, Broward County, Florida
“Part of the beauty and charm of Hispanic and Latina women is that at the same time that while we are incredibly diverse on an individual level, we, as a group, epitomize resilience.”
Karina de Oliveira Rodrigues is a woman on a mission. She is dedicated to seeing that minorities and those who are underserved receive equal representation and opportunities.
Born in Brazil and of Portuguese heritage, Karina chose a career in law as the best way for her to accomplish her desire for equality for all. She received her B.A. in political science from the University of Central Florida and her Juris Doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in Gainesville.
Karina recently was hired as an Assistant County Attorney for Broward County. In this role, she is part of the Office’s Finance, Real Property and Housing practice group, which provides legal services to the County in connection with the management of real property, the structuring of financial transactions for ongoing capital bond issuances and other financing arrangements, and the support of the affordable housing programs.
Prior to that she was a litigation associate at Kelley/Uustal working primarily with minority and immigrant clients who suffered catastrophic injuries. Through her hard work and passion for her clients, she routinely secured multi-million-dollar awards.
Whenever Karina joins a new professional organization, she does more than just pay her dues. She becomes actively involved and often takes on leadership roles. During her tenure as president of the Broward County Hispanic Bar Association (BCHBA) from June 2020 to June 2021, she helped to create events and workshops with members of other professional lawyer organizations such as the Caribbean Bar Association, the Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division (FBYLD) and others.
The goal was to have frank conversations about race, the Afro-Latino experience, gender, discrimination, mental health issues and more to implement ways to better serve their members and communities. Karina acquired sponsors and re-structured the organization’s website, created videos and newsletters to help spread the message of these initiatives, and to encourage even greater participation in future events. As a past president for the BCHBA, she is still working to ensure that the momentum for change that these events began would endure and grow.
But the legal system isn’t Karina’s only concern. In 2017 and 2018 she also participated by volunteering as a crew member and, in 2019, as a rider in The Smart Ride which is a 165-mile, two-day bike ride to raise funds for those affected by HIV and AIDS. Karina also was as a guest instructor for sixth graders at the minority-filled Dillard school in Fort Lauderdale and worked for the Voter Protection projects in South Florida.
Her work has been recognized with a 2021 and 2022 Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for the Mass Tort Litigation/Class Actions, an Elite Trial Lawyer recognition from the 2022 National Trial Lawyers, the City of Wilton Manors Women’s History Month honoree, and the 2021 Florida Super Lawyers Rising Star designation to name a few.
In addition to volunteer participation, Karina and her husband, Matthew Watson, a software developer, enjoy traveling and exploring new destinations.
The annual celebration of Community, Culture and Charity honors Latinas in South Florida, past and present.
The 21st annual Hispanic Women of Distinction Charity luncheon to be held on Friday, August 26th, 2022, at Signature Grand in Davie, Florida is anticipating another sell-out of up to 1000 guests paying tribute to Latina professionals who are strengthening the social fabric of this country and making inroads in the leadership pipeline for a growingly diverse America.
Founded in 2001 by the late Erwin M.Vasquez, M.D., a Venezuelan-born cardiologist, philanthropist and publisher of the pioneer Spanish newspaper, El Heraldo de Broward, the goal was to help to empower Latinas and to recognize the influence they have in the South Florida community. These Latinas, both past and present, are not afraid to dream big, to carve their own paths, to be grateful for the opportunities they have received, and to pay it forward to those who will follow.
The 2022 Honorees are:
- ODALYS AREVALO – co-founder, Las Madrinas de Los Seguros, managing partner Sunshine Life & Health Advisors.
- ALEXANDRIA AYALA – School Board Member, Palm Beach County
- DUNIA CUNEO – Owner, Doral Human Resources Consulting
- SYLVIA DAUNERT, PhD, PharmD, MS – Lucille P. Markey Chair and Professor, Dept. Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Miller School of Medicine
- JESSICA JOSEPH – Manager. Philanthropy/Public Relations, Catholic Hospice, Inc.
- NAELYS LUNA- Ph.D., MSW – Founding Dean & Professor, College of Social Work & Criminal Justice – Florida Atlantic University Work & Criminal Justice – Florida Atlantic University
- AYENZA A. MATTHEWS – Wellness Director, Heal the Planet
- MONICA PAYARES-LIZANO, M.D. – Pediatric, Orthopedic Surgeon, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital
- SUSY DIAZ PIESCO – Exec.Director Middle School of the Arts Foundation, City Councilwoman Greenacres City
- KARINA de OLIVEIRA RODRIGUES – Assistant County Attorney, Broward County Attorneys Office
- VANESSA SELTZER – Director of Philanthropy, Arc Broward
- PATRICIA TREJO – Adm. Program Planner Hispanic/Latino Studies, Palm Beach County School District, FL-ALAS President
2022 LATINA PIONEER of the YEAR
ANA VEIGAMILTON – President, José Milton Foundation, Chair of Jackson Health Foundation, UM Trustee and President of the Citizens Board, lawyer and engineer, committed to impactful philanthropy and community engagement throughout South Florida. Family Values • Community-Wide
UP & COMER HONOREE
ARLETTE GOMEZ – Third year law student at NSU, Shepard Broad College of Law, Dean’s list with awards for outstanding service. Cuban born, this young woman is active on numerous community boards, and NSU’s President’s 64 Member, whose purpose is to strengthen the relationship with the community.
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