Marta Blanco, 2023 Hispanic Woman of Distinction, Founder and President, Sofia’s Hope, Inc.
“Today we are the largest group of women workers in the U.S. and are poised to make an even greater impact on our families, our communities and beyond.”
For most of us, choosing our career is often a personal decision based on our talents, training, desires and opportunities. For some, like Marta Blanco, fate and tragic circumstances created a path to a mission she felt too compelled to ignore.
Born in New Orleans of Colombian descent, growing up Marta often felt like an outsider. Rather than knowing English or French, Marta spoke Spanish and ate Latin foods rather than the regional Creole and Cajun dishes. With no Hispanic role models outside of her family, Marta’s strength came from her inner pride in her culture.
Marta received her a BA in French and history from Louisiana State University and a Masters of International Business from the American Graduate School of International Management, now part of the Arizona State University.
She spent her early career working at several agencies specializing in advertising, marketing and consumer research for the Hispanic market with clients such as Baptist Health, Clorox, AT&T, Burger King, Bristol-Myers and other Fortune 500 companies.
However, when her daughter, Sofia, was four years old, she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The same chemotherapy that beat the cancer weakened her body and took her life nine years later.
Shortly after her daughter’s passing and recognizing how the disease affected not only Sofia, but her sister, Gabriela, Marta started Sofia’s Hope, a nonprofit organization that uses traditional and lifestyle therapies to treat not only the patient but family members as well.
What started as small, grassroots arts program blossomed to include scholarships, camps, field trips, education programs and more to help patients and families. Today Sofia’s Hope supports 2,000 children and families each year here in South Florida and beyond.
Their research funding supported landmark data that confirmed a cardio-protective drug, dexrazoxane, was effective to include in pediatric cancer treatments to preserve the young patient’s heart allowing for better long-term outcomes. Their annual research dollars supported dissemination of research and information through the First International Pediatric Cardio-Oncology Conference in 2022 as well as research journals, quarterly newsletters, webinars and more.
Marta also is a member of the International Cardio-Oncology Society Advocacy Roundtable, is a Bridges of Gold national partner of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and works with other community programs that such as Gilda’s Club of South Florida, Heroes Hangout, Jessica June Children’s Cancer Foundation and more.
Her work has received the Vilomah Award through the Miami-Dade County Commissioners for her work with pediatric cancer, a City of Palmetto Bay recognition, being named a finalist for the Coral Gables Chamber Businesswoman of the Year and others.
Marta and her husband, Carlos Blanco, an electrical engineer, and their daughter, Gabriela, love to travel. Marta also enjoys international cuisine, reading and needlework.