Meet Graciela Tiscareño-Sato: Entrepreneur, Advocate, Aviator

March 17, 2010

Graciela’s 2010 Goals

  • Publish first bilingual children’s book about mothers in the military
  • Publish first business book featuring innovative Latinos in the American “green” economy
  • Visit three graduate business schools with the intent of someday achieving a doctoral degree
  • Present one special education parent empowerment seminar per month

As a graduate student and active duty U.S. Air Force officer, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato — also a 1998–99 AAUW Career Development grantee — deftly balanced her military service with her studies. Graciela would fly by day from an air force base in Spokane, Washington, and race to classes at Whitworth College in the evening changing out of her flight suit and into civilian clothes from stoplight to stoplight.

Upon graduating from high school, Graciela, the oldest of five children, saw the Air Force ROTC program as the best option for a young woman from a low-income, immigrant family with little means to pay for higher education. After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, she was commissioned as an Air Force officer and graduated from navigator flight school at the top of her class.

Graciela in her uniform at her son's preschool for a Veteran's Day presentation

Later, Graciela was able to use graduate school as a bridge between her military experiences and civilian corporate life. The financial support of the AAUW grant was important because being subject to deployment anywhere with just twelve hours notice made a part time job nearly impossible. In fact, Graciela missed her Whitworth graduation ceremony because she was deployed to Europe as part of the air operations support in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

After receiving a master’s degree, Graciela went off active duty and took her skills to Siemens Enterprise Communications, where she worked as a senior global marketing manager and led a global initiative to create a new strategic customer reference program.

Drawing from past experiences, Graciela recently created her own consulting firm, aptly named Gracefully Global, which works with the Hispanic business community to improve business practices through selective adoption of collaboration technologies. She also uses her extensive global marketing background to develop high-impact, targeted messages for events, product launches, and PR campaigns.

Graciela’s oldest daughter, Milagro, who has been blind since birth, has inspired Graciela to advocate for children with disabilities. Graciela has published numerous articles to help strengthen parents’ advocacy skills and knowledge of special education law and has created an original parent empowerment seminar titled “You Gotta Know the Rules if You’re Gonna Play the Game.”

Graciela’s Words of Inspiration

  • Look for what really drives you and makes you happy and pursue it relentlessly.
  • Never believe that you must have just one career or area of expertise.
  • Never stop reinventing yourself. When you feel a new passion developing, delve into it and see where it leads you.
  • Ask the “universe” to help you achieve your dreams.

For those looking to Graciela’s story for inspiration, she offers the following advice: “If you know you have something that can really make a difference in people’s lives, don’t hold it within you.” This former Air Force aviator and global communications expert is now using her tenacity, entrepreneurial spirit, and passion to empower two communities close to her heart: Hispanic entrepreneurs and disability advocates.

By:   |   March 17, 2010

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