BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR AND FOUNDER SELECTED AS 2018 WOMEN OF DISTINCTION HONOREE
17th annual Hispanic Women of Distinction 2018
Broward, FL, July 9, 2018 – Cristina Miranda Gilson is selected as one of 12 who will receive the 2018 Hispanic Women of Distinction Honoree.
The 17th annual Hispanic Women of Distinction is presented by Latina Style Magazine, the nation’s most influential and leading publication reaching contemporary Hispanic woman, in partnership with Bank of America and AARP. This year marks the 24th year of Latina Style, this country’s first national magazine dedicated to the needs and concerns of contemporary Latina professional working women and Latina business owners. 12 Honorees are selected annually for their contributions and success in leadership. Cristina was selected unanimously among the national judges out of more than 60 prestigious nominees from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The celebration and presentation of awards will be held August 24th, 2018 at the Signature Grand in Davie, Florida.
Cristina Miranda Gilson is the founder of a privately held minority business in South Florida, Housing and Development Services, Inc. (HDS). It is comprised of two divisions: Housing and Development Software and eHousingPlus, collectively known as HDS Companies, and develop niche software and services to the Affordable Housing and Community Development Markets. The company was founded in 1998 and kicked off our 20th Anniversary on June 18th, 2018. HDS is a mission driven organization poised to transform and reshape the business through industry partnerships, strong client relationships, and innovations in technology. We are the leading software and services organization in the market today. Since the housing crisis in early 2009, as a small business owner, Cristina had to re-engineer our business model and leverage our existing resources to ensure that the business would survive. During the past five years the company had to make aggressive strategic changes to allow for the creation of new opportunities for our company. For the past five years, HDS has grown and diversified exponentially. In the short 20 years, HDS has grown from six to 71, an amazing 1083% growth in NEW jobs to our market. Cristina promotes diversity at HDS, with 93% minority employees of which 57% are female professionals.
Cristina established the HDS Foundation, Inc. a 501(c) 3 Non-Profit as a vehicle to give back to the community we serve, whilst focusing on the emerging Autism population’s needs. As a parent of two daughters, one a 22-year-old daughter with Autism, Cristina believed that as a small business owner there was a perfect vehicle to concentrate on mentoring teens, teach job skills, provide real-life experiences with internship opportunities, and ultimately to develop a housing model that would work for young adults on the Autism Spectrum. The HDS Foundation had previously been involved with many community non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity Projects, Broward Partnership for the Homeless, Autism Speaks and the Dan Marino Foundation, to name a few. Although we were small and 100% privately funded by the HDS Companies, family, and close friends, we took on a grass-roots approach and dove into every opportunity we could find. We partnered with the ESE Department at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, where HDS is headquartered, and collaborated with different classrooms of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We began with an on-site program, which expanded into various work-skills related years of mentoring, including at our Weston office. We added the social and living skill component to these programs to encourage real-life experiences. Realizing that many of these students had untapped potential but were lacking in the typical high school experience, we created a BRIDGES Program at the same high school. Here we focused on a program of life skills, community engagement, and school social and athletic involvement including homecoming, prom and other typical teen-experiences they previously had not been a part of. In creating these events, we realized that the social challenges for part of this community could be bridged by facilitating the many opportunities they were currently not seizing. By providing them these positive, typical and collaborative high-school student experiences, we would help strengthen their ability to be in an inclusive environment and guide them to feeling empowered to work towards their own dreams while feeling a bit more supported by their peers and community.
Cristina was born in Havana, and as a toddler moved to her father’s country of Spain, where she grew up until adolescence. She attributes her work ethic from her parents who taught her the value of education, hard work, and community. She accredits much of her success to her mother, Mercedes Dias Miranda, a Hispanic pioneer in her own right. She recalls that from early on her mother was involved in on-going charitable activities. As a leader in the community, a member of over 50 plus organizations and boards, and with a very demanding job as a director of Community Relations for The Miami Herald and Knight-Ridder Newspapers, Cristina recalls growing up in awe as her mother raised seven children to become successful adults, all whilst giving back and helping so many organizations and individuals. As most of the extended family lived outside of the United States, the support system was limited. The Miranda’s learned to collaborate at home, pool their financial resources, and help each other at home, at school, and at work. Although like many people during that time they had their struggles, her mother’s determination and vision of what she wanted for her children as a family, and for her children’s future, was solid. Her mother understood and was sensitive to the diverse needs of the community and the respect for every religion or thought, regardless of whether it was different to her own, and was always available to help anyone in need. Her relentless efforts and work ethic afforded her various invitations to the White House, and the privilege of meeting several Presidents and First Ladies, Governors and Politicians. This from a woman who became a single parent, who migrated to three different countries, and who faced financial, professional and personal challenges throughout her life. Cristina affirms with confidence that her mother’s actions and commitment had a profound impact in the formation and diversity of what is now this South Florida Community.
In her words, Cristina states, “When I think of the role a Hispanic Woman plays today, I think of Mercy Diaz Miranda, and her ability to carry the passion that many Hispanic women are born with, and/or are taught to understand early on as little girls. I think of all of our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, friends and other wonderful women in our life, who by way of example have shown us that it is the ability to combine vision, hard work, motherhood, empathy, knowledge, professionalism, concern for the welfare of others, support for each other, creativity, friendship, love, faith, and community that builds successful, powerful and respected women. Hispanic Women today have a tremendous opportunity to seize many of these common threads to confront the changing needs of our world, both professionally and personally. We can leverage these strengths and turn them into affirmative life-changing action. We can channel our passion into meaningful discussions and the change that can make for better communities. Our vision and diverse skill sets create stronger foundations and platforms for emerging possibilities. We think outside the box. In fact, what box?! We are not the ‘color inside the lines’ sort, and we have an abundance of fight inside of us, built over generations of values and ethics. We are like chameleons that can blend into diverse groups because we can relate on different levels. There is no ‘prototypical’ Hispanic woman today. My daughters were both born in Miami-Dade County and they too will carry the genetic makeup, because that’s how they have been raised. We understand that it is our destiny to continue to do this for our daughters and their daughters. Many of us are American, and/or have been born in the U.S., as will be the case in future generations. But the core of who we are is our genetic mark, one that gives us not only the opportunity, but the responsibility to be part of the transformation that our world needs today.”
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Carla Otiniano at 888-326-7680 or email at Carla.Otiniano@HDSoftware.com.