College of Communication > Faculty & Staff > Faculty A-Z > Cristina Benitez

Cristina Benitez

Over the past two decades, Cristina Benitez developed a wide range of branding and marketing programs that target the growing Latino population in the United States. In 1998, she founded Lazos Latinos, a specialty Hispanic, strategic branding and advertising company based in Chicago. Formerly senior vice president of ethnic marketing at DraftWorldwide, Benitez directed Hispanic direct marketing campaigns for Sprint, AARP, PacifiCare, HFC and Miracle-Ear. While at Draft, she spearheaded Dimensión Draft, the agency’s nationally recognized study on Hispanics and direct marketing.

Benitez's prior Hispanic advertising experience was vice president account services at FOVA, Grey Advertising’s Hispanic agency in New York. In this capacity, she introduced many products into the Hispanic market such as Cover Girl, Pantene, Kraft General Foods, and Dannon Yogurt.

Her expertise across all aspects of advertising, her passion for Latino leadership and her culturally diverse background as a bilingual native of Florida make Benitez a popular motivational speaker. In 2007, Paramount Market Publishing released her first book, Latinization…How Latino Culture is Transforming the U.S., which was Paramount Market Publishing's best selling book of the year. Her latest book, Latinization and the Latino Leader, was released in November 2010.

Benitez taught high school Spanish in the public high schools of Greenville, South Carolina. In 2004, she created a Hispanic advertising course for Columbia College and taught as an adjunct professor there for four years.

Benitez lives in Chicago and is active civically as a board member of The Chicago Public Library and The Luna Negra Dance Theater, and she serves on the Audience Development & Diversity Committee of the Museum of Contemporary Art. In November 2008, Benitez was honored with the 2008 ATHENA award for assisting women in achieving their full potential, and providing opportunities for the growth and development of women-owned businesses. In September 2009, Benitez received the Latino Author’s award from Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White at the state’s Hispanic Heritage event.

Benitez received her BA and MA from Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina. She was the original founder and faculty advisor of our Latino Media & Communication initiative and its various offshoots.


DePaul ENGAGE Award, 2012

Media Coverage

"Walking the Walk, Tal​king the Talk"(DePaul Distinctions)