Actor, comedian, and writer John Leguizamo celebrates the multiplicity of the Latino experience and its historical impact on America P90
The Identidad Issue featuring the Top 10 LĂderes of 2020 with Steven Canals, Gloria CalderĂłn Kellett, Ramon Escobar, Paola Ramos, Tanya Saracho, and more
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COVER: CASS DAVIS
10 LÍDERES PAG E 8 8
In an interview with Ruben Navarrette, the actor, comedian, and writer discusses the forgotten historical contributions and overlooked modern-day influence of Latinos in America
Conversations at the Top: John Leguizamo
5 Hispanic Executive
Contents 16 48 58 80 132 153
COURTESY OF IHEARTMEDIA (HAGEN), GILLIAN FRY (CRUZ)
OBEDIENCE AND INTERVENTION
At Buckner International, Dr. Albert Reyes’s faith informs his mission as he and the nonprofit push to strengthen the family bond
WORKING TWICE AS HARD
Jose Medina was raised to believe in the rewards of hard work. As president of RT ProExec, he sets out to guarantee that the growing company reaps the rewards of success.
Under the leadership of Chief Marketing Officer Mariela Ure, Universal Studios Hollywood plans to roll out a series of unique events in the near future
SINK OR SWIM MOMENT
Andres Idarraga has gone from prison, to the Ivy League, to the forefront of the business world. As CEO of Creci, he works with businesses that aim to empower and support.
THE VOICE YOU CAN TRUST
At iHeartMedia, Chief People Officer Lorna Hagen maintains a commitment to employees that mirrors the media company’s commitment to its listeners
DREAM BIG AND FEEL AT HOME
An executive director of business development, Hector Coronel is part of a family-owned business in Panda Restaurant Group that practices what it preaches
A CULTURE OF INCLUSIVITY
At Cargill, Pilar Cruz believes that diversity is more than just important to the fabric of a company—it can prove as crucial as strategy to its overall prosperity
Odds & Ends 6 8 10 12 184 186
A LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER IDENTITY KNOWS NO BOUNDS GUEST EDITOR'S LETTER PEW RESEARCH ESSAY INDUSTRY INDEX THE LAST WORD
6 A Letter from the Publisher
A Letter from the Publisher artist enamored with the creative process. I had an insatiable urge to accept the chal-
the development of a work of art.
I have been anticipating this inaugural
lenge of any blank canvas ready to stare me
Identidad Issue with excitement because as
to begin the messiness that is creation. I fell in
signal cutting through the noise that we were
down—daring me to make a mark, daring me
love with that process because every now and
then, if I was lucky, those brush strokes, lines,
corrections, and revisions would somehow harmonize as one, and a work of art would
we started to conceive it, we began to hear a
onto something. But it wasn’t until the pieces started falling into place that we knew the issue we were working on was something special.
As we debated who the cover star would
be, it was by chance that John Leguizamo was
experienced the magic that happens when
for Morons and open to a photoshoot at the
Over the course of life, many of us have
serendipity finds us—be it through a “small world” coincidence, the rediscovery of an idea Pedro A. Guerrero CEO of Guerrero Media Publisher of Hispanic Executive
that can summon a moment of magic akin to
that was long forgotten, or a chance meeting that leads to an unforeseen, exciting solution.
Producing a magazine like Hispanic
in Chicago for his production of Latin History historic Cadillac Palace Theatre. And it was
pure coincidence that during the same week
I spoke with a Latina CMO of a blue-chip
Fortune 500 company (who asked me what words we use to describe Latinidad) I was
Executive is a creative process in and of itself,
gifted a copy of Making Hispanics, written by
build. It’s creation also involves collaboration
It quickly became clear that in this issue we
one that requires a company of hands to
with, and an awareness of, those outside of the production process. In our instance, that means the executives whose stories we share and our audience of readers.
Rarely, however, do we allow ourselves
the latitude to view our own process as one
our guest editor Dr. G. Cristina Mora (p.10).
needed to tackle the matter of Latino identity by showcasing the complexity and history of how we name ourselves.
In many ways, how each of us identi-
fies is at the core of who we are collectively,
precisely because it’s completely personal,
A LIFETIME AGO I WAS A YOUNG, ASPIRING
7 Hispanic Executive
familial, political, and historical. The answers
are forever colorful and ever-changing. It is so wrought with context that thirteen years ago it quickly became the first big decision we had to make. What do we name this magazine?
In launching Hispanic Executive, the goal
was to raise the caliber of how Latino success
stories are told by presenting their narratives in a sophisticated way. We wanted to speak
directly to Latinos in the private sector and use a term that, at the time, was readily accessible and understood by all.
To be honest, I was not particularly
comfortable with including Hispanic in the name of the magazine as it was somewhat
foreign to me. Over the course of my life I’ve gone from Mexicano to Chicano to Latino.
Never had I identified with Hispanic. But a decision was made because we needed a common place to begin, and as Dr. Mora
states in her guest editor’s letter, “You cannot
have something called Hispanic Executive, in
which we can come together to debate the
boundaries of the group or the values that bring us together, without having some sort of starting point for what Hispanic means.”
One man who is well educated on the
“I believe the breadth of this issue underscores the war Latinos are often required to fight around who they are—not just on a personal level but on a macro one as well.”
Leguizamo is perplexed by the void of unique Latin American richness in daily America.
Still, as I paged through the impressive
individuals that follow Leguizamo’s feature in our Top 10 Líderes section (p.88), so many of them innovative thinkers and lead-
ers in media, I began to see the fruits of our culture’s labor to be both better heard and better seen.
With One Day at a Time, co-showrunner
Gloria Calderón Kellett (p.101) did more than just reboot a Norman Lear sitcom with a Cuban American family—she redefined
what a traditional sitcom will look like into
the future. Ramon Escobar (p.104), CNN’s vice president of talent and recruitment, has
literally spent decades finding and develop-
ing diverse on-air talent—from Lester Holt
to Ana Cabrera to Enrique Acevedo. And
at HOLA! USA, Publisher Sylvia Banderas Coffinet (p.118) believes that “content should reflect the reality of the audience that it serves.”
She goes on to put it more poignantly: “The truth is that multicultural is the new main-
stream and that multicultural done well is mainstream done right.”
These special leaders have made their
complexity of identity is this issue’s cover
voices louder because they’ve embraced
In Latin History for Morons, Leguizamo
ples of valiant efforts by Latinos to shape
celebrity, the great John Leguizamo (p.90).
digs into the sad truth that Latin Americans have too often been deprived of a beginning.
their identities, and their stories are examAmerica’s identidad.
I believe the breadth of this issue under-
Though they fought for the country en masse
scores the war Latinos are often required to
War, and both world wars, their contribu-
personal level but on a macro one as well.
during the American Revolution, the Civil
tions are regularly glossed over, regularly
fight around who they are—not just on a
So, while the stars may have aligned for
diminished to footnotes. For Leguizamo,
this issue, there is still work to be done. There
the course of the country’s history deserves a
many more stories of success to share. Hope-
the representation of Latin Americans over rewrite—or, rather, a beginning.
Considering that the American identity
itself is bright with Latino elements woven
into its fabric over the course of centuries,
are many more identidades to recognize,
fully, what we are witnessing is an alignment on a much grander scale, one where we can
take a step back together and say, “Wow, we have arrived.”
SPANIC TEJANO EXICAN Identity knows no bounds AMERIC TURAL LATINO XICANO 8 Identidad
With each issue, Hispanic Executive aims to recognize the countless ways in which its featured executives choose to identify themselves. So often the magazine accomplishes that goal by recounting both the personal and professional journeys of those executives, as well as their deep commitments to diversity. This Identidad Issue is a means of celebrating those rich identities even further. In Hispanic Executive’s efforts to further the identity discussion outside of these printed pages, it recently collaborated with AT&T’s Yovany Jerez, national president of AT&T’s Latino ERG HACEMOS. Jerez led an effort to create and conduct a survey of the ten thousand-plus members of HACEMOS, as well as nearly two thousand members of the Hispanic Corporate Council of
Atlanta (HCCA), a group of fortythree ERG groups in greater Atlanta. In the survey, he learned, “Regardless of gender, age, education, Spanish or English proficiency, Hispanic and Latino/a are unequivocally still the preferred terms.” Ultimately, 61 percent of respondents prefer to identify by those terms. While you’ll certainly find those identifiers scattered throughout this issue, you’ll also find Tejano, Cuban American, Ibero-Latino, Nuyorican, Multicultural American, and Human, among several others. So many of the identities mentioned by the executives have their own stories, their own histories—and Hispanic Executive is honored to share them with you.
To read more about the AT&T survey findings, visit hispanicexecutive.com.
C LATINA O DREAM N CHICAN CAN LAT L SOUTH O CUBAN O COLO 9 Hispanic Executive
The issue's featured executives were asked, “Several terms are used to describe people who are of Hispanic/ Latino origin or descent; examples include Latinx, Latine, Chicano, Mexican, Afro-Latino,
South American, etc. Which term(s) do you use to describe yourself?” Look for this marker to read their answers.
GU EST EDITO R
KEEP THE CONVERSATION MOVING FORWARD AS TOLD TO SARA DEETER, KATHY KANTORSKI, AND JUANITA VIVAS
Dr. G. Cristina Mora on the complexities of Latino identity and the imperative we all have to keep engaging in authentic and dynamic conversations about the Latino community:
That is really the basis of the group dynamism for Latinos. We’re
different and we have different ideas, yet there are some key similarities that unite us as strands across our group. And to be taken seriously within the Latino community, we have to be able to fold those two contrasting narratives about diversity and similarity together.
LATINOS—CULTURAL LEADERS, CORPORATE LEADERS, AND POLITICAL leaders—have all been really vigilant about protecting and nurturing diversity. The danger of homogenizing or overgeneralizing tends to
AT NO TIME HAS ANYONE EVER SAID THAT THE LATINO POPULATION IS a homogeneous population. Even if the government and outside groups
sometimes like to think otherwise, Latinos themselves, from politicians to corporate leaders to community advocates, have always said that Lati-
nos are a diverse group with diverse backgrounds, diverse languages, skin colors, and experiences in the United States. You can’t see us as one monolithic group.
But at the same time, we also have this common experience of being
underrepresented, underheard, underacknowledged, and underappreci-
come from outside, when the government wants to see us all as one
homogeneous group and then suggests that everybody has the same experience, that everybody is an English learner, or that everybody has an undocumented family member. That is the nature of race politics and categorization politics: the trend is to get at the average experience.
The paradox of our time is that now—when the Latino community
is perhaps the richest it’s ever been, the largest it’s ever been, and one of
the strongest contributors to the economy it’s ever been—is also a time in which the demonization of the community is at its most explicit.
Not that the community hasn’t been demonized before—the United
ated. And that is a really strong tie, that we are often the only ones in
States has never embraced and enveloped the Latino heritage as part of
bean and have a different skin color than I do, or despite the fact that
thirty seconds, another Latino turns eighteen, but they are coming of
the room: despite the fact that you might have ancestry in the Carib-
I’m first-generation and you’re fourth-generation, there is this common sense of always fighting to be heard or to have adequate representation.
an American heritage. But now it’s being done with a bullhorn. Every age at a moment in which arguments that criminalize Latinos are at the absolute forefront of the conversation.
Racialized politics don’t necessarily follow fast or hard data, but we
shouldn’t deny the fact that a large swath of Latinos see themselves as
not white, not black, not Asian, and see themselves as a racialized cate-
gory at the same time. That’s not to say that there aren’t debates—fierce debates—within the Latino group about who we are as a whole. Right
now, we’re having much more of a conversation about gender politics and nonbinary genders, a conversation about the term Latinx.
BUT WE’RE HAVING THAT CONVERSATION, WHICH JUST WASN’T around twenty years ago. We’re having a conversation that acknowledges
“ T O BE TA K EN SERIOU SLY W I T HIN T HE L AT INO C OMMUNI T Y, W E H AV E T O BE A BL E T O F OL D T HO SE T W O C ON T R A S T ING N A RR AT I V E S A B OU T DI V ER SI T Y A ND SIMIL A RI T Y T OGE T HER.”
the diversity of skin colors that we just weren’t having in the 1970s. The
beauty is that we are having these conversations, and that those conversations are not static.
Having a common understanding of labels allows us to start those
conversations about who we are as a community. You cannot have something called Hispanic Executive, in which we can come together to debate
the boundaries of the group or the values that bring us together, without having some sort of starting point for what Hispanic means.
In the US, the Latino population goes almost unanimously back and
forth between Hispanic and Latino. And the biggest positive of these terms is that they convey a sense of numbers and a sense of existence in different ways.
When you consider Hispanic as unifying the Cubans in Miami with
the Puerto Ricans in New York and the Mexicans in Los Angeles, not only are you bringing together larger numbers but you’re also saying,
“Look at us. We’re not just a regionalized issue for the governors of the US Southwest. We’re not just an issue for the mayor of New York. We
exist everywhere; we are a national issue. We are thoroughly American, and we merit both national and federal attention."
But no one forces someone to say that they are Hispanic: it is
a chosen identity. Self-identification is an important aspect of the
Latino community, and the ambiguity of terms like Latino and Hispanic has allowed for an expansive and continuous form of self-identification.
A child of a fourth-generation Argentinian American can identify in the same category as a person that just crossed the border from Guate-
mala, for example. And that is powerful, seeing our different stories
UC BERKELEY MEDIA SERVICES
through a common thread as well as seeing differences in culture,
differences in experience.
DR. G. CRISTINA MO RA
ALL OF THESE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT DIFFERENCE AND DIFFERENT
Author, Making Hispanics: How Activists, Bureaucrats, and Media Constructed a New American
experiences will probably never be settled, and that is fine. All groups go through this, and the best groups know how to moderate an authentic conversation. They know that simply continuing that conversation is the key, rather than asking when these questions will be resolved.
Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute of Governmental Studies University of California, Berkeley
FOR U.S. LATINOS, IDENTITY IS MORE COMPLEX AND VARIED THAN A SINGLE, ALL-ENCOMPASSING PAN-ETHNIC TERM SUGGESTS BY MARK HUGO LOPEZ
THE WAYS IN WHICH THE NATION’S SIXTY million Latinos (or Hispanics or Latinx)
describe their identity varies widely across individuals, geographies, immigrant generations, ancestry, and much more. Yet the
population is often referred to by a single,
pan-ethnic term that implies it is a monolithic group. That masks much of the diversity that
recognized term in the late 1990s). Both terms
remain in wide use by researchers, journalists, government officials, and the public itself.
More recently, a new pan-ethnic term has emerged: Latinx. It is a gender-neutral term
and reflects the broader movement of inclusivity that has emerged in recent years in the US.
Despite ongoing debates about which term
characterizes US Latinos.
is better or even the right one to use, more than
Latino, and Latinx are currently the ones more
surveys show somewhat mixed preferences
What is a pan-ethnic term? Hispanic,
commonly used by people living in the US who self-identify as part of this group. Each is intended to capture, under one umbrella,
a diverse population. And each emerged at different times and with different purposes,
reflecting then popular views of identity to describe Americans who trace their roots to Latin America or Spain. For
the most used term in the 1970s as civil rights
ple, while most have used Hispanic or Latino at one point or another to describe themselves, half in 2018 told us they have no preference for
either term. If one is preferred, it is Hispanic over Latino by a two-to-one margin, a pattern
that has persisted for more than fifteen years of surveys of the US Hispanic adult population.
Instead, it is family country of origin that
Latino/Latina/Latina/o/Latin@ emerged in
often described themselves by terms like Mexi-
not using these pan-ethnic terms. For exam-
matters more than pan-ethnic terms. In 2015,
among the public when it comes to using or
fifteen years of Pew Research Center Latino
the 1990s as an alternative to Hispanic, nota-
bly as a term that did not come from the US government (even if Latino became an officially
we found that more than half said they most can or Cubana or Puerto Rican or Salvador-
eño—i.e., the countries where their ancestors
are from. This is more likely to be true among
13 Hispanic Executive
Key observations pulled from Pew Research Center Latino surveys
immigrant Hispanics (which makes sense
up recently, is significantly below highs seen
true among many US-born Hispanics.
the foreign-born share among Hispanics is fall-
given that is where they are from), but also is
Even so, later US-born generations of
Hispanics are more likely than immigrant
In 2011, of those US Latinos surveyed said they have many cultures; only one-quarter said they share a common culture
Hispanics to say they most often call them-
of those surveyed described themselves by terms tied to the countries their ancestors are from
growth rate is slowing as fertility rates fall.
And finally, intermarriage rates remain
higher for Hispanics than either whites or
US-born drive the group’s population growth
though)—since at least 1980, one-quarter of
way within the Hispanic population as the and make up a growing share of all Hispanics (just one-third are immigrants today).
identity. For example, in 2014, one-quarter of
Latino adults told us they are Afro-Latino,
with those of Dominican and Puerto Rican
blacks (Asians intermarry at a higher rate,
Hispanic newlyweds marry a non-Hispanic. In the US today, the single most common
intermarried couples are ones where a Hispanic spouse is married to a white spouse accounting for 43 percent of the total.
All these changes may have implications
background making up a large part of the
for how the group sees its identity in the
of indigenous roots such as Native American,
just as terms have evolved over the decades,
group. And one-quarter of Latino adults are Mayan, Aymara, Quechua, or Taino. And at
In 2015, > 1/2
ing. At the same time, the group’s population
selves American, highlighting changes under-
There are many other dimensions to Latino
In 2014, of Latino adults surveyed indicated they are of indigenous roots
in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As a result,
least 28 percent say they are mestizo, mestiza, mulatto, or mulatta.
Latinos look at their identity in other
future, or if they even identify as Latino. And it remains to be seen what terms future
Latinos will use to describe themselves and their identity.
ways too. For example, what does it take to be considered Latino by others? In 2015, we asked whether one needs to speak Spanish to be considered Latino—three-quarters say
In 2015, of those surveyed said you don’t have to speak Spanish to be considered Latino; eight in ten don’t believe you have to have a Spanish surname to be considered Latino
no. What about having a Spanish surname?
Eight in ten say no. Even among immigrants, majorities agree that one doesn’t need to speak
Spanish or have a Spanish surname to be considered Latino in the US.
Looked at another way, do US Latinos see a
common culture among themselves or a diverse one? In 2011, 70 percent said US Latinos have many different cultures while just a quarter said they share a common culture.
For some, identity is much more than just
about their Hispanic background and that’s important to remember. Some may see themselves as Californians first or as part of Gen Z KAVEH SARDARI
or as a Catholic first and foremost.
Looking ahead, big demographic trends
are reshaping the nation’s Hispanic popula-
tion. Immigration from Latin America, while
MA RK HUGO LO PEZ Director of Global Migration & Demography Research Pew Research Center
Ruben Navarrette is a contributing writer to Hispanic Executive, a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group, author of A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano, and host of the podcast Navarrette Nation. Read his interview series, Conversations at the Top, on p.90.
Director, Editorial Kevin Warwick Senior Editor Frannie Sprouls Editors Melaina K. de la Cruz Sara Deeter KC Esper Hana Yoo Staff Writer Billy Yost Contributing Editor Julia Thiel Contributing Writers
CEO & Publisher Pedro A. Guerrero Chief of Staff Jaclyn Gaughan VP, Sales Kyle Evangelista VP, Hispanic Division Vianni Lubus VP, Finance David Martinez Director, Client Services Cheyenne Eiswald Senior Client Services Manager Rebekah Pappas
Cora Berg Kathy Kantorski Kathryn Kruse Keith Loria Roman Navarrette Courtney Ryan Paul Snyder Andrew Tamarkin Juanita Vivas Zayvelle Williamson Clint Worthington A.J. Zak Stephanie Zeilenga Designer Elena Bragg Photo Editors & Staff Photographers Cass Davis Gillian Fry
Client Services Manager Brooke Rigert Director, Talent Acquisition Elyse Schultz Talent Acquisition Manager Haylee Himel Director, Strategic Partnerships Krista Horbenko Director, Business Development Jenny Vetokhin Senior Events Manager Jill Ortiz Senior Director, Sales Ben Julia Sales Training Manager Alexa Johnson Content & Advertising Managers James Ainscough, Allyssa Budjoso, Justin Davidson, Soledad Granados, Nicole Haas, Ashley Parish
Dr. G. Cristina Mora is an associate professor of sociology and the director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley. She is the author of Making Hispanics: How Activists, Bureaucrats, and Media Constructed a New American (U Chicago Press, 2014). Her current research focuses on racial politics and immigration in the United States. Read her guest editor's letter on p.10. Mark Hugo Lopez is director of global migration and demography research at Pew Research Center. He leads planning of the Center’s research agenda on the US Latino population, Latino identity, US immigration trends, international demographic trends, and international migration. He was previously the Center’s director of Hispanic research, and prior to that served as the associate director. Lopez received his doctorate in economics from Princeton University. Read his essay on p.12.
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MIS SION Mission
When oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work makes an impact in the community, it transcends employment and becomes a calling. These executives have answered their call.
16 Dr. Albert Reyes, Buckner International 22 Dolores Gonzalez, IDEA Public Schools 26 Antonio Argibay, Meridian Design Associates, Architects, PC 29 Giamara Rosado, Acacia Network 32 Janeth Medina Larios, Bank of the West 34 Pete Delgado, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System
Obedience and Intervention BY BILLY YOST
Dr. Albert Reyesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s faith informs his mission as he strives to strengthen the family bond
Dr. Albert Reyes President and CEO Buckner International
Dr. Albert Reyes learned to follow the call. It first came from his no-nonsense Marine Corps father, who taught
his three sons how to respond when
he called them. “My dad would say, ‘When you hear my voice, say “Yes, sir” and start running toward me until
you find me.’ That’s how we were
raised,” Dr. Reyes says. “There wasn’t any alternative. We did what we were told to do.”
It was when Dr. Reyes was fifteen
that he started hearing a different kind of call. “I began sensing that God, the
Father, was calling me to vocation-
al ministry, and I applied the same principle,” Dr. Reyes explains. The good doctor has since gone where he
believed God wanted him to be—and
his trajectory has become an act of obedience to his faith and life purpose.
Today, as the sixth president and
CEO of the 141-year-old nonprof-
Dr. Albert Reyes watches as a client from a local Buckner Family Hope Center in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, sews a head scarf. Buckner trains clients in skills that enable them to earn money so they can support their families.
it Buckner International, Dr. Reyes
need, thanks in part to a razor-sharp
ized that to go to seminary, he’d first
says, chuckling. “I thought I should be studying Greek and
talents of any bigwig pulling the levers
decided to go the business route, earn-
had to do graduate.” He eventually made it to Southwestern
business acumen that would rival the
at a for-profit conglomerate. Buck-
ner is focused on keeping families together by investing in them early
and educating them about creating a
foundation strong enough to weather storms without allowing the cracks to
have to earn a bachelor’s degree. He ing a BBA in management from Ange-
lo State University. He had grown
up in an entrepreneurial family that dabbled in wholesale candy distribution, grocery stores, and laundromats.
before attending Andrews University, where he earned a PhD in leadership.
At Buckner International, an international ministry
made a mistake. “I have to be honest; I
hundreds of thousands of lives and has investors and donors
THE BUSINESS OF FAITH
remember sitting in some of my busi-
experience. As a young man, he real-
and doctoral degree in preparation for vocational ministry—
serving vulnerable children, families, and senior adults,
ness studies, though, he thought he’d
pursuit of both ministry and business
Baptist Theological Seminary—where he earned a master’s
At a certain point during busi-
Dr. Reyes’s journey has been a twofold
Hebrew, getting ready for the seminary. But I did what I
ness courses almost complaining to
God about when I was ever going to use what I was learning,” Dr. Reyes
Dr. Reyes now oversees a $120 million budget that impacts who want proof of concept to know that their money is being
spent wisely. Those business skills Dr. Reyes perhaps reluc-
tantly learned are now being put to use daily—an irony that isn’t lost on him.
finds ways to serve those most in
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Determined to pay his way through
seminary, Dr. Reyes began working for Dallas-based start-up US Telephone in the 1980s. He received training from best-selling author and management consultant Dr. Ken Blanchard (The
One Minute Manager), and by his midtwenties was managing 150 people
and a multimillion-dollar budget. That company would later become Sprint, and after helping take the company
to its IPO—and, more importantly, graduating from seminary—Dr. Reyes took on full-time pastorates that would lead him around Texas.
He led Baptist University of the
Americas to receive accreditation to grant degrees for the first time in its
“What if we don’t wait until children are in a place where they have been abused or neglected? What if we were to get ahead of the problem before it happens?”
fifty-two-year history. He also led the
campus to grow in size by adding a 90-acre purchase of land and lining up
the largest single multimillion-dollar gift in the school’s history.
It’s where Dr. Reyes thought he’d
spend the remainder of his career— until the call from Buckner came.
WHEN WAITING ISN’T ENOUGH Over the course of his fourteen years at
Buckner International—eight as presi-
dent and CEO— Dr. Reyes has sought
to increase the outreach and support to children and families as well as senior retirement communities. In regard to
children and families, the organization developed Family Hope Centers,
which were piloted in Guatemala and
Honduras before being implemented
in Texas under the leadership of Dr. Reyes’s predecessor, Dr. Ken Hall.
“We disrupted our own best practices,” Dr. Reyes explains. “What if we don’t
they have been abused or neglected? Dr. Albert Reyes is surrounded by children in the Dominican Republic (top). He receives a hug from a child after giving her a pair of shoes on behalf of Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls (bottom).
What if we were to get ahead of the problem before it happens?”
wait until children are in a place where
21 Hispanic Executive
The idea was to provide custom-
ized solutions based on the needs of
individual families. That might mean
ventions, or helping provide isolated
“I tend to lean toward Hispanic; however, I identify myself more specifically as a Tejano (third-generation native Texan of Mexican descent). We are proud to be Tejanos and citizens of the United States of America, and, as such, we value our deep roots in Mexico, our five-hundredyear history, and the family we continue to interact with across the border. We have a liminal identity, bilingual and bicultural.”
parenting classes, child resiliency interfamilies with social connections with-
in their communities. “We identify the issues that families tell us they want to
work on and help them create goals to
get there,” Dr. Reyes says. “We tell our families that ‘Every pro athlete needs a good coach.’ We want to be the coaches for these families.”
Dr. Reyes, ever the business
mind, has effectively quantified the
Where’s your heart?
results of the Family Hope Centers
approach. “Our family coaching costs
We work with you to offer life-changing options. Together, we can serve through:
Reyes says. “If you wait for a child to
Foster Care and Adoption
about $2,000 per family, per year,” Dr.
be separated from their family due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect and
to be put into the foster care system to intervene, serving one child will cost
$54,000 a year. That isn’t taking into
serve are what propel Buckner to shine hope across the world.”
Currently, Buckner International
account the trauma or emotional scars
is the only institution of its kind that
and time it takes to help a child over-
to the leaders of Christian Alliance
they’ve had to endure, or the resources come those scars. That’s just the raw cost.” Dr. Reyes says for every dollar
spent on prevention, it’s $27 saved on the negative alternative: waiting.
The astute business approach
of Dr. Reyes—combined with the deep-seated compassion for those he
supports—has long been respected by
his most trusted partners. “Dr. Reyes
is working in this space, according for Orphans and the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute—but Dr. Reyes says it’s OK to be at the front of the pack. “We’re excited about
creating this disruption, even if it’s to our own model and best practices.
We’re doing the right thing for kids before they get hurt.”
As Buckner continues to provide
continues the legacy of servant leader-
innovative solutions for the most
at the helm of Buckner,” says Gaylon
Dr. Reyes says he’s got a good idea
ship that has always marked the person Brown, CEO and managing partner at TexCap Insurance. “His trust in his team and his love for the people they
Be a family for vulnerable children in need of safety and love.
vulnerable members of the population,
where he should be leading the orga-
nization. He’ll just keep responding to
Family Hope Centers
Join us to offer a range of services from counseling to computer classes in communities where vulnerable children and families live.
Help families stay together by providing affordable housing and support to single parents seeking higher education.
We enrich the lives of the aging population with a continuum of services including independent living, assisted living, nursing, memory care and hospice.
HighGround Advisors congratulates Dr. Reyes for this well-deserved recognition. Since 1930, we have been honored to serve Buckner Foundation and other clients dedicated to transforming lives. HighGround Advisors protects, strengthens and grows the assets of nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and charitable individuals with comprehensive investment management and gift planning services.
Chief Program Officer Dolores Gonzalez is determined to keep learning for the benefit of every student attending IDEA Public Schools
Deserving of More than Just an Apple BY KATHRYN KRUSE
THOUGH SHE TRADED CLASSROOM TEACHING for an administrative role more than a decade ago, Dolores Gonzalez spends two days a week away from her computer with teachers, students, and principals.
“It helps me be clear and focused,” the chief program officer for the charter school operator IDEA Public
Schools explains. “I need to see what is happening with my own eyes.” Her job, she says, is about prioritizing, a
skill she improves as IDEA expands and opens dozens
academics, including English language learner (ELL) and special programs, athletics, assessment, and counseling. While special education service providers—like
speech-language pathologists and school psycholo-
gists—make up the majority of her team, she directly manages eight department leads. “I used to think I need-
ed more people,” she says. “Now I know I just need the right people with the right expectations.”
Along with clear prioritization, as IDEA grows,
of new schools in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Ohio.
Gonzalez shifts other management strategies to maintain
determines what IDEA will teach its kids, ultimate-
on both the current school year and the one upcoming—
Broadly, Gonzalez leads a 150-person team that
ly overseeing student experiences inside and outside of
quality. Constantly planning ahead—keeping focused she recognizes the importance of clear decision-making
and creating alignment with school management teams.
tion director for their, at that time, single school. She
Now I do the research, ask for feedback, and then make
of teaching experience, intending to stay only one year.
at times, opinions. “I used to try to get everyone to agree. the call,” she says.
Though Gonzalez makes tough decisions, she also
believes in satisfaction and engagement. “We can’t
lead with, ‘I’m an expert. Do as I say,’” she says with a JOHNNY Q PHOTOGRAPHY
In 2004 IDEA recruited her as the special educa-
As IDEA expands, so does the number of people—and,
arrived at Rio Grande Valley in Texas with three years
That one year became two, then three. Just recently, she
convinced her parents to move to the valley. She’s stayed because of her belief in IDEA.
To hear Gonzalez rattle off the stats of IDEA’s
laugh, explaining the importance of engaging people to
three-year plan to enlarge its school pantheon is aston-
schools, Gonzalez and her team offer teachers ongoing
schools opened, and by 2024, IDEA intends to have
understand changes. Besides her constant presence in
trainings. She sums up her intent as “creating products so staff want to buy them.”
ishing. August 2020 alone will see twenty-four new eighty-six more campuses. This includes expanding into Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati.
Dolores Gonzalez Chief Program Officer IDEA Public Schools
Those who collaborate with Gonzalez
believe in her relentless drive and vision as well—and, ultimately, feed off of it. “Dolores
is a great partner and leader,” says Stacy Miles,
chief operating officer of the National Math and Science Initiative. “She has high expectations, which pushes us to continue to raise the
bar on our own work. Thanks to her sugges-
tion, our teams meet quarterly for strategic planning to better serve IDEA students.”
“I used to think I needed more people. Now I know I just need the right people with the right expectations.”
As IDEA celebrates their twentieth anni-
versary, Gonzalez continues to uphold the original vision of cofounders Tom Torkelson and JoAnn Gama. Fresh out of college
and part of Teach For America, the pair
addressed inequities through after-school
programing. Seeing results, they decided to start a school with the mission that every kid
deep, calming breath before launching into
though she learned a few lessons. She values
methodology. She reports that, in the past
cipals and leaders around Great Minds math
in, the emotional challenge that comes with
goes to college. Gonzalez aligned with their eight years, only two of IDEA’s thousands of
graduates did not matriculate to college, and
completion rates have soared to three times the national average. IDEA runs a robust alumni program, emotionally and financial-
ly supporting college students. Also, it has a prep program that features eleven AP cours-
the story. Leaning into excitement from prinand reading curricula and the Being a Writer program, Gonzalez explains, “We decided
that if it was good enough for one school, it was good enough for all.” She adds, “Opening
keep pace. Gonzales wants quality to grow as well and aims high, saying, “Every campus should earn an A this year.”
To that end, IDEA opened eighteen
schools in 2018, while Gonzalez also orchestrated a massive six-month curriculum over-
haul. The chief program officer still takes a
As she considers massive curriculum
ELL to athletics, the chief program offi-
and training. Huge belief in the project kept
grows exponentially, it expects demand to
IDEA asks its teachers to teach students.
For Gonzalez, facilitating the shift in
curriculum like this.”
seats. In the 2019/2020 school year, nearfourteen thousand spots. As the organization
term versus long-term. They’re lessons that
shifts, training thousands of new and exist-
curriculum meant convincing teachers and
ly thirty-five thousand students applied for
change, and the difficulty of seeing short-
up eighteen schools is as hard as rolling out a
es: the equivalent of one college year.
IDEA is not worried about filling new
the importance of thinking before jumping
parents of efficacy, materials distribution,
her energized, and the 2019/20 school year
assessments are proof: third graders who started the curriculum as second graders ended up outperforming previous classes.
Gonzalez happily reports that she did not
lose a single team member during the process,
ing teachers and managing everything from
cer still attends spelling bees and cheers on
first-time kindergartner competitors. Even in this arena, though, she has set metrics.
“Within five years, we want to have a student at Scripps,” she says. Then she begins to talk enthusiastically about history competitions a teacher wants to enter before she stops herself
and laughs, saying, “That’s the thing here at IDEA. We go all in.”
mi identidad: “LATINA”
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1 Phelan, J. and Brown, R. (2017). ALSDE/A+ College Ready LTF teacher implementation evaluation study (West Coast Analytics Research Report). Irvine, CA: West Coast Analytics.
Antonio Argibay of Meridian Design Associates creates spaces of innovation, connection, and learning
The Nexus of Architecture and Education BY SARA DEETER
HISPANIC EXECUTIVE’S LAST CONVERSATION IN 2018
Argibay doesn’t have any posters describing the firm’s
with Antonio Argibay, the managing principal of New York
core values hanging on the walls. Instead, he relies on every
ates, Architects, PC coincided with the firm’s completion
ty, innovation, loyalty, personal development, quality, and
City-based architectural firm Meridian Design Associof WarnerMedia’s relocation to Hudson Yards. The project
was a very important one for Argibay and his team, involving collaboration with other major New York City architecture
firms as well as groundbreaking design work for almost a half million square feet of rentable space.
Since then, Meridian Design Associates, Architects has
begun designing Discovery’s new world headquarters in New
employee at Meridian to live those values—sustainabiliopportunity—and to lead by example every day. “When you
develop those values, there is less absenteeism, less employee
turnover, and higher efficiency because everyone has a much more engaged relationship with their work tasks,” Argibay stresses, “Meridian is purposely and meaningfully engaged with each one of its employees.”
On a roughly quarterly basis, Meridian organizes events
York City and planning with other major clients for their own
designed to embody the firm’s values and maintain the
across the country. The key to our success is that when we
of business hours. “We’ve held book signings,” Argibay says.
expansions. “We provide services to a wide variety of projects come to work, we do the things we love,” Argibay asserts.
Everyone at Meridian is deeply committed to their work,
an example of the firm’s “People First” strategy. “People First is about increasing awareness of the business benefits of nurturing a company’s values and culture,” Argibay says.
importance of being socially engaged both within and outside “We’ve had artists, business leaders, scientists, and authors
come in to talk about their works. This kind of salon environ-
ment, where people can exchange ideas outside of their daily tasks: that’s how we are going to stimulate everyone’s minds.” Argibay’s passion for creating spaces for learning extends
For nearly forty years, he has advanced the idea of a “People
far beyond the walls of Meridian. Over the past two years,
every day have an impact on the lives of the people who will
between the two—have converged during his service as a
First” culture at his firm because the choices architects make be here long after we are all gone.
his passion for architecture and culture—and the nexus
board member of the Friends of the National Museum of the
27 Hispanic Executive
PRACTICAL PHILOSOPHIES Much as his firm Meridian Design Associates, Architects, PC prides itself on providing elegant yet practical architectural services to clients around the world, Antonio Argibay has advice for rising young Latino executives that strikes a balance between idealism and pragmatism: Stop self-censoring “We all do it because we’re so afraid to fail. Let your ambitions fly. Put your fears and insecurities aside.” Develop the will “Our willpower is much of what makes us special. You must be able to harness the power of the self to succeed. You will fail, so analyze your mistakes and use your intrinsic drive to get back up again.” Imagine yourself better “Improve yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually; these things are inseparable to achieve your maximum potential. Expect to fail. This is how you become better. Learn to analyze and avoid the same mistakes.” Find the right mentor “To improve, you will need a teacher to guide you. You must demonstrate your worth and enthusiasm for growth to attract the right mentor.”
Antonio Argibay Founder and Managing Principal Meridian Design Associates, Architects, PC
Be adaptable “Positivity is a must. A major key is being able to maneuver around the negatives and find ways to produce the ‘yes’ you seek.”
JRM Construction Management Building on Experience, Building with Integrity
mi identidad: “I describe myself, perhaps this is old school, as Cuban American. Why? Because it acknowledges an ethnicity beyond Latino, and thus underlines the diversity that is at the core of being Latino, a diversity we should take pride in and savor. We are a glorious mosaic—multiracial, multicultural, and with a wide range of religious beliefs.”
American Latino. He and the board are
prominent businesspeople and scien-
for learning, knowledge, and sharing
The report is central to highlighting
working to establish a permanent space that will benefit the American Latino community and all Americans.
“The organization’s goal is to estab-
lish the National Museum of the Amer-
ican Latino as part of the Smithsonian
museum system,” Argibay explains. “In the mid-1990s, the Smithsonian
of the Americas’ tapestry, not a recent patch. “This history has been frequently omitted from the American story, and this is what the Willful Neglect report addresses,” Argibay adds.
“I believe there is a large cultural
void in our Latino community as our
acknowledged that there has been seri-
into the American experience,” Argibay
ous omissions of Latino contributions to this great country. In the years since, former President Bush and President
Obama created a commission, which finished an expansive multiyear report
expressing the need for the National Museum of the American Latino. The
different Latino experiences morph says. “Education allows us to interpret where we come from as well as where
we are going. This museum is a perfect
opportunity to get everyone excited about learning—and learning about their communities.”
As Argibay sees it, the knowl-
board is presently looking to find the
edge contained within the National
bill, already having done so in the House
do more than fill the gaps in text-
sponsors necessary to pass the Senate
New York 212.545.0500 New Jersey 973.887.0082 California 949.480.3410 www.jrmcm.com
the contributions of Latinos as a thread
published what came to be known as the Willful Neglect report, which openly
Preconstruction Construction Management General Contracting Construction Services Design Build | Green Building
tists throughout US history, he notes.
with more than a two-thirds majority.
“With each step we’ve taken,”
Argibay continues, “I’ve not only
become more passionate about our mission but have also learned how
different the Latino experience is in the various regions of the United States.”
Latino presence in the US predates
the English colonies, and Latinos have fought in every war and have been
Museum of the American Latino will books and public awareness—it will
also help rebuild critical interpersonal ties. Argibay hopes the museum will
accomplish a strengthening of mutual bonds and affirm commonalities for all Americans. “The museum is going
to provide a permanent educational institution where all visitors, especial-
ly children, can learn what has been obscure for too long.”
29 Hispanic Executive
Giamara Rosado builds on the legacy of her Bronx community thanks in part to her rapidly growing legal team at Acacia Network
Preserve and Prosper BY COURTNEY RYAN
IT’S REALLY NO WONDER THAT GIAMARA Rosado has found a home at Acacia Network. After
all, the nonprofit was built by ambitious individuals,
and Rosado has been around ambitious individuals
all her life—beginning, first and foremost, with her grandmother. Rosado’s grandmother moved from Puerto Rico to New York as a teenager with the dream of creating a better life for herself and for her family.
“My grandmother and mother paved the way for
the family to be successful and showed me what hard
work can do,” says the Bronx-raised Rosado. “The women in my life really showed me how to be strong and pushed me in my education.”
That push from her family sparked a lifelong love
for problem-solving, which carried Rosado through undergrad at Penn State and to a transformative
intern gig with the nonprofit Acacia Network. It was there that she realized there was a diverse array
of services in place that could enable her to use her legal skills and give back to the Bronx.
Giamara Rosado SVP and Executive Deputy Counsel Acacia Network
“I always wanted to bring my
cer, compliance officer, risk manager,
that I grew up in,” Rosado explains,
add additional attorneys and parale-
REMAINING FOCUSED DESPITE THE CHAOS
education back to the community
Considering Acacia Network has its hand in just about every aspect of society— from housing to day care to senior services—there’s rarely a dull moment, which is fine by Giamara Rosado. “It’s never the same, one day to the next,” she says. “There’s always something going on, whether it’s a submission with a deadline or an emergency in one of our sites or this pandemic that we’re going through.”
though she does admit that she was
To ensure that she and her team stay above the fray, Rosado stresses the need to celebrate successes, even if they’re small. “It sounds cliché when people say that to be happy in a job you need to find one where you love what you do, but it’s true,” she says. “It’s always rewarding when we’re able to pull together and contribute to what is on the table at the moment, especially when you know that what you do every day affects other people.”
initially daunted by the tangled world
of social services. “I have seen what
happens when an organization is not able to keep up with the changing
and four paralegals. Rosado hopes to gals. During the recent COVID-19
pandemic, she has been encouraged
that Acacia Network has been able to keep many individuals employed.
This was similar to when the
world around them. It’s frustrating
organization scored a major victory by
services to our communities.”
in Puerto Rico. “The organization
to see the deprivation of essential
Instead of finding stagnation,
ly surprised to discover that Acacia
Network responded directly to the Latino community’s need for housing, healthcare, and social services.
“Acacia Network was such a dynamic
place. I saw that they had an infrastructure that enabled them to main-
tain essential services throughout the city . . . And I wanted to be a part of it and help nonprofits succeed.” Rosado
School of Law, where she focused on the service of human needs and was
able to cut her teeth at the school’s
Community & Economic Development Clinic. After graduating, she
quickly returned to Acacia Network and rose from deputy counsel to exec-
utive deputy counsel before taking her current seat as senior vice president.
“I’ve been given the challenge of
building on our legal team to coincide
securing affordable housing for seniors used local employees with expertise to do that project, even during Hurricane Maria,” she says of what became a huge team effort. “The Puerto Rico
project was one of the main goals of our CEO. Our chief operating officer took the lead role, and I contributed
as much as I could. Now, I believe the
senior home is at capacity, so that’s a great story of overcoming adversity.”
Looking ahead, Rosado plans to
do much of the same work, but on a bigger scope. A good example is
how she’s currently leveraging her legal acumen to assist with Acacia’s
one hundred-plus related entities—
both through managing the contract review and addressing the city and state clearance process for funding
contracts. Her ultimate focus, she
says, is to carry the torch first lifted by Puerto Rican New Yorkers like her grandmother before her.
“The legacy that was started from
with the growth of the network,” she
community leaders in the Bronx is
from herself and one other to a team
says. “It’s important to maintain
says of expanding the legal department that now includes a chief legal offi-
being preserved and built on,” she
what our community leaders started
31 Hispanic Executive
is proud to honor
GIAMARA ROSADO so many years ago. I hope to contin-
ue to serve our communities to make sure that all their hard work was not for nothing.” Rosado
Network’s legacy in multiple ways. She shared a few of her recent daily
challenges and opportunities with Hispanic Executive:
MANAGING THE UNEXPECTED A major goal for Rosado has been to
mi identidad: “Identifying as Puertoriqueña and Boricua has always made me proud. I am a Nuyorican, and I’m proud of that as well. My roots run deep from New York and Puerto Rico. My identity comes from both places.”
conquer the intricacies of government contracting and use technological capa-
bilities so that the organization can
better confront any unexpected issues facing the community. The first test
for this initiative has been a major one:
like it’s only right to do that for the
19, particularly in New York, where life
her approach to mentorship. She helps
the unprecedented spread of COVIDcame to a complete standstill in early 2020 due to the pandemic.
“We serve such a fragile popula-
tion,” she says. “We have senior centers,
a nursing home, a juvenile program for youth who have no place to go.” Fortunately, the streamlined technology
next person in line,” Rosado says of
her paralegals develop career goals and finds future opportunities for them,
whether the next stage is at Acacia or elsewhere. “[My internship] let me try things and struggle, so it’s important for me to do the same for others.”
system helped the organization address
LEADING FROM WITHIN
the changing regulations and main-
leading a band. “We each have to play
the challenge. “We’re keeping up with
Rosado likens her management style to
taining the legal needs for the network
our instrument well to make beautiful
even in unimaginable circumstances— that’s the most rewarding part.”
PAYING IT FORWARD “There are a few people during my
career who I feel really held out a hand and showed me that things are possible if you focus on your goals, so I feel
music,” she says. “I’m not a litigator, I’m
not a medical compliance professional, but I understand that they all have
their focus and their expertise, and they make the team better because of it. I
think that’s how you gain respect from
your team members—you value what they can contribute.”
for this incredible achievement!
At Bank of the West and beyond, Janeth Medina Larios builds relationships and acquires skills as a means of giving back wherever possible
Branching Out BY CORA BERG
“A R R I M AT E A L Á R B O L Q U E T E D E S O M B R A .”
In her six years with Bank of the West, spurred
That’s what Janeth Medina Larios’s father told her in
by a constant drive to learn and foster relationships,
College, where she would be both a first-generation
within BOTW’s corporate social responsibility group,
2009 when she left Bakersfield, California, for Mills university student and a DACA recipient. “It translates to ‘Seek the tree with the most shade,’” says Larios.
“This symbolizes mentorship and sponsorship for me, and it has never failed me in my journey.”
She shared the same quote with a room full of Bay
Area leaders in 2013 as she accepted the Financial Women of San Francisco’s annual scholarship. It didn’t
fail her then either. A member of Bank of the West lead-
ership heard her speech and offered Larios a mentored
position as an analyst in corporate security as she finished her four-plus-one: a BA and MBA. She accepted and has been with the financial institute ever since.
Larios has held a variety of positions. As vice president she’s a part of several internal initiatives to fulfill a
corporate responsibility promise. In October 2019,
she launched into a year as a community ambassador
for BOTW. Assigned to Earth Island Institute (EII), a nonprofit environmental group founded by David
Brower in 1982, Larios has been putting her relationship-building skills to use. “I am responsible for driv-
ing community and development strategies for EII,”
Larios says. “The role aligns my passion for giving
back with the skill set I have developed in the last six years at the bank.”
Earth Island Institute is a fiscal sponsor for
Larios says that while she’s the first person in her
more than eighty projects and is a hub for grassroots
inspirations is her father, whose formal education ended
restoration of the environment. In her work with the
family to receive a college degree, one of her biggest
in elementary school. He immigrated to the US as an
adult—leaving behind a business in Mexico—and started his life in California picking fruits and vegetables.
Today, he’s foreman of hundreds of acres of farmland in
the Central Valley. “He knows everyone in the Central Valley,” Larios says with a laugh. “Wherever I go, people give me oranges and grapes.” It is this entrepreneurial
spirit, with a special emphasis on building relationships and bringing together resources, that serves as an example to Larios.
campaigns dedicated to conservation, preservation, and organization, Larios applies her professional expertise,
supporting an expansion in revenue and funder bases as well as revamping donor strategies. The project has
also given her the opportunity to assess her own adapt-
ability to a change in environment. The constraints of only having one year to work, she says, enhances her
intentionality around growth: “I’m getting to connections faster and am more proactive about understanding priorities.” She’s also excited that the position is allowing her to develop more transferable skills.
mi identidad: “I identify as Mexican. I was born in Mexico, and I have always been very proud of my heritage. I am really thankful to my parents for that, because I understand many people lost that appreciation and knowledge about their culture to assimilate in the US. I am also a Dreamer. I came to the US with my family to pursue a better future, but I have always held on to the values and traditions from my motherland.”
The nonprofit world is not new to Larios. She has
been on the boards of several organizations, including the Financial Women of San Francisco, for the past five years. “I’m lucky to have a lens into this world,” she
says. When Larios discovered she loved finance, she thought going to business school would make her an
asset to her family. She now helps many members of the Latinx community by developing supportive program-
ing and, of course, developing relationships that bring people and knowledge together.
She’s also a former president of Latinos in Finance,
an organization with Bank of the West sponsorship that aims to diversify the employment pipeline through
collective knowledge sharing and grassroots access to opportunities. “The more you move up the ladder, the
fewer people you see that look like you,” Larios says. She seeks to support Latinx professionals through increasing access to Latinx leaders and addressing collective concerns. “Group-led education is the fastest way to bridge gaps,” she explains.
Keenly aware of how being a DACA recipient affect-
COURTESY OF BANK OF THE WEST
ed many of her choices, Larios now wants to give back to
Janeth Medina Larios VP of Corporate Social Responsibility Bank of the West
tions and identifying synergies that break down barriers to business cooperation and advancement. She has also
grown the bank’s Hispanic resource group at a national
level with the intention of promoting a positive culture. Larios helped revamp strategies for this group and developed partnerships with Latinx organizations. She
reports focused and well-received leadership development trainings across the bank’s entire footprint in her national chair role. She is also proud to say she brought
Rosie Rios, the forty-third treasurer of the United States, to speak.
When her year as community ambassador with
her community. For example, she had very little guidance
Earth Island Institute ends, Larios will return to a role
others facing the same issue. She sees other problems to
great deal of autonomy in her work with EII, which has
when she was applying to colleges and would like to help address as well, specifically around women’s empowerment and the unequal allocation of philanthropic dollars.
In her corporate strategies work at BOTW, Larios
has had a chance to use her skills in making connec-
inside BOTW. For the moment, she says, she enjoys a not only increased her confidence but also helped her respond more proactively in any situation. Both those
skills will serve her well in the future at Bank of the West, whatever her next role might entail.
CommunityFocused, Inside and Out BY CORA BERG
PETE DELGADO BEGAN WORKING AT NINE years old. His father owned a trash hauling company, and young Delgado’s duties includ-
Having rejuvenated SVMHS, Pete Delgado focuses on the right ways to care for his employees and his neighbors
ed not just mopping and sweeping but also acting as an interpreter, delivering invoices,
does the heavy lifting and executes strategies
as planned. We invest heavily in their development and provide appropriate management tools.”
But Delgado is clear about his own role.
and picking up checks. He so enjoyed the
“What does the president do?” he asks, before
serving in the military, he completed a degree
“Drives change in culture with a focus on
hospitals on his father’s client list that after in hospital management, then reached out to
the hometown hospital chief executive offi-
cer he had presented invoices to as a kid to ask for an internship. “He rolled out the red
carpet for me,” Delgado says. From there, he worked his way up through several hospitals
to become president and chief executive offi-
cer of Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS).
immediately answering his own question.
quality and safety. I try to create an environment where our staff can thrive. We’ve implemented working values called STAR (support,
teamwork, accountability, respect). We iden-
tified appropriate behaviors for each value
and incorporated them within everyone’s
evaluation. This accounted for 50 percent of their evaluation.”
When Delgado started seven years ago,
Delgado likes to tell this story about pick-
he says, employee engagement scores sat in
says, “It’s a reminder that no one does it by
hearts and minds of his staff and worked hard
ing up a broom at nine years old because, he themselves.” In his seven years at SVMHS, he has turned around the once struggling
healthcare system, but he doesn’t take all the credit. “It’s not me. It’s my talented team that
the 6th percentile. Delgado set out to win the
to win their trust. They’ve since climbed to the 82nd percentile. “They like what they do,
where they work, and feel valued,” he says of his employees.
RANDY TUNNEL/SALINAS VALLEY MEMORIAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
Delgado and his team have significantly
increased access to medical care for thousands of families. He directed the growth of Salinas
Valley Medical Clinic—a network of physi-
cian practices with more than 150 providers— which now provides access to care for everyone, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.
Under Delgado’s leadership, Salinas Valley
Memorial has created adult and pediatric
diabetes centers, a state-of-the-art infusion center, a primary care clinic in Gonzales, and a
Pete Delgado President and CEO Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System
“At the end of the day, no matter what type of hospital you are, you have to have more revenue than expenses. No margin, no mission.”
mobile health clinic that brings medical care to underserved areas of the county, at no charge to patients.
In addition to the hospital, the healthcare system has
grown to include thirteen urgent care centers, outpa-
tient facilities and clinics, physician practices, and services
throughout the county. Delgado also led the effort to bring the Blue Zones Project to the community, designed to trans-
form health through policy and other changes—and help people live longer, healthier lives.
And Delgado never forgets the bottom line. “Don’t take
mi identidad: “I’m a Tejano. My ancestors came from the Canary Islands in the early 1700s and settled in what today we call San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio, as you know, was under the French rule, then Spanish, then part of Mexico. Ultimately, Mexico sold all the land north of the Rio Grande to the US. Of course, I have a strong Mexico influence. I embrace the Mexican culture as well as our American culture—but at the end of the day, I’m a Tejano.”
day, no matter what type of hospital you are, you have to have more revenue than expenses. No margin, no mission.”
Delgado has been very active in the community, too,
having served on the board of directors for Rancho Cielo Youth Campus for the last six years. He is also a member of
the Salinas Downtown Rotary, and he serves on boards of several healthcare industry organizations. When he is not working or volunteering, Delgado indulges in his true love: performing mariachi music.
Without a doubt, Delgado’s ability to execute his vision
for healthcare has benefited the communities in the region.
RICHARD GREEN/SALINAS VALLEY MEMORIAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM
your eye off the financial ball,” he says. “At the end of the
STRA TEGY Strategy
What is your secret to successful leadership? The impressive executives featured here share theirs, and they are strategies that engage both the mind and the heart.
38 Ruth Giansante, World Fuel Services 43 Alberto Perales, Elementia 46 Omar Galan, United Community Bank 48 Jose Medina, RT ProExec 55 Ignacio Martinez, Smartsheet 58 Mariela Ure, Universal Studios Hollywood 62 Larissa Zagustin, ViacomCBS 64 Hector Izzo, Suez 66 Rudy RodrĂguez Jr., CEC Entertainment
Bringing It All Together BY A.J. ZAK
Ruth Giansante breaks down silos and builds up communication and collaboration across teams at Miami-based World Fuel Services
39 Hispanic Executive
Ruth Giansante SVP of Finance Services World Fuel Services
pictured herself working in finance.
As a teenager, she knew she wanted to
go to law school—even at age thirteen she was an analytical thinker with a
passion for complex reading. During
her first full-time position at a top law firm in her native Puerto Rico in
legal department, reposition the audit
function as a strategic part of the busi-
ness, and in 2018, she was part of a
team that embarked on completely
reorganizing the finance department. Today, she leads a team of 140 people across 7 functions of the business.
Giansante spent her early forma-
the early 2000s, though, she discov-
tive years in Italy before her family
her. She found herself craving a more
born. Her background and interna-
ered that the partner track was not for diverse work experience and a better work/life balance. When an opportu-
nity came up to join a company as legal and finance director, she took it.
moved to Puerto Rico, where she was tional upbringing made her comfort-
able early on in life with the concept of being an outsider.
“When we were growing up in
That decision set her on the trajec-
Italy we were always the American
president of finance services at World
Rico we were the Italian kids,” says
tory to where she is now, as senior vice
Fuel Services, a Miami-based global fuel logistics company. Since joining the business about fifteen years ago,
Giansante has worked to build up its
kids, and when we moved to Puerto
Giansante, who speaks Italian, Span-
ish, English, and Portuguese. People often ask her if she feels more Puerto
Rican or more Italian, and it’s a tough
WORDS OF WISDOM Ruth Giansante offers these pieces of advice to Latino leaders who strive for success: Don’t be rigid in how you progress in your career. Be open-minded and flexible. “There’s a tendency in this day and age to think, if you choose the job you love you’ll never work a day in your life,” she says. “But the truth is, even in a job you love, you have to work hard.” To be a successful leader, you have to be humble and trustworthy. Lastly, Giansante cited a quote from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor: “Build bridges instead of walls.” LYNN PARKS
RUTH GIANSANTE NEVER EXACTLY
41 Hispanic Executive
mi identidad: “Being half Puerto Rican and half Italian, I’ve always believed the term Latin is more appropriate to identify myself since it represents not only people from Spanish-speaking countries but also from countries speaking other romance languages such as Italian, Portuguese, and French. After all, Italy was the birthplace of Latin culture. My youngest brother coined the term Boricualianos to refer to us, which I think is brilliant as well!”
question to answer, she says. “It’s hard
set up was finished, and she found
I don’t believe that you have to.”
her time at Knowlity helped her real-
for me to really choose one, and frankly,
At the University of Puerto Rico,
Giansante double majored in account-
ing and finance before attending the
herself craving a new challenge. But
ize she wanted an in-house role with a global organization.
She moved to Miami in 2004,
university’s law school. After grad-
and that’s where an opportunity
Borges, a prestigious firm based in San
Giansante joined the company as
uating in 2001, she joined O’Neill & Juan. Her plan was to work her way up
the ladder there. But then, in her third year with the firm, her course shift-
ed. Former executives from software company
knew from college—were launching
a new business called Knowlity and wanted someone with business and legal expertise to join the team.
with World Fuel Services came up.
senior counsel, the first hire made by the general counsel. Early on, it was just the two of them juggling transac-
tional and commercial matters, latenight phone calls to talk to attorneys
in distant time zones, building a new
corporate governance and compliance structure, and more.
chief audit executive in the company’s
of her work with getting the compa-
understanding of governance, risk,
ny’s legal and compliance functions
In an inclusive culture, differences in backgrounds and perspectives can inspire bolder thinking. The result? More vibrant, daring, and innovative solutions. See what inclusion powers at deloitte.com/us/inclusion.
In 2014, an opening appeared for a
She became Knowlity’s legal and
finance director. Two years in, the bulk
Think differently. And together.
finance department. Having a deep
and compliance from her legal roles,
Copyright © 2020 Deloitte Development LLC. All rights reserved.
Congratulations, Ruth! Here’s to all your well-deserved recognition. We are proud to be your valued partner and honored to celebrate your leadership achievements.
“I’ve accepted the fact that once a lawyer, always a lawyer. That’s just ingrained in the way I think.”
Giansante was intrigued by the opportunity. Senior leadership wanted to change the perception of the audit function from a “check-the-box” role to a more strategic business partner position, she says.
So, she took the job, and worked on integrating the audit function throughout
the organization, without losing its crucial independence. Giansante credits her success to the fact that she had by that point spent years building strong relationships with team leaders.
Sincerely, Your JLL partners
“Once I started talking to them about what audit could do for their operations,
it came from a different perspective,” she says. “It wasn’t, ‘Well, audit is here to check on the work I’m doing’—it was more from, ‘Yes, we have to do that, but we will guide you in improving your controls and processes.’”
In 2018, World Fuel Services’ chief financial officer identified the need to take
a holistic look at the company’s finance function, Giansante says. That led to a
complete transformation of the department, including reorganizing finance into three core groups. Another recent focus is on breaking down unproductive silos among different teams.
“We have a lot to improve on, but you can definitely sense the shift in the
culture,” she says. The transformation focuses on building a collaborative environment, with a priority on open communication. Along with that evolution, World Fuel Services has renewed its focus on the characteristics it looks for in new hires and existing team members—people who are humble, hungry, and people-smart.
Giansante’s own transformation from her roots as an attorney to her current role
in finance has been both challenging and rewarding, she says.
“I’ve accepted the fact that once a lawyer, always a lawyer. That’s just ingrained
in the way I think,” she says. “But having that analytical way of thinking and considering commercial, compliance, and legal risks in decision-making has been a great asset in my finance career because I can approach matters from a different perspective than someone who has always looked at things from a purely accounting or finance perspective.”
Her varied background has also proven useful in her role as a servant leader for a
large, talented team. That means letting go of control and instead looking for places where she can help to make the company’s teams cohesive. “I’m tasked with bringing it all together,” she says.
43 Hispanic Executive
At Elementia, Alberto Perales has demonstrated how the legal department can be a help rather than a hindrance
Keeping Legal Accessible— and Coherent BY BILLY YOST
ONE MONTH AFTER ALBERTO PERALES was hired as general counsel at cement and construction materials company Elementia, the Mexico City-based organization
announced it would be spinning off a newly created entity that would comprise the metal products and building systems compo-
forming a sixty-eight-year-old business while simultaneously creating a new public company.
Fortunately, he came in with experience in
telecommunications, technology, and oil and gas, all of which helped him learn the new business quickly.
Perales actually sees the spin-off as a best-
nents of the business. While a spin-off of a
case scenario, pointing out that it offered a
US business, it’s rarely seen in the Mexican
ness works—an important part of the accli-
public company is a common occurrence in market. “There have been maybe one or
two companies that have gone through this sort of reorganization that have been listed on the Mexican Stock Exchange,” Perales
says. “There are significant negotiations to conclude—from banks to bond holders to the stakeholders at the Securities and Exchange
Commission here. And I was very involved from the onset.”
Hitting the ground running is one thing,
but Perales had to do more than that: his experience was more along the lines of trans-
crash course in learning exactly how the busimation period for any general counsel. “Not
only was I learning about our business, but
we were doing presentations for our board
of directors and stockholders to explain how we envisioned this would work in the future when the two units split,” he says. “That also
meant explaining how things had worked
in the past. It was a great education for me
and a pretty one-of-a-kind experience.” The spin-off effort continues, and Perales says he hopes the transition will be complete by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.
HELP AT ALL LEVELS Alberto Perales has managed successful transactions for a variety of organizations, but he’s also given his time to help those who need it most. The lawyer offered pro bono work for ShelterBox— an international disasterrelief charity that provides emergency shelter and other aid items to families who have lost their homes to disaster or conflict—when the organization was first entering Mexico.
Alberto Perales General Counsel Elementia
MORE THAN A LAST RESORT The new company structure wasn’t the
only issue of concern for Perales when
he arrived at Elementia. “When I got here, I think legal was really seen as a last resort,” he explains. “It was a
department you came to when you had trouble that you couldn’t solve or you
just wanted to have someone take it out of your hands. We’ve been work-
Elementia’s business units. Accomplishing that has meant being proactive in explaining to various depart-
ments how legal can help them. “We
had to do a lot of education because I don’t think the business understood
what legal could do for them and how
the earlier we see it, the more we’re able to able to help,” he explains.
Under Perales’s direction, the legal
ing to enact significant changes to that
department started offering preemp-
procurement to credit to sales, with
kind of mind-set when it comes to our Perales says he wants the legal
department to be seen as enablers for
tive actions to business units from the idea that those units could then go to their own clients and promote the
He is also helping Elementia build out its sustainability and green initiatives. “We want to be the green provider of construction materials in Mexico and wherever else we’re located,” Perales says. “We know we can make a difference by being greener, and we’re currently working with an external firm to address efficiencies in all of our different business units. It’s a complicated process, but it’s one that we are dedicated to.”
45 Hispanic Executive
initiatives made by the renewed legal parameters. “I think we have much
more control over how we’re handling
now, and I think that’s really helped
“I identify myself with the term Mexican for obvious reasons. We Mexicans have a special identity with the past and the present, pride for our pre-Hispanic roots, and hope for a modern and promising nation. We also have a special relationship with the US because of our closeness, but we remain faithful to our culture. I am proud that Latinos are now getting more recognition for our contributions, but this comes also with the responsibility to get better every day to maintain and increase such recognition.”
transactions from a legal standpoint the business,” Perales says.
A HANDS-ON APPROACH TO LEADERSHIP While Elementia is the first company where Perales has held the role of
general counsel, the lawyer’s extensive
experience in multiple industries has led him to value open communica-
tion as part of his leadership. “Vertical organizations were obviously created
for a reason, but I don’t see it working
that way right now,” Perales says. “I like talking with my team every day;
I dedicate a lot of time to communicating with my managers and attorneys at all levels.”
That also means that while part
of Perales’s job is to see the bigger
picture, he’s also comfortable with
focusing on the specifics of whatever
Supporting visionaries. Troutman Pepper proudly salutes Alberto Perales Mendoza and Elementia. We serve as trusted advisors to leading businesses, governmental entities, nonprofit organizations and individuals.
he works on. “I’m very hands-on and really enjoy getting into the details
with my team,” Perales says. “When you get involved in the matters and
provide whatever assistance you can when it’s brought to you, I think my
team appreciates it, and it’s also very rewarding for me.”
Perales takes a candid and personal
approach to communication outside of his department as well. “It obviously
took some time, but I think I now have a very straightforward relationship
with everyone on the executive team,”
he says. “It’s just easier to knock on the
door and start talking about something that needs to be done.”
troutman.com Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP
Omar Galan uses tactics he learned in the Air Force to support United Community Bank and its customers
Ready to Deploy BY CORA BERG
calls “preventative medicine.” The senior vice president and associate general counsel for United Community Bank (UCB) isn’t talking
about actual medicine, although he did grind through one year of medical school: the
prevention he practices focuses on legal and financial concerns for customers and lenders.
School of Law, convinced him that a JD offers
a wide range of fascinating career choices, he completed his law degree at Mercer. He spent several years in commercial real estate
law before shifting focus and taking a position
at United Community Bank eight years ago. “I’ve become well-rounded,” he says.
Though he left the service years ago,
A shy kid who moved from Puerto Rico
Galan has brought Air Force process-
he encountered a steep language-learning
deployed or training for deployment,” he says.
to Arizona when he was eight, Galan says curve after arriving in the US. A few years
later, his family headed to Germany, where he gained a deep appreciation for the culture’s
organization and efficiency. He planned a
military career, and after graduating university as a first-generation student, he was
commissioned as an Air Force officer. Galan supported missions and deployed to Turkey, Iraq, Kosovo, and other classified locations around the world as his unit’s intelligence officer, which he says he found truly satisfying. “I was responsible for squadron/group briefings,
and mission planning, and I even reassured the aircrew of the integrity of my information
es to UCB. “In the Air Force you are either
“We constantly train for the game.” Galan wants “frontline” employees to know how to spot and respond to legal risks, even if they do
not know the solution to the problem entirely. Basing topics on legal trends he sees, Galan
leads ongoing, in-depth trainings every other
month, starting with a few minutes of music prior to the call and ending exactly on time. A recent focus on loan covenants and events of
default has led, he says, to a trackable reduc-
tion of questions and issues for loans that may be headed to the bank’s loss mitigation or special assets departments.
says that in any given week, he might expect
all of the operating company’s legal risks,
with concerned customers and providing real
sel and is now responsible for responding to
While Galan loved the Air Force work,
including supporting the company’s 149
after four years he realized he also loved his
home life and wanted to start a family. After
his wife, who worked at Mercer University
Discussing his general workflow, Galan
Galan started at UCB as legal coun-
by flying combat missions with my aircrew,” he explains.
Omar Galan SVP and Associate General Counsel United Community Bank
brick-and-mortar locations, back office oper-
ations, M&A, vendor contracts, and, most recently, litigation.
his average days to include communicating
time support to bank employees on matters that could increase the bank’s legal or reputational risk. In reality, he says, “You don’t
know what wild card might be waiting. A
VELVET BLUE PORTRAITS
OMAR G AL AN PR AC TICE S WHAT HE
“Our culture is very customer-focused. We give the benefit of the doubt.” customer might have crashed a car
customers, manages with a very lean
case may have popped up.” Recently,
size, he says. A general counsel, a legal
into a branch office, or a wire fraud for example, he was called to respond
to a situation that involved a customer struggling with dementia. The
customer’s children, unable to access their parent’s account, had concerns
head count for an institution of UCB’s
counsel, two paralegals, and two legal support
Galan himself—run all legal functions for the $13 billion bank.
“Our culture is very customer-
about financial decisions the customer
focused,” Galan says. “We give the
ly find solutions, including providing
means that UCB sees fewer disputes
was making. Galan helped the famiread-only online banking access for
the customer and walking the custom-
er’s son through the steps needed to take over the account.
Because of this incident, Galan
is leading UCB in looking at other
preventative measures to avoid potential problems, including a review of
bank policies and procedures, trying
benefit of the doubt.” While this and litigations, he explains, he is
called on to take time and be flexible when problems arise. “By the time an
issue gets to legal it’s been through the ringer. We look for solutions that will
benefit all involved.” Galan’s strategy involves listening and finding out what is not being said.
Despite the challenges of his
to balance elder-abuse concerns and
job, Galan is proud of his employ-
suffering memory loss, educational
customer satisfaction and high work-
best practices to assist customers tools for tellers on both how to spot
signs of difficulty with banking and
how to respond, and a social media campaign to educate customers.
It’s an all-encompassing approach
to proactive problem-solving that
those partners who work with Galan have noticed and heralded. “As one
er’s values, noting it has both high place ratings. “The bank treats others as they would like to be treated,” he says. UCB, which recently expanded to a new state, is looking to double
in size in the upcoming years, and Galan is ready to grow along with the company.
In February 2020, Galan took on
of the financial service industry’s top
a new challenge: he was appointed
lence in all that he does,” explains Ron
and inclusion committee, nicknamed
executives, Omar demonstrates excel-
C. Bingham II, a partner at Adams
and Reese LLP. “It’s our privilege to work alongside such an outstanding leader as Omar and to watch his continued success.”
Galan’s team, responsible for the
risk and safety of the bank and its
cochair of UCB’s brand-new diversity the Power of U. Focused on improving
Congratulations, Omar Galan As SVP and Associate General Counsel of United Community Bank, Omar Galan sets a higher bar for us all. We are proud to work closely with Omar and other ﬁnancial services industry leaders to help their companies grow and achieve more. We congratulate Omar on his remarkable career and look forward to what’s to come.
ALABAMA FLORIDA GEORGIA LOUISIANA MISSISSIPPI SOUTH CAROLINA TENNESSEE TEXAS WASHINGTON, DC
customer service, increasing perfor-
mance, and designing welcoming
environments, Galan is excited for
the new addition to his role. “Let’s start small, and we will build momentum,” he says.
Working Twice as Hard to Get Half as Far Jose Medina was raised to believe in the rewards of hard work. Today, he applies those principles in helping RT ProExec grow exponentially.
BY CLINT WORTHINGTON
Jose Medina’s attitude and work ethic were instilled in him from an early age. Born in Cuba, Medina immigrated to the United States in 1967 at the age of three. His family of four shared a one-bedroom apartment in the
Bronx (New York), and Medina’s parents educated him on the dignity and necessity of work. “My mother taught me that I would have to work twice as hard to get half as far,” Medina recalls.
Some of his earliest memories of his father are hearing him whis-
tling at five o’clock in the morning as he prepared to catch two separate buses to arrive at his maintenance crew job. This taught Medina about
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the joys that come from work and the dignity it provided: “He never had
to go to work, he got to go to work,” he explains. Medina has applied those principles to a long career in insurance work at AIG, Executive
Risk, Carpenter Moore, and OakBridge, and he still believes in them today as president of RT ProExec, a division of RT Specialty.
When Medina joined RT Specialty’s professional and executive
liability team as president in 2010, the insurance division’s premium
sat at about $200 million. Nearly a decade later, the division finished at $1.4 billion in premium, a fact Medina chalks up not just to RT’s acqui-
sitions but the substantial organic growth they’ve experienced during his tenure. Thanks to a customer-centric approach and the efforts of
Medina and his hardworking team, he’s been working diligently to find ways to maintain that growth while simultaneously elevating service standards.
travelers.com Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America and its property casualty affiliates. One Tower Square, Hartford CT, 06183 © 2020 The Travelers Indemnity Company. All rights reserved. Travelers the Travelers Umbrella logo are registered trademarks of The Travelers Indemnity Company in the U.S. and other countries. CP-9546 Rev. 4-20
Jose Medina President RT ProExec
51 Hispanic Executive
“We hold ourselves up against any company, irrespective of industry, that offers exceptional customer service.”
One of the partnerships Medina enjoys
most is his collaboration with fellow RT
ProExec president, Alex Jezerski, an old
high, he hopes to provide the level of attention and professionalism that his company’s
retail partners deserve.
years. “I am proud to say that Alex and I have
dends over the last few years: RT ProExec has
says Medina. Any issue, including strategic
sional, executive, and transactional liabil-
“I am certainly proud of my heritage, but as far as I see it, I am an American—and very grateful for that. Many are born in America, and hence consider themselves American. I value the fact that I was not born here but chose and was accepted to be an American.”
friend and colleague of over twenty-five never had an ill word towards each other,”
decisions, is usually solved with a brisk walk
around their building to talk it out. “If it’s a difficult decision, we simply walk around the building twice.” Together,
strive to make the most of RT ProExec’s customer-centric business model, which Medina cites as a major factor in the divi-
sion’s success. “From our end, we do not limit ourselves to simply competing against our
peers,” he explains. “Rather, we hold ourselves
This approach has paid incredible divi-
become the largest wholesaler in the profesity field, with twenty-five offices across the
United States and a strong team of three hundred dedicated professionals. But Medina
doesn’t plan on slowing down; instead, he’s looking for new ways to approach the busi-
ness with the fundamental idea of providing exceptional customer service to their retail partners. As Medina says, “We subscribe to
the notion that there is no such thing as best, only better.”
It’s a mentality of which Medina’s long-
up against any company, irrespective of indus-
time business partners have always taken note,
Medina’s goal is to be as good as, if not better
stronger bonds along the course of his career.
try, that offers exceptional customer service.”
than, any other company providing relevant value for their customers. By setting the bar
and one that has ultimately helped him forge “In our business, one of promises, relationships matter!” explains Jane Peterson, chief
Cutting Edge Coverage our Products make the difference.
“If it’s a difficult decision, we simply walk around the building twice.”
underwriting officer at Markel Specialty. “I have known Jose for twenty years and admire his integrity and passion for both
the industry and his customers. Above all, his genuine inter-
est in colleagues, tremendous sense of humor, and humility set him apart as a person and a leader.”
While Medina takes stock of RT ProExec’s successes
and begins to plan the next decade of strategy, he’s learned two significant lessons as a manager and leader. Primarily
(“and this will come as no surprise,” Medina admits), the customer comes first: “We have to provide our retail partner with value, and in order to do this, we preach that you
must be exceptional at your vocation.” That means moving
quickly and intelligently, being responsive and high-energy, and adapting to change as it inevitably arrives.
The second lesson, and the most important one, is to
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practice humility as your business grows. “I’m reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who once said, ‘The louder
he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons,’”
Medina explains. While confidence is key, it must be accompanied by hard work, preparation, empathy, and an ability to find solutions.
Looking to the future, RT ProExec is working to
continue its immense growth and cement its position in the insurance space. “Generally speaking, we have always
welcomed challenges,” says Medina. Luckily, many of his colleagues share the principles of hard work that Medina himself was raised with. “RT ProExec is full of people who adopt the belief that they have to work twice as hard to get half as far,” he says.
Thanks to Jose Medina for being a leader who inspires us and makes us proud to work in the insurance industry. And best wishes to all of our friends at RT Speciality for continued success.
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55 Hispanic Executive
“Don’t Worry. Start Planning.”
At Smartsheet, Ignacio Martinez complements his decades of experience with a resolve that keeps him laser focused yet nimble when it comes to risk and compliance
IGNACIO MARTINEZ’S COLLEAGUES CALL him “Chief Worrier”—and with good cause. As vice president of security, risk, and compli-
ance for Smartsheet, Martinez has a big job. He not only oversees these areas for Smartsheet itself but also helps Smartsheet’s custom-
ers understand and have confidence in how they are handled. He says that coworkers tell him, “You protect us from everything,” which
is a lot to live up to. Even with so many possible
risks to manage, Martinez reports that beyond BY CORA BERG
occasional concerns about where his teenage
children are, he generally stays calm. “Don’t worry,” he says. “Start planning.”
Martinez credits much of his composure to
the nearly thirty years of consulting he did in
the security and risk areas prior to moving into
industry and taking his position at Smartsheet.
Years of working with a variety of companies exposed him to various industries and disci-
plines as well as the risks clients faced. The result? Confidence in his ability to assess any risks that might arise and his ability to help
teams construct courses of action. He explains
that risks that appear new for any individual company won’t necessarily feel unexpected
or panic inducing for someone who has shepherded multiple organizations through similar situations before. “It might not be normal for a
lot of people, but when one has seen it before, one can formulate a plan,” the VP says, leaning on the mantra by which he has learned to live.
Ignacio Martinez VP of Security, Risk & Compliance Smartsheet
Martinez came to Smartsheet intrigued
approaching a $400 million annual run rate—
a service (SaaS) company is in the midst of
watched and helped this company go from a
a massive global expansion, which provides Martinez with plenty of opportunities to
not to mention it also went public. “I have
start-up to a major enterprise,” Martinez says. A key to this success, and something
utilize his experience and expertise. One of
Martinez prides himself on, is building well-
his arrival in August 2017, when he planned
“My goal is that no one would miss a beat if
those opportunities began six months after and then led the company in a strategy to
achieve FedRAMP authorization, which is a security standard for cloud services in feder-
al spaces. After a long and expensive year that involved the formulation of a multidisciplinary team, the creation of an entirely
new instance of Smartsheet, and undergoing
third-party assessment, the company got the thumbs-up to deploy the platform and begin
to address a large federal demand for Smartsheet’s technology.
FedRAMP authorization is hardly the
taught and functioning teams. As he puts it,
I was suddenly gone.” Unsurprisingly, given
Martinez’s scope of expertise and influence,
the teams he works with regularly are diverse in both purpose and operation. They include
corporate security and compliance teams that directly report to the VP. He also has heavy involvement with an engineering information security department as well as the attor-
mi identidad: “My world changed about six months ago when one of my boys urged us to do genetic [ancestry] testing. I thought it would confirm what I had figured out about my heritage. Boy, was I wrong. The results came back showing I was nearly all Spanish—a majority from south-central Spain and second from the Basque region of northern Spain/southern France. I scratched my head and realized I had to do some digging.”
neys on the legal team—all of whom work
closely with Martinez and run negotiations and drafts.
Of course, Martinez’s facility for team-
only success Smartsheet has experienced with
work also extends to the partners with which
the company has more than tripled in size,
One such partner is Anitian Founder and
Martinez’s support. Since his onboarding,
he interacts on a regular basis at Smartsheet.
MORE ONLINE: To read Ignacio Martinez’s full response, visit hispanicexecutive.com
COURTESY OF SMARTSHEET
by its challenges. Currently, the software as
57 Hispanic Executive
“People worry about the unknown. I have confidence because I’ve seen this before.” CEO Andrew Plato, who explains,
education and then there is nothing
dously rewarding experience. Igna-
The ingrained understanding that
“Working with Ignacio was a tremen-
you can’t do.”
cio has a deep understanding of risk
reaching out for opportunity and chal-
ship, patience, and compassion united
resonate with Martinez as his work at
and security in the cloud. His leadermultiple parties—all working at differ-
ent cadences—into a cohesive effort that got Smartsheet across the finish line quickly.”
Martinez’s enthusiasm for educa-
tion, talent building, and teamwork
also shows itself in his efforts outside of Smartsheet. Dedicated to expanding educational drive in Hispanic commu-
nities, he volunteers with a program
that puts at-risk youth through private
high schools and mentors them into the college years. In speaking with these young men, Martinez shares his fami-
ly’s story to show a model for potential. His grandfather, whom he knew well
as a child, moved his family to the
lenges is impactful will continue to Smartsheet stretches into the future. As he readies himself to take on his
next tasks, he talks about a focus on privacy, explaining, “Our customers want to know their data is safe and want to know how it is handled.” He
understands that customers, not just the company, seek “protection from everything.” Keeping these concerns front and center, Smartsheet has a
focus on protecting customers’ data in cutting-edge ways, all while push-
ing on towards its first billion-dollar
year. Characteristically, as Martinez describes the company’s path, he is
both enthusiastic and calm. He is ready. Looking
United States when Martinez’s father
changes and growth at Smartsheet,
as itinerant laborers, but his grand-
company he has worked for, risk is part
was five years old. The family worked father insisted that all his children attempt to go to college in order to take
advantage of the education available
to them. All of Martinez’s aunts and
uncles received graduate degrees, and his father, who earned a PhD in organic chemistry, held top-secret posts with
the US government. “Face new worlds,” Martinez tells kids. “Take advantage of
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Martinez knows that, as with every
of the equation. “To make money in business it is all about risk and reward,” he says. Maintaining this knowledge, and, of course, always willing to plan, the vice president feels prepared for
what is to come at Smartsheet. “People
worry about the unknown,” he says. “I have confidence because I’ve seen this before.”
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Compliance Services Operations, Defense & Engineering Governance, Risk Management & Strategy
Mariela Ure brings lessons learned over the course of her career to her role as chief marketing and sales officer for Universal Studios Hollywood
Marketing Maven BY STEPHANIE ZEILENGA
BEING INTELLECTUALLY CURIOUS IS a fantastic way to launch a career. Just ask Mariela Ure, chief marketing officer at
Universal Studios Hollywood. She began her career as an entry-level intern at Disney
World nearly thirty years ago where she
quickly learned she had access to one of the
ing—a fledgling trend at the time—as well as marketing analytics and the importance of aligning marketing with the customer
experience. “Seamless integration between
marketing and the guest experience is critical to elevate a brand,” she says.
After leaving Disney, Ure made it a point
top entertainment marketing teams in the
to gain exposure to a wide range of market-
them questions. “I’d talk to the marketing
production, segmentation strategies, and
world—and she wasn’t shy about asking
manager to understand how they made marketing decisions,” Ure says.
She ended up landing a full-time job at
Disney as a marketing manager, where she
spent the first decade of her career soaking in a world-class education on the fundamentals
of marketing. “I learned sophisticated brand management strategies that I still rely on
to this day,” Ure says. Disney also gave her expertise in customer-relationship market-
ing disciplines, including advertising, TV
digital marketing. During the nine years
she spent at Bank of America, she worked in various marketing functions—including
customer relationship marketing work—and
ultimately rose to the level of senior vice pres-
ident of brand marketing, focusing on the bank’s corporate social responsibility efforts.
Later, she transitioned to work for Wells
Fargo, which at the time had acquired Wachovia and needed to develop a national Hispanic
MARIELA URE, SPARK FOUNDRY segment strategy. Her work was instrumental
in the bank’s ability to increase market share in the Hispanic market nationally. “In senior
executive roles, you’re challenged with solv-
ing business problems or pursuing business
opportunities,” Ure says. “To accomplish this, it is important to have an understanding of a wide range of levers accessible to you to help a business grow.”
These collective experiences paved the
DAVID SPRAGUE / UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
way for her current role as head of marketing for Universal Studios Hollywood, one of the
biggest entertainment brands in the world. A former Disney manager recommended her for the job, and she was hired in 2018.
As chief marketing officer, Ure’s main
mission is to efficiently drive profitable attendance at the Hollywood theme park, which she and her team of more than one hundred
marketers accomplish in a number of ways.
Mariela Ure Chief Marketing Officer— Marketing & Sales Universal Studios Hollywood
would like to congratulate you on this recognition of your accomplishments. As you look ahead to the future at Universal Studios Hollywood, we look forward to continuing the ride with you.
One strategy involves devising and executing national
marketing plans to raise awareness of new attractions, like the new Jurassic World ride that opened in 2019.
“That campaign was extremely successful,” Ure
says. “In addition to achieving the business goals, the marketing campaign was well received by the press and
fans. It also received an outstanding response in terms
of social media and views.” Now, her team is focused on marketing its newest ride, The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash.
Under Ure’s leadership, her team also plans and
executes a series of unique events designed to drive atten-
dance and engage visitors. In 2019, Universal Studios Hollywood launched its first Running Universal event, which gave runners (and walkers alike) an opportuni-
ty to experience the theme park and the surrounding movie studio in a new way. And soon the theme park will host another new event: Bravo’s Top Chef Food &
Wine Festival, which will include food inspired by the hit television show, live cooking challenges, and panels featuring show alumni.
“We’re part of the NBC Universal portfolio of
successful brands and it is rewarding to partner with them and combine our assets to bring our guests unique
experiences that only we can deliver,” Ure says. “The
Top Chef event started with a strong partnership with Bravo, and it made sense to leverage the combined
brands to create a food and wine event unlike any other.
The inclusion of their chefs and talent helped to create a totally unique event that combines what made Top Chef
successful with the unexpected thrills guests only expeUre says she is relentless in her pursuit of deliver-
ing value for Universal Studios Hollywood, but she
also credits her team with her success. “I work with some of the best marketing professions in the indus-
try. In leading my team, I use three guiding principles: develop strategies grounded on data and facts, not
personal views; collaborate with others because it’s always better than working alone; and strive to elevate performance with empathy and care for others.”
mi identidad: “I describe myself as a Latina/Puerto Rican because I identify and relate with the culture, experiences, work ethic, and many other qualities that people from Latin American countries share."
DAVID SPRAGUE / UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
rience at Universal Studios Hollywood.”
61 Hispanic Executive
¡WOAH! “In leading my team, I use three guiding principles: develop strategies grounded on data and facts, not on personal views; collaborate with others because it’s always better than working alone; and strive to elevate performance with empathy and care for others.”
For those pursuing a career in marketing, Ure has
one simple piece of advice: prioritize learning. “It’s critical to find ways to gain knowledge and skills in every
job,” she says. “To achieve success, find professional
growth and increase responsibilities—it is critical to take knowledge you’ve acquired at one job and bring it with you to your next role. You need to prioritize more than just the job title and how much you’re getting paid.”
Reflecting on her best professional experience,
Ure says it was the unexpected that challenged her the
most. Earlier in her career, because of a merger at Bank of America in which her job was eliminated, Ure was
offered a role in media planning and buying, which she knew nothing about. Instead of running from the opportunity, she seized the moment.
“The company invested in me, provided train-
ing, and allowed me work at a media buying agency
for a short period. I stepped outside my comfort zone and took a risk . . . and that risk paid off. I was will-
ing to admit I didn’t know what was required of the job, so I learned and later used my learnings to make significant contributions.”
GSD&M congratulates Mariela Ure for being among the most accomplished Hispanic senior leaders in the nation. We are a proud partner to Mariela and the rest of Universal Parks & Resorts. GSD&M is a creatively driven, full-service agency in Austin, Texas, that believes in ideas that make a difference. GSDM.com.
MARIELA URE for being among the most accomplished Hispanic senior leaders in the nation.
One Step BY ZAYVELLE WILLIAMSON
SVP and GC Larissa Zagustin on her commitment to helping entertainment giant ViacomCBS remain one step ahead of the innovation curve
63 Hispanic Executive
Television may seem like one of the staples of American culture, but veterans of the entertainment industry—such as ViacomCBS’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel Larissa Zagustin—know that modern television is fast-paced, ever-evolving, and often completely unpredictable. However, thanks to a top-notch legal team,
tion,” the GC explains in her interview. “We
that is to say that they understand the busi-
sense of optimism, Zagustin has proved more
must be one step ahead.”
the world have responded to that need: over
her own decades of experience, and an eternal than capable of adapting to those changes
cannot afford to catch up on these issues—we According to Zagustin, one of the major
and strengthening Viacom’s reputation as a
trends the company is currently looking at
In today’s world, content is king, Zagus-
Platforms such as Pluto TV, which was
premier provider of entertainment content.
tin explains. It is why traditional TV channels have given way to subscription-based models such as Amazon and Netflix—and why even
industry leaders like ViacomCBS are forced to find new ways to innovate both their prod-
ucts and their business models, year after year.
may sound too good to be true: free content.
“It makes us think outside of the box,” she
things, and creative on both the business side
concerts, Spanish language entertainment channels, and more.
she herself has undergone a similar transfor-
ent type of business model, she explains,
but she and her teams are still responsible
for helping the company create successful, top-quality products.
Fortunately, Zagustin is well up to any
“I confront every difficult situation with
still prepare for what lies ahead. “We have to know how [content] is being consumed and in
nature—as she notes in her 2018 interview,
move towards a business-centric model, as mation over the course of her career. “Being around people who are leaders and very good
in the business sector has influenced me a
lot,” comments the GC, who was named to the Legal 500’s GC Powerlist in 2017. “I am
no longer just a lawyer; I am also a business partner, a business ally for everyone within the company.”
a smile”—the GC has also made a point of
cultivating a broad network of knowledgeable, supportive outside counsel.
“What I value most is that the external
which direction the technology is going; we
consultant is also a business partner,” she says,
creating products for that type of consump-
he does not wear the lawyer’s hat too much—
have to find out how to prepare ourselves to be
And Zagustin can very much under-
whole new set of challenges for legal lead-
a year or two. That forces us to think a lot.”
But even if no one quite knows what the
the law says.”
stand the effort that it takes law firms to
challenge that comes her way. An optimist by
future holds, Zagustin says, the company must
appreciates an outside consultant of that kind
But while this shift towards free content
and the legal side. It is quite exciting because no one knows what technologies will exist in
“They now support you more when
much more than one who simply tells what
ers like Zagustin. It is a completely differ-
continues. “We have to be pioneers in many
with corporate clients like ViacomCBS.
television programming, music videos and
array of free-to-access movies, traditional
view. “Now, people even watch programming
and as that happens, the industry is changing.
critical shift in the way that legal firms work
making decisions,” the GC notes. “One
is good news for consumers, it creates a
on their phones! Technology is advancing,
the past decade, Zagustin has witnessed a
acquired by ViacomCBS in 2019, offer a wide
“We are [in] an industry that is radically
changing,” Zagustin remarks in a 2018 inter-
ness operations.” And outside counsel across
“that they understand the business and that
Santamarina + Steta congratulates Larissa Zagustin on this well-deserved honor. S+S, a one-stop shop of experts in Mexico who develop strategic solutions that produce successful results for our clients, ensuring reliable, multidisciplinary, integrated, and comprehensive approaches. We make our clients’ challenges our own— this is our seal of quality and excellence.
By aligning his personal values with the mission of Suez, Hector Izzo has turned in-house legal counsel into proactive business partners
Expanding Past Department Lines BY ANDREW TAMARKIN IN TIMES INFLUENCED BY SOCIAL MEDIA
to management. “Rather than only communi-
and the buzz of around-the-clock communi-
cating legal advice, I can offer more in-depth
cation, the line between personal and profes-
counseling,” he says, “because I am an insider.”
sional identities can get blurred. For some,
As such, he expects the same well-roundedness
the fading boundary warrants concern around
and understanding from his team.
privacy and conduct. Hector Izzo, on the other
“The legal in-house team you create is the
hand, understands the situation differently.
key to your success as a leader,” he explains.
are in and out of the office, so personal ideals
passionate you may be as a general counsel, the
Individuals ought to be authentic to who they
“No matter how smart, talented, driven, or
must align with company principles in the
success of your legal department depends in
workplace. Guided by this mentality, Izzo has
large part to a strong and motivated team that
revolutionized the function of Suez’s general
works well together in accomplishing the tasks
counsel as its chief compliance officer.
and goals that come along.”
Izzo joined forces with Suez to lead their
Izzo has found that, when regarded as busi-
largely due to the values the company represented. Its dedication to economic and technological development—and its mindfulness of
society and the environment—made accepting
the job an easy decision. And, since his start,
Izzo has “brought the legal into the business” by transitioning his in-house counsel into proactive legal partners.
As in-house counsel, Izzo’s understanding
ness partners, in-house counsel is less likely to Hector Izzo General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer Suez
act as a bottleneck to departments. He involves his legal team in business strategies and policies at their developmental stages; and, by
interacting cross-departmentally early on with
a collaborative win-win approach, his team can better understand company goals and more effectively help balance the legal risks with the benefits.
Bottlenecks are often caused simply by a
of the pressure points, strategy, and objectives
lack of capacity and efficiency. Oftentimes, no
to impart counseling on risks and legal issues
blockage, Izzo believes. The culprit is revealed
of the business model is coupled with his ability
individual team member is responsible for such
LUIS ANDRES MORA
in-house legal team in September of 2017—
mi identidad: “The word ethnicity derives from the Greek word ethnos, meaning a nation; however, such a word is used nowadays more to denigrate by stereotyping a group of people with certain behavior characteristics and framework someone’s nature, rather than identify the social origins. Thus, I don’t like to brand myself to a single ethnicity, but however you want to call me definitely will make me proud, as all ethnics are part important.”
in the overall process or at the time
facilitator of questions and answers.
all begins with awareness and under-
management realized we were contrib-
counsel is involved. “From our side, it standing: knowing where, when, and how roadblocks happen and develop-
ing the most effective way to surmount these obstacles.”
Thus, by forwarding a message
of communication to his team, both
Once [this model] was accepted, uting and adding value to the business.” After just one year of Izzo’s new setup,
the Legal 500’s GC Powerlist recognized Suez’s in-house counsel as one of the best legal teams in Mexico.
By living up to the expectations he
efficiency and business growth are
sets for himself, it’s only natural he sets
He doesn’t wait around to be
for Izzo, growth is not only defined by
called on by members of his team. He
informally checks in. He asks about their current workload and mental
well-being. And when someone needs
his standards high for his team. But success. Growth also comes from the confronting of challenges and learning along the way.
“Mind-set is everything,” Izzo says.
Not one size fits all, that is why our full-service law firm has developed a client centered legal practice in Mexico, providing tailored services working side by side with our clients, understanding their business objectives and needs. It is an honor to work with Héctor Izzo, outstanding deal maker and leader, who has allowed us to have a deeper understanding of Suez and the industry which reflects on the quality of the services we provide.
help, he goes out of his way. “I always
“A growth mentality assumes that my
Pope.’ Hence, I’m not going to teach you
longer allow me to achieve my goals. I
me grow, pushing myself beyond what
+(52 55) 2591-8881 email@example.com www.farahrevilla.com.mx
say, ‘I’m not going to teach bible to the laws; rather, with my experience, I’ll try to guide knowledge into [application].”
By understanding the strengths of each individual on his team, Izzo feels
views can be changed when they no
challenge myself all the time. It helps I believe I can do.”
This mentality serves as his guiding
comfortable delegating tasks appropri-
light in and out of the office. He volun-
Assigning specific projects to specific
and encourages his team to similarly
ately and rightfully recognizing success.
attorneys fosters a results-driven atti-
tude that prevents the politicism that
can saddle corporate legal departments. In this way, no one attorney obsesses over their own career trajectory and
instead values the collaborative nature
teers regularly at local animal shelters commit to community action. By rejecting a crystal clear personal-professional
dichotomy, Izzo can speak on corporate
behavior grounded in philosophies that expand past department lines.
As he says: “It’s not only a job
of the team.
title. It requires a self-commitment
says. “The legal team had never been
situations in both a personal and
“At first, it was complicated,” he
seen as a partner, rather, as a simple
to preach by example and deal with professional manner.”
Delivering Smiles to Kids— and Employees BY KEITH LORIA
RUDY RODRÍGUEZ JR. KNOWS HE HAS A JOB that many would envy—a position with the
unique ability to make children smile every
Rudy Rodríguez Jr. of CEC Entertainment works to make the company’s employees as happy as its guests
day. He serves as executive vice president,
chief legal and human resources officer, and
corporate secretary for CEC Entertainment,
the corporate support centers of both brands,” he explains. “The compensation and benefits
area is within my supervision and required an intense period of learning and study. It’s been exciting and an invigoration of my career.”
This year began at CEC Entertainment
the Texas-based company that operates a total
with the January appointment of new CEO
restaurants in the United States and Canada,
of experience in the family entertainment,
of 555 Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza and oversees 186 franchised restaurants in an
additional 15 foreign countries. “It’s a very special place,” Rodríguez says. “Every part
of the organization has a part in thousands of children around the world having their best day, every day.”
He’s been with the company for five years,
David McKillips, who has twenty-five years media, and theme park industries. “This is
the first time I’ve been through something like this as a member of an executive team, so
that was an interesting transition,” Rodríguez
says, adding that the first sixty days went “very smoothly.”
By mid-February, however, the company
adding the CHRO role in 2018 after joining
had to pivot to address the crisis brought on
Today, he spends less time doing legal work
months devastated the American economy,
as general counsel and corporate secretary.
in order to focus on human resources. “I have taken on the responsibilities of providing
human resources services to the field and to
by the COVID-19 pandemic, which within
and in particular, the restaurant and family
entertainment industry. McKillips assigned
Rodríguez to lead the company’s task force
assembled to coordinate the company’s
as the people we tell think it is whenever we
“required my full attention . . . to the exclu-
response. He says that in March the issue sion of almost everything else. That has also
CEC Entertainment has distributed
been new to me, dealing with intense crisis
employment engagement surveys for the last
ments in employee engagement, Rodríguez
response activity from the perspective of an
Rodríguez, who was general counsel of
American Eagle Airlines on September 11,
2001, says that this crisis has been more challenging and unsettling, due to the cata-
strophic impacts on a much wider range of industries and the inability of policymakers and scientists to swiftly and decisively bring it to conclusion. “It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” he says, “and we can only hope
that our economy will recover quickly when a vaccine becomes available.” VONDA KLIMASZEWSKI
tell them we work for Chuck E. Cheese,”
While working through critical issues
is the challenge of a lifetime for Rodríguez, when the company is on normal footing, he says, “I want this to be as fun a place to work
Rudy Rodríguez Jr. EVP, Chief Legal & Human Resources Officer, and Corporate Secretary CEC Entertainment
four years, and while they’ve seen improvesays they want to see more. “We have a dedicated committee working on things as obvious as improving our benefits offerings and costs
also have opportunities for things like talent
and charitable outreach,” Rodríguez explains.
bit goofy. We end every one with the oppor-
to getting more involved in the community “We’re being more flexible in work hours, the dress code, and we’re giving managers more flexibility with their teams.”
Last year, the company implemented a
scholarship program for the first time and is
shows, pajama parties, and ways to act a little tunity for our people to describe some of
the best things that have happened to them recently at home, outside of the company. We all share in each other’s victories.”
Rodríguez says that in many ways, it’s all
expanding the avenues for employment giving
about the kids. “The image of children thank-
“I lead regular town hall meetings here
to Chuck E. Cheese gives me a lot of satis-
at the support center, which are always a lot
of fun,” he says. “We share information but
ing their parents at bedtime for taking them faction and pleasure in what I do,” Rodríguez says. “I have shared that vision with the people
mi identidad: “My father is a retired college professor who came of age in the 1960s and instilled in all of his children a great pride in our Mexican American heritage. Throughout my childhood, we referred to ourselves as Chicanos. In college and law school in the 1980s, I became more comfortable with Hispanic and then Latino, and I still use these terms, as well as Mexican American.”
I work with, and there’s a great deal of
The new restaurants have a look and
every day. We help bring smiles to kids
visited as children.”
and offer an opportunity for families to
feel different than those that parents With McKillips now at the helm
bond and be closer together.”
as CEO, Rodríguez says the company
Entertainment has been to diver-
recognition of the Chuck E. Cheese
One of Rodríguez’s goals at CEC
sify and expand the customer base, which means improving the appeal for
parents. “Over my five years here, we have worked on improving the food
options—the variety and flavor, as
is looking to capitalize on the brand
character and his friends, doing more licensing and branching out to areas
of entertainment outside the walls of the restaurant.
“We’re also looking to expand
well as ensuring the restaurants are as
“Over the last couple of years, we have
more of in the last couple of years.
clean and inviting as can be,” he says. engaged in a company-wide remodeling project that has resulted in the
remodel of nearly a hundred restau-
rants, with plans for more this year.
franchising, which we’ve done a lot But over the next five to ten years, our plans are mind-boggling—there are
amazing opportunities in that area,” Rodríguez says.
warmth that we have about what we do
ENTRE PRENE URS Entrepreneurs
Perhaps the ultimate form of leadership is business ownership, and the Latino community is rich with entrepreneurs. The men and women featured here tell stories of risk, reward, and the lessons learned along the way.
70 Arturo Sneider, Primestor Development 77 Alex Corral, Joe Agency 80 Andres Idarraga, Creci 83 Margarita Pineda-Ucero, Women Dignity Alliance 86 Peter Zaldivar, Kabouter Management LLC
Building Up from Within BY A.J. ZAK
As CEO of Primestor Development, Arturo Sneider is passionate about serving communities based on what they need and building a true economic foundation from within
COURTESY OF PRIMESTOR DEVELOPMENT
71 Hispanic Executive
Arturo Sneider CEO Primestor Development
To many, activism and the real estate industry might not seem like a likely pair. But as CEO of Culver City, California–based
neighbor to the north, and it was an
takes an activist approach in all the work his
“I started understanding the disconnect
Primestor Development, Arturo Sneider
company does to boost marginalized commu-
in the lives of what we understood to be our
or misunderstood by other developers.
in the US—and the very different reali-
nities that have historically been passed over Over the past twenty-eight years, Sneider
and his team at Primestor have continued to
community, and how we were perceived ties,” he says.
Sneider also started to familiarize himself
make strides on major development projects in
more with parts of Los Angeles where neigh-
fornia and elsewhere. Recent work includes
and disinvestment. That’s what piqued both
underserved communities in Southern Cali-
the launch of an urban infill fund to build up underutilized properties in Latino neighbor-
hoods, a massive commercial redevelopment
at the historic Jordan Downs public housing complex in Los Angeles, and an initiative to
explore the possibility of converting Primes-
borhoods struggled with violence, poverty, his anger and his interest in working to solve those problems, eventually leading him and
his business partner to create Primestor Properties in 1992. The company became Primestor Development in 1999.
Those early years brought plenty of
tor itself to an employee-owned business.
challenges. It took Sneider and his partner
Sneider says. “Our activism takes shape
also to educate other players in the real
“I would qualify this as a labor of love,”
in real estate because we think that we can create, in the built environment, a very tangi-
ble, distinct, positive change—and in some small way, make people’s lives better.”
Sneider moved to the US from Mexico
City in 1986. A job working in a restaurant kitchen brought him into the culture and
life of the Latino community in Mexico’s
nearly a decade to learn the business and estate industry on the opportunities that existed in underserved markets. They faced
constant rejection along the way. Since its early days, though, Primestor has grown into
an industry leader. With a portfolio valued at more than $750 million, the company
manages 3.3 million square feet of property in four states.
“Our activism takes shape in real estate because we think that we can create, in the built environment, a very tangible, distinct, positive change—and in some small way, make people’s lives better.”
Designing for the next generation of Los Angelenos We are privileged to have worked with Primestor as the Designer and Architect of Freedom Plaza
www.nadelarc.com | 310-826-2100 LOS A N G E LE S | L AS VEGAS
The former Los Angeles County supervisor honors Arturo Sneider as the 2018 Community Builder by A Place Called Home.
Since 2014, the company started
focusing more on urban infill, mixed-
We are proud to support Arturo Sneider and Primestor in their commitment to transforming the communities they serve. Because just like Primestor, at KPRS, we believe that building is serving. Serving our partners, people and communities, while building a reputation for the highest quality in everything we do. For more information, visit us at: www.kprsinc.com
use, and transit-oriented development in Latino communities and is in the
community knows itself better than any outsider could. “Often,
midst of raising significant capital
approach underserved communities
around the country had already pivoted
. . . save you or bring you something
funds for such projects. Plenty of cities to build more of that type of mixed-use
development, “but in Latino neighbor-
hoods there has been none of that,” Sneider says. The company recently
completed a project in Mission Hills, Los Angeles, that repositioned a large, underused retail property and brought
in the way that, ‘We’ve come here to special, be thankful for it.’ We don’t
think of it that way at all,” he says. “We approach it as: we have the privilege to
make real change in a positive way and we want to understand your history and what you think is possible.” Sneider’s
major name brands into a community
awareness of the neighborhoods in
At Jordan Downs, the public
been championed by the company’s
where demand for them was high.
housing complex in Los Angeles’s
Watts neighborhood, Primestor is
finishing up work on a commercial Building is serving.
says, is the crucial understanding that a
new retailers, a supermarket, a fitness
center, and more. A guiding principle through all of Primestor’s work, Sneider
which Primestor operates has long
business partners. “Arturo always brings a visionary approach to his work,
immersing himself into each phase
of the process,” explains Greg Lyon,
chairman of Nadel Architects. “He
approaches every project by seeking authenticity in design, resulting in
License No. 751130
EMPOWERING MANAGEMENT Primestor’s senior management team runs on collective accountability, Arturo Sneider says. Team members report their personal and professional goals on a monthly basis, and they rotate leading monthly meetings. Primestor department heads also regularly bring performance updates to the senior management team to inform leadership of what the various parts of the company are working on. “That has given us a lot of improvement in morale and communication,” Sneider says. “And because we have so many different projects in a variety of stages . . . it’s absolutely necessary that you have that level of communication and transparency.”
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mi identidad: “MEXICAN”
destinations that speak to the aspirations of their respective communi-
ties. Nadel Architects is privileged to have the opportunity to contribute our expertise to Arturo and Primestor.”
A large part of driving commu-
nity change and empowering people comes down to jobs, Sneider says.
Primestor Development focuses on local hiring for construction, vendors,
contractors, and more. Internally,
Primestor is taking its value of worker empowerment to the next level by exploring the possibility of becoming an employee-owned business. The company is working with the University of California San Diego’s Beyster
on research and education around employee ownership—to chart a path in that direction.
Both within the company and on
its development projects, inclusion is
at the forefront of Primestor’s work,
Sneider says. In the communities where it invests, Primestor doesn’t simply show up with an idea of what
it wants to build, he says. Rather, the process is very open, broad-based, and collaborative.
“It is our responsibility to ensure
that in some way, shape, or form, we are
communities we serve for the long
term by listening and understanding what the community wants and
what their needs are—what their real, day-to-day life is,” he says.
77 Hispanic Executive
Corralling Culture BY PAUL SNYDER
At Joe Agency, Alex Corral not only embraces his own Mexican heritage, he helps others to do the same
ALEX CORRAL’S GRANDFATHER IS NEVER FAR FROM HIS MIND. It’s not just the fact that Corral’s marketing and advertising firm, Joe Agency, is named for Jose Corral Favela (though that helps). The life
his grandfather lived and the lessons he passed on, Corral says, guide him to this day.
“He was a Mexican immigrant who got deported but made his way
back, became a busboy, a dishwasher, and then worked his way up to be the head chef at a very exclusive French restaurant in Santa Monica,”
Corral says. “This was before being a chef was a cool job.” He passed away in 2018 at the age of eighty-eight, and a year before that he was still fixing toilets throughout his apartment building.
“He would tell me, ‘The harder you work, the luckier you get,’”
Corral adds. “I remember when I was younger he once showed me his hands and made me show him mine. He pointed out his calluses and how smooth my hands are, and he said, ‘I worked hard so that you don’t have to use your hands the way I did.’”
Alex Corral Founder and CEO Joe Agency
79 Hispanic Executive
“We were told no one listens to regional Mexican music, but to me, this is a big part of my own upbringing and if I can do something to share it, then I want to do that. It’s proven to be successful.”
Although Corral might not do the kind of physi-
Mexican culture and when you get a star Mexican
ethic remains. He’s the creator, executive producer,
ment in two seconds. There’s a reason why the Mexi-
cal labor that his grandfather did, the dedicated work
and star of the Hulu series Los Cowboys as well as the
founder and CEO of Joe Agency. And his work at the Los Angeles-based agency isn’t just about brand collaboration and finding new ways to speak to an audi-
ence—it’s about a passion for entertainment that can bring people together and change the way that different
player on board with an idea, they can start a movecan National Soccer Team is probably one of the most expensive sporting rights to obtain.”
Beyond sports, Joe Agency is also working to bring
more regional Mexican musicians into the spotlight— again, as a tip of the cap to Corral’s own formative years.
“I’ve always been around the Mexican regional
cultures are perceived throughout the United States.
space,” he says. “Growing up watching the telenovelas
C-suite executives in New York or Chicago or Miami
music—I’ve never seen that lifestyle represented, but
“The greatest feeling I get is walking into a room of
and telling people about our culture and the numbers of a potential audience out there that they can reach,” he
says. “When you have a room full of senior executives
flabbergasted by this information, it’s very fulfilling,
my grandparents and parents watched, listening to that there’s a market for that. It’s just a matter of showing
that data to people who have overlooked it, or maybe never even considered it.”
Even with the success he’s found to date, Corral
because to me, I’m just sharing stories.”
says he has yet to achieve all that he’s trying to do
cy are also cementing identities. Take the agency’s work
keeps him hungry and searching for more—much like
In addition to sharing stories, Corral and Joe Agen-
with Major League Baseball to put the accent marks in certain players’ names on jerseys and printed material
through Joe Agency. But that’s OK, he says, because it his grandfather.
“The work that the generations before us put in to
(for example, “Gonzalez” becomes “González”). Work-
help build this country and create opportunities for us
trucks tied to the Los Cowboys even gave the agency a
from those stories and those lessons my grandfather
ing with Chrysler and producing commercials for Ram
chance to put some regional Mexican music into the mix. “I think some people are kind of afraid to dabble
in that market,” Corral says. “We were told no one listens to regional Mexican music, but to me, this is a big part of my own upbringing and if I can do some-
thing to share it, then I want to do that. It’s proven to be successful. There’s a great sense of pride around
cannot be overlooked,” he says. “My inspiration comes
taught me. I’ve always been told that if you’re able to
work on something you love, it’s never going to feel like work, and that was my goal since I was a college
baseball player. When I knew that wasn’t going to work out, I focused on my passions, which led me back to my
culture. This is about more than love and passion—it’s about pride.”
Sink or Swim When it mattered most, Andres Idarraga chose a life of meaning—one that’s taken him from prison, to the Ivy League, to the forefront of the business world
BY SARA DEETER
T O M A N Y W H O K N O W H I M T O D AY, Andres Idarraga has a story that begins in
a six-by-nine cell in a Rhode Island prison.
line. The town itself at the time served as a major crossroads in the drug trade.
“It really cut our teeth, growing up there.
The TEDx speaker and social entrepreneur
And then I received a scholarship to attend a
ness circles for having attended both Brown
the first time to a level of wealth I had never
is renowned throughout academic and busiUniversity and Yale Law School after spending six and a half years in prison. But the
story behind that journey—and the story that inspired Idarraga to establish his social
prestigious prep school and was exposed for
seen before,” Idarraga says. “That opened my eyes to the reality that America is very much an unequal society.”
Resentful of that inequity, Idarraga
impact company, Creci—starts decades ago,
retreated into his neighborhood, dropped out
States in the 1980s.
ing drugs. He was arrested when he was just
before Idarraga even arrived in the United “My father crossed the Rio Grande River,
undocumented, and became a textile factory
of his school, and eventually resorted to dealtwenty years old.
But Idarraga had a lot of time in prison.
worker in Massachusetts,” Idarraga recalls.
He had time to reflect, time to put in the
that legalized his status, he was so happy—he
him to the halls of Ivy League schools—and
“When President Reagan put in place policies
came from a very poor area in Colombia and had had little to no schooling, so he knew that this was his chance at the American Dream.”
studying that would within a few years propel he had plenty of time to watch television shows and documentaries.
“There was a show about undocumented
Idarraga, his brother, and his mother
people crossing the border to this country,”
United States. But they ended up in a small
who kept trying to swim across the river, but
were soon able to join Idarraga’s father in the Rhode Island town that was far closer to
their home in Colombia than the American life they had imagined. At the time, Idarraga explains, 35 percent of Latinos in Central
Falls, Rhode Island, lived under the poverty
Idarraga recalls. “There was a young man the river was strong and turbulent and he was
losing strength. He got weaker and weaker,
and I could almost hear him thinking, ‘God,
if you let me pass to the other side, I will work as hard as needed to provide a better life for
Andres Idarraga Cofounder and CEO Creci
myself and for my family. I will work hard to make my life into one that has
meaning for myself and others.’
sacrifices my own family had made to
“LATINO AND COLOMBIAN”
“And that made me think about the
come to this country,” Idarraga contin-
ues. “It made me think about how, despite all they had sacrificed, I ended
up in a maximum security prison. And I
was furious at myself that I hadn’t done more with my life up to that point.”
Today, there are few who would
a certain degree of risk, Idarraga says.
profound sense of meaning to both
ing a great return, and to do that, we
argue that Idarraga hasn’t brought a his life and the lives of others. As cofounder and CEO of Creci, a credit platform that works exclusively with businesses that empower individuals,
support communities, and protect the environment, Idarraga strives to “fulfill
“We try to minimize risk while drivhave to be able to measure risk appropriately,” he says. “That’s why we’re so excited to have formed a partnership
with Provenir, a company known for its leading-edge risk assessment.”
Together, Provenir and Creci’s own
the potential” of communities like the
in-house teams represent an “all-star
“My goal is to empower people of
capable of helping him fulfill his dream
one he grew up in.
all social classes, to help them get the
necessary tools to better themselves as well as their communities,” he explains.
team,” Idarraga says, a team more than of minimizing economic disparity around the globe.
“Small businesses are a lifeline for
“Creci works with small businesses
communities,” Idarraga explains. “They
which we define as any activity that
a counter to all the increasing inequality
dedicated to making a social impact,
meets the United Nations’ sustainable development goals for poverty allevia-
tion, climate issues, water recycling and
are a safety net for inclusiveness and are we are seeing, whether that’s in Colombia or Brazil or the United States.
“But after the explosion of small
access, infrastructure issues, and more.”
businesses started during the baby
tool that provides a statistical break-
businesses are established has been
Creci’s platform includes an online
down of the social impact of each
business it works with, Idarraga says. “Investors and potential investors want
to see how their money is being put to use,” he notes.
But all investing, including invest-
ments made for a good cause, come with
boomer era, the rate at which those
trending downward,” the CEO contin-
ues. “It is my hope that by financially supporting these companies, we can not only help small businesses make an
impact in local communities but also
bring back the incredible economic mobility that marked that era.”
Provenir’s powerful risk decisioning platform empowers businesses to stay ahead of risk, get to market faster, and drive business growth. With powerful data tools, a low-code interface, and zero vendor reliance, you’ll gain the speed, agility, and flexibility to get ahead in today’s competitive market. Visit Provenir.com to learn more.
83 Hispanic Executive
Margarita Pineda-Ucero helps transform businesses into inclusive work environments driven by efficiency
Leading Transformation with Inclusiveness BY SARA DEETER
“AS A WOMAN ENGINEER IN MEXICO IN the mid-1980s, then as a banker, and later as a Mexican immigrant working for a top five
utive woman, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a community leader.”
That’s true of many women, Pineda-
Fortune company in the US, I’ve learned that
Ucero notes. Some are mothers, wives, or
for talent, and ability to adapt are keys to
world; others are in the workplace and some-
hard work, diversity of thought, appreciation success,” says Margarita Pineda-Ucero.
Pineda-Ucero’s path through several coun-
tries, a C-suite role in financial services, and corporate board positions has shaped her identity as an executive woman. Her journey, she
says, has included “profound determination
and dedication to my professional career, as well as continuous support from my family,
friends, and people who have believed in me or have taken a chance on me.” She has faced challenges and at key pivotal moments, she
caregivers, and operate outside of the business times the sole provider for their families. “Constantly, women are the pillars of their
families and of the communities they form,”
she says. “And that means women often have to make career choices based on things that are bigger than themselves. There are choic-
es that keep a balance between loved ones,
health and career goals, and a professional
drive to move forward within corporations or as entrepreneurs.”
Through Women Dignity Alliance,
says, “I’ve also made very intentional choices
Pineda-Ucero has developed an internation-
Ucero defines herself, saying, “I am an exec-
make choices in their professional lives.
to balance my personal priorities.” Pineda-
al platform for dialogue, helping women
Margarita Pineda-Ucero Corporate Board Director, Advisor in Business Transformation, and Founder Women Dignity Alliance
In parallel, she is working with corporations
themselves—someone who is highly authen-
tion—the need to transform the culture, the
cultures through the promotion of inclusion
ers who embodies it all. I am honored to know
forward,” she explains.
and operational excellence—proving that doing so helps improve bottom lines. Pineda-Ucero’s
tic. Margarita is one of those exceptional leadand support her.”
transformation process required that we rede-
tal, Pineda-Ucero has held business manage-
modified its structure and workflow, which
global financial services corporation GE Capi-
works and collaborates with closely tout her
ment and operational roles covering various
leadership temperament. “As an executive in
corporate America and now running my own retained global executive search firm, I inter-
view many leaders from myriad backgrounds,” explains Janice Ellig, CEO of Ellig Group.
“Beyond competencies for a position, I look
for ten key attributes which I believe make great leaders: character, courage, commitment, collaboration, competencies, confi-
geographies in the US, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. She’s developed a deep knowledge of strategy, finance, enterprise risk
management, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, global commercial lending practices,
and transaction structuring. She says, “My role as chief risk officer for Latin America was the most challenging of all.”
Pineda-Ucero describes that time as
dence, communication, curiosity, champions,
“unique in the history of the business, due to
wrapped up in someone who is not wrapped in
challenges were centered on transforma-
and common sense. I look for these traits all
“The business was already great, but the
Through her twenty-year career at
certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed. Those she
operations, and the business strategy to move
heightened regulatory requirements. Those
sign the risk management organization. We allowed us to bring expanded diversity, enhancing the talent pool,” she says. The organization
had “excellent policies” in place already to enable varied work formats, like flexible scheduling or remote access. “We revamped certain
roles so that workflow enabled people in
offices, telecommuting, or working on flexible
schedules to collaborate efficiently and with similar relevance across roles within the same
organizational level.” And often, she remarks,
it was women working in the less standard job formats, a result of the unique roles they held in their families and communities.
to transform their businesses and corporate
85 Hispanic Executive
“When you allow employees expanded flexibility and dignity in their particular job format, with clear roles and responsibilities, you empower them to drive results and contribute to the organization’s success.” “We created a productive and efficient
results! In parallel, we established a workplace environment where all job formats were treat-
globe. In her workshops, she highlights five simple words that she believes help women (and men) to unlock their true potential:
ed with the same dignity,” she continues.
Analyze: “Know who you are, where you
partly what inspired Pineda-Ucero to envi-
stand the business that you are in, the rules
The importance of that dignity is
sion Women Dignity Alliance. “There is tremendous opportunity today to transform the traditional organizational structures into
are, and where you want to go. Under-
of performance to deliver results, and the company’s values.”
flexible and agile collaboration teams,” she
Visualize: “Look beyond your immediate
flexibility and dignity in their particular job
with discipline and excellence, surrounding
says. “When you allow employees expanded
format, with clear roles and responsibilities, you empower them to drive results and contribute to the organization’s success.”
reality. Think big and set the plan to execute yourself with great people and companions on the way.”
Pineda-Ucero says that enhanced busi-
Explore: “Narrow the gap between where you
corporate culture only happen through a
areas of opportunity for learning and work on
nesses with improved dynamics in their combined effort between top management and employees. As a board director, consul-
tant, and advisor—or someone providing leadership
are and where you want to be. Identify your
them. Be realistic and humble. Being humble
means truly acknowledging who you are— not more and not less!”
enable business transformations, improving
Decide: “Choose what is right for you given
enhancing its operational efficiency.
dynamics. Embrace your choice, own it, and
the diverse talent mix in the organization and “Empowering a woman to succeed is not
exclusively a matter of her having a voice or exposure in the organization,” she says. “It
also has a lot to do with the cultural back-
ground of the organization as well as with the
your individual conditions and personal life move forward. If you need to reassess, do it, but always moving forward. Persevere, never give up, and always be grateful to those who helped you.”
labor laws and social mores of the country in
Personal: “Life balance and success are
that men and women work together for the
and your reality—don’t try to comply with
which she is located.” She adds, “It requires greater good.”
Pineda-Ucero believes that there are key
“baselines” that align with people across the
personal decisions. They are unique to you how others define them. Take care of your
intellectual, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. If you break, it all falls apart.”
mi identidad: “I use Hispanic as a generic description, Latina when being more specific, Mexican when being explicit about my ethnic background, and Mexican American when describing my mixed cultural identity: “Hispanic, because Spanish was my first language and I connect deeply with the beauty that the Spanish culture brought to Latin America. “Latina, because I am a woman with deep roots and traditions that are characteristic of individuals across Latin American countries. “Mexican, because it is the country where I was born, grew up, have family, and have cultural heritage from. “I am also an American. I became a US citizen when I knew in my heart that I would be willing to die defending what the USA stands for . . . So, I also define myself as Mexican American.”
Kabouter Management’s cofounder Peter Zaldivar finds success investing in successful companies of which you might have never heard
Small Cap, Big Reward BY BILLY YOST
IF YOU ARE AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS at the top of your class in an obscure field,
you’ll probably be hearing from Peter
through the least amount of effort by investing in large companies.”
Zaldivar’s former boss, legendary former
Zaldivar. With his partner Marcel Houtzager,
Acorn Fund investment manager Ralph
Management LLC has built an internation-
and Kabouter has endeavored to extend his
the principal and cofounder at Kabouter
ally successful investment firm by focusing
on small cap investment opportunities that require deep digging, long-haul investment,
and a commitment to bringing camera-shy businesses out into the daylight. Kabouter’s strategy is, in itself, a differentiator.
Kabouter will invest in a French company
that is the world’s only global call center or a
joining all of these clubs that were primar-
ily Anglo people, but they just weren’t fully accepted anywhere.”
The youngest in his family, Zaldivar grew
Wanger, was the prototype small cap pioneer,
up in two worlds, a natural translator for his
legacy of focusing on smaller internation-
ic identity when he felt it was appropriate. It
al investment. The past seventeen years have proven both Wanger and the partners
at Kabouter correct, but the multiethnicfounded company wasn’t built overnight. Zaldivar’s journey has helped shape the
soft-spoken Argentine American into a power-
parents but also able to “turn off ” his Hispan-
created a difficult catch-22 for him later in life when he went to live in Argentina after college. “In America, I was considered Argen-
tinian. In Argentina, I didn’t really get credit for being an American or an Argentinian.”
Later, when Zaldivar moved to Asia and
ful motivator who leads with virtue, not volume.
was asked where he was from, he would start
phone chips in the world—not only because
ALWAYS THE OUTSIDER
only seemed accepted once he mentioned his
almost hold a monopoly in their field but also
“My parents were part of the generation that
Taiwanese firm that is the biggest tester of cellthe businesses have functioned so well as to
Zaldivar is used to feeling like the outcast.
because they haven’t been actively pursued
really wanted to assimilate,” Zaldivar says.
by the stock analysts at Wall Street’s biggest banks. Why? “Most investors or investment firms focus on larger companies because
that’s where most of the investing capacity is,” Zaldivar says. “You can make the most money
His parents had emigrated from Argentina in the 1950s, and they went to great lengths to try to become the “real Americans” they
thought they should be, finally settling down in Oak Park, Illinois. “My parents tried
first with Chicago. However, that answer parents were from Argentina—as if he didn’t
look American enough. “In the end, it just made me think that I guess I should just take
advantage of this,” Zaldivar says. “There had to be a business where I could use this to my advantage and bridge an international gap.”
A motorcycle accident in Hiroshima
would set Zaldivar’s final course. After being
him and his partner, Marcel Houtzager. “We have similar backgrounds but in completely
different ways,” he says. “Marcel is Dutch but he moved to Nigeria as an infant, attended
high school in Brazil, and then college in the States. I feel like it’s so important to have a
partner you understand but isn’t your carbon
copy. It’s really important that we just started right out with a diversity of ideas.”
That diversity, though, is rooted in the
quantitative investment and forensic account-
ing backgrounds of the founders. And that concentration on quality has meant that despite focusing on fewer big-name businesses,
Kabouter is currently managing billions of
dollars. “It helps in establishing relationships with smaller foreign companies when we call up and say, ‘We’d like to talk with you for a
few minutes about your business,’” Zaldivar
explains. “A lot of other investors don’t get the
opportunity to talk to companies directly. If you can interview a company directly, it’s really
easy to get straight to the point of whether or not it’s a company you want to invest in.”
An investment from Kabouter comes with
an extremely beneficial kicker that, again, sets it apart from almost any other small
cap firm. “We also act as friendly activists,” Zaldivar explains. That means everything from reconfiguring investment presentation
materials—in some cases, simply translating Peter Zaldivar PM, Principal, Cofounder Kabouter Management LLC
laid up in a Japanese hospital for weeks, he
asked his friend to get him a study guide for an MBA. His friend brought back the only English study guide the bookstore had: the Princeton Review LSAT study guide. “So,
I studied it,” Zaldivar says, chuckling. He MI
mi identidad: “HISPANIC, LATINO, OR LATINX”
then went on to graduate from Harvard Law. Quantitative investing gave way to the intro-
duction of small cap investment, and the rest
them to English—to helping companies raise their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores (oftentimes, businesses flat-out
haven’t responded to a questionnaire because they didn’t know it was essential in establishing ESG scores). Kabouter will put compa-
nies on a US roadshow, a sort of debutante
ball for businesses that have no idea how to make public headway into investment capital.
What’s most evident in an hour with Peter
sorted itself out.
Zaldivar is that he believes in the businesses
A CLASS OF ITS OWN
dreams; it’s about helping already successful
Zaldivar says part of what accounts for the
success of Kabouter is the interplay between
he’s investing in. Kabouter isn’t about pipe
international businesses take it to the next level. You just haven’t heard of them . . . yet.
This year’s Líderes are not only innovative thinkers in their respective fields but also, in many ways, revered public voices. While they’ve often had to battle to ensure that they and their collective cultures are better heard, it’s precisely been those battles— and those victories—that have propelled them to continue seeking progress.
10 LÍDERES C O N V E R S AT I O N S AT T H E T O P
Actor, Comedian, and Writer; Cofounder and Partner, NGL Collective
89 Hispanic Executive
98 COCREATOR AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, Pose, FX
101 CEO, GLONATION STUDIOS; EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AND CO-SHOWRUNNER, One Day at a Time, Pop TV
104 VP of Talent Recruitment & Development, CNN Worldwide
109 Fellow, VP, and CTO Cognitive Process Platforms, IBM
112 Creator and showrunner, Vida , Starz
115 Author, Vice News Correspondent, Latinx Advocate
118 Publisher and Chief Brand & Revenue Officer, HOLA! USA
122 Cofounders and Co-Owners, Latino Leadership Intensive
126 Founder and CEO, Auger-Dominguez Ventures
JOHN LEGUI ZAMO 90 Conversations at the Top
C O N V E R S AT I O N S AT T H E T O P
The entertainerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s long list of credits is a testament to his dynamic talent, as well as his ambition to shed light on the historical contributions and prevailing accomplishments of Latinos in America PORTRAITS BY CASS DAVIS
WITH RUBEN NAVARRE T TE
92 Conversations at the Top
IN AMERICA, SUCCESS DOESN’T START WITH INHERITED MONEY, FAMILY CONNECTIONS, OR IVY LEAGUE DEGREES. REAL SUCCESS BEGINS WITH KNOWING WHO YOU ARE AND NOT LETTING ANYONE TELL YOU OTHERWISE. Even in 2020, Hispanics still need to remind
It was back in 1984 that Leguizamo cut
ourselves of this principle. There are forces out
his teeth as a stand-up comic in New York
limiting, and diminishing us. As our popula-
television part, a small role on Miami Vice.
there that are intent on defining, controlling, tion and spending power have increased, so too has the resolve to cut us down to size. We can’t let them.
That’s the loud-and-clear moral to the
story in the play Freak, an autobiographical
one-man show that debuted on Broadway in 1998.
Just before the curtain falls, the audience
glimpses a grainy, black-and-white photo of a man named Alberto Leguizamo. The
Colombian native aspired to direct films
before abandoning his studies because he lacked funds. Alberto, his wife, Luz, and
their family eventually migrated to the United States where the proud man had to settle for menial jobs. Life was not easy.
Even so, Alberto never surrendered. He
never gave into how society saw him. And
City nightclubs. In 1986, he landed his first
In 1991, Leguizamo wrote and starred in Mambo Mouth, an off-Broadway production
where he played seven characters. Leguizamo
later landed a meaty role in Brian De Palma’s 1993 film Carlito’s Way as the unforgetta-
ble “Benny Blanco from the Bronx.” And
in 1995, he starred as drag queen Chi-Chi Rodriguez in the movie To Wong Foo, Thanks
for Everything! Julie Newmar and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. That same year, Leguizamo wrote,
produced, and starred in House of Buggin’, a Latino-themed variety series on Fox.
The actor also delved into the world of
animation, lending his voice to the character of Sid the Sloth in five Ice Age movies beginning in 2002.
In 2011, Leguizamo opened his semiau-
that example inspired his son John.
tobiographical one-man theater show Ghetto
was recorded for HBO and released in fall
of Leguizamo’s career path from the comedy
The Broadway production of Freak
1998 with Spike Lee directing. The HBO version won an Emmy for its writer and star, John Leguizamo.
Klown on Broadway. The play tells the story clubs to Hollywood.
The list never ends. It sometimes seems
as if, over the past thirty-six years, the
John Talks: Pushing Boundaries in Comedy “When I did Mambo Mouth, I wanted to push American comedy and have darker themes and edges and go from comedy to drama in zero to sixty seconds. With each show I wanted to do something hopefully that no one had ever done. I wanted to push the boundaries [of art and storytelling] and the limits of what’s acceptable. “I knew [Freak] was going to be groundbreaking and pioneering because I knew nobody had done that before in terms of being a Latinx person. In terms of comedy in America and one-man shows, nobody was doing autobiographical stories about themselves and showing the horrors of childhood. It was always so candy-coated. Oneman shows were usually about Abraham Lincoln or Samuel Clemens. I didn’t do it because I thought I was so fascinating. My pain was something that was everybody else’s gain. I really felt that.”
94 Conversations at the Top
you succeed at comedy, it’s like you overcame
has never stopped working. Or even stopped
satisfying in some ways because you just get to
author, producer, playwright, and director John Talks: Vulnerability and Responsibility “As a dad, you’re responsible for this life, and you’re responsible for how you shape this life. And I take this responsibility with huge respect. I want to protect this little life, this vulnerable life that I’ve been charged with. How do I send this vulnerable spirit into a world that can sometimes be incredibly harsh? “That was the whole thing of Latin History for Morons. All this Latin history—that we helped make America, that America wouldn’t exist without us—is so that other Latinx people aren’t vulnerable, and so that they can speak out and be proud and loud and say, ‘I’m Latinx, and I made America. You can’t take that away from me.’ “For us to go out there and be vulnerable in America without the protection of our contributions is not fair and not right. I wanted to correct that.”
to take a lunch break.
The fifty-six-year-old Leguizamo refuses
to be boxed in. He’s the comedic actor who
a big challenge. But drama, it’s kind of more use all sides of yourself, go really deep, and it’s about really being in the moment.”
I also wondered whether, looking back on
can deliver a strong dramatic performance.
his long career, he could pick out the roles and
his first love is writing and acting for the
“It’s got to be the theater,” he said. “I mean,
He’s comfortable on television and film, but
projects of which he’s most proud.
theater. He’s proud of his Hispanic ancestry,
when I did Spic-O-Rama, and I played all the
I first met Leguizamo in the late 1990s
family, and then all of a sudden I see Eddie
but he also appeals to the mainstream.
when he was doing Freak on Broadway. We
had a mutual friend who set up lunch in lower Manhattan. A few years earlier, while we were both in our twenties, we had both presumptu-
ously written our memoirs. In 2005, we saw each other again in Fort Worth, Texas, at the
family members of this dysfunctional Latin Murphy doing The Nutty Professor playing all the members in his family right after, I know
I had an influence in American comedy. I was very proud of that.”
What about the dramas?
“I got to say Summer of Sam was really
annual conference of the National Associa-
important,” he said. “I just feel like working
a panel. And in 2012, we bumped into each
is an actor’s director, and I learned so much.
tion of Hispanic Journalists, where he was on other at the Democratic National Convention
in Charlotte, North Carolina, the day after former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro gave a rousing keynote speech.
I’ve followed this man’s career for decades.
His material is brave, fresh, and smart. A
lot of comedians make you laugh. Not many make you think.
Leguizamo does. He is always tackling
new challenges, and he never runs out of ideas.
with Spike Lee was a highlight of my life. He There are no boundaries in film acting. You can go anywhere, and if you have the right director who trusts you and creates a safe
environment, you can do anything. You’re super human almost.”
And what about the challenge of navigat-
ing across different mediums—from televi-
sion to film to stage? What’s his favorite way to tell a story?
“Well, I mean, there’s a beauty to stage,”
I asked him where all those ideas come from.
he insisted. “And the challenge of stage is that
geists and a little bit of what’s going on in my
have real technique, and you got to have really
“Well, it’s always like what’s in the zeit-
life,” he said. “And kind of like what I want to try to do where I try to push art and storytelling further than anybody else has.”
It’s rare to find actors that are equally good
you got to know what you’re doing. You got to studied. Otherwise theater, the stage will beat you up into a pulp and spit you out.”
He went on to complete the thought.
“I mean, film is easier than stage, much
doing comedy or drama. I asked Leguizamo if
easier,” he said. “So that’s what I like about
“I love the challenge of comedy because
love the stage because it’s hard. It’s really
he had a preference.
comedy is very unforgiving,” he said. “So, when
film because I like the easy sometimes. I hard, man. You’ve got to really be present,
John Talks: Latin History (and Latin History for Morons) “We participated in the Civil War and the American Revolution in huge numbers and [made] huge contributions—financially and with blood and lives. And in World War I and World War II, and all the wars that this country has had. I wanted everybody to know that and everybody to understand that. “I just did some reshoots on Latin History for Morons for Netflix. Netflix generously and bravely supported me because during the tour I got the courage to say even more historical facts and add more stats. So, they’re going to recut it into the new Latin History for Morons. I want to mention about the World War II heroes that we had, the World War I heroes. I’m going to name names, and I’m going to name heroes who won Civil War Medals of Honor directly from Abraham Lincoln who were Latinx.”
and there’s no hiding. There’s no editing.
zamo became interested in the true story of
minority— a group that, each year, purchases
what it is, and you better have real chops, and
Miami—four Latino/a and one African
well, don’t get him started.
Nobody’s going to fix your performance. It is you better really deliver.”
Leguizamo more than delivered in his
most recent stage performance on Broadway. Debuting in 2017, Latin History for Morons is about several things: from a father trying to inject his son with self-esteem thanks to
five inner city high school students from American—who won the US National
thirty years, and I always got rejected,” he
but white executives in Hollywood couldn’t
must suck. I can’t sell anything.’ And then I
sioned a movie blossoming from the story, see it.
“When I went around pitching it to the
studios, they were like, ‘Well, Latin people
contributions of Latinos. The show is featured
like, ‘What?’ We want to be depressed? I
And while you’re on that streaming
service, you can also check out the original
2019 miniseries When They See Us, in which
don’t want to see feel good movies.’ I was mean, it’s just ridiculous. I raised the money anyway. . . . It’s just they don’t understand. They don’t get our stories. They can’t relate.”
What did finally emerge was the
Leguizamo plays the father of one of the
film Critical Thinking, which Leguizamo
five young men wrongly convicted of rape in
As for how Leguizamo feels about the
Central Park Five—otherwise known as the
“I’ve been pitching movie scripts for
Chess Championship in 1998. He envi-
ethnic pride to the failure of our education system in teaching us all about the historical
more than their share of movie tickets—
directed and stars in.
said. “I started to think, ‘Oh, my writing
started to realize, no, it’s not my writing. It’s the subject matter. I’m writing about Latin
stories and Latin people, and the Hollywood
execs and the network execs don’t get it. The gatekeepers are not us—they’re the ones who
decide whether our stories are valid or not. And they don’t see it.”
The result is what Leguizamo calls
“cultural apartheid” in an industry that,
ironically, sees itself as progressive and enlightened. Numbers don’t lie.
“Last year, Latinx people were 3 percent
New York in 1990.
“brownout” in Hollywood, where mostly
of the faces in front of the camera and
another title to his résumé: director. Legui-
down movie ideas aimed at America’s largest
rent. That’s wrong.”
Recently, the actor/comedian added
white executives spend their days shooting
behind the camera,” he said. “That’s abhor-
John Talks: Behind the Numbers “How can [Hispanics] be the largest ethnic group in America and be so absent, so invisible? It’s crazy. We’re 50 percent of the population of Los Angeles, but less than 4 percent of the faces in front of and behind the camera. That’s cultural apartheid anywhere else in the world. When we’re equal to whites in population in New York City, but less than 1 percent of the stories or staff at the New York Times, New York Post, New York Magazine . . . that’s cultural apartheid. When we’re 40 percent of the population in Texas and less than 7 percent of appointed government officials, that’s cultural apartheid. When we’re 50 percent of the population in the worst public schools in America, but less than 3 percent of the students in the gold standard schools, that’s cultural apartheid. “Yet at the same time that we’re being held back, oppressed, excluded, denied, we added $2.3 trillion to the US economy. If we were our own country, we would be the eighth largest economy in the world. . . . I mean, our contributions, we’re unstoppable. “We need Latin executives. We need Latin editors at the New York Post, at the New York Times, and Latin decision-makers in Hollywood. We need Latin executives who understand our stories, who see the value of what we’re trying to say and tell.”
97 Hispanic Executive
Luckily, Leguizamo found salvation
American experience. Ultimately, NGL
“When I’m on Broadway, I have no gate-
something to sell has to go out and find the
under the neon lights.
keepers,” he said. “I just have to produce the play, raise the money, and I’m free.”
Next up for the artist? Perhaps another
trip to Broadway—but with a much different vehicle this time. “Now
musicals,” he said. “I was inspired by Lin-Manuel [Miranda].”
Or maybe bringing to the screen a
Hispanic superhero. Leguizamo created a
works from the assumption that anyone with
market, as opposed to simply waiting for the market to find them. Today,
sion of Leguizamo’s greater mission as a forward-thinking
playwright. He takes great pride in having helped conceive the company, particularly
now as it becomes more and more realized as a force in media.
As a Generation Xer, Leguizamo has
been in the game for a long time, nearly four
using a crowdsourcing site to raise the money
a lifetime. With the gray hair to prove it, the
to produce it.
“I was trying to use all the things that I
saw growing up in the ‘hood’ and all of these horrible toxic factories and conduits spewing out venom, and everybody getting asthma
decades. In the entertainment business, that’s
“Ghetto Klown” is a veterano now. He’s been working nonstop since Ronald Reagan was in
the White House, and he’s put some points on the board.
Of course, movie posters and souvenir
and all kinds of respiratory diseases,” he said.
that was happening to us was actually making
more times than you can count. But like his
“So, I thought, ‘What if all this horrible stuff us stronger?’”
When he is not busy creating, Leguizamo
is also a businessman.
Case in point: he is a cofounder and
Leguizamo has also been knocked down old man, he always gets back up and never lets
someone else define him, limit him, or hold him down. That’s worthy of respect.
Leguizamo credits those who came before
partner in NGL Collective, an intriguing
him . . . like, way before him.
New York that produces cutting-edge video
the 1500s,” he noted. “Ninety-five percent
Hispanic market. As a generator of video
genocided. Only 5 percent survived, and
digital new media company headquartered in to help clients and advertisers reach the US
content on multiple platforms, NGL (or New Generation Latino) has been up and running for about ten years.
Though the company has evolved a great
deal over the course of that decade—early on
“Look at it, we were almost genocided in
of all native peoples, the Incas, Aztecs were
I’ll buy it. Latinos don’t live perfect lives.
We struggle. We fight. We suffer fools, and we put up with racism and ignorance. We get knocked down.
But damn if we don’t pull ourselves
up and get back to work. We’re tougher
than anything life throws at us. We overcome adversity.
John Leguizamo is right. Being bad ass is
we’re still here and thriving. And we’re still
our super power.
doing poetry and we’re still going. It’s crazy.
Ruben Navarrette, a contributing writer for
dancing and we’re still singing and we’re still We’re unstoppable.”
I responded: “Look at your longevity,
using Leguizamo’s fervor for the eclecticism
man. You’re unstoppable.”
has kept steady on spotlighting the Hispanic
“We get it from them.”
of Latin culture as its fuel—NGL’s focus
“NGL Collective is a company that I helped to create and grow with the intention of having an impact on the Latinx media and entertainment landscape and providing opportunities for our community to change its narrative. My hope is that NGL will go down as being remembered as groundbreakers and pioneers in creating a path for the multitude of Latinx talent hungry to be seen.”
comic book figure named PhenomX that
he’d like to turn into an action figure. He is
John Talks: The Impact of NGL Collective
“Thank God for my ancestors,” he said.
Hispanic Executive, is a syndicated columnist
with the Washington Post Writers Group, author of A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano, and host of the podcast Navarrette Nation.
98 Top 10 Líderes
THE DU T Y TO “FILL A GAP” With the trailblazing FX series Pose, creator Steven Canals celebrates communities that deserve to be better seen and have their stories properly heard BY ROMAN NAVARRETTE
THE CATEGORY IS: ROYALTY.
The forty-year-old Canals noted that, while
If you are a fan of the Emmy-nominated tele-
growing up, his family stressed his Puerto Rican
“The category is . . .” Actor and Emmy winner
to that as an erasure. As he got older, he real-
vision drama Pose you’ll recognize the phrase,
Billy Porter utters it during the ballroom scenes of every episode.
Steven Canals is television royalty. He has
background over his black ancestry. He now refers ized the importance of embracing that part of his familial identity.
“I grew up in the Bronx in the 1980s, in the hous-
joined a small number of gay men who create stories
ing projects, in the midst of the chaos that was AIDS
power to put that story on a television screen. But
everything. There were no role models. And it wasn’t
about the LGBTQ community and who have the unlike most of these gay men, Canals is a person
of color (POC)—he’s Puerto Rican and part African American. So, for gay persons of color who
have worked in the entertainment industry for a few months, a few years, or even a few decades,
and crack addiction,” he says. “We lacked access to
until I was fifteen—in high school and part of an
after-school program working on a documentary—
that I was deeply impacted by the experience and decided to become a storyteller full time.”
After graduating from Binghamton University,
he’s an idol.
he entered the MFA program for screenwriting at
to that place has been a long journey,” he explains.
that is where the idea was conceived for what would
“I identify as a queer Afro-Latino, and getting
“This is partly because for a period of time I simply identified as ‘gay.’ But over time I realized that this term doesn’t feel inclusive of everyone.”
UCLA. It was there that Pose was born. At least,
become the Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated
and Peabody Award-winning series. The show also holds the record for most transgender leads.
99 Hispanic Executive
STEVEN CANALS Cocreator and Executive Producer, Pose, FX
100 Top 10 Líderes
Canal took the idea to 150 executives in the
that most of these stories are still revolving around
time. Then the king of LGBTQ storytelling came
LGBTQ community and definitely in the transgen-
entertainment industry, and he got rejected every
white queerness. “There are nuances in the POC
along: Ryan Murphy. While Murphy has a strong handle on LGBTQ representation, an area that
had been lacking for him—save for Naya Rivera’s lesbian character in Glee—was persons of color. Enter Steven Canals.
For Canals, whose show centers on ballroom
dancing, a cultural phenomenon in the queer POC
and transgender communities, it was important that he “fill a gap.”
“If I am feeling unseen, then I know that there
are many others out there who feel the same,” he
says. “And I am privileged. I am a cisgender male in
the community. I know that if I am feeling this way,
der experience,” he explains. “Yes, we are alike, but
“I IDEN T IF Y A S A QUEER A F RO-L AT INO, A ND GE T T ING T O T H AT P L ACE H A S BEEN A L ONG JOURNE Y.”
then the women and transgender members of our community are feeling it even more.”
Canals knows that there are more queer stories
being told now than ever before. But he is also aware
there are differences and these stories must be told.”
So how does Canals manage to remain focused
and keep his eye on the prize? And what advice does
he have for other young Hispanic executives, no matter what industry they work in?
“Whatever it is you want to accomplish in life,
it’s important to create a set of goals—and don’t let
anyone dissuade you,” he asserts. “After letting go
of the fear that often controlled me, I learned to trust myself to know that I was good enough and committed to making something happen. I am going to fight to see it through.”
Pay attention. There is something significant
happening here. In television, the showrunner and creator role is everything.
Of course, if you’ve seen Pose, you already know
that. From season one to season two, the three leads
that were not POC have vanished. The characters who were POC and LGBTQ got more screen time. Could someone—a gay POC executive, perhaps—
be looking out for the greater POC and LGBTQ communities? And, in particular, for transgender women of color?
If there’s one thing that the POC LGBTQ
community could collectively say to Steve Canals as it relates to Pose, it might just simply be, “Thank you.”
Because that community views Pose as its own. It
takes pride in every episode and shares every accolade. When the show gets an Emmy nomination, the community gets an Emmy nomination. When
it gets an early renewal, the community celebrates that early renewal. And when its star, Mj Rodriguez, becomes the first Afro-Latina and transgen-
der actress to play the lead in an LA stage version of Little Shop of Horrors, the community is there cheerCanals recently inked an overall deal with
20th Century Fox to create programming. This
means more stories and representation for LGBTQ Steven Canals (left) talks with Mj Rodriguez (center) and Indya Moore (right) on the Pose set.
and POC communities to “fill that gap.” And, without a doubt, so many more thank-yous.
ing her on.
101 Hispanic Executive
SEEING IS BELIEVING Responsible for the critical hit One Day at a Time, Gloria Calderรณn Kellett has inked a deal with Amazon so that she can continue telling stories for everyone
BY BILLY YOST
102 Top 10 Líderes
AS A KID, GLORIA CALDERÓN KELLETT SAW herself in whoever was on-screen. “When I was watching Pretty in
Pink, I was Molly Ringwald,” Calderón Kellett says. “When I was watching the Seavers on Growing Pains, I was Tracey Gold.”
Eventually, she began noticing a disturbing pattern. No one who
looked like her seemed to be on TV. Having spent her early years in
the fairly monocultural state of Oregon, she was used to existing within a predominantly white culture—but one quirky moment in particular provided her the spark to work for change. “I would watch Miami Vice with my dad, and one night we saw there was going to be a character
“NO ONE I KNEW EXISTED IN THE WORLD ON-SCREEN, BUT I KNEW W E W E R E T H E R E .”
whose name was Calderón just like us. We were so excited. Then he turned out to be the drug dealer.”
The triumph of Calderón Kellett is two-fold. The actress-turned-
writer, writer-turned-playwright, playwright-turned-showrunner-and-
producer is responsible for some of the most groundbreaking Latino
representation on television. It comes in the form of a reimagining of Norman Lear’s TV series One Day at a Time—with this version being
told from the perspective of a Cuban American family. The series is not
Calderón Kellett’s first success in Hollywood, nor will it be her last. And it’s precisely her commitment to getting voices heard on the big and small screens that has laid the groundwork for more to follow her path. You Aren’t Always What You See Calderón Kellett was initially drawn to acting for the very reason she
was confused by what she saw on television. “No one I knew existed
in the world on-screen, but I knew we were there,” Calderón Kellett says. “That made me hunger for more stories about people that looked like me and the community I knew and loved.” The Hollywood of the 1990s, unfortunately, was well behind the curve.
Auditions fell into one of two camps. Calderón Kellett was never
trying out to play the role of a doctor, hero, or teacher. “Every audition was either a gangbanger’s girlfriend or a gangbanger’s sister,” Calderón Kellett remembers. “It’s funny the first two or three times, but then you realize that this is it. This was the only thing I could get.”
And even those roles became hard to come by. Calderón Kellett
Calderón Kellett would make the most of her
decision. She was offered a “double-bump” increase in pay to take on writing responsibilities on The George Lopez Show, one of the few sitcoms on television depicting the lives of Latinos. At first, it
seemed like money that was too good to pass up. But when Calderón Kellett was also presented with the opportunity to take a normal paying gig at a
little upstart show called How I Met Your Mother, she deliberated. “I remember thinking that if I go to George Lopez, I’m going to be the ‘Latino writer’
for the rest of my career. If I go to How I Met Your Mother and do well, I will be a good writer who just happens to be Latino.”
was repeatedly told she sounded “too educated” or didn’t sound
A New Legacy
to a first-generation daughter of two Cuban immigrants who escaped
her experience in the very system that had long
“Latino enough.” White casting agents and directors were explaining
Calderón Kellett spent over a decade building out
the island during the mass exodus of Operación Pedro Pan that she was
stifled Latino representation. Remarking on the
lacking in authenticity. The frustration boiled over and ultimately led
development of her idea for the reboot of One Day
Calderón Kellett to writing. She became conscious of the stark fact that
at a Time with partner Mike Royce, Calderón
wider impact on culture at large.
Latino spin on an old idea. “I wanted to tell real
those who crafted stories ultimately had a better chance of making a
Kellett says it was much more than just putting a
103 Hispanic Executive
Gloria Calderón Kellett (right) sits alongside Executive Producer and Co-Showrunner Mike Royce (left) on the set of One Day at a Time.
stories about my family and things that actually happened,” Calderón Kellett says. “Some of it was cute, some of it was not. We talk about
GLORIA CA LD E RÓ N KELLETT CEO, GloNation Studios; Executive Producer and Co-Showrunner, One Day at a Time, Pop TV
colorism in our community. We talk about LGBTQ acceptance. We talk about church and religion and all of those issues that are on the
table, and how Latinos view them. I think the texture of the show feels real because it is real. A lot of this is ripped from our lives.” The series ran for three seasons on Netflix before being picked up for a fourth by Pop TV.
And Calderón Kellett is just beginning. In November 2019, she
was tapped by Amazon to create and develop TV series and films for its streaming service via her own production company, GloNation. “I’m so excited because I feel like I’ve been watching so many of [Amazon’s]
shows for so long,” Calderón Kellett says. She joins a growing list of
female writers/creators like Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) and Lena
Waithe (The Chi) developing new and compelling properties for the streaming giant.
COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES
“[Amazon] seems like where the cool kids are right now,” Calderón
Kellett says, laughing. “So, I’m really touched that when I met their team, everything they said was so in-line with the type of storytelling I want to do.” Though she might’ve been forced to work her way through
difficult circumstances in a too often tone-deaf entertainment indus-
try, in doing so Calderón Kellett has helped new stories, new faces, and new ideas find their way to screens all over the world.
Dream a Little Dream Gloria Calderón Kellett wants to teach you how to make it. Literally. The showrunner, producer, and writer teamed up with YouTube and BuzzFeed to talk about everything from “TV Writing 101” to securing an agent to navigating Hollywood. “It’s my version of a master class,” Calderón Kellett says, laughing. “Except we did it all for free.” The class was conducted in hopes of reaching young people and educating them about how to roll up their sleeves as their careers evolve within the entertainment industry.
DAVID SCOTT HOLLOWAY
104 Top 10 LÃderes
105 Hispanic Executive
A CELEBR ATION OF DIFFERENCE Ramon Escobar lives in honor of his parents’ choices—their choice to immigrate to the United States, and their choice to embrace all that makes them who they are BY SARA DEETER
RAMON ESCO BA R VP of Talent Recruitment & Development, CNN Worldwide
106 Top 10 Líderes
TO RAMON ESCOBAR, THE STORY of how he became a vice president at CNN Worldwide begins not with his education at the University of Missouri School of Journalism or with his
first position as a producer at Univision WXTV Channel 41. It begins with a love story.
“My father had a very eclectic upbringing in
El Salvador—he ran away from home at thirteen
and traveled the world working on boats. He even joined the circus at one point,” Escobar says. “But
one day, in Colombia, he met this beautiful woman
on a blind date and decided to marry her. That was my mother.”
“BEING FROM ARKANSAS IS JUST AS MUCH OF AN ASSET AND A COMPONENT OF MY DIVERSITY AS A N Y T H I N G E L S E .”
Escobar’s parents initially planned to settle in
New York, stopping only briefly along the way in
Arkansas to visit some relatives. But as soon as they
got to Little Rock, a snowstorm set in and made
travel impossible. “My parents had nothing, no money. But they had a newborn to take care of—my
older brother,” Escobar says. “So, my father went to the Catholic church and asked for help. They gave him a job in maintenance, and we stayed in Little Rock for the next twenty years.”
Growing up in Little Rock, Escobar and his
with the news from back home. So that created in me a tremendous
and I didn’t know that,” Escobar says. “We never felt
“But the media was also how my parents learned everything they
family lived paycheck to paycheck. “But my siblings
desire to follow what was going on in the world.
that we were poor. I work with a lot of smart people,
knew about America,” Escobar continues. “When they first got here in
people I know because of all that they were able to
and then again right outside their house.”
but I still consider my parents to be the two smartest pull off despite the sacrifices they made.”
Escobar’s parents allowed him every oppor-
tunity they could, he says, whether that meant
ensuring that he visited El Salvador and Colombia
during school vacations, or helping him travel to the White House as the Arkansas state repre-
sentative of Boys Nation—an honor for which he was congratulated by then Governor Bill Clinton, a
the early 1960s, they watched the civil rights movement unfold on TV This experience inculcated in both Escobar and his parents a deep
appreciation for civil rights, an appreciation that was only compounded by the discrimination that Escobar and his family faced as a result of their “foreigner” status.
But even when he watched television coverage of international
events, Escobar says, he did not see many people who looked like him. And those who did weren’t often portrayed in a positive light.
“I saw civil wars, drug wars, and people in bad situations. But I had
former Boys Nation representative himself.
been to El Salvador. I had been to Colombia. So, I knew that wasn’t
forget where we came from,” Escobar says. “That
become a part of the world that helps shape not only opinions but the
“My parents were very insistent that we not
meant talking with our relatives about the culture, the customs, and the food—but it also meant getting
all sorts of magazines and newspapers to keep up
the whole picture,” he says. “I decided that was what I wanted to do— reality and facts of life for people all around the world.”
And for nearly three decades now, that is exactly what Escobar
has done. From breaking the news of the Gianni Versace murder and
107 Hispanic Executive
An Eye for Talent
JEREMY FREEMAN/CNN (HOLT), JOHN NOWAK (CABRERA), UNIVISIÓN (ACEVEDO), MARY ELLEN MATTHEWS/NBC (HOLT), CBS NEWS (O’DONNELL)
For decades, Ramon Escobar has discovered, developed, and mentored elite on-air talent. More than just a knack, his distinct ability has practically become a super power—as evidenced by the media personalities he’s affected over the course of his career.
“Ramon has been instrumental in shaping the journalist, newsroom leader, and person I am today. Whether it is pushing me to produce content that is fair and accurate, nurturing a newsroom environment that is collaborative, or reframing diversity and inclusion as a problem to be solved to an opportunity to be realized, Ramon has been an important resource for me.” —Hugo Balta, President, National Association of Hispanic Journalists and News Director, WTTW (PBS Chicago)
“I’ve known Ramon for more than twenty-five years, and in that time, have had the pleasure of watching him grow and develop into a great leader with one of the best eyes for talent in the business. He’s helped change the face of CNN, ensuring that we have the most diverse on-air talent in the industry.” —Jeff Zucker, Chairman, WarnerMedia News & Sports and President, CNN Worldwide
“Ramon was one of the first executives in our industry to recognize and address the lack of diversity in our newsrooms. Not just gender and race, but culture, sexual orientation, age, and points of view. He understands the value this generates for the companies he’s worked for and for the audience. I’m lucky to call him a mentor and a friend.” —Enrique Acevedo, Anchor/Correspondent, Univision Network News
“Five minutes into my job interview with Ramon it became clear the virtues of diversity were personal to him. He spoke about it with true passion and was obviously very proud of the team he built and the advantages of an inclusive work place, and he wanted folks joining his team to understand that from the start. That was twenty years ago, and in some ways it felt like we were ahead of the game.” —Lester Holt, Anchor, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt; Anchor, Dateline NBC
“Working with Ramon Escobar was one of the highlights of my career in journalism. During the 2000 Florida recount, I was reporting on the Palm Beach votes coming in. Ramon called me and encouraged me to call a few more of my sources. With his brilliant insight as an editor, we broke huge news during one of the closely watched stories of my lifetime as a presidential election hung in the balance. He is a great executive and producer.” —Norah O’Donnell, Anchor and Managing Editor, CBS Evening News and a 60 Minutes Correspondent
“Ramon is every definition of leader. He leads by example, uplifts colleagues, and invests in people to help each of us reach our potential. His contributions to CNN are visible on air and felt behind the scenes, in the collaboration of colleagues representing diverse backgrounds and perspectives, which Ramon has prioritized in his recruitment and development role. His passion inspires, and his compassion has helped create a culture of familia at CNN. “Ramon first reached out to me when I was a local news anchor at the ABC affiliate in Denver, my hometown. I was reluctant to leave my work situation at the time, but Ramon’s energy and vision convinced me to take a leap of faith and explore the mission of CNN. Six years later, I’m grateful to consider Ramon a friend and mentor. I have never felt more satisfied or passionate about the work I do as a journalist, thanks in large part to Ramon’s guidance and support. “As an organization, CNN is lucky to have Ramon among its leadership. And as a Latina, myself, Ramon’s success is aspirational. He’s like a North Star, exemplifying what’s possible through tenacity, relationship building, and commitment to having a positive impact—at work, in our community, and around the world.” —Ana Cabrera, Anchor, CNN
108 Top 10 Líderes
becoming the youngest news director in the history of NBC to covering the Bush-Gore election in 2000 and going days without sleep to cover the chaos and trauma
of 9/11, Escobar has become an undeniable force within the industry.
But these days, Escobar finds himself behind
the scenes, working to find and develop the next
generation of reporters, producers, and editors as VP of talent recruitment and development at CNN. “We have to constantly think about how to find
“EMBRACING DIVERSITY ISN’T JUST THE RIGHT THING TO DO, IT’S THE RIGHT B U S I N E S S T H I N G T O D O .”
the best and brightest people in the world, for on-air and off-air positions,” Escobar says. “We need to find fantastic people and figure out why they aren’t with us, and sometimes that means finding people before they even realize how good they are.”
You have to have an eye for talent in this line
of work, Escobar says, a knack for spotting talented
young men and women who will turn into respected
journalists like Lester Holt, Natalie Morales, Mika Brzezinski, and Ashleigh Banfield. But you also
have to be mindful of how all those talented individuals fit into the bigger picture.
“A lot of the people that I’ve worked with or
brought on have changed the face of the network by diversifying it—people who are Latino, or Afri-
can American. But people forget that I am also from Arkansas,” Escobar says. “And being from Arkansas
“And she said, ‘Let me ask you something, Ramon. Do you think
speaking two languages is better than one?’” “Yes.”
“Do you think that having traveled and understanding multiple
cultures is better than knowing just one?” “Yes.”
“‘I think so, too,’ she said. ‘This is a strength. But they’re going
is just as much of an asset and a component of my
to make it seem like a weakness because they don’t understand it.
All of the different components of who we are
family. You can help people not only understand difference but cele-
diversity as anything else.”
and how we think are important, Escobar stresses. And we need to understand that from as early on
So, educate them. Tell them about Colombia, tell them about your brate it, too.’”
As a journalist as well as an executive, Escobar has strived to live
up to his mother’s words. And now, as VP of talent recruitment and
came to me and said, ‘I just want you to understand
else at CNN recognizes their value.
“When I was first starting school, my mom
that it’s possible they’re going to make fun of you,’”
development, he has the platform he needs to help ensure that everyone “Embracing diversity isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the right
Escobar recalls. “And I just thought, ‘Why? Why
business thing to do,” Escobar says. “When you have a newsroom that
“‘Because you’re different from them,’ she said.
and Korea, people from conservative as well as liberal backgrounds,
would anyone make fun of me?’”
‘Your parents come from another country, you speak a language other than English, you have an accent, and your name is so different. You are different.’” “‘So, what should I do?’ I asked.”
truly looks like the world, he notes, a room with people from Arkansas people who are gay and straight, white and black, you’ll have better journalism, higher ratings, and a better business all around.
“If we profess to be a news organization of the world,” the VP says,
“we must reflect the world.”
109 Hispanic Executive
DARE TO BE CURIOUS IBMâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Teresa Hamid on the importance of embracing change in a fast-paced industry full of opportunity
BY SARA DEETER
T E R E SA H A M I D
Fellow, VP, and CTO Cognitive Process Platforms, IBM
110 Top 10 Líderes
T WENT Y-T H R E E YE ARS AGO, when Teresa Hamid joined multinational technol-
ogy provider IBM as a product developer, she struck everyone around her as a promising and ambitious
talent. Now, people working in IBM offices around
North America analytics center and now leading
business platforms for the cognitive enterprise. She even completed a stint in Cairo, Egypt, as the software lab’s chief architect.
“There’s just a wealth of opportunity here,”
the world know the vice president and chief technol-
Hamid enthuses. “What’s kept me at IBM is
in need of advice, guidance, or just a listening ear.
into, always another opportunity—and always, no
ogy officer (CTO) as the one to turn to when they’re
“My high school guidance counselor was actually
the one who introduced me to computer program-
ming and engineering,” Hamid recalls. “I liked the
knowing that there’s always another area to expand matter the area, a great deal of energy and passion about the work.”
And these days, that energy and passion are
idea of working with computers—there was always
more important than ever, Hamid notes. As CTO,
Hamid’s early experience in technology secured
delight” for the individuals that have to engage with
her a position as a programmer for a large insurance
company when she was just sixteen years old. “I was so excited about that job,” she says with a laugh. “It was a tremendous opportunity to take what I had learned and apply it in a real business.”
she always makes it her goal to “create a moment of
data, analytics, artificial intelligence, automation,
cloud, and other complex systems. Whether that individual is a business operator or an end customer, the experience is always the focus.
But in the face of COVID-19, Hamid notes,
As Hamid has continued in her career, working
even her high-performing teams needed to step it
before accepting her first position at IBM, that sense
nesses are looking at new ways of working,” she
full-time for that insurance company for a brief period of excitement has not abated. Her career journey has
mirrored the progression of emerging technologies,
she explains, allowing her to remain immersed in the most dynamic side of a fast-paced industry.
As an IBM fellow, VP, and the CTO of cogni-
tive process and transformation in IBM Services,
up. “Across the nation, and across the world, busi-
says. “Working virtually is changing the way we work altogether, and IBM Services’ global delivery
maintained service level agreements and mobilized teams within ten days of the market being disrupted by COVID-19.”
“But we still need to accelerate and amplify our
Hamid is responsible for bringing leading-edge
efforts,” Hamid continues. “How can we be faster?
across businesses as well as product lines. “You do
those questions and provide solutions that enable
technologies together in order to drive innovation have to continuously challenge yourself,” she says of
the work. “You have to be willing to be uncomfort-
Better? I really enjoy working with clients to answer them to realize their strategy”
That ambitious, client-centered mentality aligns
able and have a natural curiosity about what comes
perfectly with the company’s new strategy, recently
Hamid has certainly not allowed herself to
new CEO recently shared a public letter in which he
next and how we can do things differently.”
become too comfortable in any one place. She’s moved from IBM’s software lab to IBM Services,
while engaging with IBM Research, leading the
announced by IBM CEO Arvind Krishna. “Our
stated that our goal is to be ‘the most trusted technology partner of the twenty-first century,’” Hamid says. “The role of AI, data, and the cloud—combined
111 Hispanic Executive
“YOU H AV E T O BE WIL L ING T O BE UNCOMF OR TA BL E A ND H AV E A NAT UR AL CURIOSIT Y ABOU T WHAT COMES NEXT AND HOW WE CAN DO T H I N G S D I F F E R E N T LY.”
with the ability to continuously provide this level of trusted engagement with our clients—is needed now more than ever.”
That unparalleled support for all clients has earned IBM an indis-
putable reputation as a leader in the technology industry. But if Hamid
has learned anything in her more than two decades at the company, it is that that support extends inward as well as outward.
“I’ve always had great mentors at IBM, great managers who have
been willing to help me continue growing and building my career while
having a family,” Hamid says. “And having that open communication with managers really helped me find a balance over the years. Because
of that tremendous support system, I have been able to enjoy my time with my children and take advantage of opportunities IBM has offered.”
Hamid has paid that forward, helping other women to navigate
the organization and plan for any life changes that come their way. But sometimes, she notes, mentorship is far simpler than helping someone figure out the recipe for their personal and professional success.
“Sometimes, being a mentor just means listening,” Hamid says.
“Mentees need to know that they can trust you and speak to you about things. Maybe it’s a conversation they can’t have with their manager— but it is certainly one they can and should have with their mentor.”
A Quiet Voice Can Pierce the Noise Today, Teresa Hamid is widely acknowledged as an influential leader and voice for change. But those around her have not always recognized the power of her particular voice. “In the past I’ve been told, ‘You don’t speak very loudly; you’re too humble.’ But that is the way I was brought up,” Hamid notes. “My belief system is entirely based on my heritage, and in that system, there is a level of respect that you always need to remember.” As a leader, Hamid has recognized the importance of balancing a belief system while maintaining confidence in expressing opinions and recommendations. By having a voice at the table, she makes sure she shares things of value instead of echoing others. “You can speak up with respect and confidence while providing impact,” she says. Hamid also encourages others to speak and to be confident in their views. “I may not speak up all the time, but when I do I make sure its impactful.”
112 Top 10 Líderes
“I WILL NE VER RUN OU T OF S T ORIES T O TELL” BITTERSWEET. IT’S AN ADJECTIVE TANYA Saracho knows all too well. Earlier in 2020, about a month before season three of the hit television series Vida returned on the Starz network,
the forty-four-year-old showrunner and television creator took to social
media and used the oxymoron to let followers know that it was time to
As showrunner for the series Vida, Tanya Saracho has never felt her creative voice was limited by her Latinx identity— instead, she feels it was emboldened because of it
put her “baby” to bed. This would be the show’s final season.
She wrote: “This goodbye is too bittersweet for words. I’d be lying
if I said I’m not sad about not getting back into that magical writers’ room to keep crafting our story. But after all, I got to tell the exact
story I wanted to tell, exactly how I wanted to tell it, and that is rare in this industry.”
Rare indeed—especially rare for Hispanics. And for Latinas in
entertainment? Dios mío. If you want to see the odds really skyrocket,
factor in another piece of Saracho’s identity: queer. “I’m a queer Mestiza Latina born in Mexico who was raised on the border,” she explains.
The fact that Saracho got to tell the story about a community of
BY ROMAN NAVARRETTE
which she herself is a part—that is, to tell her own story—is in itself a
narrative of inspiration for the greater LGBTQ community. That fact is not lost on her—and neither is the significance of her groundbreaking deal with Starz to develop new content.
Saracho is largely where she is today for one reason: because she
proudly lays claim to who she is. She represents. And she relishes this fact. “There are a lot of people that feel limited or pigeonholed
being considered a Latinx writer or creator,” she says. “But I never felt limited by this.”
She’s dedicated herself to telling these types of stories from the very
beginning. Back in 2001, she created Teatro Luna, an all-Latinx theatre company in Chicago. “I will never run out of our stories to tell,” she says.
113 Hispanic Executive
TA N YA SA R AC H O
Creator and Showrunner, Vida , Starz
114 Top 10 Líderes
She probably also knows she will always have a
career in Hollywood. From the moment she arrived,
Saracho never tried to hide her identity to get ahead. This was her ticket in. “When I came to this town, I made it known to executives that if they needed this
type of Latinx experience or representation to give
me a call, particularly anything Latina centered,” she explains. “Anything around political brownness or queerness or involving immigrant status, I can speak to well.”
Saracho was dubbed a “diversity hire” during her
first writers’ room gig on Lifetime’s Devious Maids.
Nevertheless, she later earned a spot inside the writers’ room for HBO’s Looking, which gave her a chance to show her range.
Despite her uphill battle, she was able to navi-
gate around obstacles to reach where she is now.
Tanya Saracho (center) speaks with the stars of Vida Melissa Barrera (left) and Mishel Prada (right).
Today, that includes a writers’ room she’s assem-
bled that is all Latinx, queer-inclusive, and, as with “I wasn’t very gracious in the beginning and was
With an in-depth focus on “gentefication,”
in darkness a lot, especially during that first year,”
LGBTQ issues, and family, Vida was a critical hit.
any planning or any design. I didn’t politically know
Latinx community. It boasts a 100 percent rating on
she says. “I sort of got thrown into the pool without
anything about it either—about what it means to be
a brown-bodied person in such a white space as the writers’ room. I wanted to quit all the time.”
It was praised by industry execs, journalists, and the Rotten Tomatoes. It was named 2019’s Outstanding Comedy Series at the GLAAD Media Awards.
Yet the ratings struggled, and many say that it
Lucky for us, Saracho didn’t quit. And, after
wasn’t easy for Hispanics to access. You had to pay
the catalyst for showing her what she could do
really offer other Latinx-focused shows or Latinx
Devious Maids, her experience on Looking was
within the television landscape. “You can make art,” she gushes.
She explains that there is Looking DNA in Vida,
talking about how the scenes are creatively shot to
$8.99 to watch it on the Starz app, which doesn’t actors. The end was inevitable.
Bittersweet indeed. But for Saracho, as leader of
her own show, the silver lining shines bright.
“One of the best things about Vida was being
help tell the story. The way in which she describes
able to hire people and give them their first shot,
porate a “Latino lens.”
says. “Nothing excites me more than that.”
her techniques alludes to her innate ability to incorSaracho possesses hustle. She’s full of hustle.
just like I got my first shot as a showrunner,” she A true chingona, Saracho knowns that some-
And other Latinas in the business, many of them
times to take up space means you have to demand
exemplified on another Latinx television hit, like
to all types of careers. The battle cry “No stories
actresses, possess that same hustle. Whether it’s Hulu’s East Los High, or during auditions for Saracho’s show, they all hustle. But is that enough in Hollywood?
it, and she believes that type of mentality applies
about us without us” is a way of life for her. But it’s also a theme she hopes others will incorporate into their lives.
season three of Vida, all Latina.
115 Hispanic Executive
DON’T BE AFR AID OF THE X Author and journalist Paola Ramos documents the Latinx movement and community in hopes of redefining what it means to be Latino
JULIO GONZALEZ NUÑO
BY BILLY YOST
PA O L A RAMOS Author, Vice News Correspondent, Latinx Advocate
116 Top 10 Líderes
PAOLA RAMOS DIDN’T INTEND to become a prominent voice for the Latinx community. She didn’t set out to become a de facto storyteller for those who have been ignored for decades, for centuries. But that’s kind of the
point. Whether focusing on Latinx drag queens who are working to battle an HIV epidemic in a
Texas border town, trans migrants fighting to get their families out of border detention centers, or the dozens of stories of the oft-forgotten Latinx popu-
lations of Midwest America, Ramos is important
Ramos says the stakes couldn’t be higher. “For many communities out there, it is kind of a life and death scenario,” she explains. “This community has
been the number one target of the current adminis-
tration. Even during [the COVID-19 quarantine],
ICE continues to do their raids, the wall is still being constructed, folks are still in detention. Here in New York, four out of ten Latinos have already
lost their jobs because of [the pandemic]. It just doesn’t end.”
Even though the Latinx community too often
because of the exposure she gives to an influential
feels unified as a collective target—and isn’t heard
2020 presidential election to be the most important
immigration and race—Ramos has built her career
population. And considering that she believes the
of her lifetime, she’s more motivated than ever to help the country’s second largest voting bloc better realize that it’s time to amplify its collective voice. Storytelling with Purpose It’s pretty easy to say storytelling is in Ramos’s
blood. She is the daughter Jorge Ramos and Gina
enough outside of the national discussions on on celebrating the uniqueness and variety of the
culture. Her work for Vice News documents various subcultures and niche Latinx communities—much like those in contemporary white society—to help
better contextualize a community that shouldn’t be singled out by its heritage.
Ramos’s upcoming book, Finding Latin-X: In
Montaner, the former being one of the most recog-
Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity, was
broadcasting, and the latter being a journalist and
idea is to understand the Latinx movement and
nizable names in American Spanish language managing editor at Telemundo 51 in South Florida.
Ramos’s own desire as a forward-thinking storyteller collided head-on with the first term of the
written to further that multipart narrative. “The hopefully help redefine what it means to be Latino,” Ramos says.
The cross-country road trip she set out on to
Obama administration and her passion for politi-
provide subject matter for the book included stops
right when Obama got into the White House and
South, Midwest, and East Coast. Ramos conduct-
cal advocacy. “I graduated [from Barnard College] that sparked my interest in wanting to get involved and be part of that movement,” Ramos says. “Since then, I’ve stayed in politics.”
Ramos was a political appointee during the
Obama administration and played a part during his 2012 reelection campaign. During Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016 she was
the deputy director for Hispanic media. Suffice it to say, she’s been around the block. And in 2020,
in California’s Central Valley, as well as parts of the ed interviews with women’s rights activists at the
border, for example, as well as indigenous communities in the Deep South that stretch back three generations. “It was a road trip to discover what it means to be Latino,” Ramos says. “From older generations to
young people: I conducted so much field research and in-person interviews. It was amazing.”
The book will aim to continue the conversation
about the roles Latinx communities and individuals
play in a society that too often ignores them until a political scapegoat is needed. Defining Latinx In hoping to better understand the Latinx move-
ment, Ramos says her own story of self-discovery
was an important starting point. “I think that’s part of the reason I’m so tied to the term Latinx,” Ramos
explains. “It was the first time I felt that a word completely represented me. Not just because I’m
Latina or queer or the daughter of immigrants, but
because I think it reflects a maturation. It allowed me to be myself, all at once, without apologies.”
Ramos is keenly aware that it was a privilege
to grow up in a progressive household that allowed her to wrestle with her own self-discovery—a privilege that many are not granted in the same way. But perhaps that’s one reason why she commits herself to helping others share their stories.
“I think when Latinos are talked about in the
media, many people try and put us in a box and
think that our stories are only meant for a Latino
audience,” Ramos explains. “It’s really important to me to make sure that in telling these stories, we’re reaching Americans across the board.”
In doing so, Ramos hopes that non-Latinx may
be able to see a glimmer of themselves. “A person in
the Midwest may seemingly think they have nothing in common with a drag queen on the border,”
“[L ATINX ] WAS THE FIRS T TIME I F E L T T H A T A W O R D C O M P L E T E LY REPRESENTED ME. NOT JUST BECAUSE I’M L ATINA OR QUEER OR THE DAUGHTER OF IMMIGRANTS, BUT BECAUSE I THINK IT REFLEC T S A MAT UR ATION. I T A L L O W E D M E T O B E M Y S E L F, A L L A T O N C E , W I T H O U T A P O L O G I E S .”
Ramos says, with a laugh. “But person-to-person,
these are emotions and feelings. We all share a lot
of that in common, and it’s so important to make that connection with people.”
once people understand the true meaning behind
how many Americans are exposed to Latinx culture
are and not be afraid of that X. I think the biggest
JULIO GONZALEZ NUÑO
That’s doubly important when considering just
and how the ways in which Americans process that
exposure too frequently skews xenophobic. “Yes, some Latinx are undocumented,” Ramos says. “But
they’re also serving in executive positions. I think
Latinx, it should make you feel proud of who you problem with that term often comes from Latinos
themselves. We’re in that stage of just educating ourselves and seeing each other face-to-face for the first time and being OK with it.”
118 Top 10 Líderes
“ M U LT I C U LT U R A L IS THE NEW MAINSTREAM” At HOLA! USA Sylvia Banderas Coffinet understands that the Latinx community deserves a proper platform from which to amplify its collective voice
BY BILLY YOST
119 Hispanic Executive
S Y LV I A BA N D E R A S CO F FIN ET Publisher and Chief Brand & Revenue Officer, HOLA! USA
12 0 Top 10 Líderes
AS PU BLISHER AND CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER FOR THE US arm of the global HOLA! brand—hired at age thirty-three, no less—Sylvia Banderas Coffinet is focused on refocusing the narrative as it applies to one of the largest and fastest-growing demographic groups in the country. She’s made it her mission, both on the clock and off, to recognize the greater accomplishments of the Latinx community and how important it will be in defining the future, our future, together. Banderas Coffinet spoke with Hispanic Executive about how mainstream media is well behind the curve when it comes to the representation of the Latinx community and how her upbringing influenced her commitment to pursuing equality. Her efforts have not only earned her congressional recognition from California Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez, but also a commendation from the County of Los Angeles.
Could you talk about your upbringing in Los
What has your leadership provided to HOLA! USA
Angeles and how you feel like it continues to
and what about the mission of the organization
inform the work you do, including your nonprofit
aligns with your own mission and values?
work with Ella’s Foundation?
I am a purpose-driven individual and expressly
Growing up in East LA has played a tremendous role in shaping my cultural identity and pride. I had the privilege of learning about my culture firsthand in
a way that is very unique because of how ubiquitous
Mexican culture is represented in the rich mosaic of cultural diversity that makes up the city.
I grew up surrounded by mostly Spanish and
Spanglish speakers in my neighborhood, listened to
took on the role of leading HOLA! USA platforms
because I believe deeply that our values were aligned in terms of authentic representation in the media for
the Latinx community. HELLO! & HOLA! Media
Inc. launched in the US to focus on the US Latinx population, and I wanted to lead a media brand that was for us by us.
HOLA! USA is dedicated to changing the
mariachi music, danced cumbias, watched local artists
narratives that propagate negative stereotypes about
and learned about Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta
and how others see and treat us.
paint murals dedicated to La Virgen de Guadalupe,
before I was eight years old. I attended regular family
our community, which impacts how we see ourselves For example, a media study in 2019 (USC
carne asada backyard gatherings that to this day are
Annenberg Inclusion Initiative) revealed that only
the music, the customs, and celebrations were very
Latinos and, of that number, 25 percent were actu-
my most cherished memories growing up. The food, culturally rooted and centered. No doubt my cultural pride was forged under truly rich circumstances and imparted to me the great gift of pride in my heritage.
Being of service to others has always been
important to me. I worked with Ella’s Foundation until 2017 and focused on bringing awareness to the
important mission of mentoring underprivileged Latina youth. Now, my energies are focused on
mentoring young Latina professionals and helping them advance their personal and career development
as a way to empower more Latinas to take on larger corporate roles and opportunities.
3 percent of all lead roles in film and TV were of
ally criminal portrayals. Given that we represent nearly 20 percent of the population, this is a dismal and awfully disproportionate reflection of the reality of audiences in America. We deserve so much
better. American Latinos take pride in being American. They work hard and contribute to the economy,
nurture and care for their family near and far, live
colorful lives bursting with culture, preserve their
roots and honor their heritage, and see themselves as 100 percent Latinx and 100 percent American.
12 1 Hispanic Executive
Could you talk about the interaction of mainstream media and Latinx culture and where you think more representation efforts can be implemented? Given the immense scale (one in five adults in the US are Latinx), economic power (buying power
is projected to surpass $1.7 trillion), and growth
rate (one in four children in the US are Latinx)— according to analysis from both Nielsen and Pew on the Latinx audience—it is a mystery that more
mainstream media companies are not leading with multicultural programming and content. Ideally,
“I KNOW WHAT IT ME ANS T O BE IN V ISIBL E A ND NO T H AV E A VOICE, OR WORSE BE PIGEONHOLED INTO A NARR ATIVE THAT HAS NO THING T O DO WITH MY REALITY OR CAN EVEN GO AS FAR AS CRIMINALIZING AN E N T I R E G R O U P O F P E O P L E .”
content should reflect the reality of the audience that it serves. Alas, that is just not the case as instead
we are seeing metrics of somewhere between 2 and 4 percent of total representation in the media.
The truth is that multicultural is the new main-
stream and that multicultural done well is mainstream done right.
affect the way this country looks, eats, dances, thinks,
believe one way to implement representation is
what binds us: heritage, values, work ethic, family,
That said, we have a long way to go, but I
for media companies to focus on diversity hiring, specifically in leadership roles that make program-
ming and content decisions in film, broadcast, and
and even votes! Our differences are not greater than and our positive aspirations for ourselves and our nation.
media. There certainly isn’t enough Latinx represen-
Are there any points of pride in your work for
and publishing, for example, and that is a shame
inspiration or motivation?
a more diverse workforce leads to significant advan-
team. I work with a group of highly talented and
tation in senior-level positions in the world of media
HOLA! USA that you look to when you need
because there is plenty of research that indicates that
My greatest inspiration and motivation is my
tages in creativity, increased productivity, and higher
dedicated content creators, editors, writers, market-
competitive advantages for companies.
What voice do you feel you bring to your organization? What are the challenges of trying to relay the Latinx identity to a wider population? Because of my personal story and experience growing up undocumented, I care deeply about Latinx
representation and social equity. I know what it means to be invisible and not have a voice, or worse
be pigeonholed into a narrative that has nothing to do with my reality or can even go as far as criminalizing an entire group of people.
We are rapidly becoming the most influential
demographic of this country. We have the power to
ers, sales people, analysts, and audience acquisition experts that give it their all every single day.
Ours is a steady upward climb, but we make it
to the top together and deliver a high value prop-
osition to savvy brands that care about how they are engaging with Latinx consumers. Speaking of brands, we’re anchoring our marketing success much
to the benefit of our significant client base, includ-
ing Estée Lauder Companies, Ulta Beauty, Sephora, MARS, Unilever, Target, Toyota, Porcelanosa, and Childrensalon. For a brand that is under five years
old, we’ve already worked with over seventy-five
accounts and counting—which gives us great pride and validates the work we are committed to.
12 2 Top 10 Líderes
IT’S TIME TO RAISE THE BAR
FOR YEARS, CORPORATE AMERICA HAS BEEN sending out a call for diverse, talented leaders capable of driving growth
Dr. Robert Rodriguez and Angel Gomez on their efforts to create a rigorous, intensive leadership development program for Latino professionals—a program unlike any other in the marketplace
and fostering inclusive workplaces. But few companies have found it an
easy matter to find that talent. According to Dr. Robert Rodriguez and Angel Gomez, cofounders and co-owners of the Latino Leadership
Initiative (LLI), the problem centers on the fact that most leadership
development programs have not truly combined those ideas of diversity and leadership.
Gomez and Rodriguez recently spoke with Hispanic Executive
about the LLI and their efforts to solve this problem. So how do you two know each other, exactly?
Dr. Robert Rodriguez: We’ve known each other about fifteen years now—I don’t know exactly where we first met, but when I met Angel, he was working as a consultant. And at the time, I was considering
BY SARA DEETER AND KATHY KANTORSKI
becoming a consultant myself.
So I think our friendship really started to solidify when I told
Angel my thoughts about going out on my own, and Angel told me to just go for it. “You have the expertise, you have a brand, you have the
network,” he told me. “There’s no time like the present.” And now, we
have a solid friendship that has led to the great privilege of being able to work together.
12 3 Hispanic Executive
Cofounders and Co-owners, Latino Leadership Intensive
BRIAN J. MOROWCZYNSKI (GOMEZ), JORGE CAMARGO (RODRIGUEZ)
ANGEL GOM EZ
DR. RO B E RT RO DRI GU EZ
124 Top 10 Líderes
Angel Gomez: My practice revolves around leadership development—
teaching folks how to be better managers and leaders, doing executive
coaching, talking about organizational development and organizational
culture. I speak at many different conferences throughout the world on
“THIS WHOLE IDEA OF IDENTITY IS ESSENTIAL TO EVERYTHING WE DO AND— WHETHER OR NOT WE ARE COMFOR TABLE W I T H O P E N LY EMBRACING OUR IDENTITY— IS MANIFESTED IN OUR BEH AV IORS A S W E L L .” –Angel Gomez
those issues, and Robert and I always thought it would be great to find
a way to work together, to combine his experience around diversity with my expertise in leadership development and career management.
So after a few years of having lunch together and keeping in
contact, we sat down one day in Chicago over a deep dish pizza and
started brainstorming. Can we fashion a seminar where we look at essential leadership practices through the lens of the Latino cultural
script? There is a way that Latinos show up—often unconsciously—in
the workplace that may clash with American corporate culture. But what are the things that Latinos are doing that would actually be a benefit to us in that culture?
And after finishing that pizza and a pitcher of beer, we came up
with the Latino Leadership Intensive.
What makes the Latino Leadership Intensive unique among all the other leadership programs out there? Rodriguez: I myself went through a Latino leadership program at UCLA, and I’d seen many Latino leadership programs in academia as
well as the corporate and nonprofit worlds. But the subjects of Latino
identity and leadership topics were always separate. I had never seen a real fusion of the two, a fusion of what we call the Latino cultural script and business concepts.
Can you provide an example of how those two concepts can and should be integrated? Rodriguez: Absolutely. It’s questions like, “Does our Hispanic heri-
tage influence how we make decisions? Does our collectivist nature
impact how we deal with conflict?” I’ve also seen many Latinos in the corporate environment struggling with their sense of identity and asking themselves, “Do I shout it from the rooftops that I’m Latino, or
should I downplay it? I don’t want to be the token Latino—should I turn down job opportunities if I feel that’s the only reason I was offered the promotion?”
We wanted to address these real-world challenges that our commu-
nity is facing in a mature, curated, structurally sound format.
12 5 Hispanic Executive
Gomez: I have a very, very strong point of view that anything I deliver has to be structurally sound, has to be curated. Everything in the program has to tie together, and make sense together. It has to be
what I call a “Cobb salad” program, where you’ve designed the content very intentionally, rather than an ensalada mixta in which you’ve just put a lot of things together in one space.
“YOUR L AT INO BACKGROUND. IT CAN BE YOUR SECRET P O W E R .” –Dr. Robert Rodriguez
What kind of impact have you seen from this program thus far? Gomez: We encourage everyone to raise their awareness about who they are, how they show up, and how others perceive them. This whole
idea of identity is essential to everything we do and—whether or not we are comfortable with openly embracing our identity—is manifested in our behaviors as well.
Rodriguez: And once someone gets more grounded in their sense of identity, they can relate better to others. They may realize why an
Asian American colleague may not want to join the company’s Asian ERG; they may meet someone from the LGBTQ community who
does not want to come out and have a better sense of what that individual may be dealing with.
But in addition to helping them become more inclusive leaders, the
program also helps participants see their own Latino heritage as an
Gomez: People may be really good at working together on a team, but
their tendency towards collaboration—and the cultural script that has told them to be nice, be likeable, and not create conflict—can actually
get in the way of performance. If you are too focused on ensuring that everyone on the team is being respectful and getting along, you can lose
track of the fact that you have a deadline. If you aren’t willing to deal
with conflict, you may not speak up for yourself and may just tell other people what they want to hear.
Of course, we also talk about foundational leadership concepts, like
emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, and active listening.
asset. For years, many of these individuals have thought that they got
Looking back on the LLI years from now, what do you hope to
results. But as they start moving up in the corporate world, they realize
Gomez: I want to know that there are thousands of people doing their
So what’s going to differentiate you from other folks? Your Latino
soft skills that I focus on are the most important and hardest skills to
to their level because they’re smart, they work hard, and they deliver
that everyone at that level is smart. Everyone works hard.
jobs better because they interacted with me for a couple of days. The
background. It can be your secret power—it will help you bring a global
perspective to your work, serve as a more inclusive leader, and improve
master—they are the key to success in climbing up the corporate ladder.
your leadership abilities across the board.
Rodriguez: Early on in my career, I didn’t embrace my Hispanic heri-
What are some of the topics that you cover in the program?
Latino, that the only reason I was there was because of a diversity
Rodriguez: At the very beginning, we always emphasize that this is a program designed by Latino leaders, for Latino leaders. It’s an authentic space where you don’t have to hide who you are and won’t be judged. One thing that we always talk about is how Latinos tend to be
tage because other folks were always telling me that I was the token
program. My parents always told me to not speak Spanish, to just assimilate. So I never thought that my identity was benefiting me; if anything, I thought it was hurting me.
But I hope that when people walk out of this program, they have
collectivist in nature—we tend to be focused on what’s best for the
not only developed their leadership skills but have also come to see
talk about that and how it may affect their decision-making, their prob-
We need individuals with that mentality if we are going to elevate the
team rather than individual performance. We encourage everyone to lem-solving, and even how they coach others.
their heritage as something they can really leverage and be proud of. broader Latino community.
DA I S Y A U G E R DOM INGU EZ JEFFREY MOSIER
Founder and CEO, Auger-Dominguez Ventures
12 7 Hispanic Executive
THE FU TURE IS OURS Daisy Auger-Dominguez is hopeful for a corporate America that embraces its inclusivity, compassion, and equity—but it’s up to all of us to make that a reality BY SARA DEETER
AR E W E CO U R AG EO U S E N O U G H TO reimagine our workplaces? That is the question that Daisy Auger-
Dominguez, founder and CEO of consultancy firm Auger-Dominguez
Ventures, has been asking for years. “America has always been an experiment,” she explains. “A complicated experiment built on racialized concepts of freedom, citizenship, and democracy.”
“If we don’t maximize the breadth of all our talent and build inclusive
and equitable organizational cultures and systems,” Auger-Dominguez continues, “we will fail to maintain our competitive position globally. And the grand experiment that is America will fail.”
For more than two decades, Auger-Dominguez has been fighting
the cultural norms and structures that have prevented corporate America from capitalizing on that full breadth of talent—the same
norms and beliefs that have over the years branded Auger-Dominguez
as “too foreign to speak English well,” too poor to be good at math or writing, and too much a product of affirmative action to be deserving of the achievements for which she has worked so hard.
12 8 Top 10 Líderes
“THIS IS ABOUT OUR COLLECTIVE FUTURE. . . . W E A R E A L L I N E X T R I C A B LY B O U N D T O E A C H O T H E R .”
As a leader at top companies such as
to travel and disconnect, I was just going to get back
Group, and Moody’s Corporation, the Bucknell
So instead of taking headhunter calls and
Google, Viacom, the Disney ABC Television
into the same habits.”
University alumna has challenged the corporate
spending her days in an office, Auger-Dominguez
instead of microaggressions. But despite her
reconnected with her past, with her Dominican
world to cultivate workplaces marked by inclusion passion for and commitment to these issues, Auger-
Dominguez’s fight to “create space and opportunity for others” eventually began to wear her out.
“I was stuck in a corporate Game of Thrones,”
Auger-Dominguez says with a laugh. “I was defining my entire existence by titles and achievement. I spent my energy battling toxic managers,
battling ‘stuck’ organizations that didn’t want to move beyond simple solutions, and battling practices
like covering, the practice of downplaying who you
traveled with her family over an entire summer. She heritage. When she returned to the US, she spent time with friends and mentees. She found time to
attend every single board and committee meeting for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the
Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Brooklyn Children Museum, and other organizations she had been serving for years. She chopped off her shoulder-length hair into a pixie cut. And she didn’t look back.
By winter 2018, however, Auger-Dominguez
are in order to succeed in an organizational context.”
knew that it was time to find another role. But while
that 76 percent of Latinos repress parts of their
them felt quite right. “I knew that all those orga-
A study by the Center for Talent Innovation found personas at work. “I was exhausted!” Disillusioned
Dominguez took the opportunity to take a full year off work following an organizational restructuring.
“I called it the ‘Year of My Heart,’” she says. “I knew that I needed to heal my heart and take care
of myself—and I also knew that if I didn’t take time
she had been receiving offers for months, none of nizations wanted me to do the same thing I had for
years—to be their voice for diversity while leaders were only willing to make surface-level changes,”
she notes. “I had seen how that played out, and I wasn’t interested.”
It was time for Auger-Dominguez to strike out
on her own, to find the opportunities to implement
12 9 Hispanic Executive
the lasting changes she had been dreaming of. And in April 2019, Auger-Dominguez made her move, starting Auger-Dominguez
Ventures and sending out a call to everyone from Fortune 500 corporations to start-up companies to social impact organizations that she was
ready and willing to help them “reduce the gap between the values that they espoused and the experience of their employees.”
In the year that has passed since then, Auger-Dominguez has been
working “nonstop” to help the people and organizations that reach out to her.
“My vision has always been to build workplaces that work for
everyone,” she explains. “In the grand scheme of things, I want to
inspire leaders to be more courageous, to lead inclusively, and to shape workplace culture that are—in their very DNA—compassionate, inclusive, and equitable.”
And as Auger-Dominguez sees it, that is by no means some far-off
dream. “It’s not going to happen overnight, of course, but I do believe that change can happen a lot faster than people think,” she remarks.
“Instead of constantly struggling with moving past the trending
hashtags, political landmines and pervasive blind spots, organizations can operate in inclusive and equitable ways.”
That inclusive culture, according to Auger-Dominguez, has to start
at the top. “The individuals currently being groomed to take over leadership positions in the next five, ten years, are going to be expected
to lead far more inclusively and equitably than their predecessors,”
the CEO says. “We should be preparing those leaders to not just be outstanding operational leaders but innovative people leaders as well. They can’t simply replicate the same leadership patterns that have kept
largely white and male executives the perpetual majority and prevented others from having seats at the table for so long.”
That work of transforming organizational structures and cultures
will be hard—“really hard,” Auger-Dominguez acknowledges. “But
this is about our collective future. All of our choices have consequences.
We are all inextricably bound to each other, and we now have a unique opportunity to build radical new models of work that will last beyond any of us.”
Editor’s Note: At press time, Daisy Auger-Dominguez had joined Vice Media Group as its chief people officer.
There Is No Equality without Choice Daisy Auger-Dominguez has been fighting for women and women of color specifically for decades, striving to ensure that they are able to do whatever they wish in their professional lives. But as she points out, “You can’t have autonomy or control over your career if you don’t have control over your own body.” That conviction is what inspires Auger-Dominguez every day as a Planned Parenthood Federation of America board member. The nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider, Planned Parenthood Federation of America is also the nation’s largest provider of sexual education—including more than 500,000 Latino patients. “I know it’s hard, especially for immigrants and Latinos, to access high-quality healthcare in this country,” Auger-Dominguez says. “I’m honored to be able to support Planned Parenthood and the amazing staff and volunteers on the front lines of this important work.”
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INSIG HTS Insights
The philosophies of innovative leaders have the power to inspire and spark change. Read on for the thought-provoking insights of these successful executives.
132 Lorna Hagen, iHeartMedia 137 Mario Rivera, Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation 140 Carlos Medina, One Technologies 143 La Dell Diaz, ACI Worldwide 146 Roger Morales, KKR 148 Pablo Cella, Amdocs 150 Ramon Ceron, Atkore International Group 153 Hector Coronel, Panda Restaurant Group 157 Lew Chavez, Nexa 160 Andres Angelani, Cognizant Softvision 162 Andy Velez, Bank of America
The Voice You Can Trust BY SARA DEETER
Lorna Hagen is as dedicated to the employees at iHeartMedia as the company is to its listenersâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s saying something
COURTESY OF IHEARTMEDIA
133 Hispanic Executive
Lorna Hagen Chief People Officer iHeartMedia
When Lorna Hagen speaks, you can’t help but listen. Like the innumerable radio, television, and
that, ultimately, I’m looking for meaningful
iHeartMedia, a prominent media organi-
a user, a consumer, and an advocate for all
podcast hosts who work alongside her at
zation and the top audio company in the United States, the chief people officer radiates a sense of warmth that naturally draws
opportunities—opportunities where I can be
THE NUMBERS BEHIND THE NUMBER ONE AUDIO COMPANY IN THE COUNTRY
that the company does. And that’s really easy
9 out of 10
for me at iHeart.”
A “huge lover” of audio entertainment,
people in. But of course, Hagen also couples
Hagen turns on her radio to listen to the
ship, a genuine passion for the world of audio
love podcasts like Noble Blood and Blood Ties,”
that warmth with a talent for incisive leader-
content, and the type of forward-thinking mind-set that makes her an ideal match for an industry innovator like iHeartMedia.
An alumna of Cornell University, Hagen
has spent nearly two decades exploring the HR space. From her first position as an asso-
ciate at IMG and throughout her subsequent leadership roles at HarperCollins Publishers,
Dow Jones, Ann Inc., OnDeck, and leading software company Namely, Hagen has culti-
news or a podcast first thing every day. “I she offers enthusiastically. “And I’ve found
that I concentrate more fully when listening to nonfiction than when I read it. When I
listen to audio books like Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers, it’s a completely different experience.”
And since she came into the role of chief
into the world. Not to mention that my teen-
professional journey, I’ve thought about the same two questions,” she explains. “How do I
constantly stay curious? And how do I figure
out which are the right opportunities to say yes to, and which are the right opportunities
150 million+ podcasts downloaded every month
130 million+ registered iHeartRadio users
agers are constantly listening to music, which makes me a very cool mom just by working
here,” she says with a laugh. “But as I started to dig into the world of audio, I really began
to appreciate what amazing platforms this company has to offer.”
According to Hagen, iHeart reaches
over 90 percent of Americans every month.
ant to me than they were a few years ago,”
and downloads than any other podcast plat-
Hagen continues. “And I’ve come to realize
live broadcast stations
experience what the company is putting out
to say no to?
“Now, those ideas are even more import-
“When I was first contacted about the
But in recent years, Hagen says, she has
her career trajectory. “All throughout my
monthly listeners in the United States
passion for audio has only been . . . amplified.
position, I loved the idea of being able to
begun to reframe the way she thinks about
people officer in October 2019, Hagen’s
vated a broad-ranging understanding of how to drive organizational success.
Americans reached every month
It has a larger audience with more streams form; it is a partner to the reVolver podcast
135 Hispanic Executive
network, the largest Hispanic podcast network in the world; and it is working
with industry powerhouses like Shon-
“PUERTO RICAN AND/OR LATINA”
da Rhimes to bring exciting new series
All of which means, Hagen points
out, that the company holds a unique place in the public’s consciousness.
“Audio’s reach is immense, and we
have research showing that consum-
ers believe it is more trustworthy than
for our listeners. We want our employ-
“As consumers, we are continually
feel that they contribute every day in
other platforms,” she says.
confronted with questions about what
information we see in digital media
is real and what isn’t. In our current
cultural environment, it’s important to
be at an organization where there is a high level of trust with our customers.” Without that trust, Hagen notes,
ees to feel a keen sense of belonging, to
ways that are meaningful to the orga-
nization,” she says. “And just as the company is embracing technology and artificial intelligence, we need to keep at the top of our employees’ minds.” Engagement
company has a very strong sense of
want to be there for all of our listen-
ees’ personal values, Hagen explains.
ers and be a friend to them anytime, anywhere,” she says.
And to Hagen’s mind, the compa-
ny’s success in connecting with listen-
ers, and in maintaining its position at
the forefront of innovation, directly
purpose that resonates with employIt is what she thinks about every day
in terms of the experience that she and
her team are trying to create for people at iHeart, and it is already at the center of the company’s overall culture.
It is the other goal, Hagen says, that
hinges on iHeart’s ability to drive
has occupied so much of her attention
“We need to be as committed to
cer. Preparing for the future of work
those same ideas internally.
being there for our employees as we are
Fidelity Investments Honors iHeartMedia Chief People Officer, Lorna Hagen.
the changing reality of how we do work
iHeart could not so effectively connect with its millions of listeners. “We
Being #DifferentTogether takes us further.
since she became chief people offi-
is a constant effort, she believes—it
Blaze your own trail at diversity.fidelitycareers.com EOE
shaping the future
At Mercer, we’re redefining the world of work, reshaping retirement and investment outcomes, and unlocking real health and well-being. www.mercer.com
SPEAKING WITH ONE VOICE Lorna Hagen loves John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons show (p.90) so much she’s seen it twice—and that’s just the Broadway version. “The show is just so, so interesting,” Hagen enthuses. “It’s about the idea of tearing cultures apart, but it ultimately comes back to this concept of speaking with one voice. “And that idea of inclusivity really resonated with me because that’s how you see real change in the corporate world,” she continues, “when you advocate for yourself as well as others, when you listen and are open to things you don’t know or understand. It’s not really about blurring the lines of identity but rather about celebrating those different identities.”
requires an organization to foster a culture of agility and adaptability, build company-wide tools for change
management, and cultivate the mindsets and cultural fortitude necessary to embrace rather than resist change.
In less than a year, Hagen has
already made significant headway
on that front, introducing a change management training program that
has helped more than two hundred leaders and managers across iHeart to “think about what’s coming next and
to understand how everyone can get there together.”
“The world is moving faster than
it ever has before,” Hagen says, “and organizations like iHeart are proactively building foundations of change management expertise to continue
to evolve. Anyone who’s ever been a parent knows what change looks like and most accept it—if not there would be millions of sad parents out there
because their children outgrew the sweet six-year-old age. We need to make our leaders understand that that
type of evolution is also normal and
needed at organizations. It’s just about honing that foundation and turning it into a conscious discipline.”
At Fidelity Investments, we embrace a culture of inclusion to unlock the magic of fresh perspectives, which fuels our innovation. By building a workforce with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, we better reflect the customers we work with and create deeper connections and better collaboration with them. Congratulations, Lorna! Mercer is excited to be a continued partner with Lorna to boldly shape the future!
137 Hispanic Executive
From cofounding a Latino fraternity at Cornell to giving up-and-coming leaders a leg up at DTCC, Mario Rivera is bent on helping others
Focused on the Future
BY CORA BERG
IN HIS NEARLY TWENTY YEARS working at the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Mario Rivera has held a variety of
the US market.”
During his time in the risk depart-
ment, he has run his own process to
move around and seek other oppor-
previously, the team was organized
tunities within the organization—
and Rivera uses these role changes to support his own career growth as well as the development of future leadership.
Whenever he shifts roles, he evaluates
his direct reports, identifying team members who may eventually take his
position. “We talk career goals,” he
says, “and I train them into my role,
overhaul the team structure. Where, into subgroups based on technologies,
Rivera has switched it up to create a more client-centered team focused on
internal clients and their needs. “The
business side should not have any concerns about tech,” he says. “Our
work should enable the client to get their work done.”
One of his tactics has been to pair
sharing skills and developing strategy.”
analytics team members with technol-
Rivera worked on the risk manage-
stand each other’s needs while provid-
Sometimes things come full circle.
ment team at DTCC for several years
before transitioning to wealth manage-
ment, and later to finance and HR support. In December 2019, Rivera
returned to risk management when he GISELLE GONZÁLEZ RIVERA
We are constantly recalculating risk for
positions. The financial services technology company encourages its staff to
Mario Rivera Executive Director of Enterprise Application Support Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation
of DTCC’s clearing corporations.
took on the role of executive director of
ogy experts, making sure they undering cross-training opportunities. It seems to be working: he reports feedback that the responsiveness from his team is up and coordination is getting even better.
Rivera also focuses on work meth-
enterprise application support. He now
odology. A huge advocate for Agile
services team that, he says, “supports
the development approach through-
manages a sixty-person risk and data
the risk calculation systems for each
methodologies, he has helped integrate out DTCC. “It’s client-focused,” he
“We wanted to share what we had learned. We wanted to help others succeed. Having Latinos represent only 4 percent of the Cornell population didn’t seem right to us.”
Having Latinos represent only 4 percent of the Cornell population didn’t seem right to us.”
Founded in 1982, the fraternity now has
more than seventy chapters around the coun-
try and is still all about community, getting involved, and giving back, Rivera says. As an
alumnus, he helped endow the Latino Living Center on Cornell’s campus. The experience
showed him the long-term impact of the organization: “I cofounded it with people from a different generation,” he says.
In 2009, Rivera cofounded Unidos,
DTCC’s Latinx employee resource group.
It’s one of several employee resource groups explains, much like other transformations he has led. Rivera appreciates the decreased
time-to-market that Agile’s clear prioritization structure encourages. The MVP (mini-
mum viable product) principle means that clients get value sooner from the solution and
can also provide feedback throughout a design
at the company; diversity and inclusion MI
mi identidad: “I primarily refer to myself as Puerto Rican as well as Latino. I know in the US we also use Hispanic, which I use as well.”
process. “We use incremental delivery to get
mother who believed deeply in the impor-
formed his work. Because of the need for
lor’s degree at night while working full-time
input and opinions from many people, he says, “not much happened because everyone pulled in different directions.” Not much, except lots
of meetings. Once they shifted tactics and the whole group focused on a single priority, the logjam broke and they could then take other needs into account.
tance of education—and who got her bache-
and raising kids—Rivera says, “It was just
Effecting change by facilitating groups
of people is not new to Rivera. Raised by a
members can meet people from across the
years building the group and, true to form, nurturing future leadership. “Now I’m just a member, passing the baton to new leaders,” he explains.
From his profession to his alma mater, the
This extends to his own home as well. All of
only 4 percent. “We saw people not make it,” he recalls of his mostly first-generation cohort. Driven partly by the low number of
Lambda Upsilon Lambda, thus creating a
must also provide robust documentation.
Unidos provides a networking space where
University, where the Latinx population was
do well.” He studied engineering at Cornell
organizations, he explains, “we are a highly DTCC cannot simply build systems; they
en to be—more successful,” Rivera explains.
executive director provides encouragement,
Latinx students, Rivera was one of the found-
regulated firm.” The result, he says, is that
diverse workforces are—and have been prov-
understood that we would go to school and
Rivera helped put together DTCC’s first
formal release of Agile in 2017. Unlike most
the idea that, from a business perspective,
part of mentoring circles. Rivera spent four
which involved eight different squads overhauling huge systems, where Agile trans-
says. “It came from many places, including
company, demonstrate their talents, and be
to the end state,” he says.
Rivera recalls a massive finance project,
is very important to the organization, he
ing fathers of Cornell’s Latino fraternity community to help others pool knowledge
and experiences. “You need the smarts and
the discipline,” Rivera says of making it at
Cornell. “We wanted to share what we had learned. We wanted to help others succeed.
laying foundations that will bolster success. Rivera’s four children followed in his footsteps and attended Ivy League universities,
one at Wharton/UPenn and three at Cornell.
When one of his daughters discovered he
had cofounded the endowment to support
Cornell’s Latino Living Center, she told him, “Dad! That’s the meeting place for all of the
Latinx organization on campus.” Life indeed had come full circle as he got to see how his
efforts so many years ago affected the college experiences of his children.
Carlos Medina on the experiences that molded him into a leader capable of supporting the growth and transformation of an organization like One Technologies
Embrace Change as One BY SARA DEETER
FOR THE PAST THREE DECADES, CARLOS Medina has been living in a “crucible of expe-
rience.” As a leader at major corporations such
relates to three things: yourself, the people
around you, and the organization as a whole.” The first step is to embrace yourself as a
as JCPenney, GE Capital, IBM, and Experian,
change catalyst and change leader, Medina
tegic growth and has proven himself to be an
change, the one who has the tools and skills
Medina has played a key role in driving straexpert in organizational change.
Today, as senior vice president and head
of strategic partnerships and business development at One Technologies, Medina leverages what he’s learned to help establish the
says. “You have to be the one who embraces necessary to adapt and be agile. And that takes a great deal of self-awareness,” he points out. “You have to be extremely cognizant of your strengths as well as your weaknesses.”
The second step toward effective change
company as a destination dedicated to its
leadership is to promote your own ability to
A University of South Florida graduate,
confidence that you can “walk the walk,”
customers, business partners, and teams alike.
Medina has continued to prioritize learning and development throughout his professional career, enrolling in change leader-
ship programs as soon as he obtained his master’s degree. “Delivering
services to your customers hinges on your
ability to grow as an organization and increase
satisfaction for both your customers and your employees,” Medina explains. “Whether
effect and manage change so that others have Medina notes. “But the third component, the organization, is what really moves the needle. “Any change leader has to act in the
context of the larger organizational culture,”
he continues. “And that can be incredibly challenging—your organization may
be global in nature or may need to support cultural assimilation of a company that was recently acquired.”
According to Medina, it is his focus on
you’re working on a project that is supposed
these three elements that has enabled him to
large deals, it all comes down to how change
tion he has worked at. And at each of those
to drive tens of millions of dollars or landing
create an impact at each and every organiza-
14 1 Hispanic Executive
Carlos Medina SVP, Head of Strategic Partnerships & Business Development One Technologies
other and recognize the value that each of us brings to the organization.”
Based in Dallas, One Technologies is
known for providing innovative financial credit information, solutions, and products such as credit monitoring and protection services, Medina explains.
As SVP, Medina’s aim is to “drive growth
through a customer-centric focus and a myri-
ad of opportunities to align with our company
vision and to develop strategic partnerships that align with what we want to deliver to our customers. It’s a lot of orchestration—a lot of herding cats,” he says with a laugh. companies, he notes, he has met “fantastic”
people working across an array of disciplines
who have mentored and supported him in driving that impact.
“I think that speaks a bit to the Hispanic
DAVID LOI / DEEP ELLUM MEDIA
culture as a whole and how we thrive working together as a team—as a family,” Medina
reflects. “That’s exactly how it is here at One Technologies. We are very process-focused, very centered on our customer and innovation, but at the same time, we are very much
like a family in the way that we care for each
But no matter how large or chaotic that
herd is, Medina stays committed to the three key areas of change leadership: yourself,
your teams, and the organization. As a team
“I am half Spaniard—born in Málaga, Spain, to a Spaniard father and Colombian mother. It’s more like Ibero-Latino. Ibero from the Iberian Peninsula.”
a finger on the pulse of both the market-
leader, he always has his “ear to the ground,
place and the consumer base” in order to ensure that he and his team are able to stay
on top of any new developments. He works
every day to strengthen his team, to model the adaptability required to launch new products,
and to be an example of the self-awareness needed for true collaboration.
14 2 Insights
“And when I look at Latino communities and the people who are trying so hard live the American dream . . . I know that we are doing our part to help them.”
But it is the culture at One Technologies, Medina says, that has truly made it
a leader in this industry.
“Culture brings value to an organization, and we firmly believe in our values
at One Technologies. It’s a key reason we have been named Texas Employer of
the Year for six years running,” Medina asserts. “We’re proud of how we put our culture front and center—that culture is very entrepreneurial, and very focused on
Turn consumers into customers
the customer, but at the end of the day, everything that we do is about our customer and our people.
“Every single member of my group, as well as the executive leadership team, is
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focused on driving both the customer agenda and the people development agenda,” the SVP continues. “Developing future leaders is primordial; it’s key. Everyone in
our office, no matter their role, is enrolled in a strengths-based leadership program and in personal development focused on our company values.”
When you put all those pieces together—leadership development, change
leadership, organizational culture, team coordination—that’s when you really see an organization thrive, Medina says. Indeed, that is how One Technologies has
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built a reputation for cultivating strong, long-lasting relationships while “flawlessly executing” some of the best products and services in the market.
“There are so many other products out there that don’t even come close to ours
in terms of the informational and educational value we bring to our customers including among others, monitoring, and identity protection services,” Medina says. “We want to educate consumers so that they can manage their future finan-
cial wellness, to provide them with the tools and knowledge they need to figure out how to buy a house, afford a more reliable vehicle, or put their kids through college.
“And when I look at Latino communities and the people who are trying so
hard live the American dream and obtain those things for themselves and for their
families,” the SVP adds, “I know that we are doing our part to help them. Further-
more, and considering our current global health and required virtual environment, it is also this sense of family that keeps us united with a great sense of pride as we continue forging ahead as a team.”
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14 3 Hispanic Executive
How Y2K (Indirectly) Brought La Dell Diaz to ACI
LA DELL DIAZ HAS BEEN WITH ACI Worldwide for twenty years—and
her path to the company began, oddly enough, with Y2K. Her first
major position as a contract attorney was with regional Bell operating
company US West, where she was part of a team of lawyers hired in the
pre-Y2K panic. “We dug into jillions
of contracts, talked to engineers and network operators and all that kind of
stuff,” Diaz explains. “And then Y2K
comes and it’s just . . . New Year’s Day. No big deal.”
There was a tiny twinge of regret
that all their hard work was for noth-
ing, she admits, but “everybody was happy that they now have contracts that meet their needs,” she says. “And
oh, by the way, it’s not the Stone Age.” After the new year, her employer
gave Diaz three months of pay to keep
her on the books and find a new job, which she did: she was hired as an associate counsel with ACI Worldwide,
BY CLINT WORTHINGTON
payment systems software. Twenty
years and several promotions later, she’s senior vice president of legal.
Over the last twenty years, Diaz has seen a lot of changes in technology—and she’s helped ACI Worldwide keep up with all of them
Two decades is a long time to
survive and thrive in the tech industry, and Diaz credits ACI’s emphasis
on knowledge, experience, and expertise with its ability to stay relevant in
the ever-changing market. When she joined in 2000, there were just over
a thousand employees globally, with a $300 to $400 million market cap.
Now, ACI has more than four thousand employees with a $5 billion-plus market cap and serves more than five
thousand customers around the globe.
over the next five years while the company tripled in size.
One of Diaz’s major roles is facil-
itating communication: she not only
manages her team of twenty-seven
attorneys and contract administrators,
who are spread out in offices across the
world, but also interfaces with virtually every other department at ACI, from
sales to finance and tax to product development and engineering, to make
sure agreements are aligned with the company’s professional strategy.
An ongoing initiative that Diaz
company is creating a safe and compliant method of using third-party soft-
ware in ACI’s own proprietary work. Much of this involves making frequent
use of open-source code, which is free,
rather than commercial software that would cost money. There are chal-
lenges to those savings, Diaz warns: “When a publicly traded multinational corporation uses a third party’s
La Dell Diaz SVP of Legal ACI Worldwide
work in their software, you have to do what’s right.” To that end, Diaz’s team
works diligently to maintain compli-
ance with license restrictions for this open-source code.
“Sometimes your client is best served when you advocate for the client, instead of fighting against an opponent.”
Diaz is also part of the cross-
functional team for ACI’s transition to cloud-based services, which is now
a major part of their business. “I am
really, really proud that I was on the ground floor of helping this organization grow into its next phase of tech-
gaining a reputation for efficiency and
That growth tracks neatly with
counsel, then to senior counsel two
the earth, and it’s incredible,” she says.
Diaz’s own progress through the
company. For the first three years, she was an associate counsel (“basically a
staff attorney,” she notes), handling
one or two products at a time. But after
nology deployment,” she says.
Along the way, Diaz has learned a
responsiveness, she was promoted to
lot of lessons about the tech industry
years later, managing contract activi-
them is the need to be well-rounded
ty for nearly the entire western hemisphere and all their product lines. As
ACI grew more acquisition-minded, she was promoted three separate times
and ACI as a company. Chief among
as a lawyer from a business perspec-
tive. “Regardless of the law you want to practice, the smartest thing to do is add an element of business education,”
“We’re in every inhabited continent on
mi identidad: “If I refer to my ethnicity (a rarity for me in the work context), I use Latina.”
she notes. “Two things will always
be necessary: lawyers and business people. If you can do both, you are set.”
It’s also important, she says, to
refine your understanding of the attorney/client relationship. “Sometimes your client is best served when
you advocate for the client, instead of fighting against an opponent,” Diaz
says. Determine your client’s goals and motivations, and why they need your services, and you’ll be a better representative for them.
Key to that understanding of your
client is transparent communication, which Diaz touts as one of the most
important lessons a corporate lawyer can learn. “One of the hardest things
to learn as a young attorney is admit-
ting that you don’t know something,” she says. “You have to know yourself
well enough to admit that ‘I don’t know this thing, but I can find out the answer.’”
Over the course of her years at ACI
Worldwide, Diaz has found herself growing and changing as an in-house lawyer, and she hopes to continue that growth in the future. After all, it’s
how she not only stays relevant in a fast-changing industry, but also helps
Gesmer Updegrove congratulates a true trailblazer, LaDell Díaz, on her welldeserved recognition. We are proud to work with LaDell to protect ACI Worldwide in and out of the courtroom.
her company do the same. Part of her
mission, she says, includes keeping
employee morale high. “We’ve done a good job of nurturing our people and have hung onto them a lot longer than
most, it seems,” she says. That means
trust, communication, and expertise win the day at ACI.
40 Broad St., Boston, MA 02109 • (617) 350-6800 • Gesmer.com
14 6 Insights
Over the course of his career, KKR’s Roger Morales has evolved his mental approach as a means of better realizing his full potential as a leader
“The Winds Change” BY BILLY YOST
IT’S ONE OF ROGER MORALES’S FINAL REMARKS during his interview, but it’s perhaps the most import-
ant: “I had a very singular mission for most of my career. I got up every day with the mind-set of determination
to keep moving forward and not allowing setbacks to get the better of me. When you’re on Wall Street, this is
absolutely something that happens. Rising in leadership and working with people who became very successful on their own, I learned an important lesson—that nobody
wants to talk to a hard-charging person who forgets to say thank you.”
Now a partner at KKR in the firm’s real estate busi-
ness, Morales says that thinking about how his parents struggled after fleeing Cuba, working whatever job they
could find, always fuels his fire. And though his father did eventually build a thriving career at General Mills,
Morales describes him as “a very intense person.” To counter that, Morales notes, “I’ve had to learn to breathe a little and just look around.”
He should be happy with what he sees. Both a
husband and father himself, Morales was selected as a
founding team member of KKR’s real estate platform in 2011, and since then, he’s served as head of commer-
cial real estate acquisitions for the Americas. He also sits on KKR’s real estate equity and credit investment
committees as well as the equity portfolio management
EVOLVING THE PLAYBOOK Morales’s evolution over the years provides a good model
for those hopeful of following a similar trajectory—but he admits to being reticent when it comes to doling out
Roger Morales Partner, Real Estate KKR
COURTESY OF KKR
committee for the Americas.
147 Hispanic Executive
advice. “As a Hispanic person, I always ran
private equity space. That business-building
think that worked very well for me for a very
traditional investment job.”
the ‘work smart, work hard’ playbook, and I long time,” he explains. “I got up from failures
has made the job even more interesting than a The business mentality at KKR is also
and just continued to work hard with the aid
one that meshes well with Morales’s style.
But what happens when the effort pays off?
neurship and being open to new opportuni-
of health, family, and friends.”
“I found that once you reach some measure of
seniority, that same mentality can lead to you being perceived as someone who doesn’t want
to be part of a broader entity,” Morales says. “You can’t continue running that same, hardcharging playbook that can be perceived as individual-centric. The winds change.”
It was the old maxim of “what got you
here won’t keep you here,” which rang doubly
“KKR has an incredible culture of entrepreties,” Morales asserts. “I’ve worked at other investment organizations where the bias is to figure out what is wrong with an investment
versus what’s right or can go really well. But our founders have so much career investing
experience and have really seen it all. At KKR we leverage our platform and our contacts to take smart risks, not shun them.”
But Morales has found even more in KKR
true for Morales, who was willing to eat,
than a business model he can believe in—at
was a career but because it was his passion.
learn to breathe. “The quality of people we
sleep, and breathe real estate—not because it
(When asked about his hobbies, Morales answers first with “real estate investing.”)
“As you become more senior and your
responsibilities change, your approach also
requires retooling, rethinking, and innovating,” Morales says. “In my case, that required a little bit of softening. I needed to become more
long last, he has found a place where he can
have here is what allows me to relax a little bit,” Morales notes. “There is a team mentality
here, and a culture that was created from the
ground up. I believe what’s being done here can be doubled and tripled and quadrupled in both size and relevance in the markets.”
Even though Morales is able to breathe,
conscious of being a multidimensional leader
he’s still contemplating the massive expansion
impact an organization.”
while it’s tough for his mind to settle down,
and how my actions or perceived actions could
RISK, REWARD, AND THAT MOMENT TO BREATHE KKR, Morales says, has provided the optimal
environment for that leadership evolution. “I got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get
into an organization like KKR and help build
out a business that was initially incubated in 2011,” Morales says. “It’s now a very formi-
dable, competitive entity in the real estate
he feels is possible at KKR. He admits that
his wife is the one able to keep him grounded. “I know how cliché it sounds, but I have
an incredible wife. She understands the demands of this job, and we have such open
and honest communication,” he says. It’s in those small moments that Morales’s ability to take a moment to appreciate all he’s earned shines, and it’s why he continues to grow into
new and challenging roles—those winds of change notwithstanding.
OPPORTUNITY AHEAD Roger Morales has made waves at KKR, but he credits nonprofit Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) with helping him find the water. SEO helped Morales get an interview for an internship at Salomon Brothers in 1999, and since then, he’s done his fair share to help the organization continue to find positions for young, motivated people from underserved communities. “It’s an organization that gave back to me even after the internship, and as time has gone on, I’ve tried to be as involved as I can,” says Morales, who is a contributing donor to the SEO Scholars program. “I will participate to the extent that I’m able to, forever.”
14 8 Insights
Pablo Cella strives to help young professionals in Latin America get a better view of their dreams
A Clear Line of Sight
BY BILLY YOST
PABLO CELLA RECENTLY REACHED OUT TO HIS alma mater, the Universidad Nacional del Sur in Bahía
Blanca, Argentina, because he hopes to offer graduates a more informed perspective than his class had. “Growing up
and attending college in a small town, we were not in a place where we had any international exposure,” Cella explains. “We were one of the first groups studying computer science
there and had no idea where our studies would take us. We thought we’d wind up teachers or in research; going to a
new place or leaving the country wasn’t something we could understand, because we couldn’t see the potential beyond our walls.”
Cella wants to lead a series of webinars for undergradu-
ates at his alma mater so that he can implore them to dream big and connect them with people who can help them achieve success. “I want them to know I am here to connect with and
mentor them,” he says. “This dream has happened for me and for people I know, so why not them?”
Cella has spent the last fifteen years rising through the
ranks at telecommunications and software company Amdocs
to become regional vice president and customer business executive. Even before that, the Argentinian’s journey was
impressive: his résumé includes worldwide consulting work and executive account management positions for various organizations, like AT&T, Telstra in Australia, América
Móvil group, and most recently Comcast. Recently, he was
listed as one of the Top 100 Influential and Notable Hispanic Executives in the USA in 2020 by the Hispanic Information Technology Executive Council (HITEC).
Cella says that remaining at Amdocs for so long has been
one of the easiest decisions of his career. The company that Pablo Cella Regional VP, Customer Business Executive Amdocs
originally made its name from producing the yellow pages
has consistently stayed ahead of the market through wise acquisitions and smart expansion with calculated risk. “We
COURTESY OF AMDOCS
COMMITMENT TO INNOVATION
always seem to continue to expand ahead of the saturation of the market,” Cella says. “We pioneer in areas that are critical to the telecommunications and media industry. As we
deal with this new age of managing pandemics and natural
disasters, our role to provide seamless communications is of the utmost importance.”
That innovation continues to this day: Cella says the
company’s embrace of the future of 5G puts it well on its way
to carving out essential real estate in the space. “From monetization to user experience, we’re deeply invested in connecting people—improving every customer interaction harness-
ing 5G media and Cloud—in ways that we think will provide value and enjoyment to our customers,” Cella says. “Amdocs
continues to buy the right assets at the right time, and it keeps me excited about where we’ll head next.”
PLAYING TO STRENGTHS As Cella was promoted into leadership positions over the
course of his career, he says, it’s been crucial for him to better
needs to improve. “I think a lot of the time, you are who you
“I embrace and identify with being Latino—technically, I am a blend of Spanish, Italian, and French, with 8 percent native aboriginal descent. I am very proud to be South American with a Latino upbringing and heritage.”
understand his management style and identify areas where he
are, and as long as you understand your strengths and your weaknesses, you can rely on a team to bolster you where you
need it and rely on your strengths,” he says. But Cella isn’t stuck in his ways—just the opposite, in fact.
“I was often called an emotional and passionate leader
who tried to motivate people to get the best out of them, but I learned over time that everyone isn’t motivated by the same
things,” Cella explains. “I learned to be more consistent and operational over time. For five or six years, I knew a fraction
of what I know today, and I’ll look back and think the same thing five years from now.”
As a leader, Cella is now intent on helping those who
might not otherwise know they have a chance to live their dreams. “I’ve found that there is a large gap between young
professionals in Latin America and those young professionals
in the US, from exposure to internships to scholarships and job fairs. There are a million opportunities (and dreams) that
can be applicable anywhere, but they are not always in sight,” Cella says. “As a result, we don’t have as much talent in Latin
America thinking about working at the next big start-up company or getting a master’s degree.”
Cella credits the Hispanic Information Technology
Executive Council with giving him a platform to reach more Latin American talent. And he’s focused on doing more to help companies abroad tap into the talent he knows is there.
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Ramon Ceron pivoted his career focus toward landing a position as treasurer. At Atkore International, he’s making the most of that role.
A Calculated Risk BY CORA BERG
RAMON CERON ARRANGES HIS CALENDAR AROUND prioritization of financial risks. While the risk manage-
ment focus varies, monitoring Atkore International’s
financial health is a constant for the vice president and treasurer. Ceron explains that his job is, essentially, to
ensure his company remains on strong financial foot-
ing at all times. “No surprises,” he says. “Foresee factors and situations that could derail the company’s plans or
constrain strategic or operational initiatives. It is critical to both communicate and act on anything that might be a hindrance to the success of the company.”
Atkore, a manufacturer of electrical raceway prod-
ucts, is in the process of expansion and needs Ceron to
Michigan–Ann Arbor and University of Wisconsin–
Madison. After completing his master’s degree, he took
a job with AT&T, and as the company began to split, he found himself more interested in business dynamics than the “manufacturing processes” that he worked on. After getting his MBA from the University of Chicago
Booth School of Business, he decided that corporate treasury was the preferred path. From there, he followed the same advice that he often shares with others: “Have
a plan. Be efficient with your time. Be patient but not
complacent. And take risks.” As someone well versed in risk management, the risks he takes are calculated ones.
Though he no longer works as an engineer, Ceron
make sure the road is clear. When pressed, he rattles
still thinks like one. He recognized that treasury would
capital structure, financing, global cash and liquidi-
which would be a better fit for him than other areas
off a long list of risks under his purview, including ty, property and casualty insurance, interest rate risk,
foreign exchange risk, and management of pension assets and liabilities. They’re all things that could
easily block or slow expansion if not monitored and managed effectively.
Ceron’s career path has been intentional, bringing
him to a place where he’s prepared to assess risk and
proactively recommend courses of action to ensure the
short- and long-term financial stability of Atkore. It began with engineering degrees from the University of
allow him to engage in strategic and analytic work,
of finance. Ceron isn’t interested in selling anything, so banking and consulting didn’t make sense. And to go into private equity or asset management, as he
says, “Historically, you needed to know people. With my Hispanic background, I was not familiar with the
connection-laden world of finance.” In a treasurer role
he is effectively the client: “I am most comfortable as the buyer. Analytically evaluating the financial and strate-
gic merit of any service or product for the company is a core competency.”
151 Hispanic Executive
“Be efficient with your time. Be patient but not complacent. And take risks.” One unusual challenge is a lack of available posi-
tions. “There is only one treasurer in a company,”
Ceron points out. So he took opportunities to acquire experience in the facets of treasury because, as he puts it, “learning, coupled with broad experiences across the
breadth of subsectors within treasury, is critical to posi-
tioning yourself for treasury leadership.” Finally, having spent a great deal of time as a “treasurer in waiting”
at a previous company, he took a risk with a Midwest company in the midst of a turnaround and moved his
family from Connecticut to Ohio. Eighteen months in, the company was acquired, and Ceron accepted a role at
Atkore International in Chicago. While the job means
a serious commute between Cincinnati and Chicago, he
says, “Great opportunities in great companies are hard to find, and this has been a smooth and rewarding transition into a company with healthy growth.”
Atkore is a smaller company than he has worked
at before, but smallness has its benefits. Ceron finds
himself rolling up his sleeves and getting into all aspects of the work—something he embraces as a learn-
ing opportunity. “The key is to prioritize financial risks and focus on things that are most impactful,” he says.
To achieve this, Ceron takes his leadership and mana-
gerial roles seriously. Managing a young team requires LEESA PRUETT CERON
an emphasis on soft skills and teamwork, which he believes are critical to supporting and growing talent. Ramon Ceron VP and Treasurer Atkore International Group
Recent years have brought about significant change
at Atkore. In 2016, Atkore went public. Up to that point, the company went through a series of acquisitions
Tomorrow’s Results Require Commitment Today Aon applauds Ramon Ceron for his dedication, leadership and extraordinary contributions to Atkore International and impact on the community. Your recognition is well deserved and you are an inspiration to us; we are honored to call you a partner and friend.
“With regard to the concept of Latino identity, I generally don’t use any labels, nor have had a need. That said, if the need arose, I would only use South American.”
and divestitures, with a focus on building a lean organiza-
tion. Following the public offering, it was quick to establish independence from private equity and set in place a number of leadership changes. The company also sought new talent.
“We are part of a new team that is focused on Atkore’s
next phase of growth and success,” Ceron says. “Right now,
everyone is single-minded on that goal.” The strategy seems to be paying off—Atkore’s stock price has doubled in the thirteen months since he arrived. The company currently manufactures and supplies steel and PVC conduit—everything needed to deploy, isolate, and protect a structure’s elec-
trical circuitry from source to outlet—but Ceron says growth may come from a broader portfolio of electrical products.
With strong free cash flow, the company has been able to bolt
on smaller businesses as part of their M&A strategy. Atkore is on the move, fortifying its balance sheet and expanding in key strategic areas.
Ceron is determined to help Atkore grow at a prudent
pace. He works diligently with key internal and external stakeholders. Much of his work revolves around banks, rating
agencies, insurance brokers and carriers, investment advisors, actuaries, and attorneys. “My time is spent keeping balls in the air—many of them related to outside parties with whom we collaborate,” he says.
Ceron also finds the intimacy of a small company reward-
ing. He runs a fairly autonomous department, he explains, yet appreciates the collaboration and sharing across areas.
“You get to be a leader and yet be fully connected to the rest of the organization,” he says. Just like his chosen profession,
this means a lot of risk and, so far, a lot of reward. As Ceron looks back, he also looks forward and says, “It hasn’t been easy. Nothing worth pursuing ever is. I relish the challenges that are forthcoming.” 11566 13 ad for Hispanic Executive Magazine v1.indd 1
2/19/20 1:09 PM
153 Hispanic Executive
Dream Big and Feel at Home In Panda Restaurant Group, Hector Coronel discovered a family-owned business that practices what it preaches BY CORA BERG PORTRAITS BY MATHEW SCOTT
ABUNDANCE MENTALITY. AS EXECUTIVE director of business development and asset
management for Panda Restaurant Group, Hector Coronel prescribes to that mind-set saying, “This is not about scarcity. Panda is a
growth business, looking for opportunities to grow the brand.” Coronel
about a Chinese food restaurant opening
next to a Panda store. Leadership, though, had a different response to the competition. Because Panda was looking to grow
the American Chinese food market, more
restaurants meant more consumer interest.
“What a privilege it is to be making decisions at a place where diversity of opinion is encouraged in order to get to the best possible outcome.”
Today, Coronel happily embraces the concept
that, not only is there enough for everyone but it’s always better when there is more.
Coronel has the formidable job of
managing Panda’s real estate, which is ruled by more than two thousand locations. That
job includes overseeing new unit growth in nontraditional spaces like universities and
too easy,” Coronel says. Instead, he believes finding creative solutions
for all other properties. Staying in tune
airports, as well as the asset management with leases, negotiations, and long-term
that foster growth (and maintain employees) can and should be the Response to the first several weeks of the COVID-19 crisis
planning requires a close connection with
exemplified Coronel’s commitment to Panda’s guideposts of hard
as local operators. On the collaboration that
quickly understood that to be proactive, it needed as much knowl-
every department in the company, as well
drives his work, he says, “This is a peopledevelopment company. People come first.”
For his team, Coronel clears a path and
facilitates work. “I lead by giving ownership,”
he explains. “The goal is to not lose any
stores—it’s to keep growing. And the larger
work, humility, and diversity. As he explains, the initial triage team edge as possible. Leaning on his collaborative skills, he says, “There
is no playbook for this. But that is like asset management. You have
to deputize people and then . . . go!” Along with scheduling daily cross-company staff meetings, Coronel paired teams with local stores to provide guidance and carry forth the people-first message.
“What a privilege it is to be making decisions at a place where
goal is to make sure the team grows profes-
diversity of opinion is encouraged in order to get to the best possible
to empower decision-making.”
kept him with the company for sixteen years.
sionally and personally within Panda. I have “It’s different when you think of the
outcome,” Coronel says. That type of gratitude for Panda is what’s Born in Los Angeles’s Lincoln Heights, Coronel left at eleven
project as your own,” he says. Together, he
years old after his parents decided to head back to Mexico and their
restaurants—and they let it get personal.
feeding pigs. Now, he reminisces about the experience, but back then
and his team seek successes for individual “Turning off the lights and closing a store is
native Jalpa, Zacatecas. Suddenly, Coronel found himself on a farm he only wanted to return to the States. “Returning to their homeland,
155 Hispanic Executive
Hector Coronel Executive Director, Business Development & Asset Management Panda Restaurant Group
mi identidad: “I identify as Mexican American. Having lived in Mexico, I have strong ties to the culture. I also have tremendous respect for the individual experiences and journey of the Salvadorean, Guatemalan, and Puerto Rican communities, among many others, to choose a term that combines us all into one identity.”
As a family-owned business that oper-
ates the majority of its stores, Panda’s values
align with Coronel’s commitment to family. While they still have the home in Zacatecas, his parents live right next door to him in
Los Angeles. Holding to the idea of abundance, he and his wife of seventeen years
find consistent reconnection. “We are a part
of each other’s lives,” Coronel says proudly. “And I know my children.”
Based on his own experiences, as well
as those of his parents and Panda, Coronel believes, “Anything that comes my way, I’m going to take advantage of it.”
Hector Coronel has achieved his Amer-
that was my parents’ American Dream,” he explains. “It was not my
American Dream.” In 1991, while visiting family in Southern California, he enrolled in high school with plans of staying put. Eventually, his parents came north to support him.
After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley,
and later earning a master’s degree in public policy at the Universi-
ty of Southern California, Coronel felt like he was well on his way to a community development government job. But it was right then
that he met Andrew and Peggy Cherng, cofounders and co-CEOs
of Panda Restaurant Group. Wowed by their values and ethos, the future executive director decided to take a turn with the Cherngs.
He still finds himself learning from the founders. On a recent
project, as he pushed hard to finish, Coronel says that leadership pulled him aside. “Andrew wanted to make sure I was bringing people
along,” Coronel explains. The reminder from the top was that training people supersedes getting projects done fast.
ican Dream and now understands that
dream as one shared with Panda’s forty-
one thousand employees. To underline that point, he speaks of a colleague who start-
ed as a dishwasher without the ability to
speak English. Now, Coronel explains, the
same man manages thousands of employees and hundreds of stores. Even in the midst
of everyday chaos—and a crisis like the
COVID-19 pandemic—Coronel still gets to witness the manifestation of dreams.
Congratulations Hector Coronel for the well deserved recognition you are receiving. Your career path and leadership is truly inspirational. Craft Construction is proud of its long-standing relationship with you and Panda Restaurant Group. We look forward to continuing to provide you valuable, efficient, turnkey general contractor services throughout the nation.
157 Hispanic Executive
Lew Chavez has dedicated the past three decades of his life to helping organizations improve supporting their clients—and he intends to keep moving forward
A Man with a Plan BY BILLY YOST
LEW CHAVEZ HAS SPENT THIRT Y-THREE YE ARS building. He’s created support organizations for well over a
dozen companies, building out extensive customer success
teams before that idea ever became relevant. “I’ve always been very customer support-centric,” Chavez explains. “I look at these things as a way to not only satisfy the customer but also to help grow the business by selling more as a
result of exceeding customer expectations.” From customer
and effective changes,” Chavez says. “There are cookie-cutter approaches that can often be applied in a very short amount of time, and then I can focus on the rest. I get to be a hero for
however long those changes take to get implemented. The
real success comes from the people you surround yourself
with, though, and I’ve been very fortunate to have great people challenging me every day and helping me.”
As a rule, Chavez is intent on putting himself out of
success to outsourcing to automation, Chavez has consis-
work. He comes, he builds, he leaves. “After a few years, I
innovative ways to save companies’ resources while main-
tently challenged himself to grow in new directions, finding taining quality service.
Chavez has a love for learning that keeps him up-to-
date on the latest methods and motivates him to share his knowledge as widely as possible. “I’ve always been energetic
and inherently curious,” he says. “I’ve seen a lot of others my
never really know if it makes sense for me to stay or not,” he But there’s an exception to every rule: the support expert
spent nearly a decade at Riverbed Technology, getting several promotions and eventually leading around one hundred people.
“The main reason I stayed as long as I did at Riverbed
age ride off into the sunset to larger companies where they
was the opportunities management threw my way,” he says.
nothing wrong with that, but I’m not that guy. I want to be
After a year and a half, I became director of Americas tech-
can just earn a good living and with less exposure. There is in a start-up or a company that acts like one. This requires a bit of risk.”
Chavez says he loves coming into an organization to
quickly make real and effective change. “Because I have learned a lot in the business from a handful of great leaders,
there is often a lot of low-hanging fruit for me to make big
“I was hired to formalize their critical account organization.
nical support.” Chavez was later promoted to VP of Americas support, where he brought in an advance support organization with high-tiered dedicated resources that supported federal and enterprise accounts.
In his final year at Riverbed, Chavez was asked to split
the Americas TAC organization into two regions to get
FAMILY HISTORY Lew Chavez takes great pride in his family. His parents met in the picking fields where they both picked apricots in what would become Silicon Valley; they taught Chavez the value of a strong work ethic and eventually went on to successful careers of their own. And Chavez’s ancestors are famous, in a way: they’re featured in historian Bob Alexander’s book, Lawmen, Outlaws, and S.O.B.s: Gunfighters of the Old Southwest. Chapter ten, titled “Clutching a Canteen Containing Blood: The Fighting Lopez Family,” details how Chavez’s extended Lopez family members in Las Cruces, New Mexico, were part of the US Cavalry and became US Marshals.
“For every customer—I don’t care how big or small they are—a vendor should verify that the customer is onboarded correctly and able to recognize the value of our solution.”
leadership closer to the customers. He then
to save so much money and allow employees
and brought in their first tier one outsource
of making constant renewal calls, bots can do
built a brand-new customer care organization group in Chennai, India. “The concept was
to take away those less complex cases that our tier three organization was handling,” Chavez explains. “Thirty-five percent of their volume
was removed so they could concentrate on giving better support to our customers at a
to focus on more meaningful work. Instead so up until the point of payment.” But while he enjoys his time at Nexa, he’s looking down
the road at building a start-up or enterprise company into a global delivery organization. “That is my true calling,” he says.
At present, Chavez is in contact with
higher level.” When the project was complet-
those looking for a leader who can develop an
Chavez has spent the last year at Nexa as
service. That could be with a fleet of delivery
ed, he headed out for good.
the general manager for their high-tech business unit. They offer their clients US-based
outsourced resources that provide tier zero support. Customer service representatives
handle the low-end volume, which allows companies to take a lower cost approach to
growing while allowing their badged employ-
efficient team that delivers the best customer trucks or an investment firm. At Riverbed,
he was an intricate part of the team that won JD Power and Associates’ An Outstanding Customer Service Experience award three
years in a row. In other words, building an efficient team is a task familiar to him.
“I think there’s a missing link that I
ees to concentrate on the more complex issues.
can help fill,” Chavez explains. “For every
be beneficial to organizations of all sizes. “I’m
are—a vendor should verify that the customer is
Chavez is convinced that outsourcing can
very interested in helping to set up an organization with AI front-end processing as well as an outsourced tier zero organization that will
eventually transfer to a badged member of the organization once that interaction needs to
take place,” Chavez says. “It has the potential
customer—I don’t care how big or small they
onboarded correctly and able to recognize the
value of our solution.” A lot of times what you find after a sale is made is that these expensive
products wind up being doorstops because no
one has taken the time to show them how to use the product successfully.”
159 Hispanic Executive
LEVEL ZERO SUPPORT Where The Customer Experience Begins
We help technology companies with multiple products and services streamline their customer support workﬂow.
24/7 US-BASED CALL SUPPORT
TICKETING + CASE MANAGEMENT
WORKFLOW + CALL MANAGEMENT
BRIAN WOODCHEK/THE PICTURE PEOPLE
Lew Chavez General Manager Nexa
“My ancestors came from Spain and settled in ‘Old Mexico;’ Las Cruces, New Mexico; and Greeley, Colorado. When I do have to label myself, I guess I consider myself Hispanic, which I believe is defined as a person who is born in or descends from Spain.”
How to Grow into a Growth Leader BY BILLY YOST
CEO Andres Angelani has already turned around Cognizant Softvision— and now he’s looking to the future
WHEN ANDRES ANGELANI WAS GROWING
Prior to being hired at Softvision in early
up in Argentina, his family’s dining table was
2017, Angelani spent nearly thirteen years
entrepreneur who started his own company,
company Globant. When Angelani joined
like a miniature boardroom. His father was an went bankrupt a handful of times, and was always brainstorming his next move during
breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “The instability of Argentina at the time wasn’t a favorable
business environment for him, but he always
lifted himself back up,” Angelani says. “We were always talking business around the
house. It really equipped me well for what I was about to do.”
Angelani is now CEO of the digital
product engineering company Cognizant Softvision (a division of Cognizant Digital
Business), though when he was growing up, he didn’t consider himself a people person. “I was always kind of a nerdy tech guy,” he
developing his skills at IT and software the team there in 2004, the company had fewer than thirty employees; in 2019, it did nearly $700 million in revenue. He opened
business lines in the UK over three and a
half years, developing business for the rapid-
ly expanding company. He then moved his family to the United States to develop key accounts, including Disney, that were essential to Globant’s successful public offering in
2014. After two years of operating as chief
solutions officer, Angelani realized that if he
wanted a CEO role, he’d need to move on. But the man who came to Globant was not the man who was leaving.
“When I was in the UK, I started real-
says, laughing. “I played classical piano and
izing that I might be able to do the ‘people
years, he’s not only come to appreciate people,
I thought I was terrible with them. I’m very
preferred systems instead of people.” Over the
he’s also realized he’s good at working with them—and the wisdom he absorbed from his entrepreneurial father helped as well. “I’m a
growth leader,” he says. “I always have been, not just in terms of how much a business can grow but also in terms of its people.”
thing’ well,” Angelani explains. “Prior to that, demanding and black and white. It created a lot of friction. We would deliver great
results but it was a very rocky way of dealing with people.”
After moving to the US, Angelani was
tasked with building a game development
161 Hispanic Executive
Andres Angelani CEO Cognizant Softvision (a division of Cognizant Digital Business)
wing from scratch with partner Electronic
by Cognizant for three times what the private
world’s largest sports video games, includ-
invested in it.
Arts (which included work on some of the ing the FIFA series, the NBA2K series, and
It’s a resounding success story, but Ange-
the NHL series). Along the way, he says, he
lani doesn’t simply want his Cognizant Soft-
interactive software development, and dele-
“If I have to do what I need to do in order to
learned “an entire career” of team-building, gation. “That’s where I learned I’m a growth
leader,” Angelani says. “But I’m not the boss who wants to hold your hand and tell you how
great you are. I’m not the ‘nice’ guy. I’m sort
of the ‘tough love’ type, and I feel great joy seeing my team grow into better professionals
vision story to be written as a turnaround.
get the company back in shape, I’ll do it, but I’m more interested in what the vision for the
industry is going to be,” he says. “After things are turned around is when the real fun starts for me, because it requires vision.”
Angelani believes Cognizant Softvision
is in a position to be the top digital pure play
but in coming to Softvision, he was able to use
tion because Cognizant loved how we run
Angelani’s style may not be for everybody,
COURTESY OF COGNIZANT SOFTVISION
equity firm that owned the majority stake had
his talents to help turn around a precarious situation. “When I arrived, there was a high level of debt and the company wasn’t in good shape,” he says. “I had to cut a lot of costs and
talk to the banks to make investments.” The
company completely redid its go-to-market strategy and in just two years, it was acquired
in the market. “We agreed to this acquisi-
our business, cultivate communities, and deliver as cross-functional teams,” Angelani explains. “Now we have the opportunity to
influence on a much more prominent stage, and my team has the ability to use what
they’ve learned and make Cognizant lead in digital.”
AUTHOR IN RESIDENCE When Andres Angelani isn’t leading transformation on behalf of global Fortune 500 companies, he’s writing about it. The two books he’s written— Transforming While Performing: A Practical Guide to Being Digital and The Never-Ending Digital Journey: Creating New Consumer Experiences through Technology—are filled with what Angelani says is simply the game plan he himself has followed for transformation and success. “I was really lucky to work with different types of companies in different industries and at different stages of transformation,” he says. “There is a pattern. The solution is the people and the culture, but there are patterns across industries that you can use to make the transformation smoother and impact the people positively.”
Leveling the Playing Field BY BILLY YOST
For Andy Velez, ensuring equal and fair treatment for all employees is a fundamental principle
163 Hispanic Executive
COURTESY OF BANK OF AMERICA
Andy Velez SVP and Associate General Counsel Bank of America
For Andy Velez, it’s pretty simple: “If you have a level playing field and everyone has a chance to exhibit their talents, if you work hard and demonstrate your talent and work ethic—that will win out.” Currently senior vice president and assistant general coun-
road warrior and perform at a consistently high level dazzles
a wide range of labor and employment experience—which
work alongside of him.”
sel for Bank of America, Velez is a litigation expert with
he uses to help keep that playing field level. “It may seem
even the most hardened opponents. It is truly a privilege to
like, coming in-house, that you’re taking the side of the
THE VALUE OF BEING THERE
he says. “The company is asking you to ensure that its poli-
role was advising business partners of risk on employment
company that’s paying you, but that’s not how this works,”
When Velez first came to Bank of America in 2015, his
cies, including equal and fair treatment for all employees, are
and internal matters. After a year and a half he was asked
Earlier in his career, Velez had assumed that he was a
born litigator, made for the courtroom and nothing else. But in his five years with Bank of America, he’s developed a broad and collaborative skill set that emphasizes efficient
and honest communication between the company’s legal department and the rest of its business.
And, ultimately, it’s been a skill set that has not gone
to manage litigation, widening his purview significantly. “I said, ‘I know how to do this, but I need to do it my way,’” Velez remembers. “In terms of traveling on behalf of issues
and adding value, I felt that I needed to be traveling more than the job had previously entailed. I place a great deal of
trust in our outside counsel, but I wanted to be an added eye there.”
While the financial world may seem to be full of strin-
unnoticed by the partners that work with—and depend on—
gent processes and protocol, Velez says, his employer has
relentless passion and energy of a prize fighter, the instincts
allowed him to be the most effective lawyer he can be. “I felt
Velez for his expertise and know-how. “Andy embodies the
and precision of a scientist, and the knowledge and wisdom
of a philosopher,” explains Michael J. Fortunato, president at the firm of Rubin, Fortunato & Harbison PC. “On any
offered him a degree of flexibility in his approach that has like I was able to openly ask about it and challenge the way it had been done before,” he says. “And it’s worked out.”
Velez has also made himself available for the compa-
given matter, he quickly masters the law and digests the facts
ny’s continuing diversity and inclusion initiatives, appear-
ation for the business realities. His ability to multitask as a
of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms conference.
while shaping the trajectory of a case with a keen appreci-
ing on the bank’s behalf at the annual National Association
A Law Firm of Action www.rubinfortunato.com 10 S. Leopard Road • Paoli, PA 19301 • T: 610.408.2000 • E: email@example.com
Bressler, Amery & Ross congratulates
“I try not to downplay downsides of a potential dispute, because the reality of the situation is that litigation is very expensive. You need to be efficient and honest in your advice.”
Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at Bank of America
“We are a large client that needs to
effectively tell the businesspeople and
to all of our outside counsel,” Velez says.
the responsibilities they are supervis-
express our interest in diversity matters
on his well-deserved recognition
“We have to ensure that
by Hispanic Executive.
reflective of the diverse
our outside counsel is employees that we have
here.” He also routinely sits in on committees
that assess prospective
your HR partners that you understand
ing. Be honest, be clear, and provide all of the
mi identidad: “LATINO”
outside counsel and says
With one of the nation’s largest concentrations of attorneys dedicated to representing clients in the financial services industry, Bressler is the go-to litigation firm for the financial industry.
that the opportunity to
For nearly 40 years, Bressler Amery & Ross has represented broker-dealers, investment advisers, and financial service firms in arbitration and litigation matters. Our employment law team has a long and successful track record in matters before FINRA and in courts across the country.
ASKING THE TOUGH QUESTIONS
they need to know so
they can make the most informed decisions.”
Velez is effective as a
partner partially because he doesn’t sugarcoat the
have a voice in furthering diversity on
realities of potential litigation, he says.
counsel has been a rewarding new
potential dispute, because the reality
behalf of Bank of America’s outside component of his position.
Velez has spent the last decade focusing
“I try not to downplay downsides of a of the situation is that litigation is very expensive. You need to be efficient and honest in your advice.”
In his role, Velez says, it’s also
on employment law in financial indus-
essential to play devil’s advocate when
tions and compliance. Even though he
forcing that each and every fact can
tries, a world that’s heavy on regula-
isn’t a regulatory attorney, the nature of his job means that it’s in his best interest to know what’s going on. “That way
I can advise the business on what’s fair and what is level,” he says. “I have cred-
it comes to potential litigation, rein-
often be interpreted any number of ways. “I’m never afraid to ask the tough question at the end of a conference call,” he says.
The value of asking tough ques-
WITH OFFICES LOCATED IN: NEW JERSEY NEW YORK FLORIDA WASHINGTON, D.C. ALABAMA
ibility to explain the way the law works
tions, according to Velez, is that it
The best advice he can offer young
business partners. “It lets your internal
have to know your industry. You have
in that framework.”
lawyers, Velez says, is to have the
confidence and the courage to grow in
the business. “To do this job well, you
to become an expert here so you can
helps cement relationships between
clients know that you’re looking out for their best interest,” he says. “And the greatest satisfaction I can get is when I
hear from a supervisor that one of my clients trusts my advice.”
GLO BAL Global
International businesses present unique challengesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; and opportunitiesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;for corporate citizenship in multiple countries. The executives featured here thrive in navigating cultural shifts worldwide.
168 Pilar Cruz, Cargill 173 Alexander Montoya, Liberty Mutual Insurance 175 Lina Martinez, Atlas Copco 180 Oscar Arredondo, Chevron 182 Andres Villareal, MoneyGram
Growing a Culture of Inclusivity BY A.J. ZAK
PORTRAITS BY GILLIAN FRY
At Cargill, Pilar Cruz believes diversity is just as crucial as strategy when it comes to achieving success
Pilar Cruz President, Cargill Aqua Nutrition Business Cargill
WHEN PILAR CRUZ MOVED FROM HEAD OF CORPORATE strategy and development at Cargill to president of the company’s compound feed and nutrition business in 2017,
it wasn’t long before she had a big challenge to deal with: African swine fever was decimating pork markets in China, Vietnam, and elsewhere, which in turn affected Cargill’s
business with swine distributors, customers, and farmers in those countries. Just months into her new role, Cruz had to find opportunity in a difficult situation.
the company have taken her and her family around the
world, with stints in cities in the US, Canada, Europe, and South and Central America, before landing at their current
home in Minneapolis. Exposure to those different cultures became a core part of Cruz’s identity as a leader.
“My passion for inclusion and diversity and for explor-
ing and being curious about different teams and different cultures is personal,” she says. “It is my own journey.”
Mentors and leaders Cruz has known along the way at
So she joined an effort on biosecurity to help custom-
Cargill have been another key element in her journey. As
She worked with global teams to make the business more
analyst, Cruz was encouraged by the company to take big
ers mitigate the impact of the disease on their livestock. competitive and efficient, ultimately meeting Cargill’s safety and financial goals, she says.
Since 2017, Cruz has worked to grow and strength-
en Cargill’s feed and nutrition business. This year, she
embraced a new opportunity to lead Cargill’s aqua nutrition
a young woman from Colombia originally working as an risks and was sought out for advancement opportunities.
“When I look back, I realize that a lot of leaders gave me
opportunities and more responsibility with every new job that I’ve had—and it’s time for me to give back,” she says.
The fact that other people sensed potential in her is
business. In the past, she also served as president for Cargill
part of what has made Cruz a strong believer in the collec-
all over the world have shaped how she approaches her role
with leaders and other employees who are agile, adaptable,
Meats Europe. Her personal path and background living
as a leader, with inclusion and diversity always top of mind. Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Cruz came to the
US twenty years ago to earn her Master of Business Admin-
istration at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Since joining Cargill in 2002, her positions with
tive strength of a team. She prioritizes surrounding herself and resilient. She also highly values cultural synergy, and
she believes that building an inclusive and diverse workplace is especially crucial for a company that operates all
over the world. (Cargill has more than 160,000 employees in 70 countries and regions.)
“When I look back, I realize that a lot of leaders gave me opportunities and more responsibility with every new job that I’ve had—and it’s time for me to give back.”
within the company. Cargill also recently
signed on to the Hispanic Promise, an initia-
tive launched at the World Economic Forum in 2019 through which companies pledge to hire, retain, and celebrate Hispanic employees.
Cruz works on a personal level to prac-
tice what the company preaches. Through a
new corporate sponsorship program, she is a mentor to an employee who is based outside of the US, supporting him on his career path and
also learning from his insights. It’s a symbiotic relationship, she says. Cruz takes a boots-onthe-ground approach to cultivating relation-
ships with Cargill employees and believes that executives can’t lead the global business from its Minnesota headquarters alone.
“It’s important to be present and to be
visible, and not just to get on the phone with our leaders or our customers,” she says.
Cruz visited Cargill teams in Ecuador,
Norway, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand when the company’s aqua nutrition
business came under her purview in 2019. That growing market presents an exciting
opportunity at a time when consumers are MI
mi identidad: “LATINA”
“We need to have a culture that embrac-
es and welcomes inclusion and diversity . . .
where employees can be themselves,” she says. “We absolutely have to be sensitive to differences in cultures, genders, nationalities, and
seeking out healthier protein options, she says. Wherever her work takes her, Cruz prides herself on being an approachable leader—someone who is strategic about business, but who also puts team members first.
“I’m somebody that displays our values,
styles, and that’s something I really believe is
every single day,” she says. Though she sets
Cruz is an executive sponsor for Cargill’s
ability, her philosophy on how to create value
important to high-performing teams.”
Hispanic Latino Business Resource Group, a network that works to promote recruitment
and engagement of Hispanics and Latinos
high expectations and prioritizes accountreaches much deeper. “Of course, processes, equipment, and the technology are relevant. But I care most about our people.”
17 3 Hispanic Executive
At Liberty Mutual Insurance, Alexander Montoya fosters a culture of empowerment, motivation, and continuous improvement
Be Principled, Be Proud BY BILLY YOST
ALEX ANDER MONTOYA HAS LED TEAMS in various regions over the course of his
twenty-five-year career, many of them in Latin
America. Recently named president of Liberty Mutual Insurance’s specialty markets division for the US, Latin American, and Bermuda
markets, he says that despite the differences in his roles over the years, he sees more similarities. “Every time I’ve taken on new roles
and responsibilities, I always ask myself the same question: ‘How will this be different?’”
Montoya says. “But people everywhere are looking for the same things. They want to
be proud of where they work. They want to be proud of how their company contributes
to society and to the communities that can improve because of their work. It’s always the same answer. We’re humans and we want the same things.”
BUILDING CULTURE INSIDE AND OUT Alexander Montoya President of Liberty Specialty Markets for US, Bermuda & Latin America Liberty Mutual Insurance
Montoya places a premium on an organization’s ability to build a culture of empowerment, motivation, and continuous improvement. At Liberty Mutual, his leadership is
focused on those same principles. “We all want
to feel that we are led by people who share
PRESIDENTS ASSEMBLE Alexander Montoya is a proud member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), whose global membership base of twenty-eight thousand is made up of corporate presidents, chairpersons, and CEOs who attained their positions before the age of forty-five. “This is a place where you can meet with other leaders and discuss situations in your life, your family, your work, and your community,” he says. “These are people who spend a lot of time thinking about how they can more positively impact the places they live.” Montoya says what he’s learned at the YPO has translated directly to his work at Liberty Mutual. “We have a purpose here: embrace today and confidently pursue tomorrow,” Montoya explains. “I’m able to relate ideas like continuous learning and culture building to my team.”
the same vision and are willing to tirelessly
same way, I think it goes a long way toward
go wrong, that person needs to stand up to
Montoya also says that Latin Ameri-
pursue it,” Montoya says. “And when things
breaking the ice and developing relationships.”
defend the team.”
cans are inherently equipped to operate off
team completed a five-year growth plan
“This isn’t because this model has been metic-
Recently, Montoya’s Latin American
in just four years, surpassing both expect-
ed growth and profitability in the process. “We had a very special moment here today because we had the opportunity to tell those
employees that the corporation is recognizing their efforts and rewarding their hard work,”
Montoya explains. “Every time we’re able to
deliver on the promise that we’ve made to our
of a minimum viable product (MVP) model.
ulously applied for decades; it’s because we just don’t have the same access to resources,” Montoya explains. “Improving your MVP and
repeating is just the way it is done. You will see Latinx excelling in this area as it’s applied to more global business because it’s the way we’ve always done it—because we’ve had to.”
employees that if they work hard, they’ll be
THE PURSUIT OF LIBERTY
my job worth it.”
requires significant buy-in from all parties,
rewarded, it makes all the difficult parts of
Building anything, from process to culture,
Montoya hopes to continue building
and Montoya says that his time at Liberty
culture in ways that are directly applicable to business lines at Liberty. “Our goal is to
reduce the amount of friction in our custom-
ers’ transactions,” the president says. “The fewer touch points, the better and easier our
clients can get a quote or renew their poli-
cies—and the better their experiences will be. These efforts have been the same from the US to Latin America to Bermuda.”
ICE BREAKERS AND MVPS A proud Colombian, Montoya says his heri-
has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that
he has the backing of a massive, worldwide
organization in making things better for his employees and his customers. “To have some-
one like me in the position that I have today
just demonstrates the open and inclusive environment here,” Montoya says. “I’m able
to build with empowerment and don’t have to wade through bureaucracy in order to imple-
ment ideas like flex time, work from home, and continuous improvement.”
Montoya says that his ability to have an
tage has provided him with a cultural skill set
impact on long-term planning and ideation
try’s borders. “Colombians are warm people,
an opinion and shape the way that we think
that has extended far beyond his home coun-
and I think that has been helpful because I can portray a bit of that warmth from my culture
during any meeting I’m in,” he says. “If you learn to negotiate with the right tone so it’s not intrusive to someone who wasn’t raised in the
is particularly inspiring. “To be able to issue about initiatives—I feel like a very lucky
person,” Montoya says. “Our organization is massive, and by influencing the direction of the company, we’re able to make a difference in the world.”
1 75 Hispanic Executive
MAT ROBINSON/ENDURING IMAGES PHOTOGRAPHY
Lina Martinez Corporate Counsel Atlas Copco
An International Affair BY BILLY YOST
Lina Martinez brings extensive global law experience to Atlas Copco
“I definitely knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was very young,” Lina Martinez says. “I didn’t know the different areas of the law, and I didn’t know anyone who was a corporate lawyer, but I knew.”
That vision led her to where she is today: corporate
a difficult and often heartbreaking job, but the lawyer
tered in Sweden that manufactures industrial equip-
to do and the intense on-the-job training it provided.
counsel for Atlas Copco, a global company headquarment. It’s a good fit for Martinez, who wanted to be
says she’s grateful for the important work she was able Martinez would eventually go back to the firm,
an in-house lawyer even before she knew such a thing
accruing international and transactional experience
being a lawyer, she always imagined herself working
Propane. It was her first in-house role, and she says
existed: when the young Cuban American thought of inside a company.
Despite feeling like she knew exactly where she
belonged, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Martinez.
After graduating from law school at the height of the Great Recession, she was offered deferred employment at a large New York law firm until they had more work
before taking an in-house position with Suburban
she was lucky to get it. “I had only been out of law
school for a few years, and I think my general counsel really took a chance in hiring me,” Martinez says.
Fortunately, it worked out, and she spent nearly four years with the company.
While that first in-house role gave Martinez the
coming in. “They would hold my position, pay me a
chance to prove her ability to focus on a single client,
wanted to go back into international work because it was
stipend, and I could either do pro bono work or travel,” She went to work for the nonprofit Kids in Need of
Defense as an advocate for unaccompanied minors who had crossed the border into the US and needed repre-
sentation in the New York immigration court system. “I was shown how the job worked, told to watch and learn, and given my first client,” Martinez remembers. It was
she missed working with international clients. “I really
something I had developed a passion for,” she says. “Atlas Copco is a multinational company with thousands of employees all over the world, and they seemed to always
be looking for better ways to operate, especially environmentally, which is pretty extraordinary for an organization this size.”
GT L AW.COM
Celebrating our friend and client Lina Martinez
No. of AfricanAmerican & Latino Partners & Attorneys The American Lawyer Diversity Scorecard, 2019
No. of LGBT Partners The National Law Journal LGBT Scorecard, 2019
Greenberg Traurig joins Hispanic Executive in recognizing Lina Martinez for her leadership, focus on excellence, and commitment to advancing diversity. It is a privilege to work with Lina as her vision and influence make all of us better attorneys. We are proud to share in your dedication to providing everyone equal opportunities. Congratulations, Lina.
No. of Female Partners The National Law Journal Women’s Scorecard, 2019
No. of Minority Attorneys The American Lawyer Diversity Scorecard, 2019
G R E E N B E RG T RA U R I G, L L P | AT TO R N E Y S AT L AW | 2200 AT TO R N E YS | 41 LO CAT I O N S W O R L D W I D E °
Lee A. Albanese | Shareholder, GT New Jersey Philip R. Sellinger | Co-Managing Shareholder, GT New Jersey David Jay | Co-Managing Shareholder, GT New Jersey 500 Campus Drive | Suite 400 | Florham Park, NJ 07932-0677 | 973.360.7900 Greenberg Traurig, LLP
The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and our experience. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Greenberg Traurig is a service mark and trade name of Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Greenberg Traurig, P.A. ©2020 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved. Attorney Advertising. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. °These numbers are subject to fluctuation. ¬Greenberg Traurig’s Berlin office is operated by Greenberg Traurig Germany, an affiliate of Greenberg Traurig, P.A. and Greenberg Traurig, LLP. *Operates as a separate UK registered legal entity. +Operates as Greenberg Traurig, S.C. >>Greenberg Traurig’s Milan office is operated by Greenberg Traurig Santa Maria, an affiliate of Greenberg Traurig, P.A. and Greenberg Traurig, LLP. ∞Operates as Greenberg Traurig LLP Foreign Legal Consultant Office. ^Operates as a branch of Greenberg Traurig, P.A., Florida, USA. ¤Greenberg Traurig Tokyo Law Offices are operated by GT Tokyo Horitsu Jimusho, an affiliate of Greenberg Traurig, P.A. and Greenberg Traurig, LLP. ~Greenberg Traurig’s Warsaw office is operated by Greenberg Traurig Grzesiak sp.k., an affiliate of Greenberg Traurig, P.A. and Greenberg Traurig, LLP. 33783
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17 8 Global
Congratulations to our friend and client
Lina Martinez Corporate Counsel, Atlas Copco on her achievements in the industry. Galleria Tower II 5051 Westheimer Road Suite 1000 Houston, TX 77056 firstname.lastname@example.org 713.425.7405
WHERE THE HEART IS When it comes to charitable causes, Lina Martinez keeps her heart close to home. As a mentor with the Hispanic Bar Association’s Pipeline Program, she helps high schoolers near her old neighborhood in Union City, New Jersey, who are interested in law careers. “It’s exactly the kind of program I wish I would have had growing up, and I think it’s so important to pay back what I’ve learned along the way,” she says. The lawyer is also a part of the Board of Tri-County Scholarship Fund, which provides funding for residents to attend better schools in the area based solely on need, not on grades or extracurricular activities. That makes it even more astounding that the program has a graduation rate of 100 percent. Martinez says she’s especially proud to aid an organization whose graduates are 70 percent Latino.
Prior to being hired at Atlas
Copco, Martinez had built a reputa-
tion as a strong transactional attorney with extensive international experi-
ence, particularly in South America. But since joining the company in 2016,
she’s widened her scope consider-
ably, adding employment law; safety, health, and environmental matters; and
third-party bankruptcy matters to the list of areas where she has experience.
“Literally every single day is
something different,” Martinez says. “That includes my Latin American
cross-border work and a whole host of other responsibilities.”
Martinez’s partners get to see her
adapt day in and day out at Atlas, as she’s always ready to take on new challenges. “We are lucky to have had an
opportunity to support Lina on her transactions,” says Lee Albanese, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig. “She
is a brilliant attorney and a joy to work
for. However, what is most impressive
to me about Lina is her uniquely broad perspective of the purpose of the deal and the people involved.”
One of the best parts of the job,
Martinez says, is Atlas Copco’s “take charge of your career” mentality,
which encourages its employees to
seek opportunities that aren’t necessarily in their job descriptions. “Even
if it’s not a typical growth opportunity, the company is very supportive
if you think it will help you develop,”
she says. “This has really allowed me
to build out my Latin American work
17 9 Hispanic Executive
because I’m fluent [in the language], I understand the culture, and I think
my clients really understand me.”
sional development, combined with an
“I typically use the word Hispanic, or if asked specifically where I am from, I say Cuban American. I’ve always found it difficult to explain where I am from because I was born in the US and so I am not Cuban when I travel to other countries—but in the US, I am not simply considered American because my parents were born in Cuba. I had a professor in college who referred to it as living on the hyphen.”
The company’s focus on profes-
adaptability that Martinez says is her
professional strong suit, have helped
the lawyer to take on any challenge
thrown at her. “I have no scientific or technical background, but sometimes
IP issues hit my desk,” Martinez says.
“You have to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and give sound advice and counsel, learning all that you can along the way.”
That adaptability also came in
handy last year, a time of heavy acquisi-
tions for Atlas Copco. Martinez got to do a deep dive into her area of expertise
while still learning on the job. “I love
being part of a deal team because we
In today’s legal marketplace,
target and their business,” Martinez
in the door. Dedication, grit,
take the time to really learn about the says. “It was a very busy year, and it was
exciting to deal in an area where I feel I’m especially strong.”
Martinez says she’s continuing to
find ways to build out her capabilities and client support in South Ameri-
ca and hopes to make an even bigger impact in the area. At least that’s the plan—and if there’s one thing the
excellence merely gets you resourcefulness, passion—these are the qualities that separate the exceptional law firm from the rest of the pack. Miles & Stockbridge is pleased to recognize Lina Martinez for her many achievements and dedication to her craft.
lawyer has proven since childhood, it’s
that she knows how to follow through on the plans she makes.
www.mslaw.com Miles & Stockbridge: “Lina Martinez is an able and accomplished attorney who achieves her client’s objectives with tact, energy, foresight, and skill. She is a pleasure to work with as a colleague, and consistently demonstrates excellent judgment in managing multiple matters economically, effectively, and prudently.” –Russell V. Randle, Principal
Authorized by Nancy Greene, Chairman
18 0 Global
Senior Counsel Oscar Arredondo takes the oil and gas company’s mission statement to heart
Chevron’s Way in the World
BY CLINT WORTHINGTON
Getting there in the first place was
known internally as “the Chevron
a result of both perseverance and flex-
the oil and gas giant’s overall direction,
to any profession, especially in the
Way,” is a comprehensive blueprint for from driving high-performance results to facilitating diversity and inclusion for its driven, dedicated staff. But for
Oscar Arredondo, the Chevron Way
is more than a mission statement. “We want to be an energy company that’s admired,” he says. “That’s a tall task for this world.”
As Chevron’s senior counsel, Arre-
ibility—skills that he stresses are vital legal space. Arredondo’s early successes required him to “knock on quite a
few doors” and argue that his master
of laws degree made him just as valid a job candidate as someone with a juris doctorate. “Once you break that barri-
er and prove yourself as a competent lawyer, you earn a reputation,” he says.
Over the years, he’s leveraged
dondo is struck by how the company’s
that reputation to earn himself more
vision, but its internal culture as well.
to success, he says, is getting out of
statement of values affects not just its “To me, it’s not about oil and gas; it’s about delivering energy to the world,” he says. “That is what has enabled us
to have the standards of living we have
in Western society, which the developing world covets as well.”
It’s a mind-set Arredondo has had
through decades of work at Chevron.
Starting as a holdover from Texaco
during its merger with Chevron in 2003, he saw an opportunity to get in
exciting opportunities. Another key your comfort zone—like when he was asked to handle his first upstream
position in Venezuela in 2003. “It’s about having that faith in yourself and
that intellectual flexibility to take new challenges,” Arredondo says. “It’s not my comfort lane. And it’s certainly
not my country, you know. But I think
I can contribute. And that’s what’s shaped where my career has gone.”
In his nearly twenty years as
on the ground floor with the company
senior counsel at Chevron, Arredondo
colleagues took severance packages.
company in international relations and
and stayed on while many of his
Oscar Arredondo Senior Counsel Chevron
has had the chance to counsel the
“To me, it’s not about oil and gas; it’s about delivering energy to the world.”
CHEVRON’S CORPORATE PHILOSOPHY,
to consult with expatriate engineers,
business development experts, and
geologists from all over the world.
skill set I bring to the table, I have
“When I am asked, I answer this question in a manner that is not satisfying to me. However, the answer that I like to use to describe myself is Human. I believe that by placing and accepting labels (whatever those are) we predispose ourselves (as a society) to see differences. In this sense, labels (even if only marginally) prevent us from seeing our many, many similarities.”
“Because of Chevron’s needs and the
been afforded plenty of opportunities throughout my career,” he says.
He’s managed upstream operations
everywhere from Venezuela to Brazil to Kazakhstan, juggling marketing, transportation,
ment, and a host of other duties. Most recently, he returned to Houston to
work as the acting general counsel for Chevron’s biggest and most recently
acquired refineries: Pascagoula, the largest US refinery in the company’s portfolio, and Pasadena, newly acquired in May 2019.
It’s a relatively new responsibility:
prior to that, he was acting general
stayed on from the refinery’s previ-
Salt Lake City refineries and provid-
the switch and what’s green becomes
counsel for Chevron’s Pascagoula and ed support to one of their additives
facilities outside of New Orleans. Supervising the work of two new,
significant properties in Chevron’s umbrella is a unique challenge Arredondo relishes, though.
ous owner, Petrobras. “You don’t flip
and establishing your business plan and priorities.”
But along with establishing author-
“You have to understand that the exist-
ties. That involves coordinating all the
contracts for maintenance, inspections, and product sales in order to complete
the turnaround as quickly and cost-ef-
understanding, Arredondo explains. ing refinery and the individuals who
run it have some knowledge that you
don’t.” The goal, then, is acquiring that
knowledge as quickly as possible and
putting the team’s skills to effective use.
As for what’s next, Arredondo is
fectively as possible. “It’s a major logis-
still looking for more ways to serve
Another huge challenge has been
looking next for opportunities that
tical feat,” Arredondo points out.
establishing Chevron’s presence in the Pasadena refinery after its acquisition.
Organizational cultures and processes
have to be translated to the Chevron
world, especially for personnel who’ve
on his accomplishments and wishes him and Chevron continued success.
es, communicating clear expectations,
extended shutdown schedules to clean, equipment employed at both facili-
“It’s a process of sharing best practic-
ity there’s a need for humility and
repair, and maintain the complex
blue, you know?” Arredondo says.
Among his major tasks in 2020
are turnarounds for both refineries—
The Brunini Law Firm
the Chevron Way as best he can. “I’m
MISSISSIPPI’S GO-TO FIRM
utilize my inherent and acquired skills to support the Chevron business and
gain experience in different parts of
the Chevron world—geographically or within the business segment.”
18 2 Global
MoneyGram’s Andres Villareal helps support the company’s customers by leading the money-transfer industry in compliance efforts
Consumer Protection as Purpose BY BILLY YOST
ANDRES VILLAREAL SPENT HIS FIRST EIGHTEEN
MoneyGram has provided that opportunity on a
years in El Paso, Texas, a city that sits just across the
large scale. Navigating the varying laws and regulations
bilingual, binational workforce in the Western Hemi-
other countries and territories is a huge amount of work.
border from Juárez, Mexico, and contains the largest sphere. “I saw life on the border firsthand,” Villareal remembers. “I saw the lifestyles of migrants and people
who were trying to find opportunities in the US, traveling here in order to support their families back home.”
The experience, Villareal says, is woven into his DNA.
In some ways, it’s also provided direction for his career. As the chief compliance officer at MoneyGram since
2015, Villareal has helped the company find ways to empower customers transferring money to and from
their home countries—and to thwart those looking to
of jurisdictions in not just the US but also two hundred According to Villareal, though, his team of more than four hundred employees stays on the same page while operating across the globe. “The only way you can be
successful in an organization like this that has so much going on is to have a strong team and a united philoso-
phy of what you’re trying to accomplish,” he says. “My team comes from large, diverse backgrounds and are
truly experts in the industry. It provides that necessary breadth of experience that is vital in our business.”
Villareal is especially proud of MoneyGram’s trail-
cash in on fraudulent lending schemes.
blazing role in consumer protections—an example that
School of Law in 1990, Villareal gained experience
money transfer industry in our compliance efforts,”
After graduating from the University of Texas
not only at private firms but also at Search Financial
Services, which provided auto and personal loans to low-income individuals. “It really opened my eyes to the hardships of people at lower income levels struggling to
make opportunities for themselves,” Villareal says. He
also spent more than a decade with Citibank, honing
his compliance skills. “I realized how compliance and controls could protect consumers from being taken
he hopes others will follow. “We’re trying to lead the
he says. “The money transfer process has historically been an anonymous process with no checks or balanc-
es as to who was sending or receiving the money and where it was coming from. We took what I believe to
be the historic step of requiring government identifi-
cation from every sender and every receiver that uses our services.”
Echoing the sentiments of MoneyGram CEO
advantage of, and I really developed a passion for that
W. Alexander Holmes, Villareal says, “You can’t even
area where I could do good for people.”
able to move money around the world without doing the
side of the business,” he says. “I really thought it was an
check into a hotel without an ID; why should you be
18 3 Hispanic Executive
“I realized how compliance and controls could protect consumers from being taken advantage of, and I really developed a passion for that side of the business.”
same thing?” The effort has allowed MoneyGram to better serve its customer base, crack
down on illicit activity, and force would-be fraudsters to employ their skills somewhere
else, according to Villareal. “Hopefully, we have been able to build a reputation of trust with our customers, and I hope that
regulators, legislators, and other companies
will realize this is a step the whole industry should be taking.”
Besides MoneyGram’s willingness to
protect its customers, the company’s efforts
to give back to the communities it serves
make it a place Villareal is proud to work for. The MoneyGram Foundation plays host and sponsor to a variety of causes that serve the customers the company interacts with
on a daily basis. The foundation is an annu-
world. Villareal attended a school ribbon-cut-
Back-to-School Celebration, which provides
teachers, and school elders who would all be
al sponsor of the Dallas-area Rainbow Days
school supplies to homeless and underprivi-
leged school-aged children at the beginning COURTESY OF MONEYGRAM
of the school year. MoneyGram is also a sponsor of the Dallas Public Library Smart Summer Reading Program, which purchases five thousand books for children.
The MoneyGram Foundation has invest-
ed in educational infrastructure all over the
ting ceremony in Senegal, meeting children,
Andres Villareal Chief Compliance Officer MoneyGram
positively affected by the foundation’s efforts. “You not only see the impact you have on
the community, but just how fortunate you are to be able to help uplift these children in
these often remote and impoverished areas,”
sibility to help give back and help any way
Villareal says. “I think we have a big responthat we can.”
18 4 Index
Industry Index Consulting 83
Margarita Pineda-Ucero Corporate Board Director, Advisor in Business Transformation, and Founder Women Dignity Alliance
126 Daisy Auger-Dominguez Founder and CEO Auger-Dominguez Ventures
Dolores Gonzalez Chief Program Officer IDEA Public Schools
122 Angel Gomez and Dr. Robert Rodriguez Cofounders and Co-owners Latino Leadership Intensive
Ruth Giansante SVP of Finance Services World Fuel Services
180 Oscar Arredondo Senior Counsel Chevron
Janeth Medina Larios VP of Corporate Social Responsibility Bank of the West
Omar Galan SVP and Associate General Counsel United Community Bank
Jose Medina President RT ProExec
Andres Idarraga Cofounder and CEO Creci
Peter Zaldivar PM, Principal, and Cofounder Kabouter Management LLC
137 Mario Rivera Executive Director of Enterprise Application Support Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation
Food & Beverage 153 Hector Coronel Executive Director, Business Development & Asset Management Panda Restaurant Group
Logistics 168 Pilar Cruz President, Cargill Aqua Nutrition Business Cargill
143 La Dell Diaz SVP of Legal ACI Worldwide 146 Roger Morales Partner, Real Estate KKR 162 Andy Velez SVP and Associate General Counsel Bank of America 173 Alexander Montoya President of Liberty Specialty Markets for US, Bermuda & Latin America Liberty Mutual Insurance 182 Andres Villareal Chief Compliance Officer MoneyGram
Pete Delgado President and CEO Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System
Alberto Perales General Counsel Elementia
150 Ramon Ceron VP and Treasurer Atkore International Group 175 Lina Martinez Corporate Counsel Atlas Copco
18 5 Hispanic Executive
A guide to the diverse professions featured in this issue
Alex Corral Founder and CEO Joe Agency
Media & Entertainment 58
Mariela Ure Chief Marketing Officer— Marketing & Sales Universal Studios Hollywood
Larissa Zagustin SVP and General Counsel Viacom
Rudy Rodríguez Jr. EVP, Chief Legal & Human Resources Officer, and Corporate Secretary CEC Entertainment
John Leguizamo Actor, Comedian, and Writer; Cofounder and Partner, NGL Collective
Steven Canals Cocreator and Executive Producer, Pose FX
101 Gloria Calderón Kellett CEO, GloNation; Co-Showrunner and Executive Producer, One Day at a Time 104 Ramon Escobar VP of Talent Recruitment & Development CNN Worldwide
112 Tanya Saracho Creator and Showrunner, Vida Starz
Ignacio Martinez VP of Security, Risk & Compliance Smartsheet
Hector Izzo General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer Suez
115 Paola Ramos Author, Vice News Correspondent, Latinx Advocate 118 Sylvia Banderas Coffinet Publisher and Chief Brand & Revenue Officer HOLA! USA 132 Lorna Hagen Chief People Officer iHeartMedia
Dr. Albert Reyes President and CEO Buckner International Giamara Rosado SVP and Executive Deputy Counsel Acacia Network
Real Estate 26
Antonio Argibay Founder and Managing Principal Meridian Design Associates, Architects, PC
Arturo Sneider CEO Primestor Development
109 Teresa Hamid Fellow, VP, and CTO Cognitive Process Platforms IBM 140 Carlos Medina SVP, Head of Strategic Partnerships & Business Development One Technologies 148 Pablo Cella Regional VP, Customer Business Executive Amdocs 157 Lew Chavez General Manager Nexa 160 Andres Angelani CEO Cognizant Softvision
18 6 The Last Word
The Last Word Responses from a few Top Líderes featured in this issue
“I identify as Dominican-Puerto Rican, Latinx, and Latina, interchangeably depending on the audience and context. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, my identity was deeply rooted in my national heritage. I was very much Dominican and Puerto Rican. When I moved to the US at the age of sixteen, I instantly became Hispanic. It was as if overnight I earned membership into a seemingly homogenous group of people that were largely perceived as immigrants of low socioeconomic status and limited educational achievement. Having experienced the full and complex breadth of our identity, these early experiences fueled my interest in learning more about the Latin American diaspora and rooting my work in equity and justice.” —DAISY AUGER-DOMINGUEZ, AUGER-DOMINGUEZ VENTURES, P126
My family is from Mexico, so I identify with my Mexican heritage first. But if I think about how I speak to a broader community, and the discussions we have around diversity, I consider myself Latina. And at the same time Hispanic. And I’m very proud of that—our culture is very rich and has a great sense of community.” —TERESA HAMID, IBM, P109
“Latino! I love saying that word. I say it loudly and with my own spicy, Spanish inflection: la-TI-no! I think of all the ways to describe my community and heritage, it’s the one that most reminds me of the sounds, smells, and flavors of our cultures. “Colombian, Chicano, Mexican are specific, but they separate us as a community. Latinx and Hispanic sound clinical, census survey-ish, or like words invented in a lab. And Hispanic actually has the word panic in it! Who wants that? “Latino reminds me of the rhythms of our cultures and the alegría (happiness) of our people. To me, it’s the one word that unifies us across our nationalities, regions, and language. “The great Latino actor and writer John Leguizamo (p.90) grew up on the streets of Jackson Heights, Queens, a true mixed salad of Latino and multiple cultures. I had the pleasure of meeting John when we were both young. He would wheel his boom box and the records he used to perform his magical rap lyrics about being Latino through the streets under the 7 subway line. He would walk in to my mom’s restaurant La Pequeña Colombia to feed his ‘mambo mouth’ with carne asada, maduros, arroz y frijoles. “For me, John is a role model Latino trailblazing a path for so many of us to follow. Proud of his culture, but not too proud to challenge it to be better and to demand more of our people as we create a more meaningful home for us and our children. “I’ve seen all of John’s one-man plays. All of them have been powerful commentaries on the complex identity of our Latino culture and people trying to find their way in their own new world. “His last play, Latin History for Morons, I went to see three times! Each time, I learned something new about how ignorant we all have become about our past, the unnamed heroes of our bloodline, and the absolute blindness ‘western’ society has of the great Latino contribution to the world. “John forces us, in a hilarious way, to dig deep and demand that we ask and discover the greatness of our hidden and forgotten Latino past, so it can help us define the greatness of our Latino future.” —RAMON ESCOBAR, CNN, P104
Our pursuit of excellence begins with a passion for diversity and inclusion. At Liberty Mutual, we foster an atmosphere of respect, where our collective differences and similarities constantly inspire and empower us.
We are an equal opportunity employer.