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THE BEST COLLEGES FOR LATINOS Our 3rd annual research on the best options for students, faculty and community.


TOP LATINO LAWYERS 2017 45 of the most successful, talented and effective lawyers impacting their clients and communities nationwide.

How to finance college for our children?


November / December 2017 Vol. 18 No. 6


Protecting the rights of victims since 1987


FROM THE DESK OF THE PUBLISHER This edition bears our 3rd annual Top Latino Lawyers feature. Like we do with other similar lists, this is the result of our own research, submissions from advisors and a self-nomination process we started months ago with all the major firms with Latino partners across the Country. We’re proud to present fantastic profiles of Lawyers and Legal Counsels that are leading their own practices or have major roles in important national firms. That’s why we decided to give the cover to one of these bright, aggressive and talented lawyers, Juan Dominguez and his law practice in California. As most of the ones on the list, Dominguez is a great example of all these lawyers: successful cases, community involvement, and excellent track records. On the other side of this “coin” is our Best Colleges for Latinos feature including 50 of the best colleges and universities for Latino students, faculty, and community. Their policies, enrollment, student population and diversity have made them the best option for higher education for millions of U.S. Latino students who are looking for a school to pursue their career. I want to recognize the support we’ve had from the Education and Law community in order to create this deeply resourceful edition.

Jorge & Raul Ferraez

Publisher Jorge Ferraez

President and CEO Raul Ferraez

Director of Journalism Mariana Gutierrez Briones Administrative Director Lawrence Teodoro Editor Sarai Vega Business Development Manager Cristina Gonzalez Washington, D.C. Sales Associate and Representative Deyanira Ferraez Karla Espinoza Art Director Fernando Izquierdo Editorial Art & Design Rodrigo Valderrama Carlos Cuevas Luis Enrique González Moisés Cervantes Oswaldo Bernal Guerrero Human Resources Manager Susana Sanchez Administration and Bookkeeping Claudia García Bejarano Executive Assistant to the Publishers Liliana Morales Social Media Manager and Graphic Designer Kenzie Tysl For advertising inquiries, please call 214-206-4966 x 227.

Latino Leaders: The National Magazine of the Successful American Latino (ISSN 1529-3998) is published seven times annually by Ferraez Publications of America Corp., 15443 Knoll Trail, Suite 210, 75248 Dallas, TX, USA, November / December 2017. Subscription rates: In U.S. and possessions, one year $15.00. Checks payable to Ferraez Publications of America, 15443 Knoll Trail, Suite 210, 75248 Dallas, TX, USA. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Latino Leaders, 15443 Knoll Trail, Suite 210, 75248 Dallas, TX, USA.© 2001 by Ferraez Publications of America Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this periodical may be reproduced without the consent of Latino Leaders: The National Magazine of the Successful American Latino. The periodical’s name and logo, and the various titles and headings therein, are trademarks of Ferraez Publications of America Corp.

Member of The National Association of Hispanic Publications

Audited by Member of Reg. # 283/01


2 • November / December 2017

Latino Leaders The National Magazine of the Successful American Latino 15443 Knoll Trail, Suite 210, 75248 Dallas, TX, USA Phone: (214) 206-4966 / Fax: (214) 206-4970

36- COVER- Juan DominguezLos Angeles’ top Latino lawyer, Juan Dominguez, has seen first-hand the injustice. Now as a very successful and recognized lawyer, his goal is one: Justice. The epitome of success and example of determination.

39- Education- An extensive look at our higher education system. Included, you will find the annual list of the Best Colleges for Latinos. As a feature sponsored by Mass Mutual, we also included expert advice on college financing for families.

8- CTCA- Dr. Patricia Rich, medical oncologist at CTCA, discusses lung cancerrisk factors, prevention tips, and alarming stats. The side of lung cancer many don’t know about. 10- Colombia’s Top Chefs- Colombia is home to a new breed of chefs. Know them and their inspirations. Also included, you will find the list of the Top Restaurants in Latin America. 12- Comerica- Luis Padilla, owner of Houston-based Mama Lycha, top importer of Latin American products, explains what growing a business financially has been like. 14- HBE Elites- Hispanic Business Enterprise (HBE) Program was created to drive the growth of Hispanic small businesses in the U.S. In this edition, we recognized the top 5 businesses who have mastered their industries and are on-track to contract with Fortune 500 companies. 18- Lawyers- A complete feature that includes the list of the Top Latino Lawyers in 2017, and three up-close and personal interviews with Latinos lawyers Erica Mason, Benny Agosto and Al Cardenas.

62- NFL- The NFL has crossed international borders in order to reach a broader audience. Recently, Mexico was host to a NFL game in Mexico City. Arturo Olive, the Managing Director of NFL Mexico talks about why Mexico is so important for the diversification of this sport. 64-BMW- In September, BMW hosted the BMW Championship in Chicago, a very important golfing event in Chicago. During this event, the German auto manufacturer hosted and recognized a group of local Latino leaders in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. 68- Maestros- Latino Leaders’ distinguished event is held every year to honor four Maestros whom have each displayed extraordinary leadership and service to the Latino community. Chicago, Los Angeles, and Dallas have been host cities of this event. 70- Spotlight- Finhabits’ CEO Carlos Garcia shares his rise and what inspired him to address the issue of retirement preparation. IN EVERY EDITION: 3- Publisher’s Letter 4- Editor’s Letter 5- Director of Journalism’s Letter 72- Cellar


Contents November/ December 2017



And then there was one‌. It is my pleasure to introduce you to our last edition of the year. For this edition, we wanted to finish off strong. We have combined two power industries in one edition, Education and Lawyers. Without fail, we have included dynamic interviews with top extraordinaires and leaders in their respective industry. Leaders like Houston-based lawyer Benny Agosto to education mover-and-shaker Diana Natalicio. The leaders included in this edition have all laid ground work for our future Latino professionals. The lists of the Top Latino Lawyers and the Best Colleges for Latinos has also made their annual appearance. The Top Latinos Lawyers list is a compilation of some of the most influential and devoted Lawyers in the country. Their service to the community has earned them a very-well deserved spot as one of the best in the country. The Best Colleges for Latinos list is a collection of the schools who, through their programs, organizations and opportunities, target Latinos. These schools provide top resources for students to achieve higher education. Also in this edition, is the coverage of Maestro Awards. The Maestro Awards is our most prestigious event where we honor and recognize powerful Latinos in the country. These Latinos exemplify top leadership, great courage, and distinguished achievements. Definitely a well-deserved recognition. It has been such a great year! Much to be thankful for and much to look forward to. I hope you enjoy this edition and all additional features.

Happy Reading! Sarai Vega Editor


Our annual Education issue is one of the most relevant of the year because it reminds us of the ideal of the American Dream: That with hard work all people have a fair shot at a successful life, the promise that each generation can do better than the one before it; and that in the US advancement does not depend on being born with advantages. In an increasingly complex world higher education is an especially powerful gift of opportunity, and that is why it is so important to recognize those educational institutions that are gong the extra mile to provide access to Latino students and celebrate those leaders who have devoted their lives to providing a path to growth. We thank them all for their wonderful efforts. Making the dream real is a product of our choices as a community – and today none are more important than the decisions related to financial literacy. When it comes to the options Latino families are faced with when pursuing higher education knowledge is power. And that is why we are honored to have partnered with MassMutual and their College Planning and Savings platform. Not only does it share powerful insights into how Latinos view the relationship between money and education – but it also offers practical solutions to dismantle current barriers to educational advancement and the problem of grappling with student debt. By asking ourselves the right questions we can make small every day efforts to arrive at an answer. Higher education offers us the chance to make something more of ourselves than our circumstances would otherwise allow. Done right, it’s a catalyst; thrusting our careers and our lives into territories we may have only dreamed of. We hope you find MassMutual’s contribution helpful as a first seep to this future. We are also delighted to present our 2017 top lawyers index with the sponsorship of firms such as Littler, who through their support confirm their commitment to diversity; as well as the five honorees of the USHCC’s 2017 Hispanic Business Enterprise program, which recognizes Hispanic entrepreneurs through nominations from the corporations they do business with. We are especially grateful to MGM Resorts International and their Executive Director of Supplier Diversity Kenyatta Lewis who allowed us to share details of her partnership with HBE honoree Sophia Salas-Del Pozo – providing a powerful testimonial of what is possible though these collaborations. We hope their story will inspire other business leaders to take the leap and approach corporations they may feel intimidated by - but in which they could find wonderful mentors and a unique opportunity for unprecedented growth. As always our aim is to offer inspiration though our last stories of the year, and our wish is that that you will continue to join us in the ones to come.

Mariana Gutierrez Briones Director of Journalism

6 • November / December 2017


Swaney Photos: Courtesy of CTCA 01

MESSAGES REGARDING CANCER PREVENTION AND EARLY DETECTION HAVE PERMEATED THE MEDIA AND GARNERED QUITE A BIT OF ATTENTION AND PUBLIC CONCERN, BUT THE REALITY IS THAT THE MESSAGES DO NOT SEEM TO HAVE RESONATED ENOUGH FOR US TO SEE A SHIFT IN THE BEHAVIOR OF OUR HISPANIC COMMUNITY. CANCER IS THE LEADING cause of death in Hispanics. According to a 2015 study conducted by the American Cancer Society (ACS), lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths among Hispanic men and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Hispanic women. This data points to the sobering conclusion that lung cancer is one of the deadliest diseases today and our Hispanic community should be informed. The good news is that when detected early, treatment options for lung cancer are greatly increased. There are also many preventative measures that can be easily integrated into daily routines. Patricia Rich, MD, Medical Oncology Director, Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) Lung Cancer Institute, stresses the importance of staying vigilant and encourages individuals to take it upon themselves to prevent the development of lung cancer. Dr. Rich also points out that 80 percent of all lung cancer cases are caused by smoking. No one knows this better than Jeffrey McDermott, a lung cancer survivor.

Warning Signs

01 (L to R) Daniel Nader, DO, Chief, CTCA Division of Pulmonary Services; Brad Mons, DO, CTCA Head and Neck Surgeon; and Peter Baik, DO, CTCA Lung Cancer Institute Leader

• Shortness of breath or wheezing • Persistent cough • Weight loss • Chest pain • Hand and finger pain • Coughing up blood • Mood swings • Frequent infections • Shoulder pain

02 Patricia Rich, MD, Medical Oncology Director, CTCA Lung Cancer Institute

Smoking accounts for 30% of all cancer deaths and 87% of lung cancer deaths. 02

“I can’t thank CTCA enough. They gave me my life back,’’ says McDermott, a lifelong smoker. “I had this nagging cough that just wouldn’t go away, and if I hadn’t gone to CTCA, I probably would never have found out that I had stage 4 lung cancer,’’ he recalls. McDermott, 58, is just one of the more than 220,500 patients diagnosed with lung cancer in the U.S. every year (ACS). To avoid the onset of lung cancer, Dr. Rich recommends taking control of your health and surroundings. For those who smoke, quit. For those who don’t smoke, take precautionary measures to avoid secondhand smoke. That may mean staying clear of smoking areas or refusing to congregate with others while they smoke. Other important lifestyle habits to implement include maintaining a diet with an abundance of fruits and vegetables, getting adequate sleep, monitoring family health history and adopting an active lifestyle. “The other challenge is that most lung cancer cases are now being diagnosed at later stages,’’ says Dr. Rich. She strongly advises the Hispanic community to speak with their families and physicians, and ®

get screened if they experience persistent coughs, shortness of breath, blood in cough and sudden weight loss. Along with her role at CTCA, Dr. Rich is also a member of the American Lung Association’s Lung Cancer Expert Medical Advisory Panel. This panel provides strategic advice on critical lung cancer research and lung cancer treatment issues. CTCA, alongside the American Lung Association, has continued to work on creating lung cancer awareness through programs such as LUNG FORCE that educate the public. The larger goal in mind for Dr. Rich and CTCA is to change behavior. Through education, early detection and voices willing to share this imperative information, we can work together in the movement against lung cancer. With more awareness and powerful success stories, like that of McDermott, we can begin to achieve this vision for tomorrow. “I’m forever grateful to CTCA. I feel great and am even enjoying cooking again. I plan to retire early and take a road trip across this great country, breathing deeply,” says McDermott.

For more information, visit 8 • November / December 2017

Photo Courtesy of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017



Story & Photos: by: Vivian Bibliowicz

COLOMBIA HAS TAKEN A QUANTUM LEAP FORWARD AND HAS ADVANCED IN THE GASTRONOMY WORLD. BOGOTA´S FOOD SCENE HAS CHANGED THANKS TO CHEFS LIKE LEONOR ESPINOSA, HARRY SASSON, AND THE RAUSCH BROTHERS, JORGE AND MARK, AMONG OTHERS. NOWADAYS, the star is Leonor Espinosa, known for the great pride in the cuisine of Colombia, as well as promoting the country’s biodiversity. She is a woman who believes in her mission and pursues it. Now the world has recognized her as The Best Latin America´s Female Chef. Leonor will prove to the world that she is that kind of woman and cook. That she cares about her people and the local products of The Pacific, Caribbean and Amazon regions. Through her flagship, Leo, located in Bogotá for more than a decade, Espinosa has shown the homegrown ingredients of these regions in one plate, with dishes like yogurt cheese limonero ants and native potato; indios, tallo leaves, three meat gravy and Andean tubers; or the kapeshuna, native read bean, Santa María de Anís, mushrooms, from the desert and humid forest; heart of palm, sabajón, feijoa, as examples of the tasting menu in her restaurant. She received the Basque Culinary Prize 2017 for her work with Funleo Foundation, where she has given pride and recognition to the indigenous Afro-Colombian people, and she has guided them to transform their cultural and great heritage into tools for socio- economic development. Funleo is led by her daughter, Laura, who is also head sommelier at Leo. Misia is their casual restaurant, where you can enjoy street food like carimañolas filled with 10 • November / December 2017


Catedral downtown

meat, arepa de huevo or boyacense and empanadas, filled with potato. There are 30 different fruit juices available. Harry Sasson is the Best Restaurant in Colombia 2017. Harry, (the restaurant is named after his name) has become a favorite chef in the city since he opened his first restaurant (located at la Zona T of Bogotá), H.Sasson, Wok & Satay Bar, in 1995. Since then, he has become a magnet for colombian society. Colombia is a country known for the variety and quality of its fruit. We went to visit Ocati, one of the known fincas that exports tropical fresh premium fruit to supermarkets, fruit store chains and wholesalers in Europe, America and Asia.

Tree tomato, purple passion fruit, dragon fruit, feijoa, soussop and granadilla are some of the favorite fruits in the country, harvested the whole year round. Ocati exports 9 tons of passion fruit a week. Ana Belén, known as La Chefcita, presented her project La Chiva, a rustic bus adapted to rural public transportation. The top of the bus (known as la marranera) was used for carrying potatoes, onion, rice and alive animals. The Chiva has changed with time, and now is a particular tourism experience around the country. Chefcita will transform it into a mobile dinning room and will travel around Colombia sharing its local food.

Wines of Argentina present in Latin America´s 50 Best Restaurants

Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants 1. Maido, Lima, Perú 2. Centra,l Lima, Perú 3. D.O.M, São Paulo, Brasil 4. Pujol, Ciudad de México 5. Boragó, Santiago de Chile 6. Quintonil, Ciudad de México 7. Astrid y Gastón Lima, Perú 8. A Casa do Porco São Paulo, Brasil 9. Maní São Paulo, Brasil 10. Tegui Buenos Aires, Argentina 11. Sud 777, Ciudad de México 12. Osso Carnicería y Salumería, Lima, Perú 13. Don Julio, Buenos Aires, Argentina 14. 99, Santiago, Chile 15. La Mar, Lima, Perú 16. Lasai, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil 17. Harry Sasson, Bogotá, Colombia 18. Leo, Bogotá, Colombia 19. El Baqueano, Buenos Aires, Argentina 20. Maito, Panamá 21. Isolina, Lima, Perú 22. Parador La Huella, José Ignacio, Uruguay 23. Olympe, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil 24. Rafael, Lima, Perú 25. Pangea, Monterrey, México 26. Chila, Buenos Aires, Argentina 27. Mocotó São Paulo, Brasil 28. Gustu, La Paz Bolivia 29. Nicos , Ciudad de México, México 30.Malabar, Lima, Perú 31. Biko, Ciudad de México, México 32. Amaranta, Toluca, México 33. Ambrosia, Santiago, Chile 34. Corazón de Tierra, Valle de Guadalupe, México 35. Rosetta, Ciudad de México, México 36. Alcalde, Guadalajara, México 37. Elena, Buenos Aires, Argentina 38. Restaurante 040, Santiago, Chile 39. Máximo Bistrot, Ciudad de México, México

40. Villanos en Bermudas, Bogotá, Colombia 41. Esquina Mocotó, São Paulo, Brasil 42. Laja, Valle de Guadalupe, México 43. La Docena Oyster Bar & Grill, Guadalajara, México 44. Aramburu, Buenos Aires, Argentina 45. Tuju, São Paulo, Brasil 46. Fiesta, Lima, Perú 47. Amaz, Lima, Perú 48. Crizia, Buenos Aires, Argentina 49.Proper, Buenos Aires, Argentina 50. Mishiguene, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Colombia was exposed to extraordinary wine from Argentina Here a selection of the wines: • Emma Zuccardi, Bonarda 2015 • Rutini Apartado Gran Malbec 2014 • Sophenia Synthesis The Blend, Merlot 2014 • Mosquita Muerta, Malbec 2014 • Susana Balbo Signature White Blend, Sauvignon Blanc 2016 • Tapiz Selección de Barricas,Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 • Trapiche Iscay, Cabernet Franc 2012 • El Esteco, Ciclos Icono Malbec 2014 • Zuccardi Aluvional Altamira, Malbec 2011 • Tapiz Alta Collection Malbec 2013 La Luz, Callejón del Crimen Gran Reserva, Petit Verdot 2015 • Mora Negra, Malbec 2013

Ajiaco soup

Passion fruit

Leo Indios, reducción trifásica, cubio, ulluco.

Colombian fruit

Leo Oro miel, queso de cabra, masato, coquindo

Colombian fruit

More information at:

Join the #1 Community of Latino Leaders in the Country.

Javier Palomรกrez President, USHCC

Grace Lieblein Former VP, Global Quality, GM

Join our community to gain insight on the Top Latinos in every field, as well as rea inspiring stories and make connections all over the world.




Dr. David Hayes-Bautista

@Latino Leaders Magazine

Professor of Medicine, UCLA Director, CESLAC , UCLA

w w w. l a t i n o l e a d e rs . c o m

Latino Leaders Magazine has a rich history of telling the stories that need to be told. Henry Cisneros

Each issue features interviews and articles that place a spotlight on the top leaders in their field.

Founder & Chairman, CityView

Since 1999, Latino Leaders has been promoting and publishing stories of Latino success, striving to showcase new stories, other than those often seen in the mainstream media. In addition, the plan has always been to demonstrate the influence Latinos maintain in this country. For more than a decade, Latino Leaders Magazine has featured the top Latinos in the United States, including politicians, sports stars, business owners and other relevant and successful leaders.

Nina Vaca Chairman & CEO, PinnacleGroup

HBE Elites Honorees Small Business is the backbone of our nation’s economy. Two-thirds of all new American jobs are created by small businesses, and Hispanic enterprises are leading this critical growth; starting new ventures at a rate three times the national average.

Austin Ramirez

Gilbert de Cardenas

Jose Bandujo

Marco Campos

Sophia Salas-Del Pozo

CEO, Husco International

CEO, Cacique Inc.

President and CEO, Bandujo

President and CEO, Campos EPC

Operator and Chief Marketing Officer, Renuoil of America, Inc.


HE USHCC HBE ELITE AWARDS recognizes and celebrates annually businessmen and women who represent the best of the Hispanic business community. They are selected by our prestigious Procurement Council Advisory Board (PCAB). These enterprises are illustrative of the tremendous impact Hispanic businesses have on our nation’s economic prosperity, and a testament to the success of collaborating with corporate America through supplier diversity programs. We are delighted to publicly acknowledge these business leaders as trailblazers in their respective industries and congratulate them on being the 2017 HBE Elite awardees.

14 • November / December 2017

The Hispanic Business Enterprise (HBE) Program provides a national platform to Hispanic-owned companies that have mastered their local markets and prepared to contract with Fortune 500 Companies. This program equips Hispanic Business Enterprises with the resources, knowledge, and networks they need to continue driving growth, spurring innovation, and energizing our nation’s economy. To learn more about how you can nominate an individual or company to be honored as an HBE Elite, or become a member of the USHCC’s prestigious HBE program – visit our website at

MGM Resorts International: Message of Outreach Kenyatta Lewis Executive director of supplier diversity for MGM Resorts. Story by: Alejandro


ispanic-owned businesses have long played an important role in MGM Resorts International’s success. As the gaming and hospitality company expands into new markets, its leaders continue to depend on those businesses to provide innovative and competitive products and services, says Kenyatta Lewis, executive director of supplier diversity for MGM Resorts. “Our guests may not realize that many of our products and services they encounter come from Latino owned businesses,” Lewis says. “The linens they sleep on, the food they eat, much of it is sourced from local Hispanic-owned businesses. They are critical suppliers to our company.” In fact, Hispanic businesses account for 25 percent of MGM Resorts’ overall diversity spend, which falls between $25 million and $50 million every year. That puts them squarely in the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Million Dollar Club, a distinction given to corporations that spend over a million dollars annually with Hispanic Business Enterprises (HBEs). MGM Resorts has appeared on the list every year since its inception in 2010. “Diverse businesses, like our Latino suppliers, are nimble, deliver innovation, and create a great deal of competition within the supply chain,” Lewis says. “In many ways, diverse businesses help MGM be a better corporation.” In 2000, MGM Resorts became the first company in the hospitality and gaming industry to adopt a diversity initiative. That led to the creation of a Supplier Diversity department, which ensures that diverse businesses are engaged and provided with

16 • November / December 2017


opportunities to grow and expand their scope not only with the company, but throughout the nation, Lewis says. But the company’s engagement of HBEs spans decades. For instance, the HBE Tortillas, Incorporated, has been a longstanding supplier since the 1980s, providing tortillas and Mexican food to all of MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas properties. Lewis credits the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce with helping MGM Resorts identify HBEs over the course of their partnership. The company has been an active participant on the Procurement Council Advisory Board and the Senior Executive Council Advisory Board. “Those boards really elevate the best of the best of Latino-owned businesses across the nation,” Lewis says. RenuOil is another example of an HBE that has significantly grown and expanded because of its relationship with MGM Resorts. The family-owned business started by providing asset recovery and cooking oil recycling services for a few MGM Resorts properties. RenuOil has since grown to service all 12 MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas properties. As a result of their success, the business owners were invited to participate in MGM Resorts’ supplier diversity mentorship program. RenuOil representatives were paired with MGM Resorts’ Chief Procurement Officer Stacey Taylor for six months. They received hands-on guidance and best practices in enhancing their business strategy, which can support their growth beyond MGM Resorts, Lewis says. “Through the mentor program, suppliers are connected to executives throughout our organization, and receive critical feedback to enhance their business acumen,” Lewis says. Along with helping her company, Lewis says working to expand and deepen MGM’s supplier diversity is personally satisfying. “The most rewarding aspect of this position is knowing that I am helping diverse-owned businesses be better positioned to win contracts, sustain their communities, and send their kids to college,” Lewis says. Fittingly, Lewis’ role at MGM has recently been expanded to include sustainable procurement. “I’m so excited to focus on people and environment,” she says. “MGM Resorts is committed to doing good for earth and people.” Lewis doesn’t yet know exactly what shape her new green portfolio will take. But one thing is clear: Latino-owned businesses will have a role to play.


Top Latino Lawyers

After a national research of over 600 lawyers and more than 250 nominations, we’re proud to present our list of the Top Latino Lawyers 2017. These leaders are not only successful and have amazing achievements throughout their careers, they also care, are involved and give back to the Latino community. We look forward to continue following them on their successful path and inspirational lives. Benny Agosto

Partner Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz

Damian Arguello

Founder Colorado Insurance Law Center

HOUSTON, TX 713-587-9668

WESTMINSTER, CO 303-427-2454

Benny Agosto, Jr., a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law. He has been named to the Best Lawyers in America® list, the Top Lawyers list by Houstonia Magazine, and the Top Latino Lawyers and the 25 Most Influential Hispanic Lawyers lists by Latino Leaders Magazine. He has also been honored by the State Bar of Texas, the Houston Bar Association, the National Association of Distinguished Counsel, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and South Texas College of Law Houston. Most recently, Mr. Agosto was recognized by the Latino Learning Center and was the recipient of the Humanitarian Award in the Male Philanthropist Category for 2017. He is the Founder and President of the MexicanAmerican Bar Association of Texas Foundation (MABATx Foundation).  He is also a former President of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA).   

Damian J. Arguello is one of the preeminent insurance law attorneys in Colorado. He rested on over twenty-five years of experience in the insurance industry when he founded Colorado Insurance Law Center, a private law firm and resource for commercial and individual insurance policyholders. Damian Arguello’s insurance law practice at Colorado Insurance Law Center is distinguished from other lawyers because of his unique background working in the insurance industry. For many years, he has also served as personal counsel for individuals and co-counsel for trial lawyers involved in litigation where insurance claims are an underlying issue. In addition to practicing insurance law, Damian is also a leader in the Colorado legal community. He is a Past-President of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, one of the largest minority bar associations in the state. For ten years, he has served as a guest instructor for the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in Insurance Law courses.

18 • November / December 2017

Partner Goodwin Procter LLP


Roberto M. Braceras

David G. Cabrales

Partner, Litigation Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP

BOSTON, MA 617-570-1895

DALLAS, TX 214-999-4359

Roberto Braceras, a Partner in Goodwin’s Securities, White Collar & Business Litigation group, has more than 20 years’ of experience in white collar criminal defense, securities fraud and complex commercial litigation. Mr. Braceras, a former federal prosecutor, has tried jury and non-jury cases in both state and federal court, and defended a variety of investigations before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Massachusetts Securities Division, FINRA and other self-regulatory organizations. Mr. Braceras is ranked by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, for his White Collar Crime & Government Investigationswork. He was appointed Vice Chairman of the Commonwealth’s Judicial Nominating Commission by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and in this capacity, has helped the governor fill five of the seven seats on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Mr. Braceras also currently serves on the board of directors the U.S. District Court Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel, representing indigent defendants pro bono in federal criminal cases.

David Cabrales is a renowned litigator with broad experience representing clients in government and commercial litigation matters. He represents financial institutions, securities broker-dealers, retailers, and life and health insurance companies in traditional and complex litigation, as well as in arbitration proceedings. David previously served as general counsel to Texas Gov. Rick Perry from 2007 to 2009, providing advice to the governor and the governor’s staff on a variety of topics at the intersection of law and public policy. He also served as principal economic development advisor for the governor and helped administer the Texas Enterprise Fund, the Emerging Technology Fund, Texas One and other programs in the governor’s economic development portfolio. In addition, Gov. Perry appointed David to the Texas Economic Development Corporation in 2010 and in 2014, and David served as chairman from 2010 to 2012. David is actively involved in the Hispanic community, serving on the Firm’s diversity committee where he advocates for participation in local, state, and national Hispanic bar events. He previously served on the steering committee for the State Bar’s Texas Minority Counsel Program and has been a presenter at CLE events hosted by the TMCP as well as the Hispanic National Bar Association.  David informally serves as a mentor, peer, and sounding board for Latino and Latina attorneys in Dallas and around the state, as others served in that role for him.

Adriana Cara

Partner Dinsmore & Shohl LLP

SAN DIEGO, CA 619-400-0482

Cara is the first Latina partner at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, a 650-attorney practice on the Am Law 200 list of the highest grossing U.S. law firms. She heads the firm’s Labor and Employment practice in its San Diego office, where her clients include both Fortune 500 Companies as well as start-ups. Cara also has significant experience conducting sexual harassment training, as well as workplace investigations on behalf of employers in connection with allegations of discrimination and harassment. Cara was named one of The San Diego Daily Transcript’s 2017 Influential Women, in addition to being named a 2017 Super Lawyer and a 2017 Woman of the Year Finalist for San Diego Magazine. She regularly provides commentary for various media outlets, including The San Diego Daily Transcript, where she writes a monthly column. In addition to being a leading voice for females and minorities in the legal industry, Cara makes it a priority to contribute to the community through volunteer work and mentoring younger female attorneys and students in her capacity as an instructor for the University of San Diego Paralegal Program.

Top Latino Lawyers 2017

Al Cardenas

Senior Partner Squire Patton Boggs

Alberto P. Cardenas Jr. Counsel, Tax Vinson & Elkins LLP

MIAMI, FL 305-577-2808

HOUSTON, TX 713-615-5980

Al Cardenas is nationally recognized for his leadership in law, business and politics. He has served as an adviser to US Presidents. As a senior partner at Squire Patton Boggs, he chairs the Latin America and Florida Public Policy Practice Groups and is Deputy Practice Leader of the Public Policy Group. Ronald Reagan chose Al for his transition team, making him responsible for the transition of the US Department of Commerce. President Reagan also appointed him to chair the President’s Commission on Small and Minority Business Affairs and later as Special Ambassador to St. Kitts-Nevis upon that nation’s independence in 1983. Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush appointed Al to the Board of Directors of the Federal National Mortgage Association from 1985 to 1990. He also served on the President’s Trade Policy Commission. Governor Jeb Bush appointed Al as a member of the Board of Trustees of Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University. He is a former Trustee of Miami Dade College.

Beto represents businesses affected by America’s immigration laws, and advises corporate and academic clientele seeking resolution on statutory and regulatory issues. He has extensive experience in drafting legislative solutions on diverse matters and in his state and local tax practice, assists clients with issues pending before governmental entities, including negotiation of tax abatements on behalf of newly constructed industrial and commercial properties, and industrial district agreements for facilities located in cities’ extra-territorial jurisdictions. During the 109th and 110th Congress, Beto served as general counsel to the senior United States Senator from Texas, the Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison, advising her on judicial appointments, legal affairs, and legislative matters Building a better Houston is a passion for Beto, and he dedicates a substantial portion of his time to making sure nonprofit, civic and cultural organizations and poverty-stricken individuals have high-quality legal representation.   He is a member of the board of directors of the Houston Food Bank, Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, BakerRipley, Texas Tech University School of Law Foundation, and the Houston Parks Board. 

Kristina Cruz Skidmore Shareholder Odin, Feldman, Pittleman PC

Emily Detoto

Founder and Managing Partner The Law Office of Emily Detoto

RESTON, VIRGINIA 703-218-2171

HOUSTON, TX 713-227-2244

During what is arguably the most impactful time in any person’s life, Northern Virginia divorce attorney Kristina Cruz Skidmore carefully guides her clients through their family law matters with zealous advocacy and compassionate listening. While out-of-court resolution is always her preferred outcome and initial goal for any client, Kristina advocates with poise, passion and legal acumen in the courtroom when settlement is not possible. Kristina has been recognized by her peers and by industry publications among the best and brightest attorneys under 40. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Kristina was selected for inclusion as a Virginia and Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers Rising Star in Family Law. In 2014, she appeared on Lawyers of Color’s Second Annual Hot List, which recognizes early to mid-career minority attorneys working as in-house counsel, government attorneys, and law firm associates and partners. She was also recognized by Virginia Business magazine among its 2015 listing of Legal Elite, a compilation of notable attorneys throughout the state who are under 40.

Since becoming an attorney in 1996, Emily Detoto has dedicated her entire career to the practice of criminal law. Detoto, Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2002, is a graduate of Michigan State University and St. Mary’s University School of Law. Ms. Detoto worked as a briefing attorney at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and is a former prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Detoto has been recognized in H-Texas Magazine:  Best Lawyers in Houston 2004; H-Texas Magazine:  Best Lawyers “For the People” 2005, 2006; Texas Monthly Magazine: Texas Rising Star 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009, and in the United Who’s Who Registry. Ms. Detoto is a frequent lecturer at CLE’s across the nation. Emily is a graduate of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College in Dubois, Wyoming and was selected to serve on the faculty of the Trial Lawyers’ College.  Ms. Detoto has also served as a faculty member for the Texas Criminal Trial College held in Huntsville, Texas for nearly 15 years. In 2003, Ms. Detoto served as co-counsel in The State of Texas v. Clara Harris, also known as “The Mercedes Benz Murder,” and in 2011, served as CoCounsel in the Polygamist Leader Trial, The State of Texas v. Warren Jeffs, Ms. Detoto’s cases have been featured on the “The First 48,” “Anderson Cooper,” “Good Morning America,” ”20/20,” and “Inside Edition.

20 • November / December 2017


Top Latino Lawyers 2017

Juan Dominguez

CEO and Managing Partner The Dominguez Firm

Maritza Dominguez Braswell Partner Rollin Braswell Fisher LLC

LOS ANGELES, CA 213-401-1097


Juan J. Dominguez is a nationally recognized, award-winning, bilingual attorney. He is the founder and CEO of The Dominguez Firm, Inc. ; a Los Angeles based personal injury, workers’ compensation and employment law practice with a legal staff of over one-hundred employees. In 2013, Mr. Dominguez was honored with distinction by the Hispanic National Bar Association with an Attorney of the Year award. In 2011, he was nominated Attorney of the Year by the Consumers Attorneys of California (CAOC). In 2014, the Mexican-American Bar Association honored Mr. Dominguez with the Special Recognition Award for his outstanding career accomplishments and contributions to the community. The Los Angeles Business Journal awarded him the 2015 Latino Business Award for setting the example for excellence. This ingrained compassion for those in need is reflected not only in the thousands of injury cases he has championed, but also in the over 50 charitable causes he supports in the U.S. and abroad, including scholarships, disadvantaged children, health, the homeless, and others. 

Maritza Dominguez Braswell is a managing partner of Rollin Braswell Fisher LLC (RBF Law), a trial and appellate law firm with a national practice. She has played a key role in some of the largest cases stemming from the 2008 financial crisis including AIG’s challenge to Bank of America’s proposed $8.5 billion settlement of RMBS-related liability arising from Bank of America’s acquisition of Countrywide. Maritza has also represented local and national corporations, professional sport franchises, and large-scale developers. As a first generation Mexican-American, an attorney at the forefront of the country’s most complex commercial litigation matters, and one of the only Latina managing partners in the U.S., Maritza is committed to the advancement of Latinos. Maritza and her firm are members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, contribute to organizations like the Hispanic Education Foundation, work closely with the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN), and hired the first DREAMer attorney in Colorado.

Jose Ricardo Feris

Partner in the International Dispute Resolution Practice Group of the Firm Squire Patton Boggs

PARIS 33-15-383-1160

José Ricardo Feris is a partner in the International Dispute Resolution Practice Group of Squire Patton Boggs based in Paris. He represents private and public entities in commercial and investment arbitration proceedings. He also sits as arbitrator in commercial ad-hoc and institutional arbitration proceedings. Before joining Squire Patton Boggs, José was the Deputy Secretary General of the ICC International Court of Arbitration. At the ICC Court he also served as Deputy Counsel, Counsel, Managing Counsel Secretary of the ICC Latin American Arbitration Group, Co-Chair of the ICC Young Arbitrators Forum and Acting Secretary General. He was equally instrumental in designing and implementing ICC Court’s policies to increase efficiency, transparency and diversity in international arbitration. José assisted in the establishment of the ICC Court case management offices in New York City and Sao Paulo, the ICC Arab Arbitration Group, and an ICC Court representative office in Shanghai. He is a member of the Arbitrators Council at the Atlanta Centre for International Arbitration and Mediation, teaches international arbitration at Sciences Po in Paris and at the Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City and is a regular speaker on international arbitration in conferences around the globe. He speaks, Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.

22 • November / December 2017

Manuel Fernandez

Partner Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP

MIAMI, FL 786-587-1051

Manuel A. Fernandez is a partner in Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP’s Transactional Real Estate group, where he represents financial institutions, as well as institutional and non-institutional investors, in real estate acquisitions and dispositions, commercial leasing matters, distressed real estate transactions, real estate financings and the formation of real estate joint ventures. Mr. Fernandez has handled some of the largest real estate transactions in Florida, including most recently the purchase of the Southeast Financial Center in a deal in excess of $500 million, hailed by the Miami Herald as the largest single-building transaction ever completed in Miami. Mr. Fernandez is regularly recognized by prominent legal publications as a leader in his field, including Chambers USA, Legal 500, Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers. Mr. Fernandez is also a leader in the Hispanic community.  He was one of the co-founders of the organization Café con Leche Republicans, which advocates comprehensive immigration reform, and is involved in numerous community fundraisers and other activities. 

Partner Brown Rudnick’s Corporate and Capital Markets Group BOSTON, MA 617-856-8321 Adolfo Garcia is a Partner in Brown Rudnick’s Corporate and Capital Markets group. He has extensive experience handling various corporate and business transactions including financings, private equity, securities, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, investments, restructurings and contractual arrangements in the US, as well as most other parts of the world. Dolf also represents non-US based clients with their US based and/ or US law governed matters. Dolf has done significant work outside of the U.S. including Western Europe, Canada, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Asia, India and the Arab Middle East on behalf of US and nonUS clients. He has extensive expertise regarding US laws and regulations applicable to US and non-US clients doing business outside of the US such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the UK Bribery Act, the Export Administration Act and US laws and regulations administered by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) with focus on Cuba, Dolf’s country of origin, and various sanctions programs.

Ignacio J. Garcia

Shareholder Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C.

TAMPA, FL 813-221-7235

Mr. Garcia focuses his practice exclusively on representing employers with their labor and employment needs. He has extensive experience in both federal and state courts representing employers.  He has defended both individual and collective actions under numerous state and federal employment laws, including Title VII, the ADEA, the ADA, FMLA, FLSA, Florida’s private whistle blower statute, and all manner of retaliation claims.  Mr. Garcia has also defended employment related torts such as defamation, negligent retention, negligent hiring, assault, battery and fraud, as well as all manner of breach of contract claims.  Mr. Garcia has handled numerous trials and administrative hearings. Mr. Garcia has been featured as a speaker at numerous human resources and legal conferences throughout Florida. Mr. Garcia also represents employers in front of numerous administrative agencies such as the EEOC and the Florida Commission On Human Relations.


Adolfo Garcia

Top Latino Lawyers 2017

Miguel Garcia Owner Miguel Garcia PLLC

Gaela K. Gehring Flores Partner Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 405-850-5878

WASHINGTON, DC 202-942-6505

Garcia specializes in complex federal and state criminal defense matters some of which can lead to immigration consequences. Amongst his specialties he also focuses on personal injury cases advocating for the Oklahoma community. Garcia has been involved on several boards such as the Latino Community Development Agency, Oklahoma County Law Library Board of Trustees, and the Youth Leadership Exchange Board, amongst others. He currently serves on the board of the Oklahoma County Bar Association and is a member of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Inn of Court. Previous awards include OKC Biz 40 under 40 and the Journal Record Leadership in Law Award.

Gaela Gehring Flores, a partner at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, concentrates her practice on international arbitration and litigation matters. She represents both multinational corporations and sovereign states in international commercial and investment arbitration before the ICSID, ICC, and ICDR/AAA, and in litigation and appellate proceedings before US federal courts. She advises clients in a broad range of disputes, including energy, natural resources, construction, hospitality, transportation, sovereign debt instruments, government contracts, and intellectual property. Ms. Gehring Flores also provides legal services to private sector and sovereign clients on enforcement of arbitral awards, effective contractual dispute resolution clauses, and a variety of public international law issues, including foreign sovereign immunity and discovery in international proceedings. Ms. Gehring Flores’s practice capitalizes on her broad experience, native Spanish skills and bicultural background.

Raed Gonzalez Senior Attorney Gonzalez Olivieri LLC

HOUSTON, TX 713-481-3040

Raed Gonzalez, Chairman of the immigration law firm Gonzalez Olivieri LLC, is the “secret weapon” behind the company’s success. His extraordinary technical expertise has afforded him three Supreme Court wins two of which changed and are leading cases in the dynamic field of immigration law. Cases such as Mata v. Lynch are hallmarks of Mr. Gonzalez’ strategic legal crafting and commitment to bringing a greater degree of fairness into Immigration Law by litigating difficult cases.  Mr. Gonzalez is a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, is a frequent speaker on immigration, a pro bono counsel for many nonprofit organizations and has received many accolades for his dedication and continued support of immigrant communities.  He also assists the Harris Country Public Defenders Office, the Houston Police Department Eastside Community Services, he is the President of the Immigration Counseling Center a nonprofit serving low income immigrants and is a member of the Latino Learning Center to name a few. Mr. Gonzalez and Gonzalez Olivieri LLC Immigration Law Firm provide a wide range of legal services including litigation, naturalization, family immigration, legal services for employers seeking temporary business visas and permanent residence on behalf of foreign national employees, entrepreneurs, traders and investors. 

24 • November / December 2017

Arnulfo and Christine Hernandez Founders Hernandez & Associates PC

DENVER, CO 720-644-9769

Arnulfo D. Hernández and Christine M. Hernández are shareholders of Hernández & Associates, P.C, the leading Latino owned criminal defense and immigration law firm in Colorado and the largest immigration law firm in Denver. Managing partner, Arnulfo D. Hernández, is a go-to for criminal defense, representing individuals and corporations in state and federal matters. Christine M. Hernández heads the firm’s full-service immigration practice and represents individuals, families, and professionals before various local, national, and international governmental entities as well as federal courts of appeal. Arnulfo and Christine both practice “Crimmigration,” an emerging area of law that blends criminal defense and immigration law. Arnulfo is Regional President of Region XIII of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and is immediate past President of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association. For the last three years, Christine has been the Chair of the Immigration Section of the HNBA. She has been an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association since 2005. They have both been named Rising Stars by Colorado Super Lawyers and Arnulfo was selected to the 5280 Top Lawyers list in 2017. 

Founder and Managing Partner Juan Hernandez Law Dallas, TX; Amarillo, TX; Playa del Carmen, Mex.


Hernandez came to the United States as a little boy. He later attained residency and served in the United States Army for 8 years where he attained citizenship.  He earned his Law Degree from Baylor University and has represented injured people and families across the country for over 20 years.  He has helped thousands of clients with their injury cases and has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for suffering families.  Mr. Hernandez and his legal team take on complex catastrophic injury and death cases and give back to the community in many different ways. 

Elsa Manzanares

Partner and Co-Chair, International Trade Group Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP DALLAS, TX

214-999-4172 Elsa Manzanares advises clients on U.S. and international regulations governing the import and export of goods, technology, software and services. She has successfully represented companies facing investigations by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Department of State for violations of U.S. export regulations.  Elsa also represents clients before the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on sanctions and embargoes programs, including Russia, Iran, and Cuba.  In addition, Elsa advises clients on the import regulations administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, including product valuation, tariff classification, country of origin, and free trade agreements, such as NAFTA. Elsa has advised clients in numerous industries, including software, manufacturing, energy, aerospace, and retail.  She is a member of Law 360’s Editorial Advisory Board for International Trade.  Elsa also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Frontiers of Flight Museum.  Elsa received a BA from Yale University, an MPP from Harvard Kennedy School, and JD from the University of Texas School of Law.


Juan Hernandez

Jorge M. Leon

Partner, Chair of Diversity & Inclusion Committee Michael Best & Friedrich LLP Chicago, IL


With more than 19 years of experience, Partner Jorge Leon has counseled employers in the manufacturing, education, defense, IT, and food and beverage industries on the design, establishment, and maintenance of retirement plans. His work has established national benefits policy with the IRS, has helped clients meet their goals and has ensured that several hundred thousand workers across the country can meet their retirement needs. Leon is honored as a Recognized Practitioner, Employee Benefits & Compensation by Chambers USA, and various publications have sought his insight regarding employee benefits matters. He has implemented various diversity initiatives at Michael Best and currently serves as the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair, as well as on the Board of Directors for Chicago’s Gads Hill Center.  In these roles, Leon has positively impacted the Latino community.

Erica Mason

Partner Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete LLP

ATLANTA, GA 404-230-6794

Erica Mason is a labor & employment partner in the Atlanta office of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete. Her practice focuses on litigation involving claims of employment discrimination, harassment, wage & hour violations and other employment-related matters. Erica is also a nationally-recognized speaker and trainer on a wide variety of issues including employment law; diversity, inclusion, and implicit bias; leadership training for women and minority attorneys and executives. Erica has received numerous awards and recognition for her work as an employment lawyer including the “GA Super Lawyer’s Rising Star” (7) times, GA Trend’s “Legal Elite” (3) times; “Best Lawyers in America” (2) times; GA Trend Magazine’s “Top 40 Georgians Under 40”; Lawyer Monthly’s 2017 Women in the Law; Women of the Year Law and Justice Award; and Latino Leaders “Top Latino Lawyers Award 2017”. She also serves as Board Director of OnBoard Now, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of women on corporate boards in Georgia (2015-present), and is the current President of the Hispanic National Bar Association.

Top Latino Lawyers 2017

Jessica Massey

Senior Associate Counsel, Global Security, Aviation/Travel & Ethics Walmart Legal Department BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS

479-204-6061 Jessica A. Massey is Senior Associate Counsel at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., where she conducts legally privileged, internal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and financial integrity investigations. She provides daily legal advice to Walmart’s Global Ethics & Compliance Department on various topics including global company policies and procedures, monitoring, and associate messaging and training worldwide. Previously, Jessica was a criminal prosecutor for over eleven years, serving at both the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston. Jessica currently serves as National Secretary for the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and Director At Large for the Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA). She received her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School and her B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross. Jessica has been recognized repeatedly for her leadership and volunteerism, was named an HNBA Top Lawyer Under 40 in 2016, and became an American Bar Foundation Fellow in 2017.

Richard Montes de Oca

Founder and Managing Partner MDO Partners

MIAMI, FL 305-704-8452

Richard Montes de Oca is the founder and Managing Partner of MDO Partners, a boutique law firm focusing on Corporate, International and Real Estate Law, Global Compliance and Business Ethics. Richard is an AV-Preeminent Rated attorney in Corporate, Contracts and International Law, specializing in corporate governance, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, securities transactions and global compliance. Prior to establishing MDO Partners, Richard was AVP and Assistant General Counsel of Royal Caribbean Cruises. Throughout his career, Richard has represented clients with international corporate transactions valued at over $5 billion in more than 30 countries. Richard is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law, serves on the Executive Council of the International Law Section of the Florida Bar, Community Investment Committee of the United Way of Miami-Dade and the board of Miami Finance Forum, a member of the Board of Governors of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and Co-Chair of the Financial Stability Impact Council.

26 • November / December 2017

Marcela Mendoza Principal Jackson Lewis P.C.

DENVER, CO 303-225-2387 Marcela A. Mendoza is a Principal in the Denver, Colorado, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Ms. Mendoza has experience working with clients that range from Fortune 500 companies, start-up companies, U.S. branches of global corporations, and individuals. Since 2001, Ms. Mendoza has been advising companies, families, and individuals on temporary and permanent visa options. Her practice covers all aspects of employment-based immigration. Ms. Mendoza manages the green card process for multinational managers, individuals of extraordinary ability, and labor certification for skill workers. She also has extensive experience in guiding foreign-born clients through consular processing. Ms. Mendoza also specializes in temporary visa processes and has significant experience in immigrant and non-immigrant process for professionals in the technology, education, research, energy, banking, and healthcare industries. Ms. Mendoza also advises corporations on compliance issues, I-9 audits, E-Verify, and Department of Labor-related audits. Additionally, Ms. Mendoza counseled management in the areas of affirmative action compliance, representing the company in compliance evaluations and administrative review audits initiated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

Jose A. Olivieri

Co-Managing Partner, Milwaukee Office, Industry Group Chair, Higher Education Michael Best & Friedrich LLP

MIWAUKEE, WI 414-225-4967

José Olivieri is the co-managing partner of Michael Best’s Milwaukee office. He is the chair of the Higher Education Industry Group, the founder and co-chair of the firm’s immigration law practice, and the former chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Relations Practice Group. Clients depend on José’s deep knowledge of and experience with U.S. immigration law and employment-based immigration matters, such as immigration status, consular processing, citizenship and naturalization, among others. José counsels colleges and universities on issues including, employment matters, governance, Title IX, student discipline, and labor contract administration. He has been recognized as a leading immigration lawyer by Chambers USA since 2008, was named 2018 Best Lawyers in America®, “Lawyer of the Year” for  Employment Law – Management in Milwaukee, and received the 2016 Executive Leadership Award from the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee. José is an active member of various community and professional organizations, including roles as Board President of Milwaukee’s United Community Center and Chair of Carroll University’s Board of Trustees.

Partner Squire Patton Boggs

SANTO DOMINGO 809-472-4900

Alejandro Peña-Prieto is the managing partner of Squire Patton Boggs’ Santo Domingo office and heads the firm’s Caribbean and Central American Desk. He concentrates his practice on providing strategic business counsel to US, Latin American and European investors with significant business interests in the Dominican Republic, particularly in the energy, banking and finance, real estate and hospitality and consumer products sectors. Alex served two terms as president of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Dominican Republic, where he has been a member since 2000, and one term as vice chair of the board of governors of the Association of American Chamber of Commerce of Latin America (AACCLA). He is also a member of the board of directors of the Association of Foreign Investment Companies of the Dominican Republic and a member of Fundación Institucionalidad y Justica (FINJUS). From 2011 to 2013, Alex served on the board of directors of the Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution of the Chamber of Commerce and Production of Santo Domingo.


Alejandro Peña-Prieto

Peter Prieto

Partner Podhurst Orseck P.A.

MIAMI, FL 305-358-2800

Prieto is a former federal prosecutor and trial lawyer who focuses his practice on complex civil litigation, including class actions, and white collar criminal defense. Prieto currently serves as plaintiffs’ chair lead counsel overseeing both class actions and personal injury actions in the Takata Airbags Product Liability Multidistrict Litigation, considered the largest product defect case in United States history. He is the only Florida lawyer on the plaintiffs’ executive committee in the General Motors LLC Ignition Switch Multidistrict Litigation, and, through his firm, also serves on the plaintiffs’ executive committee in the Checking Account Overdraft Multidistrict Litigation, representing bank customers wrongfully charged overdraft fees. Some of Prieto’s most significant engagements in his civil litigation practice have involved obtaining $1.2 billion on behalf of drivers impacted by defected airbags, and obtaining settlements of more than over $1 billion on behalf of classes of millions of bank customers who were wrongly charged overdraft fees.

Eva Plaza Of Counsel Meyers Nave

LOS ANGELES, CA 213-626-2906 Eva Plaza is Of Counsel in Meyers Nave’s Trial and Litigation Practice Group and Municipal and Special District Law Practice Group. She represents private businesses and public entities in a wide range of litigation, transactions and regulatory matters. Eva began her career at the Attorney General Honors Program of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., where she served as a trial and appellate attorney in the Commercial Litigation Branch. In addition to private practice at the law firms of Arent Fox and Seyfarth Shaw, Eva’s background includes being appointed in 1997 by President Bill Clinton to a Senate-confirmed position as Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and, in 1993, being appointed by President Clinton as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Torts Branch of the Civil Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. Eva has received the Hispanic Bar Association’s Equal Justice Award, the Woman of Distinction Award from the National Conference for College Women Leaders, and the Albert Arent Pro Bono Award. Eva is an active member of numerous organizations, including Community Lawyers Inc., Mexican American Bar Association, Women Lawyers Association, National Latina Business Women’s Association, National Women’s Political Caucus, California Minority Counsel Program, and the American Bar Foundation.

Top Latino Lawyers 2017 Angel Reyes III Managing Partner Reyes|Browne|Reilley

Meshach Rhoades Partner Armstrong Teasdale LLP

DALLAS, TX 214-296-4762

DENVER, CO 720-722-7195

Angel L. Reyes & Associates, PC is the parent company of Reyes / Browne / Reilley a business litigation, mortgage default servicing, and personal injury litigation law firm. The firm has worked with executives, business owners, and individuals to resolve over 30,000 cases. Additionally, the firm has tried 250 cases to a jury verdict. These cases include business disputes, life-altering personal injury, defective products, and dangerous prescription drugs, contract disputes, partnership disputes, and other business related disputes. Angel Reyes was named to the Super Lawyers® list for 2008 - 2017, by Law & Politics magazine, a supplement to Texas Monthly. This honor is bestowed upon the top 5% of all lawyers in Texas. Additionally, the law firm is AV-rated, the highest legal rating available from the leading law firm rating service, Martindale Hubbell. Angel graduated from the University of Kansas with a BA, Texas Tech University with a MBA, and the University of Michigan Law School with a JD.

Meshach Rhoades is a partner at Armstrong Teasdale in Denver and an experienced litigator in all facets of complex commercial, regulatory and telecommunications litigation. She also has experience as former in-house counsel for a Fortune 200 company. Meshach has litigated a variety of cases regarding complex contracts, intellectual property, business torts, real estate, class actions, finance and mortgage banking litigation, and labor and employment in state and federal courts nationwide. Her clients include Fortune 100 companies, government agencies, municipalities, and closely held businesses. She also serves as co-leader of the firm’s Agribusiness and Food industry team, vice chair of the firm’s Inclusion Committee and is a member of the Women’s Inclusion Network. Meshach’s legal service also extends to the community. She co-founded the Latinas First Foundation, which honors Colorado’s unsung heroines and trailblazers, builds community, and trains the next generation of Hispanic leaders. She is immediate past chair of the Center for Legal Inclusiveness; formerly served as the national finance director and vice president of Sections and Committees for eight years and on the Hispanic National Board of Directors for over 10 years; and co-chaired the organization’s 2014 annual convention. Meshach was a mayoral appointee for the Denver Latino Commission; Leadership Council on Legal Diversity class of 2011 fellow; past president of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association; former chair of the Diversity in the Legal Profession Committee of the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations; board member for the Colorado Hispanic Chamber Foundation; and Florence Crittenton Services Hispanic Advisory Council member.

Michael Rodriguez

Managing Partner of Austin Office Munck Wilson Mandala

Eneida Roman

Founder Eneida Roman Law Offices

AUSTIN, TX 737-201-1602

BOSTON, MA 617-266-4448

Michael Rodriguez is an IP attorney and managing partner of Munck Wilson Mandala’s Austin Office. He is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves and has received numerous commendations for his active duty service in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Rodriguez represents businesses in the construction, electronics, retail, restaurant, telecommunications, pet-care, vehicle manufacturing, and energy industries.  Prior to joining Munck Wilson Mandala, Rodriguez worked at TXU as a senior engineer.   Munck Wilson Mandala is a technologyfocused law firm with offices in Dallas, Austin and Marshall, Texas, with an emphasis on patent, trade secret, trademark and other intellectual property disputes. The firm offers full-service counsel in the areas of intellectual property litigation, complex commercial litigation, intellectual property portfolio development, corporate transactions and securities, and employment law. Munck Wilson Mandala represents clients from start-ups to Fortune 50 companies.

Eneida is a licensed organizational psychologist and attorney, she is a multi-faceted professional whose law practice is focused around estate law, real estate & government relations. Eneida IS co-foundeR OF the Latina Circle & AMPLIFY LATINX, social ventureS focused on developing LatinX executive and political leaders in Massachusetts, RESPECTIVELY.  In 2017, she was appointed to the HOPE National Taskforce, a distinguished team of Latina trailblazers tasked with increasing Latina leadership representation at every level of public service across the nation. Eneida serves on the ABA’s Commission on Hispanic Rights and Responsibilities; and is National Co-Chair of the HNBA Latina Commission, tasked with identifying and implementing strategies to remove barriers for Latinas in the legal profession. She also serves as a director at Big Sister of Boston, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and Eastern Bank, the oldest and largest mutual bank in America. AMONG VARIOUS OTHER ACCOLADES, she has been recognized consecutively by PowerMeter as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Individuals in Massachusetts. ENEIDA is admitted to practice law in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts Federal District Court, First Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

28 • November / December 2017

Senior Counsel Dykema Cox Smith

Manuel “Manny” Sanchez Founder and Managing Partner Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman LLP

DALLAS, TX 214-698-7835

CHICAGO, IL 312-641-1555

Jerry G. Sanchez provides legal and regulatory counsel for banks and finance companies on a variety of banking and consumer finance matters, including compliance with the Truth in Lending Act and Regulation Z, the Truth in Savings Act and Regulation DD, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Regulation B, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act, RESPA and Regulation X, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act and Regulation E, affiliated business arrangements, electronic banking and E-commerce, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, bank and thrift powers, federal preemption, legal lending limits, Texas home equity law and regulations, Federal and state privacy laws and regulations, fiduciary activities, the USA PATRIOT Act amendments to the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering regulations, and the Community Reinvestment Act. For non-bank entities, Jerry guides clients through state lending license and registration requirements, interest and usury limits, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and state escheat laws.

Manuel “Manny” is the Founder and Managing Partner of Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman LLP. Over the past 30 years the firm has earned a reputation as one of the premier civil litigation defense firms in the State of Illinois and has grown into the second largest minority-owned law firm in the United States. Manny is a highly accomplished trial lawyer, specializing in multi-million-dollar complex product liability, construction, professional liability, employment law, civil rights, commercial and toxic tort defense litigation. He has been the lead counsel and successfully tried to verdict more than 75 cases in both State and Federal Court in Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana. Highly regarded by his peers, he is a multi-term elected member of the Illinois State Bar General Assembly, past Co-chair of the ABA Commission on the Jury and in 2013 he was selected as the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Award for Excellence by the Illinois Bar Foundation. Since the founding of the Law Firm in 1987, Manny has literally helped raise millions of dollars for eleemosynary causes including Chicago Scholars, Gary Sinise Foundation, and his alma maters, Northern Illinois University, University of Pennsylvania Law School and Holy Trinity High School. Manny has received three gubernatorial appointments including appointment by Governor Edgar in 1996 to the Inaugural NIU Board of Trustees, where he served for 15 years, appointment by Governor Quinn to the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority in 2011 and appointment by Governor Rauner to Chairmanship of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. Additionally, in 2011 Manny was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Daniel Suvor

Counsel O’Melveny & Myers LLP

LOS ANGELES, CA 213-430-7669

Suvor is a skilled litigator who has extensive experience working with state Attorneys General across a range of matters. His broad practice encompasses products liability, healthcare, financial services, and white collar and investigation matters that could appear before state AGs and other government agencies. Suvor previously served as Chief of Policy and Senior Counsel to California Attorney General (now U.S. Senator) Kamala D. Harris. In that position, he was a member of the four-person executive team that supervised and operated the 5,000-person California Department of Justice. In 2009, Suvor was appointed by President Obama to serve at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). From 2009-2013, he worked as a litigation attorney for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and as Special Assistant to the General Counsel of HHS. In April 2013, Daniel was recruited from HHS for a position as Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs in the Obama White House, where he coordinated logistics, communications and policy between the President and his domestic cabinet agencies (including HHS and the U.S. Department of Justice). In 2013, he won the national Hispanic Health Leadership Award from the National Hispanic Medical Association and in 2014 was selected by the Huffington Post as one of the 40 Under 40 Hispanics in American Politics. In 2016, he was selected by the American Bar Association as one of the Top 40 Young Lawyers in the United States.

Hector Torres

Partner Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP

NEW YORK, NY 212-506-1730

Hector Torres is a name and co-founding partner of Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP and one of the nation’s top lawyers for antitrust and other complex commercial cases.  Hector has been honored as a 2017 “M&A and Antitrust Trailblazer” by the National Law Journal in recognition of his pioneering work in antitrust cases. He was also recognized as a 2015 “Litigation Trailblazer” by the National Law Journal, for his use of innovative strategies and exemplary achievements in the legal profession. He serves as a member of the firm’s Management Committee and the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Committee on Character and Fitness. Hector contributes to his  Bronxbased community through the St. Luke’s Education Foundation. He established a mentoring program connecting students from challenging Bronx neighborhoods with Latino attorneys  to encourage postsecondary education and goals.   He  recently led a major fundraiser in Manhattan to raise funds for Puerto Rico in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria.


Jerry G. Sanchez

Top Latino Lawyers 2017

Pedro Jaime Torres Diaz Principal Jackson Lewis LLC

Emmanuel E. Ubiñas Partner Jones Day

PUERTO RICO/ MIAMI, FL 305-577-7600

Dallas, TX 214-969-3670

Pedro Jaime Torres-Díaz is a Principal in the San Juan, Puerto Rico and Miami, Florida offices of Jackson Lewis P.C. He counsels and represents national and multi-national employers in all areas of employment law.  Mr. Torres-Díaz has successfully defended employers in Florida and Puerto Rico in all types of courts and administrative hearings before local and federal agencies. He is the Immediate Past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association; a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation; and a Commissioner on the Commission of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Legal Profession of the American Bar Association. After completion of his undergraduate studies, Mr. Torres-Díaz worked as a fiscal analyst in the corporate headquarters of McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, Missouri. After his graduation from law school, he clerked for the Honorable Aida M. Delgado-Colón, United States MagistrateJudge (now Chief United States District Judge), at the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

Emmanuel has more than 15 years of experience on Latin America-related investigations and litigation. He has worked on matters involving bribery, bid rigging, procurement fraud, money laundering, self-dealing, accounting fraud, enforcement of foreign judgments, and cross-border contract and toxic tort litigation. Emmanuel was recently recognized as one of the top “40 under 40” investigators in the world by Global Investigations Review. Beyond his investigation and litigation experience, Emmanuel’s recent engagements also include counseling companies on: internal controls, data privacy, and implementing and enhancing compliance programs; Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) transactional due diligence; compliance-related clauses in acquisition, joint venture, EPC, and subcontractor contracts; and contractual post-closing adjustments, earn-outs, breach of representations and warranties, and indemnification claims. Emmanuel also maintains an active pro bono practice taking a leading role in the Firm’s representation of hundreds of Latin American immigrant women and children in asylum cases largely stemming from domestic abuse or political persecution, including appearing before immigration officers and representing asylum applicants in Immigration Court.

Julio Vega Partner Morgan Lewis

BOSTON, MA 617-951-8901

Julio Vega has almost 30 years of experience representing public and private companies in a broad range of industries, including biotechnology, medical devices, nanotechnology, advanced materials, software, networking, e-commerce, and fintech. He has experience counseling clients on venture capital and other private equity financing transactions, public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, licensing, and corporate partnering transactions. Julio regularly counsels clients on general corporate, employee compensation, and corporate governance matters. He is also very active in the representation of start-up and emerging growth companies in the life sciences and technology industries. In addition, Julio has experience advising on international transactions and is fluent in Spanish. He is a leader in his field and has been recognized as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA, Chambers Global, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Legal 500 US, The Best Lawyers in America, Super Lawyers, Lawdragon 500 and LMG Life Sciences.

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Founding Partner Vela | Wood P.C.

Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado

Owner Law Office of Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado PLC

DALLAS, TX 214-821-2300

PHOENIX, AZ 602-910-4040 info@abogadoray.coms

Kevin Vela is a founding partner at Vela Wood P.C. He focuses his practice on venture financing, fund formation, and M&A activities. In recent years, he has represented both startups and investors in over $100M in venture financing. Kevin was named a 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 Super Lawyers Rising Star, was honored by D Magazine as a Best Lawyer in Dallas, and is a Texas Bar Foundation Fellow, an honor granted to 1/3 of 1% of Texas attorneys. Kevin is a founding member of The Dallas Angel Network, which connects entrepreneurs with angel investors in Dallas, and he co-manages a Dallas-based venture capital fund, Blossom Street Ventures, which is on its fourth fund. Kevin serves as a mentor for the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), which pairs professionals from Latin America with professionals in their field in the United States for a 6-week fellowship program. This year, Kevin and his YLAI fellow founded Pitch Americas, a startup pitch competition to empower entrepreneurs in Latin America.

Ybarra Maldonado is a human rights activist, author, and motivational speaker. Born in Douglas, AZ, Ybarra Maldonado is an aggressive trial attorney who has attained not guilty verdicts in both state and federal courts as well as attaining victories at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the immigration context, his office works on high profile cases that have been featured in both the national and international media.  His firm has assisted community members in attaining U Visas, VAWA, adjustment of status as well as winning cancellation of removal and asylum cases.  His book “Born on the Border” has been a required reading in university classes across the country, including in an immigration class at Harvard Law School. He is a board member of Los Abogados, co-chair of the litigation committee for Arizona’s American Immigration Lawyer’s Association chapter, and a pro bono attorney for the Phoenix chapter of No Mas Muertes. He has received awards from Super Lawyers, the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys, as well as has been recognized among the nation’s Top One Percent from the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

Stephen N. Zack

Partner Boies Schiller Flexner LLP

MIAMI, FL 305-357-8452

Stephen N. Zack is an Attorney and Partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP. He was nominated in 2013 by President Barack Obama for the position of Alternate U.S. Representative to the Sixty-eighth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and he served as Senior Advisor to the United States Department of State. From 2010 to 2011, he served as the first Hispanic President of the American Bar Association. He was also the youngest President of the Florida Bar (1989-1990).  He was appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles in 1997 to re-write the Florida Constitution as a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. Mr. Zack is a Federal Judicial Nominating Commission member, and Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He served as Chair of the ABA House of Delegates, Chair of the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, and the ABA Latin American Law Initiatives. Mr. Zack is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute. He is a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Rafael Zahralddin

Chair of National Commercial Bankruptcy and Restructuring Practice and a founding Shareholder of the Delaware Office Elliott Greenleaf P.C.

WILMINGTON, DE 302-284-9400

Zahralddin-Aravena is a Shareholder, Director, and Practice Chair at Elliott Greenleaf. He founded the Elliott Greenleaf Delaware office in 2007, which specializes in business law, as its first Managing Shareholder. He is a litigator and advises businesses in compliance, corporate formation, corporate governance, insolvency, distressed M&A, commercial transactions, cyber law, regulatory actions, and cross border issues. He served as special litigation counsel in Washington Mutual, the largest bank insolvency in U.S. history. He negotiated a settlement of more than $50 million for Nortel’s permanently disabled former employees and then was granted a favorable Internal Revenue Service private letter ruling which saved his clients $2.6 million. He received the 2014 Large Company Transaction of the Year Award from the Turnaround Management Association for his work in the sale of the U.S. and China assets of a publicly traded company. Mr. Zahralddin is the new Co-Editor of Reorganizing Failing Businesses, the American Bar Association’s treatise on chapter 11 practice. He received the Delaware State Bar Association’s MJL “Excellence in Community Service Award” in 2016. He is a National Association of Corporate Directors Governance Fellow and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.


Kevin Vela

Top Latino Lawyers 2017

ERICA MASON VOICE OF LAW Story by: Shellie Smitley


ttorney Erica Mason has not only set the bar for Latina women within the legal industry; she is passionate about encouraging Latinos to blaze their own trail. “I would be lying if I said (being female and Latina) is not a disadvantage sometimes,” she said. “When you walk into a room people assume you are a paralegal, court reporter or the cleaning lady.” According to the Bureau of Labor, 88 percent of U.S. lawyers are white. Against the odds, Mason broke barriers and crashed through stereotypical boundaries. She is a partner at Atlanta-based Constangy Brooks, Smith & Prophete, as well as the current president of the National Hispanic Bar Association, which named her to its annual “Top Lawyers Under 40” list in 2016. Her Latin American background does not allow her to take success for granted or underestimate the power of her position. “It’s always been really important to give back,” she said. “To go out in my community and tell kids, ‘look if I made it, you can make it.” The financial security is rewarding, but it’s the mentoring and support of young Latino students that feeds her soul. Like many Latino lawyers, Mason is aware of how conflict in countries like Venezuela, Panama, and Cuba has minimized the role of law. Believing that lawyers are the first line of defense, she is devoted to promoting positive messages on social media about the legal industry through the Proud Lawyers Campaign. She also speaks to parents regarding the cost of attending law school. It is important to her that young Latina females understand that they can juggle both a law career and a family, and that students who have an interest in STEM-related subjects are aware of the opportunities to practice law within those fields.

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According to the National Bar Association, between 2007 and 2017 Hispanic lawyers steadily made up between four and five percent of all lawyers in the U.S. Latinas accounted for less than two percent. Contributors to Mason’s success • Acceptance of who she was • Determination to be who she was • Self-confidence • Self-motivation • Willingness to work hard • Self-reflection • Desire to improve • Drive to overcome presumptions • Community involvement • Employers who were willing to recognize her achievements

“This is a noble profession where you can make a good career, but also help your community in a tremendous way,” she said. Mason practices employment law and uses every opportunity to promote change by helping the companies she represents comply with laws designed to promote and protect opportunities for women and minorities. When there is an issue, Mason is not afraid to be forward with her clients and finds that they appreciate her honesty. Training in diversity inclusion and changes in policies are often among the outcomes. “Who better qualified to say, ‘look you really have an issue here. You are not treating women fairly or you are not treating minorities fairly and you need to fix it.’” Mason hopes to see the number of Latinos practicing law increase in the future so that the Latino voice as a community can be more readily heard and their rights can be more steadily protected. She is doing her part to prove that Latinos can not only attain power, but also use that power to strengthen and add leverage. She enjoys the fruits of her determination and offers nothing but praise for the Atlanta-based firm which supports and shares her values and vision and is nationally recognized for its commitment to diversity.

Top Latino Lawyers 2017

BENNY AGOSTO, JR. ONE OF A KIND Story by: Alejandro Aviles


hen reviewing the career and life of Benny Agosto, Jr. it’s possible to doubt there’s only one of him. Is the Benny Agosto who represents state and national clients at Texas’ oldest personal injury law firm the same Benny Agosto who litigates major cases on catastrophic injuries and protecting clients’ rights? Is the Benny Agosto who helps plan for municipal disaster relief and runs two philanthropic foundations also the same Benny Agosto who is set to be president of the Houston Bar Association, and who just oversaw the launch of The Hispanic Law Review at his alma mater, the South Texas College of Law at Houston? Indeed, it is the same Benny Agosto. And while he loves his various professional roles and community projects, he admits it’s not always easy being just one person. “It can be hard to juggle everything,” he concedes. “I only sleep five or six hours a day. It wears on you physically and mentally. But I’m used to it, and the more you have on your plate, the more you get done. I love my work and I like to catapult youth and help others — with scholarships, with mentoring. I’m blessed that I am in a position to do positive things.” Agosto is the son of parents with sixth-grade education who pushed him to reach for great things while growing up in Puerto Rico. Today, Agosto shares that message with a new generation of Latino and Latina youth in the Houston area. And he himself remains a model of hard work and constructive ambition. “The lawyers who rise to positions of influence do more than the same thing every day,” says Agosto, a former president of the Hispanic National Bar Association. “They are always learning, doing more. I am always studying — holding focus groups, doing mock trials. I always want to be the most prepared person in the room.” To help prepare the next generation of highpowered Latino and Latina lawyers and leaders, Agosto founded the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas Foundation. The foundation has so far raised more than $250,000 to support the education of Hispanic, Houston-area law students. “Professionally developing lawyers start with providing strong education opportunities,” says

Associations and Organizations • Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce • Houston Bar Association • Mexican American Bar Association of Texas Foundation • Hispanic Law Review, South Texas College of Law at Houston Top Cases Republic Waste v. Martinez (Alien Status Case) • Church’s Chicken Cases Local Advocate • DACA • Equal gender access to bathrooms What Makes a Great Lawyer…? • Never stop learning • Be the most prepared person in the room • Develop communication and advocacy skills Bucket List… • Help interfaith groups prepare communities for future natural disasters • Work with the mayor to bring libraries to all Houston schools • Continue to develop philanthropic and volunteer projects to develop the next generation of Latino and Latina leaders.

Agosto. “We have to build the pipeline, from early education to professional development. It’s hard work being at the top, but also you have to reach down and bring folks with you. It has to be a concerted community effort — both to promote business opportunities and bring young leaders up. We have people in our community to look up to. Mentoring is important.” For Agosto, an appreciation for culture is part of the formula for developing the new generation. “Top Latino lawyers apply education, culture and work ethic into their field of practice. [Supreme Court Justice Sonia] Sotomayor brings her culture to the table. We need smart Latinos working hard and moving into leadership positions. They are charismatic, hard-working women and men.” Agosto was recently active in relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. He helped organized interfaith groups to begin prepping for next disaster. He’s also working at the municipal level to make sure all Houston schools have libraries and plans to advocate for this as part of his upcoming presidency of the Houston Bar Association. With a such a high profile in the community and a track record of success, it is natural that Agosto is often asked if he has political ambitions. But the veteran lawyer is adamant, he has no interest in adding the demands of a campaign to an already frenetic schedule. “I’m not going to run for office,” he says. “I’m happy working with policy and people. It brings me joy to help others and I feel I’ve made a difference in this world.” Follow him on Twitter @AbrahamWatkins

Top Latino Lawyers 2017



l Cardenas, a Senior Partner at the international law firm of Squire Patton Boggs, came to the United States of America at the age of 12. As a young man, Cardenas knew the value and importance of hard work, which he displayed by mowing lawns and selling newspapers. Cardenas continued working throughout high school in order to assist his family with family finances. By Cardenas participating and excelling in sports in high school, he was able to more easily make friends than others who had recently arrived in America. Cardenas always had a dream to become a lawyer and he worked diligently to make that happen. In law school, Cardenas worked two jobs; one during the week and another one on the weekends. By Cardenas remaining committed and focused throughout law school, he graduated with Honors at the top of his class. Cardenas possessed not only a passion for the law, but he possessed a passion for politics as well. Cardenas participated in the Presidential campaign of 1976, and in 1978 he ran for United States Congress. Although he did not win, Cardenas was able to make many friends and connections. Those connections proved fruitful as in 1980, Cardenas became involved in the Ronald Reagan Presidential campaign and was part of the Presidential transition team. As a result of his hard work and dedication he displayed while working on the campaign, Cardenas was asked to head the

transition of the United States Department of Commerce. Cardenas was also the first Hispanic elected as Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida & Chairman of the American Conservative Union. He also had the privilege of serving as a Special Ambassador to St. Kitts-Nevis when that nation became independent in 1983. Several years later, Cardenas began practicing his first passion - the law. More specifically, Cardenas specialized in real estate and government law. Cardenas started his own law firm with a partner, becoming one of the first Hispanics to start up their own firm, and the law firm grew to about 65 lawyers on staff. That law firm was able to thrive for 24 years until Cardenas’ partner passed away from cancer. Therefore, Cardenas merged his law firm into an international law firm, Squire Patton Boggs. This firm is one of the largest international law firms in the world. At this firm, there are 46 offices in 20 countries and Cardenas serves as a Senior Partner, overseeing the law practices in Latin America. To this day, Cardenas continues to serve and has been recognized as one of the best lawyers in the United States for almost a decade. Cardenas remains proud of his Hispanic heritage and culture and believes that everything he has accomplished has been a result of his best efforts. “Do what you are asked to do well, and other opportunities will follow,” Cardenas states. “Learn to draw the best from everyone around you and develop your reputation as a truthful and fair practitioner. You have to be humble if you want to be good at what you do.” Not once has Cardenas viewed himself as a token Hispanic or minority. He simply wants to be recognized for doing his best. Next steps for Cardenas? He wants to become a better mentor and help young people on their paths to success; particularly those in the Hispanic community.

Key Contributors: • Hard-Work • Dedication • Humility Bucket List “The key is to do a great job…not to depend on our culture or origin to help get you there.” Top Achievements: • Participated in two Presidential campaigns: 1976 & 1980. • Ran for United States Congress in 1978. • Created his own law firm, which later merged into Squire Patton Boggs. • He was the first Hispanic elected as Chairman to the Republican Party of Florida & Chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Follow him on Twitter @AlCardenasFL_DC 34 • November / December 2017



36 • November / December 2017


“Attorney of the Year 2013”- HNBA Awarded in Denver, Colorado

he courthouse with its 100 courtrooms is the largest in the United States. It stands at the corner of West 1st street across from the LA Law Library. The courthouse is an institution that attorney Juan J. Dominguez knows well, although he could never have imagined what this symbol of justice in Los Angeles would mean to him when he arrived in the City of Angels with his parents after they fled Cuba when he was just 10 years old. LA was a very different city back then. There was no Cuban community to support or cushion the family’s transition into life in America. “A lot of immigrants come to the US and tend to congregate in certain communities. We didn’t have that so we were an island unto ourselves,” Dominguez said in a recent interview. In Cuba, his father worked as a pharmacist, but had to take a factory job when the family arrived in the US. “We didn’t have much money for anything and my family would not accept government support,” Dominguez said. “We grew up here basically very humble because we came without a nickel in our pockets and had to start from scratch.” Years later, however, the American dream is a hard-won reality for Dominguez, his parents and his five siblings. Dominguez’s father founded a chain of pharmacies in California, and all of his children graduated from college.

Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti and Dominguez at charitable community event in Pacoima, CA

Today his son, Juan J. Dominquez is a highly successful attorney and the founder, CEO and managing partner of his own law firm, The Dominguez Firm Inc., a Los Angeles-based law practice specializing in personal injury cases. The firm has more than 100 employees and Dominguez is one of the most recognized attorneys in Southern California. His many awards include a 2015 Latino Business Award from the Los Angeles Business Journal, a 2014 Special Recognition Award from the Mexican-American Bar Association, and 2013 Attorney of the Year from the Hispanic National Bar Association. Dominguez’s leadership and service to the Latino community have earned him numerous recognitions from other local leaders including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, and former Speaker of the California Assembly John A. Perez. Los Angeles Magazine has named Dominguez a “Super Lawyer” for seven years in a row and Pasadena Magazine recognized him as a “Top Attorney” from 2010 through 2016. An early passion for justice Through the years, Dominguez has seen a “seismic change” in the demographics of Southern California. “Now I go back to those neighborhoods where I grew up in and it’s 101% Latino. The change has been incredible.” In school, he said he was one of a few bilingual students and was constantly pulled out of class in both primary school and high school to help translate meetings with new Latino families in the principal’s office. Being different, however, wasn’t easy. “Immigrants got picked on because of our accents. It was rough growing up in that sense. I always stood up for my rights or stood up for someone that was being picked on.” Defending other immigrant students came naturally to Dominguez, a harbinger perhaps of his future career as an attorney. “I got into fights at school sometimes because I was defending someone else’s rights. I’ve always believed in justice. I have an innate sense of justice,” he said. Dominguez at “Los Angelitos” Orphanage in Tijuana


Villaregosa and Dominguez at Estrella TV Executives' event in Los Angeles, California.

English, first, then the law As a student, Dominguez realized that mastering English would be essential to succeed professionally: “The challenge I had mostly growing up was English. That is a challenge you have to overcome. You have to get just as good in English as the other people that are trying to succeed in your profession.” Dominguez attended junior college to better his English and then California State University, Long Beach, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Latin American and Chinese history in 1984. He opened his law practice the same year he graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. “I was a maverick in that sense, I just graduated and dove into my own law firm. Most of what we do is personal injury, workers’ compensation, and employment law,” Dominquez said. The firm has recovered more than $500 million in verdicts and settlements since it opened. An ethic of service to others Before entering law school, Dominguez spent several years working at trauma units at the UCLA Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood, where he said he saw firsthand the difficulties and needs of severely injured patients. The experience reinforced his desire to help others.

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“For the last thirty years, I have been representing mostly first-generation Latinos, 80% of whom are Spanish-speaking only. I really enjoy being an attorney. I am passionate about what I do, and above all, I put myself in the client’s shoes. If I can do justice for the client, that’s great.” Dominquez founded the Juan J. Dominguez Scholarship Fund which targets aid to deserving students. And while his father was his first mentor, Dominguez believes strongly in encouraging other Latinos to pursue their dreams and careers. “When I was growing up, there weren’t a lot of role models. I hope I can be a role model to any Latino kid out there. We’re always looking for Latino attorneys that are top talent, and I believe Latinos should pursue careers in every profession.” He has also contributed to the Fund for Justice and Education from the American Bar Association. This organization helps individuals who are part of a minority group and wish to pursue a career in law. With every dollar donated, a student is able to meet financial demands that may help them meet financial demands. While attending a nephew’s recent graduation from Loyola Law School, Dominguez said he was surprised at the number of Latino graduates. “I was shocked. A good third or more were Latino last names. I couldn’t believe it. That’s great. I am so happy that’s happening.” Dominguez is the father of two children, a boy and a girl. His wife Scarleth is a graduate of Universidad de Ciencias Comerciales in Nicaragua where she obtained her MBA.


Best Colleges

for Latinos

Research by: Joe Dyton Design by: Carlos Cuevas

According to a study conducted by Pew Baylor University Arizona State University Research Center, Latinos have seen the @Baylor highest increase in college enrollment in the @ASU private Baptist university in Waco, TX often past few years. The increase of 13% signifies With four distinct campuses in the Phoenix metropoli- This finds itself on the top of college-focused publicatan area and one at Lake Havasu, Arizona State Unithe advancement of our Latino community. tions’ rankings. Baylor was listed in a tie for 75th in versity prides itself in offering a large or small college the national universities category in the 2017 “Best Our high school students are taking higher experience to fit the needs of its diverse student body. Colleges” rankings by U.S. News & World Report and education serious and with ambition. With At ASU, students have the opportunity to thrive The Princeton Review deemed Baylor a “Best Western whether they choose the high energy of the largest this progress, higher education institutions College” and ranked its marketing programs second campus, Tempe; the big city vibe of the Downtown in the country. Within Baylor’s Department of Multihave aggressively engaged in providing Phoenix Campus; the quiet energy of the Polytechnic cultural Affairs is the Hispanic Student Association, Latinos with useful resources, like bilingual Campus or the charm of the West and Lake Havasu which focuses on not just enriching the experience Campuses. ASU measures itself not by whom it faculty, Latino student organizations, and/or of the Hispanic culture, heritage and traditions on excludes, but by whom it includes and how they sucBaylor’s campus, but in the Waco community as well. access to scholarship opportunities. ceed. The school is the top choice for many Latinos, Part of the organization’s mission statement includes, For the 3rd consecutive year, we have who make up 20 percent of the student population “empowering and supporting students with their of over 72,000 spread across five campuses. ASU’s compiled the list of the top colleges and personal development and advocating for a diverse engagement with Latinos goes beyond student and inclusive environment.” universities for Latinos. These universities enrollment. Through dozens of research partnerships have exceeded traditional practices and with universities in Mexico, Latin America and public agencies in those countries, ASU helps its neighbors continue to provide Latino students with some of the most vexing challenges. ASU has helpful guidance and support to pursue their tackle been named for three consecutive years as the #1 career aspirations. school in the nation for innovation by U.S. News & World Report ahead of Stanford (#2) and MIT (#3).

Belmont University @belmontuniv Ranked No. 5 in the Regional Universities South category and named as a “Most Innovative” university by U.S. News & World Report, Belmont University consists of more than 8,000 students who come from every state and 36 countries. Committed to being a leader among teaching universities, Belmont brings together the best of liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service. The University’s purpose is to help students explore their passions and develop their talents to meet the world’s needs. Belmont University seeks to become more racially and ethnically diverse and broadly reflective of the community through supporting programs to recruit, engage and retain diverse students, faculty and staff. From 2010 to 2017, the number of Latino students enrolled increased from 2.5% (149 students) to 4.7% (378 students) of the overall student body. With more than 90 areas of undergraduate study, more than 25 master’s programs and five doctoral degrees, there is no limit to the ways Belmont University can expand an individual’s horizon.

California State University Long Beach

California State University Los Angeles @CSULB The network of California state universities has one of the most comprehensive diversity plans in the nation. Cal State-Long Beach is no exception, with over 37 percent making up their Hispanic student body. The Office of Equity & Diversity aims to promote full consideration of all members of all minorities in recruitment, selection, advancement, promotion and retention. Also, they facilitate, monitor, evaluate and ensure compliance pertaining to equal educational and employment. Hispanic tenured track faculty has increased from 4 percent to 7 percent. Recruiting diverse faculty and staff included race, ethnicity, bilingual or multilingual knowledge, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion and ability, among other cultural identities and experiences. @CalStateLA CSULA may not be as well known as the more famous universities in Los Angeles, but the estimated 27,681 students are impressively diverse, with a 60 percent Hispanic enrollment. The school also includes 27 percent Hispanics on its faculty. Cal State LA has once again earned national recognition for graduating Latino students who go on to earn Ph.D.s in science and engineering fields. Between bachelor’s and master’s granting institutions in the continental U.S, Cal State LA is No. 1 for producing Latino doctorates in the areas of chemistry, physics, mathematics and statistics, computer sciences, biological sciences, and engineering, according to data compiled by the National Science Foundation.


Cambridge College @cambridgecollg For more than 45 years Cambridge College has been a leader and pioneer in adult learning. With a main campus in Boston, Massachusetts, and four regional locations nationwide, we provide academically excellent, time-efficient, and affordable higher education to a diverse population of adult-minded learners. A private, nonprofit institution, Cambridge College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC CIHE); our various degree and certificate programs enable students to earn the credentials they need to advance in their careers. Over 55% of our students are members of minority groups, three-quarters are women, and 17% are non-native English speakers. Our inclusive culture provides a positive and productive educational experience for adult learners and our innovative teaching and learning model helps our students earn the degree credentials they need to advance their careers. Our mission is to provide academically excellent, time-efficient, and cost-effective higher education for a diverse population of working adults for whom those opportunities may have been limited or denied.

California State University Northridge @csunorthridge California State University, Northridge is one of the largest universities in California, centered in the San Fernando Valley, one of the most culturally diverse metropolitan areas in the United States. With a student population of almost 40,000 that is made up of nearly 47 percent Latino students, CSUN is a Hispanic Serving Institution of opportunity and inclusiveness, celebrating its cultural and ethnic diversity on a regular basis. It is home to the first Chicana/o Studies and Central American Studies departments in the country. CSUN is ranked second nationally in awarding Pell Grants to students, with nearly half the student body receiving financial aid. Latino and other minority students are supported by organizations such as the Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP), which helps students from historically low-income populations stay in school to achieve academic success. CSUN is also home to one of the largest undocumented student populations nationally, with more than 1,600 Dreamers. The DREAM Center gives these students a place to congregate, support and mentor one another. CSUN helps Latino students make their dreams come true.

City University of New York-Brooklyn College

Colorado State University- Pueblo @BklynCollege411 At 17,390 students, Brooklyn College boasts 20 percent Hispanic enrollment and a 10 percent Hispanic faculty. The university offers the Gates Millennium Scholarship for minority students. It also offers the HACE Scholarship, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, LULAC National Scholastic Achievement Award, the New Mexico Alliance Scholarship and the Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship, to name a few. The Black and Latino Male Initiative have always been to increase the number of black and Latino males who enroll in and graduate from the college. To achieve that goal, it addresses just about every aspect of the students’ lives. In the strictly academic realm, it provides peer mentoring, tutoring and access to an all-purpose writing tutor. @CSUPueblo A federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, CSUPueblo boasts one the most diverse student populations in Colorado with a minority student population of nearly 50 percent and 33 percent of students identifying as being of Hispanic descent. Founded in 1933 as Southern Colorado Junior College, the campus has adapted its name and academic programs to meet the needs of a changing student demographic. The University works with all student populations to showcase the importance of their cultures and the positive contributions that all these populations have made and continue to make. A strong connection to organizations like the Hispanic Association of State Colleges and Universities (HACU) allows minority students to interact with individuals in high level positions, which helps them to envision themselves in such roles and to cultivate professional relationships. The University received the HACU Outstanding Institution Award in 2008. The University coordinates programming on campus during Hispanic Heritage month, is a regular participant in HACU’s annually televised Hispanic Quiz Show, and recently has added Latino Greek and student organizations to create a network and family to support retention and degree completion.

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Christian Brothers University @FromCBU Christian Brothers University is a tight-knit academic community in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee – one of America’s most vibrant cities. At CBU, we are proud of our diverse student population. Our students hail from 29 states: 43% are minority students and 12% are international students from 29 countries. Our Latino Student Success (LSS) Program, a multi-faceted approach to assisting Hispanic students while at CBU, provides financial support through scholarships; LSS partners with Latino Memphis, an agency that advocates for Latinos in the Greater Memphis area. The LSS Program was one of nearly 150 recognized in 2015 by the Obama White House in response to a call to action to renew the Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Officials from the White House and Department of Education later visited CBU to commend our innovative programs and learn more about LSS. CBU is home to Hola CBU, an active student-led organization cultivating a robust community for Hispanic students on campus. We are a proud Partner College of As a Partner College, DREAMers are able to attend our university using the scholarship funds provided by TheDream.US. We are committed to DREAMers’ success.

Dixie State University @DixieState Dixie State University is a premier open-enrollment teaching institution that offers a great value with nearly 200 academic programs at one of the lowest tuition costs in the Western United States. With 9,670 students, Dixie State’s student body is 21 percent minority and 11.7 percent Hispanic. The University was built upon a rich pioneering tradition of sacrifice, determination, and generosity that is still embraced by the campus community today. With the motto “active learning. active life.” Dixie State provides personalized and engaged learning experiences under the direction of skilled and devoted faculty and staff and is on the forefront of technology, health education, and entrepreneurship and incorporates cutting-edge learning practices across all disciplines. Consequently, students graduate prepared for rewarding careers and enriched lives. Outside of the classroom, students become involved in the community and are shaped through civic engagement and service learning and enjoy the unparalleled opportunities for an active life that accompany DSU’s location, which is set in a beautiful, world-renowned destination.

Emporia University @emporiastate Centrally-located between several major metropolitan areas in Kansas, Emporia State University in Emporia, has an enrollment of 5,732. Outreach programs at ESU include the Latino Leadership Initiative, a program for Latino high school freshmen through seniors. Other activities include Si Se Puede, a program for 6th-8th grade Hispanic students that is held each year. Students participate in hands-on workshops taught by Hispanic professionals from across the state of Kansas, allowing students to explore STEM topics such as: engineering, physics, medicine, chemistry and veterinary medicine. In addition, ESU sponsors Hispanic Heritage Month activities each year on campus. ESU also sponsors an organization on campus called Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO), which encourages high school students to continue after they graduate. The organization also emphasizes and educates the cultural heritage, language, and traditions of Hispanic cultures to students and faculty of ESU and the Emporia community. The Latino Legacy Scholarship is one of many scholarships available to ESU students. It was established by the Friends Inspiring Future Hispanic Action (FIFHA) Committee at ESU to assist undergraduate students in continuing their education and serving the Hispanic community.

Florida International University @FIU Florida International University (FIU) is part of a 12-campus State University System and has two major campuses: one in Miami-Dade County and the major one is in University Park. It is the second-largest university in the state and the fourth largest in the country in terms of enrollment. FIU is ranked No. 1 in the United States in awarding bachelor’s and master’s degrees to Hispanic students. Hispanic and Latino students make up 67% of FIU’s undergraduate population. As the first and only public research university in Miami, FIU received the top rank in the Carnegie Classification for Highest Research Activity.

Georgia Southern University @GeorgiaSouthern Georgia Southern University is the state’s largest and most comprehensive center of higher education south of Atlanta. Located in Satesboro, Georgia, the university has a total enrollment of 20,418 students. While only five percent of Georgia Southern students are Hispanic, the school offers several programs and organizations to ensure the campus diversity is well represented. The Goizueta Scholars Program, a scholarship fund to support Hispanic/Latino students pursuing educational careers, and the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) are among these outstanding programs. The Diversity Peer Educators and Minority Advisement Program leaders also help to ensure opportunities for Latino students throughout campus. Georgia Southern’s nationally accredited academic programs prepare diverse scholars for leadership and service as world citizens.


Manchester University @ManchesterUniv Located in North Manchester, Indiana, this university only includes 1,600 enrolled students, 5 percent of whom are Hispanic. Although MU is perhaps the smallest school on the list, it has a comprehensive diversity plan. That includes an aggressive recruitment of a diverse student body, concerted and intentional efforts to diversify faculty and staff, and diversity across the curriculum through the Academic Affairs and an Intercultural Center that serves as a resource center for the different cultural groups on campus. Hispanos Unidos (Hispanics United) is a support organization for students interested in learning more about and sharing Hispanic culture. Hispanos Unidos meets weekly throughout the semester.

Miami-Dade College @MDCollege Miami Dade College (MDC), located in Miami, FL, is the institution of higher education with the largest undergraduate enrollment of any college or university in the United States. It also has the largest Hispanic enrollment. With more than 165,000 students from 191 nations, MDC offers more than 300 programs pathways at 8 campuses throughout Miami-Dade County. Since opening its doors in 1960, it has admitted more than 2.1 million students and counting. MDC is also the country’s top producer of degrees, in general, and awards more degrees to minority students than any other college or university in America. Recent economic impact studies show that MDC, its employees and alumni contribute more than $6 billion annually to the local economy.

Nevada State College @NevadaState This educational gem located in Henderson, Nevada is the only four-year, comprehensive public institution in the state. With current enrollment at approximately 4,000, one-third of the student body is Latino/a, and all students are served regardless of their citizenship status. Nevada State College is recognized as a Minority Serving Institution and as a Hispanic Serving Institution. The college recently celebrated receiving a federal HSI Grant with an award of $2.7 million. The Office of Community Engagement & Diversity Initiatives seeks to promote a campus culture that values diversity in all its forms. That includes supporting diversity of faculty, staff and executive leadership across campus; improving the recruitment, retention, achievement and graduation of diverse students; creating diversity related training opportunities for the professional development of college employees; as well as strengthening and promoting curricular and co-curricular programs related to diversity. The college’s motto conveys its spirit: Be bold. Be great. Be State.

New Mexico State University @nmsu Located in Las Cruces, New Mexico, New Mexico State University (NMSU) is recognized as landgrant, research university. The U.S. News & Word Report ranked NMSU as a “Top Tier” university in its Best Colleges for 2018 report. The U.S. Department of Education classified NMSU as a Hispanic-serving institution. It’s also a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and the NMSU student population is 45 percent Hispanic. Forbes listed NMSU 13 in the U.S. among the best colleges for helping minorities succeed in fields of science, technology engineering and math (STEM) and the school was honored as the top university for awarding bachelor’s and master’s degrees to Hispanic students.

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New York University @nyuniversity Did you know that New York University is not only the largest independent research university in the U.S. but is also quickly becoming the #1 private university destination for Latinos/as? Nearly 1,000 members of NYU’s Class of 2021 self-identified as Latino/a, not including our unrivaled international student community, many of whom come to NYU from throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean Islands. Within our New York campus, NYU has more than 200 academic programs in 10 undergraduate schools, 9 of which surround Washington Square and one, our Tandon School of Engineering, in downtown Brooklyn. Despite our size, we have a remarkably intimate academic environment on our campuses. Our student to faculty ratio in New York is 10:1 and our average class size is fewer than 30 students. Our location enables us to offer students thousands of internship opportunities and for the Class of 2016, over 95% of our students were employed or enrolled in graduate school within 6 months of graduation. NYU is also ranked #1 for graduate employability by Times Higher Education.

Northeastern Illinois University @NEIU Located in Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) is a public state university and is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic Serving Institution. NEIU’s enrollment is about 9,000 students and Hispanic, African American, Asian and Native American students make up about 60 percent (34% Hispanic) of the student body. The school offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts, sciences, education and business. NEIU also boasts small classes; the current student to faculty ration is 16:1. Newsweek magazine named NEIU the sixth “Best Investment” in the U.S. and the best on in the state. Other schools on the list included Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and MIT. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” publication ranked NEIU the most ethnically diverse public regional university in the Midwest and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education’s annual “Top Degree Producers” recognized the school as a leader among U.S. universities for the number of degrees earned by students of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Northern Kentucky University Our Lady of the Lake University @nkuedu The Northern Kentucky University campus—just minutes from downtown Cincinnati—offers a student-first experience that empowers graduates to further advance the region. With dedicated faculty, compelling courses and a campus alive with learning opportunities, we partner with students to engage and impact the world with their curiosity. NKU’s six colleges and one school prepare student-learners for fulfilling careers and lifelong involvement with their communities—and the world beyond. NKU provides scholarships to students from underrepresented groups and offers programs such as NKU R.O.C.K.S. for African American students and L.A.M.P. for Latino students. Fifty-one percent of new NKU students are first-generation college students, with 37 percent qualifying as low-income by federal standards. With accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, NKU is focused on lighting the way to a brighter tomorrow. @OLLUnivSATX Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) offers higher education for a higher purpose by preparing students to make a difference in society and to be leaders in their careers and communities through innovative programs, faculty who serve as mentors and guides, and service learning opportunities within each degree program. Students are prepared for today’s careers, but also have the knowledge and skills to adapt to the careers of the future. At the undergraduate level, the student population is 77 percent Hispanic and 44 percent of the faculty members are from a minority group. OLLU faculty members participate in scholarly activities outside of the classroom, including Fulbright Symposiums, and enrich classes with their research and experiences. OLLU ranks 15th for economic diversity among Regional Universities – West, according to US News and World Report, and 40th for awarding need-based aid. OLLU is fourth in Texas among private Regional universities for the least amount of debt for graduates.

Northern Illinois University @NIUlive The university boasts a diverse and international student body, with an undergraduate population that is 18 percent Hispanic. The Latino Resource Center builds collaborative relationships across the community while developing partnerships focused on student learning and success. Student resources include: -The Adela de la Torre Latino Honor Society, which promotes scholarship, service and leadership. -The Mentoring and Engaging thru Academic Success (METAS) program for Latino freshmen, which seeks to help with the transition to college, create a sense of belonging and encourage academic success. -De Mujer a Mujer, a program that provides academic support to increase the retention and graduation rates of Latinas by providing programs, activities and leadership opportunities that foster self-confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem. More than half of all undergraduates who were new to NIU in Fall 2017 identified as being first-generation college students. A 2017 Brookings Institution report identified NIU as being among a select group of the nation’s public universities that are simultaneously producing important research and extending social-mobility opportunities to students from low-income households.

Samford University @SamfordU Samford University is Alabama’s top-ranked private university with nationally ranked academic programs rooted in the university’s Christian mission. Located in suburban Birmingham, Alabama, Samford has 5,509 students from 45 states and 30 countries studying in 30 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The university offers diversity ambassadors who are committed to learning about and sharing the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion. Diversity Ambassadors also serve as a key resource for underrepresented prospective students who desire to learn more about the Samford before, during and after the admission process. The experiences and information shared by ambassadors serve as integral pieces to prospective students’ navigation of the university, and helps them learn more about unique opportunities for underrepresented students on campus.


San Diego State University

Southern Illinois University @SDSU The largest higher education institution in San Diego County, San Diego State University holds a “Top Tier” university distinction from The U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges for 2018 National Universities rankings. San Diego State’s undergraduate international business program is ranked No. 12 in the U.S. The school received the INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for the fifth straight year. The honor recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. U.S. News and World report also ranked SDSU in the nation’s top 25 for ethnic diversity. The school has several Latino-based organizations on campus including the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA), Alpha Pi Sigma Sorority, Chicanos/Latinos for Community Medicine and Destino. @SIUC Based in Carbondale, IL Southern Illinois University (SIU) is a state university system that comprises multiple campuses and a nationally recognized public research university. In 2017, SIU won its fifth straight Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award. The university’s Student Multicultural Resource Center is home to the Hispanic/Latino Resource Center (HLRC), which promotes academic success within the SIU Latino community by sharing resources and spearheading programming that promotes cultural affirmation, persistence and community engagement. As a unit of The Dean of Students, the HLRC helps creates an affirming and safe space where students can thrive both personally and professionally.

St. Augustine College

St. John’s University @StJohnsU Founded in 1870, St. John’s is a Catholic and VincenSt. Augustine College (SAC) is an independent, non-profit, mission-driven, student-centered, Latino tian University dedicated to the success of all students institution of higher education. It provides innovative regardless of financial means. Global in reach, the education and training through a supportive learn- University is based in New York City, home to the largest Latino community of any US city. ing environment, making higher education and its The University enrolled 21,087 undergraduate and benefits accessible to a diverse student population. graduate students in 2016. More than 10 percent SAC programs focus on careers with a high were Latino, while 42 percent comprised African demand for a diverse, bilingual workforce, offerAmerican, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American ing undergraduate degrees in Early Childhood students. Education, Business Administration, Information St. John’s offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral Technology, Social Work, Culinary Arts, Psychology, Respiratory Therapy, and Liberal Arts. The NY Times degrees on three New York City campuses—in Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island—and one in recently published a report ranking SAC the #1 higher education institution in Illinois improving the Rome, Italy. There are 180 student clubs and organizations, socioeconomic mobility of its students. Of the students that attend SAC, 87% are Latino. including the Latino American Student Organization (L.A.S.O.), one of the largest. Students can cheer for Spanish as the primary language is not a barrier at the Red Storm, St. John’s 17 men’s and women’s SAC. Students may begin their courses in Spanish and transition to courses in English as they progress NCAA, Division I athletic teams. Off campus, students benefit from extensive internship opportunities. Acain their academic career. Many students have demic Service-Learning provides real-world experience families and hold one or more jobs. SAC faculty through course-related volunteer activities. Extensive and staff are passionate about the success of their Global Studies options include Discover the World, students taking a relationship-based approach to which allows students to spend a single semester in help them achieve their academic goals. three European cities.

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Southern Methodist University @SMU Southern Methodist University (SMU) is a private university in Dallas, TX. Although the school’s enrollment is relatively small—11,000 students it’s also diverse. Approximately 26 percent of the student body are minorities; about 10 percent of enrolled students are Hispanic. Students come from all 50 states in the U.S. and 90 countries to take advantage of SMU’s small classes (11:1 student to teacher ratio) and hands-on research opportunities. Plus, three of four SMU students receive financial aid. The school moved into the top tier U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” 2017 edition when it moved up to No. 56. SMU’s Multicultural Student Affairs division hosts organizations for Latino and Hispanic students including the Association for Latinos for America and College Hispanic American Students. Meanwhile, SMU’s Cox School of Business offers the Latino Business Club to help increase networking opportunities among students and the surrounding business community and increase awareness and facilitate access to professional development and career opportunities for all of its members.

St. Mary’s University StMarysU St. Mary’s University, founded by Marianist brothers in 1852, is the first institution of higher learning in San Antonio and the oldest Catholic university in Texas. It offers a strong educational experience – integrating liberal arts, professional preparation and ethical commitment. St. Mary’s students receive the value of quality programs, holistic learning and community support; helping graduates discover what they love to do, and how to apply their knowledge in meaningful ways. Academic achievement, sense of community and holistic learning are part of what sets a St. Mary’s education apart. For many graduates, their St. Mary’s experience is a defining moment in their lives. Colleges of Distinction added St. Mary’s University to its 2017 membership list, designating St. Mary’s as an institution that excels in the four fundamental areas of an effective undergraduate education: student engagement, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes. St. Mary’s has an engaged on-campus community that provides events, activities and programs for students to enjoy and is located just five miles from downtown San Antonio.

Stanford University @Stanford The private research university in Stanford, CA, in Silicon Valley, had one of the most selective undergraduate programs in the U.S. and is considered to be one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Stanford appears at the top of many college rankings lists, from 2013 through 2017, The Princeton Review’s poll found students and parents most frequently named Stanford their “dream college.” In 2017, Stanford was listed No. 1 in the United States on the inaugural Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education Rankings. Currently, 16 percent of Stanford’s undergraduate population is Hispanic. The school’s El Centro Chicano y Latino program works to help students academically, personally, socially and culturally. El Centro provides Stanford students the chance to explore Chicano and Latino culture, history and traditions.

Texas A&M University Commerce

Sul Ross State University @Sul_Ross Sul Ross State University, Alpine, Texas, with Rio Grande College campuses in Del Rio, Uvalde and Eagle Pass, is home to 3,090 students. With 65 percent of the enrollment and 38 percent of the faculty Hispanic, Sul Ross has earned distinction as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). For many years, Sul Ross has been selected as a “Publisher’s Pick” by the Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education for its high national standing in serving and graduating Hispanic students.

Texas Tech University @TexasTech Ranked among the top 50 institutions of higher @tamuc education granting degrees to Hispanics and Texas A&M University-Commerce is located onerecognized with the 2017 Higher Education hour east of the Dallas Metroplex. Established in Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award, Texas Tech 1889 as a teacher’s college by visionary founder University recently surpassed the Hispanic student William Leonidas Mayo, the university remains population threshold necessary for designation as committed to his vision that “no industrious, a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). With an active ambitious youth shall be denied an education if I Latino Faculty/Staff Association, a growing chapter can prevent it.” The university is the third-largest institution in the Texas A&M University System, and of the Hispanic Student Society, 14 multicultural currently serves more than 13,000 students, boast- fraternities and sororities, a Hispanic Studies Working Group, the Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and ing a growing undergraduate Hispanic student International Communication, the Raiders Rojos population of 17 percent. The Office of Hispanic alumni chapter, and a DREAM Resource Center, Outreach & Retention promotes higher education opportunities for Hispanic/Latino(a) students, advis- Texas Tech University is fully committed to supporting prospective students on the application process, ing, encouraging, and promoting the academic, cultural, and community efforts of its Hispanic financial aid and scholarships, and connecting students, faculty, and staff. The University believes students to services for their academic success. that these efforts will continue to advance the There are more than 120 student organizations including a thriving Greek community and an active institution and position Texas Tech as a leader in Hispanic Student Association (HSA). The HSA hosts higher education while giving its students a learning environment that reflects the workforce into cultural and fellowship events such as Hispanic which they will graduate. Heritage Month and organizes volunteer work in the community.

Tarrant County College District @TCCollege TCC offers more than 60 different occupational/ technical programs for 70 AAS degrees, nearly 130 Certificates of Completion and 15 Occupational Skills Awards. Additionally, specializations and fields of study are also offered within degree plans for the AA and AS. We have six campuses throughout the county and class is always in session with e-Learning courses spanning 350 credit courses available through TCC Connect. It also offers Weekend College that uses technology to merge face-to-face, hybrid and fully online courses. Community and Industry Education provides a wide range of basic skills, technical, career and community service programs and courses for the general public and working professionals. Of the estimated 51,727 total students, 39.2 percent are Hispanics. TCC is sixth-largest college or university in the State of Texas and one of the 20 largest higher education institutions in the United States.

Texas Wesleyan University @TexasWesleyan With a total enrollment of 2,587 students, 26 percent of the Texas Wesleyan University student body is Hispanic. Texas Wesleyan offers students a vibrant student life with 24 clubs and organizations, 16 athletic teams, two dining halls, and a fitness center. Student organizations that strive to celebrate cultural diversity include Lambda Theta Phi, which promotes brotherhood and a rich Latino culture, and protects the rights of Latino students in pursuit of education. The Bilingual Education Student Organization serves and supports bilingual students, expands cultural awareness, and unites bilingual and all education students at Texas Wesleyan. As a small, private, four-year coeducational university, Texas Wesleyan delivers a solid undergraduate curriculum, offering 31 different majors within seven different degrees, and five select graduate programs will 11 different degrees, to a diverse student body. Class sizes average 14 students, ensuring that despite its Texas-sized reputation, Texas Wesleyan students live the “Smaller. Smarter.” experience. Texas Wesleyan is ranked in the No. 1 tier of regional universities in the West for 2018 by U.S. News & World Report, and has held the ranking for eight consecutive years.


University of Houston-Downtown

Texas Woman’s University

University of Houston @txwomans As America’s largest public university primarily for women, Texas Woman’s University has campuses in Denton, Dallas and Houston. Texas Woman’s University ties for fifth among universities in the nation for diversity, according to U.S. News and World Report. Of its approximately 15,400 students, 25 percent are Latinos. More than half of the student body are classified as minorities. For 15 years, the Texas Woman’s University GO Program, in coordination with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, has worked across the North Texas region to increase the number of students enrolled in higher education programs. The GO Program provides mentoring and leadership development, leading to college success for economically disadvantaged and primarily first-generation minority students. TWU students volunteer as GO Program G-Force peer mentors. Currently, more than 73 percent of these mentors are first-generation students and 66 percent are Latinos. The program’s success is evident: TWU has the highest graduation rate of first-generation college students among Texas public institutions (approximately 59 percent). @UHouston The University of Houston (UH) is the third-largest university in Texas with approximately 43,000 students. UH offers more than 280 degree programs through the school’s 14 academic colleges. The Princeton Review has listed UH as one of the best colleges in the country, while Payscale and CollegeNet’s Social Mobility Index college ranked the school the 31st top college in the United States. UH also in known for its diverse student body; U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school the second-most ethnically diverse research university in the country. In the Fall of 2017, the school’s enrollment showed a little more than 30 percent of the student body was Hispanic and 20 percent was Asian American.

University of Illinois in Chicago

University of North Texas

University of Oklahoma @UNTsocial UNT is the choice of 38,000 students from all walks of life -- from students who are the first in their family to earn a degree to those who are part of a long legacy of UNT degree earners. UNT prides itself on being a university where people have different backgrounds, experiences and interests, but where all students can find their place and feel at home. One of the most diverse universities in the country, with 8,800 Hispanic students, UNT is ranked as a top school in the nation by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine. Also, by offering one of the most cost-effective, high-quality educations available, UNT has been named one of America’s 100 Best College Buys® for 22 consecutive years. All UNT students receive a global-minded education driven by an appreciation of other cultures, and students from across the state, nation and world are fulfilling their dreams and getting an excellent educational experience. They choose from 227 degree programs — many nationally and internationally recognized — to pursue their goals of becoming teachers, artists, engineers and everything in between. @UofOklahoma The University of Oklahoma is proud to announce a 92.8% Latino student retention rate and an increase of Latino freshmen enrollment by 18% over the past two years. A highlight of the success from these programs is that Latino students are now the second largest minority on campus in the 2017 freshmen class, which is the most diverse class in OU history. Programs such as First Sooner, an event to assist first generation students and their families with the college admissions process, recruit and guide prospective Latino students with help from the community. Additionally, OU established the first Latinx academic program in the state. Latinx Studies is an interdisciplinary program students can pursue as a major or to supplement any major. Finally, outreach to the Latino community is a key goal for the university. Student programming includes large events for community participation such as a Dia de los Muertos festival and the Latinos Without Borders Program which is a summer conference for high school students. @thisisUIC As Chicago’s largest and only public research university, UIC includes 30,539 students, with a Hispanic undergraduate enrollment of 32 percent. This year’s freshman class saw a 27 percent increase in the number of Hispanic students—making up nearly 40 percent of all freshmen. UIC is among the top five most diverse campuses in the nation and is a national leader among urban, public higher education institutions in providing access to underrepresented students. UIC is focused on eliminating disparities in health, education and economic opportunity. Community engagement is a centerpiece of UIC’s urban mission.

46 • November / December 2017 @uhdowntown Located in the heart of Houston’s business district, the University of Houston-Downtown continues to grow both its campus and academic offerings. UHD is the city’s second largest higher education institution and is a recognized Hispanic Serving Institution and Minority Serving Institution. Hispanic students comprise the largest portion of UHD’s 14,000 students (46 percent), and the institution continues to proactively recruit students from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds through its Minority Male Initiative. This recruiting effort creates pathways to the university for students in area middle schools and community colleges. UHD’s Center for Critical Race Studies; Center for Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and Cultural Enrichment Center host special guests and events celebrating diversity on campus and in the community. University also is extending its academic reach through strategic international partnerships, including a collaboration with the Mexican State of Tamaulipas.

University of St. Thomas @stthomashouston The University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, is Houston’s Catholic university, a Hispanic-Serving Institution ranked as one of the top colleges in America for Hispanic students by “University of St. Thomas is committed to its Catholic mission of serving the Houston community,” says Arthur Ortiz, Vice President for Enrollment Management. “As a reflection of that commitment, 42.8 percent of incoming freshmen in 2016 were Hispanic, which mirrors the population of Houston. Many of our students are first generation students. For that reason, we have academic and peer support systems to help our Hispanic students succeed including the Mendenhall Summer Institute. This program allows students to start their college career early, in addition to having an opportunity to earn a grant for tuition at UST.” More than half of incoming freshman major in a STEM field. The University’s new Center for Science and Health Professions features state-of-the-art labs and classrooms where students conduct original, hands-on research with professors, not teaching assistants.

University of Texas at Austin @UTAustin The University of Texas at Austin is regarded as the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. It boasts the eight-largest single-campus enrollment in the United States, with more than 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students and 156 undergraduate degree programs. Kiplinger ranked UT 13th on its Best-Value Public Colleges in 2016 and Forbes listed in 17th in its Best Value Schools rankings the same year. Within the university’s Multicultural Engagement Center is Latin Community Affairs, an organization dedicated to uniting and empowering Latino students and student organizations though communication, leadership, social action and education the advancement of the Latino and Latina community. Twenty percent of the UT student body is Hispanic.

University of Texas at Arlington @utarlington The University of Texas at Arlington, with an enrollment of 58,600, is a premier Hispanic-Serving Institution in Texas, taking great pride in its HSI designation by the U.S. Department of Education. Issues in Higher Education ranked UTA No. 1 in North Texas and No. 12 in the nation for the number of master’s degrees awarded to Hispanic graduate students, and No. 1 in North Texas and No. 18 in the U.S. for the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to Hispanic students. UTA is fifth in the U.S. for undergraduate diversity. Latino-focused studies are found at UTA’s Center for Mexican American Studies, the Center for Hispanic Studies in Nursing and Health, and the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies. The Hispanic Media Initiative advances student exposure to and participation in media, journalism, and research. UTA’s News en Español enables communication students to produce Spanish-language newscasts in on-air broadcast partnerships with Univision and Telemundo. Eight student organizations represent Hispanics in professional and social groups, and a Hispanic alumni chapter brings former Mavericks together. UTA’s presidential boards include the President’s Hispanic Advisory Council.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

University of Texas at El Paso @utep University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) is the secondlargest university in the United States with a majority Hispanic student population—about 80 percent. A majority of the 23,000 enrolled students reside in far west Texas, southern New Mexico and northern Mexico. UTEP currently offers 72 undergraduate programs, 74 masters programs and 21 doctoral degree programs and expanding roster of online degrees. The school also boosts one of the highest proportions of minority faculty among research universities in the U.S. with a faculty that is 36 percent Hispanic. UTEP has been recognized nationally for its innovating business, find and performing arts, education, behavioral sciences and humanities programs. Hispanic Business Magazine consistently ranks UTEP’s Business Administration and Engineering programs in the top 10 in the country.

University of the Incarnate Word @uiwcardinals With more than 130 years of tradition, the University of the Incarnate Word is a leader among Hispanic@utrgv From the Gulf Coast to deep space, The University serving institutions. Over 50 percent of UIW students of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) offers a unique enrolled are of Hispanic or Latino heritage. In fact, learning environment for more than 27,500 students. UIW awards the most degrees to Hispanic students With more than 100 undergraduate and graduate nationally, among private universities. UIW’s main campus in located in San Antonio, programs, including engineering, marine biology, Texas with locations throughout the city, South and international business, and a School of Medicine, UTRGV is expanding educational opportunities for Central Texas; two campuses in Mexico; and a European Study Center in Heidelberg, Germany. South Texas and beyond. Students can choose from almost 90 degrees Since opening in 2015, UTRGV has graduated offered at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral more than 10,000 students and ranks third in the levels, including nursing, optometry, osteopathic nation in awarding bachelor’s degrees and fifth in conferring master’s degrees to Hispanics, according medicine, pharmacy and physical therapy. UIW admits qualified applicants on a continual to Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine. or rolling basis and approximately 92 percent of The university has also been recognized as a social students receive financial assistance with more than mobility innovator for its ability to enroll students from low-income backgrounds and graduate them $150 million spent annually in scholarships, workstudy, grants and loans. into promising careers that help them climb the income scale.


Weber State University @WeberStateU As an open-enrollment university, Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, welcomes everyone who has a dream and is ready to work to achieve it. With more than 225 degree programs, everything from accounting to nursing to zoology, the possibilities are nearly endless for just the right education for the right career. Weber State’s 28,000 students come from around the state, country and world; 11 percent are Latino. We recognize diversity should be understood in its broadest sense to include everyone on the basis of the infinite ways in which humans vary. Weber State celebrates the rich diversity of our community with conferences such as Latinos In Action and Multicultural Youth and events including Ballet Folklorico and Dia de Los Muertos. Students become leaders on the Hispanic Area Council and with the Center for Multicultural Excellence. Our students are also recognized for their extraordinary service to the community, donating 140,000+ hours last year.

Western Illinois University @WesternILUniv With its main campus in Macomb, Illinois, and a non-residential branch campus in Moline, Illinois, Western Illinois University’s total enrollment averages nearly 10,000 students. The University’s student body is diverse, with Latino students comprising approximately 10.5 percent of the total enrollment. For more than 45 years, Western’s Casa Latina Cultural Center has provided support services for all students with an intentional focus on the Latino population and promoted the understanding of the Latino culture to Western’s community, and surrounding areas. WIU hosts numerous multicultural fraternal organizations, and Casa Latina Cultural Center houses two primary groups, the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), and Tradicion Latin Dance Team. The center’s objectives are to expand collaborative opportunities that showcase the Latino cultures, expand current programs and implement new programming to ensure that the changing education and cultural needs of students are being met. Ultimately, Casa Latina Cultural Center provides a unique and empowering space for students to explore intersectionality, engage in social justice, community outreach, cultural expression, social and professional networking.

Andrew Sund

Story by: Terri Williams

at Heritage University is Working to Make Dreams Come True Preparing for the Future How are you helping families to prepare financially for college? Heritage sponsors workshops on campus, and we also go into high schools and middle schools to explain what it takes to achieve a college degree and how to plan for it. Do you have any financial advice for parents? Try to save as much as you can for your child’s college needs. The Independent Colleges of Washington developed an initiative in which we match savings on a 2 to 1 basis. We’re trying to grow that program through fundraising and philanthropic work. Additionally, make sure you explore all the possible scholarship opportunities. Every year there are millions of dollars in scholarships that go unclaimed because people do not know about them. What are the benefits of having a secure financial plan in place? We often see students begin programs and then drop out because of money. They may come back, but it’s not a given. With a financial plan, your kids can attend college, and are less likely to have to work so they can concentrate on their studies. Sponsored by:

Andrew Sund,

Ph.D., has always had a passion for improving the condition of Latinos and other underrepresented segments of the population. Although “Sund” may not be a very Latino-sounding name, rest assure, he hails from Hispanic culture. “I was born in Venezuela of an American father and Chilean mother,” he explains. “I grew up in Venezuela, Chile, and Mexico.” And his professional career has consisted largely of addressing issues with Latinos and higher education. Before assuming the helm at Heritage University, Dr. Sund was President of St. Augustine College in Chicago. He says he wasn’t seeking employment elsewhere but discovered that Heritage was searching for a president. Sund liked the opportunity of working at Heritage because it offers more programs, including graduate degree programs, and he thought he would enjoy the professional challenges of being a president in a new environment. “I threw my name in the hat and went through a thorough search process, and was chosen.” In July of 2017, he became only the 3rd president of the university which was founded in 1982. Heritage University is located on the Yakama Nation Indian Reservation. “But it’s not a tribal college, it’s open to all people and right now enrollment is 68% to 69% Latino students as a result of families that settled as migrant workers and now are permanent workers.” Sund says he was always aware of the inequities – poverty and lack of opportunities – that impact the Latino community. “I met many people who were working toward solving this, through political work or community activism, but I was really touched by the concept that education was the great equalizer.” He believes that education is unique because it provides the opportunity to impart knowledge and skills without trying to control the direction of a student’s life. “Also, these tools and credentials make a difference in not only their lives, but the lives of their families, subsequent generations, and positively changes the community.”

While Sund applauds the strides in Latino participation in higher education, he says, “We are still far behind where we should be in terms of people with post-secondary credentials and this applies in every single area.” Sund says there is a need for more people in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but also in leadership positions since the number of Latinos in leadership is lower than it was 10 years ago. And, he wants to continue diversifying the staff and faculty at Heritage to create more opportunities for Latinos to work in higher education. Some of Sund’s other goals include connecting in a stronger way with the Latino community in the Yakima Valley. “Even though Latinos are the majority of the students here, there are far more we could serve if they knew of the opportunities here.” As immigrants and children of immigrants, he says Latinos often don’t view higher education as a part of their future. “To be honest, in our countries of origin, higher education was reserved for the elites, but now we live in a country in which most jobs that exist now and in the future require higher education, and we need our community to know that.”


Dr. Juliet Garcia Story by: Lorenzo Almanza

In 2016,

the Pew Research Center reported that 3.6 million Latinos were enrolled in U.S. public and private colleges. This was seen as a huge stride for the Latino Community, who in 1999 only had 1.3 million students enrolled. One individual who has been trying to not only enroll but graduate and impact Latino students is Dr. Juliet Garcia, a former Senior Advisor to the Chancellor of the UT System and now a professor at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. One thing that distinguishes Dr. Garcia from other women is the difference she made and continues to make in the Latino education field. During her time as President at the University of Texas in Brownsville – Texas Southmost College (UTB-TSC), the school made drastic strides. “I began as a member of the faculty, eventually became an academic dean and then was chosen to become its president,” Dr. Garcia said. “I served for 28 years as a president and had the privilege of being named the first Latina in the United States to be named as a university president.” The University of Texas System utters how the former UTB-TSC president helped prosper the university’s population and graduation rate by nearly double in size. Prosperity seemed to be the norm for Dr. Garcia. In 2009, Time Magazine recognized Dr. Garcia as one of the 10 Best College Presidents. In its report, Time described how UTB-TSC was the result of an amazing partnership between a 65-yearold community college and the University of Texas System. The Texas Women’s Hall of Fame reported that Dr. Garcia’s jointed UTB and Texas Southmost College (TSC) in hopes of bringing together various resources, improving education and eliminating any kind of problems for students in the Lower Rio Grande Valley that might have prevented future students from going to college. The Texas Women Hall of Fame 2000 Inductee entered the education spectrum due to the fact that her family struggled to get her and her younger 50 • November / December 2017

Creating Next Generation Leaders

Preparing for the Future What would you say is the percentage of Latino students in your area that don’t have access to a college education because of financial hardship? What loss does this represent for the future of our communities? Latino Texans are soon to be the majority population. The better educated they are; the better off our state will be. Educated Texans are healthier, pay their taxes, start and grow more businesses, and volunteer in their communities. Latinos tend to lack information and resources to plan for college funding – what has been your experience with Hispanic families? Information is now much more readily available than ever before for students and parents about how to obtain funding help for college. Parents and students must be persistent in searching for financial assistance. Sponsored by:

siblings into an education past high school. Both of her parents excelled while in high school, but because they graduated during the Great Depression, neither had the opportunity to attend college. “It has always deeply concerned me that many others, just like my parents, never had the opportunity to go to college. Not because they didn’t want to, but because universities were simply out of their reach,” Dr. Garcia said. “I wanted to change that.” The Endowment Scholarship Fund gives Dr. Garcia a solvency for former and future students. The program conjoins exceptional high school students with college courses in hope of graduate school deeming in their rearview mirror. Last year, Dr. Garcia assisted The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) in innovating the UTRGV School of Medicine for students to further their education. “There are many university programs aimed at nurturing next-generation leaders both at UTRGV and The University of Texas System,” Dr. Garcia said. “I intend to teach, nurture and challenge next generation leaders.” Dr. Garcia is devoted to turning Latino student dreams into a reality. “In just one generation in my family, there are now doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, teachers, an engineer, nurses and one university president. Si, se puede!”

UHD A new standard for

Dr. Juan Muñoz

New hope

urban higher education access and excellence Story by: Lorenzo Almanza

sheds light on the future of the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD). The Houston Chronicle reports that the university is three years into a prosperous plan in which it plans to grow enrollment, increase graduation rates and adopt new academic programs. “We need to continue to improve as an institution of higher learning by improving our retention rate which is currently above 70 percent,” UHD President, Dr. Juan Sanchez Munoz said. “We have a goal of 15,400 students by 2020 and we’re currently at approximately 14,000 students. Given the background of our students, as UHD’s enrollment increases so too do the opportunities for historically underserved students, and their families.” “Chancellor Renu Khator entrusted this opportunity to me,” said Dr. Munoz. “I am now in my eighth month and am extraordinary honored and privileged to work within the University of Houston System at the University of Houston-Downtown.” “President Munoz shares my passion to ensure the success of all our students,” Dr. Khator added. “Our goal is for our universities in the Houston area to be essential contributors to our workforce and ultimately to moving our city forward and in a short time Dr. Munoz’s leadership is already making a difference.” While at Texas Tech University, he was the Senior Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement and the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs. Dr. Munoz managed a portfolio of approximately 40 departments at Texas Tech. He was also a founding member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, the gold standard for academic professionals working in the areas of diversity, access and inclusion. The UHD President understands the importance of education for Latino/as. The background history of his parents who were without the benefit of a formal education and migrated from Mexico to the United States assisted him in understanding the struggles modern urban students experience in the pursuit of higher education and an improved quality of life.

“Our family, like many immigrant households, were keenly aware of the importance of education. As a former high school teacher working directly with young students, and then helping to train teachers as a faculty member in the California State University System provided the professional experience and opportunity to influence the availability of quality educators in the classroom. That is, to ensure that highly effective teachers are accessible to educate the next generation of Americans. A growing proportion of which are from Latino/Hispanic backgrounds,” Dr. Munoz said. Improving retention and graduation rates was just the beginning of challenges the new UHD President faced this year. Back in August, the school fell victim to Hurricane Harvey, the disastrous tropical storm that besieged the City of Houston and caused approximately $8 million in damage to the campus, and significantly disrupted the education of hundreds of its students. UHD News recently reported that it has received a gift of $297,800 from the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, founded by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmet, and administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation. The monies will be used to support an initiative titled “Return to UHD.” The initiative is designed to help students who withdrew from classes because of complications experienced during and after storm, including but not limited to financial, emotional and family related challenges. “One thing that the recent storm has affirmed is that students from very economically challenged backgrounds, experience intersecting obstacles to their educational ambitions, and thus higher education must remain equally adaptive and responsive to these evolving challenges to low income, first generation, urban students. Students are deemed ‘at-risk,’ but the University of Houston System and UHD believe these students are ‘of-promise and potential,’” Dr. Munoz said. A dynamic approach to affordable, accessible and flexible undergraduate educational excellence is the target for President Munoz, and the leadership team of UHD.

Preparing for the Future What would you say is the percentage of Latino students in your area that don’t have access to a college education because of financial hardship? What loss does this represent for the future of our communities? Latino Texans are soon to be the majority population. The better educated they are; the better off our state will be. Educated Texans are healthier, pay their taxes, start and grow more businesses, and volunteer in their communities. Latinos tend to lack information and resources to plan for college funding – what has been your experience with Hispanic families? Information is now much more readily available than ever before for students and parents about how to obtain funding help for college. Parents and students must be persistent in searching for financial assistance. Sponsored by:


Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board:

Dr. Raymund Paredes

Story by: Jasmine Eppes

According to

Leads the Initiative for Higher Education in Texas

Dr. Raymund Paredes, Commissioner of Higher Education and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), education is the best way young Texans can position themselves for the future, to earn a decent living and take care of their families. The THECB mission is to provide leadership and coordination for the Texas higher education system and to promote access, affordability, quality, success, and cost efficiency through 60x30TX, resulting in a globally competitive workforce that positions Texas as an international leader. In his role as Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Paredes is responsible for providing leadership and coordination for the Texas public higher education system to achieve excellence for the college education of Texas students, as stipulated in Texas statute. He became Commissioner in 2004 and is the first Latino to serve in this position since the THECB was created in 1965. Dr. Paredes was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. He attended The University of Texas at Austin, earning a B.A. in English. He served in the U.S. Army for two years, including a 14-month tour with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam. After separation from military service, he resumed his education, earning a master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Southern California and his Ph.D. in American Civilization, from The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Paredes spent most of his academic career at UCLA where for 30 years he taught as an English professor and served for 10 years as vice chancellor for Academic Development. In addition, he served as special assistant to the president of the University of California System in outreach efforts to improve access to higher education for students from educationally disadvantaged communities and worked as vice president for programs at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. 52 • November / December 2017

Preparing for the Future What are the benefits of having a secure college funding financial plan in place? “It’s good to have a plan to get through college -with little to no debt. If you graduate with significant debt, it’s likely to have a negative influence on your decision-making for your future. You may want to be a teacher but you know that being a teacher does not pay very well. Therefore, you’ll look for other employment that will satisfy your financial needs. It’s also vital to go through college as quickly as you can. Going to school full-time (i.e. take 30 semester credit hours per year) would be ideal so that you will be able to truly be successful in college.”

Dr. Raymund Paredes

Commissioner of Higher Education and CEO of THECB THECB Mission: To provide leadership and coordination for the Texas higher education system and to promote access, affordability, quality, success, and cost efficiency through the 60x30TX, resulting in a globally competitive workforce that positions Texas as and international leader.

On a State level, how much debt is there in regards to college funds? “The average amount of debt for a university is about $30,000 and 50% of students who graduate have that amount of debt. If you’re affluent, your chances of graduating are five times higher than those who come from poor families. For example, at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, if your family income is below a certain level, those schools will give you a free ride. Also, if you have a family income of less than $60,000 a year, Stanford University is free and you will not be charged room and board.” Sponsored by:

Although Dr. Paredes grew up poor, his parents emphasized the importance of education. He witnessed the sacrifices that they made to send their four children to college. As he advanced his own education, he determined that education is the most effective way to help students, especially Latinos, rise out of poverty and enter the middle class, enabling them to make significant contributions to their culture and quality of life in the United States of America. Dr. Paredes believes that Texas public higher education institutions, especially those designated as Hispanic-serving institutions, need to do a better job of graduating students, particularly since Latinos are the fastest growing population in Texas and are the least educated. He believes that if institutions enroll students, they must do everything they can to graduate students. These low graduation rates have led Dr. Paredes to advocate for innovations in higher education to help accelerate progress in enrolling, retaining, and graduating more Latino students. For example, he has proposed that public universities be partly funded on graduates, with higher levels of funding for graduating at-risk students. According to Dr. Paredes, many Latinos are first-generation college students and generally have less experience and knowledge about higher education than other cultures. Although there is plenty of material available for those who are interested in higher education, most institutions need to provide better information regarding college preparation and academic courses. There is a need to provide better advising to Latino students and their families to enable them to take advantage of every resource available to them. Many students are not aware of grants, scholarships, or loans that may be available to them. Dr. Paredes stresses better advising, even as early as elementary school, to let students and parents know what is available to help pay for college. Dr. Paredes has stated that there is a strong relationship between where you go to college and whether you are likely to graduate. It is important to utilize resources such as www.LaunchMyCareer. com to determine the best return on investment for higher education options. Deputy Commissioner of Agency Operations and Communications/Chief Operating Officer, Linda Garza Battles, the first Latina to serve in this role, works with Dr. Paredes to fulfill the mission of the THECB and achieve the goals of the 60x30TX strategic plan for higher education. Ms. Battles applauds 60x30TX for being student-

Linda Battles

Deputy Commissioner of Agency Operations and Communications centered with aggressive targets for Latino students and economically disadvantaged students. Ms. Battles is also a native of El Paso. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in public affairs from The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining the THECB in 2000, she served as Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for then-chair of House Higher Education Committee, State Representative Irma Rangel, who was the first Mexican American woman elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1976. Ms. Battles shares Dr. Paredes’ goal of providing students with the tools to be academically successful so that they may contribute to a prosperous economy and skilled workforce.

“Education is the best way to put yourself in a position to earn a decent living and take care of your family.”


Eduardo Padrón Story by: Amanda Casanova

Shaping the Future of Latinos in Miami

As a teenage boy, Eduardo J. Padrón and his younger brother boarded a plane out of Cuba to immigrate to America. As he left, he promised his mother he would go to college. More than 50 years later, Padrón is not only a college graduate, but he now oversees the largest campus-based college in the United States— the same college he himself attended. “It’s been a wonderful journey,” he said. Today, Padrón is the president at Miami Dade College, a Florida state college with more than 165,000 students. “MDC awards more degrees to minority students than any other college or university in the country,” Padrón said. “Needless to say, MDC keeps me very busy, but I would not trade a single second of my journey at the college. At MDC, we change lives through education, and offer high-quality, accessible and affordable learning experiences to anyone looking to succeed.” Padrón was one of those students looking to succeed. After immigrating, he worked three jobs to support his brother and himself. After graduating from high school, MDC “gave me a chance to earn a degree,” he said. “Eventually, I moved on to earn a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Florida, and had a corporate job at DuPont lined up,” he said. “My plan was to travel the world, make money, and be successful, but my professors at MDC envisioned something else for me.” His professors suggested teaching at the college and Padrón committed to the job for one year. “I never left,” he said. “After witnessing first-hand how my talents and skills could help shape the college experience for future generations, I realized there was no other job in the world that would make me happier.” Padrón has been widely credited for helping MDC become a nationally recognized institution. Among his many awards, Padrón was named one of TIME magazine’s “10 Best College Presidents.” In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the 54 • November / December 2017

Preparing for the Future What does the community lose when Latinos are unable to get a college degree? Any Latino who stays away from a college campus because of financial hardship is too high a price to pay as a community. Our communities need their ingenuity, their passion and their skills. What advice do you have for parents who want their children to go to college? I would tell these parents that education truly is the best gift they can give to their children. It’s the one thing no one can take away from you, and it’s the ticket to a meaningful and prosperous life. .What are the benefits of having a secure financial plan? I am well aware that many of our students and their family’s live paycheck to paycheck. Financial planning is really not on their radar. I do believe that higher education institutions must actively engage these students and families early on. Sponsored by:

Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work as a voice for access and inclusion in higher education. “Since opening its doors in 1960, we’ve admitted more than 2.1 million students, and the college has some of the highest retention and graduation rates in the nation,” Padrón said. “So many of these students are Latinos, and we are proud to have played a role in their journey to achieve the American Dream.” To help Latino students— which make up more than 70 percent of the college’s enrollment— MDC offers resources such as mentoring, financial literacy workshops and scholarships. It’s all part of Padron’s efforts to make college more accessible and more affordable. “Every day, I get to come to work and play a small part in helping our students achieve the American Dream, and it’s a truly humbling experience,” he said. “I’ve witnessed the college grow exponentially in my four-decade career here, and I look forward to many more years of opportunities to witness the success stories of our students.”

Simplifying the Road Story by: Mark Browne

A good job requires an excellent education,

and in today’s competitive global economy a college degree is essential. But Latino families face tough challenges when saving for college and may not be doing enough to ensure they have sufficient resources for their children’s higher education. According to MassMutual’s College Planning & Saving Study, Latinos are one of the most optimistic ethnic groups when it comes to the affordability of college, but when it comes to saving for college, Latino families are falling behind. The MassMutual’s College Planning & Saving Study, conducted by New American Dimensions, LLC, interviewed almost 2,000 parents from Latino and other ethnic groups across the U.S. Focus groups were also held to understand how parents plan for their children’s education. The study examines the attitudes, behaviors and needs of families related to planning for and funding higher education. The study also provides a deeper understanding of the importance placed on education and how ethnicity affects family decisions and financial behavior. Although fifty-three percent of Latino parents say they intend to pay for at least half of their children’s college education and, 70 percent said they started saving when their child reached the age of 10, the

to College

study revealed that Latino parents saved nearly the least amount of money from all the groups surveyed.

College dreams at risk

Latino parents are optimistic about being able to fund their children’s college educations. Forty-two percent believe college will be affordable once their children reach college age, and almost 50 percent of those interviewed said they think that they will be able to pay for the college their children prefer to attend. But the reality may be quite different. MassMutual’s study found that Latino families struggle to put money aside for college while paying regular household expenses. Latino families reported that 34% of their income is allocated towards current bills, and 16% is allocated toward saving for child’s education.” As an alternative these same families often plan to send their children to twoyear community colleges as a way of starting their higher education. Latino parents, the MassMutual study found, “often use community college as a strategy to make a four-year degree more affordable with 31% planning to have their child transfer to a four-year university, the most of any ethnic segment in the study.”

The high cost of a college degree can make it seem impossible to save enough money before the start of your child’s freshmen year. Accessing all possible options is essential for success. “There are many ways you can prepare for college costs and you should definitely consider all available options,” says Luis “Wicho” Hernandez, general agent for MassMutual Miami, a general agency of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). They include, he says, traditional college savings plans, grants, and scholarships. Hernandez stresses the importance of using a financial professional who can help you understand the different options available and prioritize your financial goals. Here are three ‘key’ considerations MassMutual recommends: •Look for scholarships available through local community organizations, foundations, corporations and nonprofit groups. Online tools that can help include: FederalStudentAid and •Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply for financial aid for college, including federal grant money. More information can be found at •Encourage family and friends to celebrate birthdays and other special events by making gifts towards your child’s college education costs (including 529 plan gift cards).


Better savings strategies needed

MassMutual offers a variety of products, tools and advice for families looking for better ways to save enough money in time to pay for higher education costs. These include an online planning tool, innovative savings products, and community forums and workshops designed to show families that different savings options exist. “The best advice for these families is to start saving as early as possible,” says Luis “Wicho” Hernandez, a general agent for MassMutual in Miami. MassMutual’s College Planning and Saving Study, Hernandez notes, shows that “parents who started saving at birth or before their child’s first birthday seem to have saved an average of 40% more than those who started after age 10.” The key, Hernandez says, is to start saving no later than when a child reaches age five because “that’s when many parents can stop paying for full-time childcare expenses.” “By putting a percentage of the money freed up from childcare expenses towards saving for college, parents can save more without having to change their current spending habits.” Parents can also take advantage of MassMutual’s free online college savings calculator that provides assistance with mapping out savings goals. calculators/college-savings-calculator 56 • November / December 2017

The calculator asks a series of questions that helps parents pin down a realistic savings plan depending on their child’s age and the average tuition at both private and public institutions.

Importance and Affordability

Earn more interest on savings

Hernandez recommends that families use automatic payroll deductions to set money aside for college so they can take advantage of the interest that adds up over the years. Statesponsored Section 529 savings plans are great tools for building the value of college savings and offer important tax advantages. Parents can learn more about them on the same web page where MassMutual’s free online college savings calculator is located. When it comes to paying for college, the MassMutual’s College Planning and Saving Study found that two-thirds of Latino parents are concerned about paying for college and furthermore, parents are also concerned with their children’s future prosperity and they are reluctant to have their children taking out student loans. “Latinos, tend to dream big and we encourage our kids to do so as well, but we also need to find a tangible way to connect those ‘big dreams’ with solid plans,” Hernandez says. A comprehensive savings strategy, Hernandez says, can “reduce – or possibly eliminate” the need to take out student loans.

Hispanic (or Latino) parents look to the promise of a college degree as the key to open doors and opportunities for a brighter and more prosperous future achieved through high-paying jobs.


confidence rate

Four in ten Latino parents and guardians were confident that college would be highly affordable now and when their college is of college-age.


plan on community college

Latino parents often use community college as a strategy to make a four-year degree more affordable with 31% planning to have their child transfer to a four-year university.

Source: MassMutual’s College Planning & Savings Study, 2017.


“There are many ways you can prepare for college costs and you should definitely consider all available options,” including grants, scholarships, and student aid. “Since your dream of seeing your child graduating from college is not a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘how’, make sure you learn how all these components may fit into your child’s education funding plan.”

Learn more

Latino parents should take steps to learn more about how to improve their ability to save for their children’s college tuition. “Education is a key component of MassMutual’s strategy to guide the community about key financial planning topics,” Hernandez says. “We partner with several local organizations and community groups to offer a series of seminars on topics ranging from how to save for college to how to prepare for retirement in English and Spanish, depending on the community’s needs.”


Saving and Debt

plan to pay half


34% on bills

53% of Hispanic parents say they plan to pay for half or more of their child’s college costs, and 70% began saving for college by the time their child turned ten


16% for school

For Hispanic households, paying bills exhausts one-third of the family budget (34%), with parents and guardians saving another 16% for college funds.

Source: MassMutual’s College Planning & Savings Study, 2017.


58 • November / December 2017

Latino parents are reluctant to children accruing debt as young adults and are not open to children taking on student loans to cover college expenses.


Pledge to Educate

Story by: Shellie Smitley

After three decades, Diana Natalicio continues to maintain sights in El Paso’s higher education.

When it comes

to opening doors and inspiring upward social mobility of Latino families, The University of Texas at El Paso, under the leadership of President Diana Natalicio, continues to rise to the occasion. UTEP was included in a Brookings Institution study this year that looked at research institutions throughout the U.S. It was named as the leader in equal access to higher education based on a combination of research productivity and student social mobility. Although Natalicio was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential leaders in 2016, and this year recognized by Fortune magazine as one of 60 • November / December 2017

50 top world leaders, she is quick to point out that she does not deserve all the credit for the university’s success. “To me it’s always the team and what we have been able to do together,” she said pointedly. It’s not just the faculty and staff that keep motivation high at the university located at the heart of the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, Natalicio credits the students over the past three decades with motivating her to reach out to the Latino community she feels driven to serve. “They were eager to take full advantage of the educational opportunities that we offer at UTEP,” she

Degrees awarded at UTEP a. Academic Year 2016-2017 • 4,519 degrees awarded to all students • 3,465 degrees awarded to Hispanic students b. Academic Years 1997-98 to 2016-17 (20 Years) • 66,330 degrees awarded to all students • 47,164 degrees awarded to Hispanic students • 8,947 degrees awarded to Hispanic students in Science and Engineering

Total enrollment and Hispanic student enrollment (Fall 2017) a.25,078 total students b.20,108 Hispanic students (80% of total) c.1,046 Mexican international students (4% of total) 90.0%

UTEP Enrollment: Student Race / Ethnicity Trends







40.0% 30.0%

43.1% 7.50%

20.0% 10.0%











said. “They were hungry for education (because) they knew how important it would be in their lives. It is such a privilege to work with students like that.” Although Natalicio is not Latina, growing up in a bluecollar community, and being part of the first generation in her family to graduate from college, enabled her to emphasize with the socio-economic difficulties that many Latino families face. Reflecting on her own experiences, she dug deep into the financial issues that deterred Latino students from attending college. It instilled a passion for opening the door to higher aspirations. “I have always believed that talent crossed all boundaries,” she said. Latino students from area high schools, typically prone to enter the workforce after graduation, are recruited to attend UTEP. One of the major hurdles of the recruitment process is encouraging families that they can afford to have their children educated. Many parents have already lost hope. “When they hear about the cost of attending more expensive Ivy League schools, they talk themselves out of even dreaming of higher education,” Natalicio said. She too is bothered by the rising costs of education in the U.S. Although UTEP strives to keep the cost of tuition low, it is no easy feat in light of declining state appropriations. It is an issue that keeps her up at night, she said. “We see every single day on our campus students who have to make decisions about their education not based on how they are performing academically but what it costs, so money makes a difference.” Natalicio’s down-to-earth approach is reflected in some of the services offered to the student body. UTEP goes above and beyond by offering emergency loans for life situations like car repairs. That emergency funding can make the difference between dropping out and graduating for some students. “How sad (it is) to think that somebody’s life trajectory would be changed because they drop out of school for a brake job,” Natalicio said. “That’s just not the way it ought to happen.” Education has long been recognized as a springboard for social mobility. Natalicio believes that earning a bachelor’s degree enables Latinos to overcome the stigma of poverty. A first-generation college graduate can give an entire Latino family an economic boost. That message is important to convey throughout the Latino community, she said. There is

still a gap between the cost of higher education and the availability of resources for many Latino families, and that barrier needs to be addressed by society at large. Now, after almost 30 years of growth under her presidency, UTEP’s demographics closely match those of El Paso. “We are giving students the biggest boost in social mobility that we can,” Natalicio said and pointed out that a college education is not just for the wealthy. “People cannot be afraid to raise expectations. Low expectations equal low results.” While putting money aside for a child’s education is never a bad idea, Natalicio understands it is an unrealistic approach for many Latino families of very limited financial resources. The best advice she has for Latino parents is to talk to their children every day about going to college and to encourage high academic performance in high school. Dual enrollment essentially offers students access to the first two years of college free of charge. In addition to dual enrollment, the best ticket to a college education is a scholarship coupled with financial aid. She admitted she personally donates to scholarships. “I can’t think of a better investment, really, than investing in talented young Latinos,” she said. “We have to dream bigger and we have to help develop bigger dreams on the part of young people and low income families.” Natalicio is proud of the 103-year-old university’s growth and progress and even more proud of the students who have overcome their fear of failure and reached for higher aspirations. The university and students, as a team, have made great strides in opening doors to upward mobility for Latino families. Eighty percent of the student body at UTEP is Hispanic and another five percent live in Mexico. According to New York Time columnist David Leonhardt, 71 percent of students who enrolled at the university in the late 1990s, and came from families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution, have ended up in the top three-fifths of the distribution. Since previously thought of as a primarily Anglo university, one might argue that Natalicio’s presence has had a supernatural effect on Latino enrollment. While her commitment to helping Latino students achieve their goals and dreams of higher education has paid off, there is at least one more problem at UTEP that Natalicio is striving to solve. The football team has not had one win this year. “I wish I could wave a magic wand over athletics,” she said laughing.

Rankings a.UTEP Ranks 4th in total number of degrees awarded to Hispanics over the last decade among all U.S. four-year institutions (National Center for Educational Statistics, IPEDS) b.UTEP Ranks 2nd in total number of degrees awarded to Hispanics in Engineering over the last decade among all U.S. fouryear institutions (National Center for Educational Statistics, IPEDS) c.UTEP Ranks 2nd in total number of degrees awarded to Hispanics in STEM fields over the last decade among all U.S. fouryear institutions (National Center for Educational Statistics, IPEDS) d.UTEP Ranks 4th as the Baccalaureate institution of origin of Hispanic Doctoral Degree Recipients (NSF, Survey of Earned Doctorates)

Faculty a.32% of fulltime instructional faculty at UTEP are Hispanic, compared to 4% at other U. S. four-year public and private institutions (National Center for Educational Statistics, IPEDS)

Story by: Lorenzo Almanza

Design by: Carlos Cuevas


AFTER 11 YEARS, THE NFL TAKES FOOTBALL SOUTH OF THE BORDER ONCE AGAIN Before 2016, it had been eleven years since Mexico had played host to a regular National Football League (NFL) season game, but that did not stop Mexican fans from growing an interest in the NFL and the idea of “Football.” The LA Times reported that over the past couple of years the amount of “fútbol Americano” fans has more than doubled to 20.6 million. Arturo Olive, the Managing Director of NFL Mexico, has been part of the efforts to increase football’s presence in Mexico. NFL Mexico first began in 1998 as an initiative to increase football in the Mexican country. “We have been growing the NFL’s footprint and business in Mexico through several departments,” Olive said. ESPN, FOX Sports, NFL Network, TV Azteca and NFL Sunday Ticket are some of the networks being used to increase NFL awareness in the Northern American Country. TV Azteca has its own football broadcast like “Zona de Touchdown,” a Spanish football talk show focused on getting knowledge out to the fans. “What is fascinating is the fact that the average fan in Mexico has many more games available to watch than his counterpart in the United States,” Olive said. “It is something we have been working on strategically.” The expansion of TV coverage allows Mexico fans to watch nine NFL games per week while watching football highlights on their favorite Spanish news networks. Sponsors and retailers have also played a major role in the NFL fan attraction. Numerous endorsers continue to spread their message each year, while the number of retailers selling NFL merchandise has increased throughout the country. “Mexico has the greatest number of NFL fans of any country outside the United States,” Olive said. “We want to keep growing with the elements I described before, including playing games in Mexico.” ESPN statistician Nate Silver evaluates that the amount of football fanatics in Mexico City alone exceeds that of cities Detroit and Las Vegas. The NFL reports that 6.5 million Mexican fans consider themselves passionate fans of American football. 62 • November / December 2017

“Those numbers demonstrate the work being done in Mexico with the support of NFL headquarters in New York to further our footprint and business in Mexico,” Olive said. Mexico’s football fans demonstrated their passion for the game this year as Estadio Azteca in Mexico City sold out tickets for the matchup between the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders. Prior to the big game, the NFL played host to a Fan Fest at Zocalo, Mexico’s national central square. “We wanted to create an activity for those fans who may not have secured a ticket to the game – we wanted those fans to have a connection with the NFL,” Olive said. Two days before the big game in Mexico, the Patriots and Raiders hosted the PLAY 60 All-Ability Event at Shriners Hospitals for Children –Mexico. At the event, former NFL legends, including Kevin Faulk and Willie Brown, came out to help kids with disabilities enjoy the game of football. Olive said, “Truly appreciate the support all these teams give us in so many different ways, working closely with us on projects.” The American sport will continue making its mark on the United States’ southern neighbors for years to come as the National Football League (NFL) has announced an agreement to play three regular-season games in Mexico from 2019 to 2021. The current agreement in place had games scheduled from 2016 to 2018, but due to economic benefits from past events the league looks to continue its expansion in Mexico. “It is one of our main objectives, to have more fans in Mexico,” Olive said.


fter charging out of the gate with a blazing 9-under 62, 33-year old Aussie Marc Leishman completed a wire-to-wire win at the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois. The other 69 players, including some of the world’s finest golfers, just couldn’t shake the confidence of Leishman, and he eventually won by five strokes over Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler. This golfing event was also the perfect occasion to honor local Latino leaders as part of the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. BMW hosted and invited Latino leaders to enjoy an afternoon out for the BMW Championship as a very special recognition for all their hard work in the Latino community. The BMW Championship is the third of four events in the FedEx Cup playoffs which will eventually award $10 million to the winner.

64 • November / December 2017

Photos by: Alan Klehr


Leishman’s easy victory had to be something of an upset considering the high caliber of competition. There was Dustin Johnson, the world’s top ranked golfer and 2016 BMW champion, Jordan Spieth, 2017 Open Championship winner, Jason Day BMW winner in 2015 also at Conway Farms, 2017 US Open Winner Brooks Koepka, and 2017 Masters champ Sergio Garcia. The easy-going Australian was obviously not intimidated as he set a new BMW Championship record with 23-under par, besting Tiger Woods’ 22-under from 2007.

For those seeking a break from the high drama of the championship golf, spectators had an assortment of activities to keep them entertained throughout the weekend. The BMW Experience featured the BMW Fan Challenge where attendees hit five golf balls at targets and accumulated points in hopes of winning a trip to the 2018 BMW Championship. There was also the BMW X3 Hole-In-One Competition where visitors tried for that elusive ace and the keys to an all-new BMW X3. In a top-secret, “no cell phones allowed” closed room, patrons were allowed a first peak at a BMW i8 Roadster. And there was the ever popular Biergarten where sports fans and their families could relax outside and enjoy traditional German delicacies while watching the action on a large video screen.

66 • November / December 2017

The Maestro Award is the highest recognition that Latino Leaders present to a leader. This award is not only to celebrate their leadership but also to recognize them for the work, contribution and inspiration they give to their communities. Meet the 2017 Collection of outstanding leaders we recognized as “Maestros”.

Chicago Ralph de la Vega - Maestro of Professional Achievement Arthur “Art” Velasquez - Maestro of Entrepreneurship Robert Renteria - Maestro of Community Service Marty Castro - Maestro of Leadership


Where: Venue SIX10 - Chicago, IL When: Wednesday, August 30th at 5:30 PM 01

01 Jorge Ferraez imposing Maestro of Leadership medal to Marty Castro 02 Ralph de la Vega, Robert Renteria, Arthur Velasquez, Marty Castro 2017 Chicago Maestro awardees 03 2017 Maestro Chicago guests 04 Kevin Williams from BMW North America presenting the “Ultimate Drive Award 2017” to top young chef Diana Davila 03

68 • November / December 2017


Los Angeles Where: Millenium Biltmore- Los Angeles, CA When: Thursday, September 21st at 6:00 PM


Mickey Ibarra - Maestro of Leadership Dr. Elena Rios - Maestro of Community Service Vilma Martinez - Maestro of Diversity Advancement Dennis Arriola - Maestro of Professional Achievement 05

06 05 Dennis Arriola and Mickey Ibarra celebrating their awards 06 Dr. Elena Rios’ guests. 07 Denis Arriola, Vilma Martinez, Jorge Ferraez, Dr. Elena Rios, Mickey Ibarra at the 2017 Maestros in Los Angeles 08 Ceja Vineyards wines were poured to celebrate the night 09 2017 Maestro Los Angeles guests 09



Clara Borja-Hinojosa - Maestro of Community Service Raymond Arroyo - Maestro of Diversity Advancement Thaddeus Arroyo - Maestro of Entrepreneurship Grace Lieblein - Maestro of Leadership 11

Where: Dallas Scottish Rite Cathedral- Dallas, TX When: Wednesday, October 25th at 6 PM


10 Raymond Arroyo, Grace Lieblein, Thaddeuss Arroyo and Clara Borja were the 2017 Maestros in Dallas 11 2017 Maestro Dallas guests 12 Clarita Borja-Hinojosa, Maestro of Community Service 13 John Donovan, CEO of AT&T Communications presenting the Maestro 10

Award to Thaddeus Arroyo.



Story by: Amanda Casanova

Design by: Carlos Cuevas



70 • November / December 2017


Carlos García believes there’s an important

conversation missing in most Latino households— a conversation about saving for the future. It’s what led him to start Finhabits, the first bilingual financial advisor that offers Roth and Traditional IRAs as well as individual investment accounts. There are no hidden fees with Finhabits and users can get started with as little as $5 a week. “I started Finhabits for people like me,” said Garcia, founder and CEO of Finhabits. “We are Latinos and we learn about the importance of hard work at home. That’s something our parents always talked about at the dinner table, but I don’t think they really spoke to me about planning financially for the future, and in that case, that’s something that I really missed.” García said that most Latinos are taught to work hard to earn money, but many don’t know how to build wealth. “In most Latino households, we need to create that habit of saving for the future, in this case, your retirement,” he said. Finhabits, as its name implies, is meant to help families develop those long-term habits. “What we’re trying to do is help create the habit of investing and saving for retirement for people who have never had access to this type of product,” said García. Finhabits works by allowing users to open an account online at Users will then answer a few questions and Finhabits will create a personalized portfolio for them. The portfolio is created based on the user’s financial goal, such as a 3-year goal for a house down-payment or a 10-year goal to build a college fund. Users will then need to link a bank account with their new Finhabits account and enable autodeposits into the new account. The deposited funds are used in the stock and bond markets, where the money grows on interest. While investments in the stock and bond markets always have a degree of risk, Finhabits diversifies its investments to minimize that risk. The firm then rebalances and reinvests the dividends automatically as needed. “My goal with Finhabits is to make highquality financial services accessible and approachable to anyone who wants to invest or save for retirement, regardless of their wealth, background or portfolio balance,” García said. As for his own background, García was raised in the Texas border town of El Paso, earned an engineering degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and spent about 15 years working on Wall Street, but he saw that there was a need for helping Latinos start investing. He says his own father didn’t plan for retirement and that’s how he realized that saving is a “big problem” for many Latino households.

Carlos García, Founder and CEO of Finhabits • Born in El Paso, Texas • Received an engineering degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology • Worked on Wall Street for 15 years • Launched three companies (including Finhabits)

About Finhabits Currently available on the web at and on the Google Play and the Apple App stores. Finhabits finhabits Garciacarlosar

HOW IT WORKS Finhabits uses simple and repeatable actions to help users develop long-term financial habits. Easy as can be. Setting up and managing a Finhabits account on a smartphone or computer takes just minutes. Proven investment strategies. Using low-cost ETFs from Blackrock and Vanguard, Finhabits recommends diversified portfolios for each user. Smart habits. Finhabits will send timely reminders to help reinforce the habit and ensure users stay on track. Clear fees. Finhabits charges a small fraction of the cost of traditional services, with no surprises.

“We have a mission By the Numbers and passion for what we • 74 percent of Latino families do and we truly believe are not saving for retirement. this is going to change • $22,000 median savings the wealth of a lot of for Hispanic families with a retirement account families,” he said. Unlike traditional • 9 percent of Hispanic families brick-and-mortar financial have a defined-benefit pension plan firms, Finhabits offers personalized investment • 20 percent of Hispanic families a defined-contribution plan advice in a convenient have (i.e. 401(k)) way— online and on your SOURCE: Economic Policy Institute smartphone. “The idea that I had in retirement-in-america/ my mind is that I believe that technology can help people reach their financial goals in more efficient ways,” García said. Finhabits is particularly geared toward Latino families, who are traditionally less inclined to save and to invest. “So how do you create financial habits? That’s an important piece of what Finhabits is doing,” García said. “If we create the habit, that is something that is passed from generation to generation. Hopefully, the clients we are targeting today, these are the parents that are going to be one day sitting at the table and saying, ‘By the way, when you start your first job, make sure you enroll in a retirement plan.’” “I think that’s lacking right now,” he added. According to the Economic Policy Institute, about 74 percent of Latino families ages 32 to 61 are not saving for retirement, including investments such as 401(k)s accounts and IRAs. The number of white families not saving for retirement is 35 percent. “One problem is access,” García said. “Most Latinos are sent to work for small and mediumsized businesses and in those cases, your boss sometimes doesn’t have the resources and the capacity to offer a 401K plan. That’s why Finhabits IRAs make sense for so many workers.” But he added that the main problem is making investing a habit. “The first thing that I believe creates a habit is repetitive action,” he said. “What we do at Finhabits is we get people started with their IRA in less than 10 minutes and contribute as little as $5 a week.” Finhabits is meant to teach people that while investing is not a guaranteed return, over time, those accounts will generate compound interest on your initial deposits. Also over time, Carlos hopes a healthy savings habit will be passed on to the next generation of Latinos. “If we can help Latino families plan for the future, we can help them build wealth over time,” he said.





HAT COULD be a greater discovery than finding a wine that can guarantee sustained quality over the different vintages? One that is in the range of $60 and is available nationwide? The answer is the new Shafer TD-9 blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec) that is absolutely awesome! Elegant, fruity and powerful, with loads of complex aromas ranging from dried berries to olives and dried herbs. It is the kind of wine that I would buy even with my eyes closed. Another one is one that I came to know of recently: Antica, a California Cabernet Sauvignon made by the legendary Antinori winery. It was a great surprise to find it at a relatively good price ($120) in a steakhouse wine list. I have never tried it before and it surprised me; fantastic flavors, structure, and character. However, the best experience a wine could bring is when you enjoy it with a special person, someone who shares the love of wine and is aware of what the both of you are drinking and at the same time is an important person in your life. Those magical moments come only a few times in life so cherish them. Recently, while visiting my brother, Raul, and his beautiful, impressive cellar in Mexico City, we opened a bottle of Chateau Beychevelle 1998 that was just fantastic. This wine had a combination of mellow fruit notes and spices, deep body and silky. We spent hours chatting, enjoying and admiring the wine, a true treasured moment. A few days later, I had another “Ahhh!” moment with one of my best friends whom I invited to pick a bottle from my cellar on a Sunday afternoon. He looked at a Joseph Phelps INSIGNIA 1999 and said: “How about this one?”. The wine was beautiful! With soft tannins, lots of fruit and chocolate hints in a silky and mature structure. “What a treat!”, he said and we finished the bottle talking and analyzing the wine by ourselves. For me, those are the best things that come with being a wine collector. An unforgettable moment for life! Christmas is just around the corner! If you want to gift wine, here are some great suggested wines that are under $39: Juan Gil Blue Label (Jumilla), Luca Malbec (Mendoza) and Torbreck “The Struie” Shiraz (South Australia). Excellent wines, a great value, delicious fruitiness and constant quality. 72 • November / December 2017


Antinori Family Estate “Antica” 2013 Region: Napa Valley Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon Price: $60 Aromas: Berries, cherry Flavors: Red fruit compote, dark chocolate, minty Impression: Fragrant and Succulent Structure: Elegant, Well-Expressed Drink with: Steak Why I loved this wine? Ample and impressive, pretty widely available My Rating: 90 pts.

Joseph Phelps INSIGNIA 1999 Region: Napa Valley Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon Price: $250 Aromas: Berries, chocolate, ripe red fruit Flavors: Licorice, minty and plum Impression: Silky and Round Structure: Deep, Powerful Drink with: Delicate Beef Dish, like a Wellington or Roast Beef Why I loved this wine? Perfect and sweet tannins My Rating: 97 pts.

Shafer TD-9 2015 (Premiere Vintage) Region: Napa Valley Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec Price: $60 Aromas: Dried Cherry, blueberry and blackberry Flavors: Cocoa powder, fig and licorice Impression: Velvety Structure: Powerful and Elegant Drink with: a good and juicy steak Why I loved this wine? Has an impressive complexity My Rating: 96 pts.

Profile for Latino Leaders

Latino Leaders Magazine: Education & Law  

November/December 2017

Latino Leaders Magazine: Education & Law  

November/December 2017

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