Page 1




l t









Zumba’s Beto Perez

Creating the fitness craze

Cardiologist Laura Mercer-Rosa Heart for hearts

Health into the hands of the people

Chevron’s Manny Gonzalez Investing in STEM of tomorrow May /June 2014 Vol. 15 No. 3

CONTENTS May / June 2014


COVER STORY: Technology and health: Leaders throughout the country remark on the strides that are being made in the Latino community to connect Hispanics with resources for diabetes, health care and reproductive health at the touch of a screen.

2 • May / June 2014


CONTENTS May / June 2014

14 Miguel Burch: A surgeon dedicated to the wellness of Latinos struggling to fight diabetes, Burch talks about his rise as an immigrant himself and the importance of caring for those who are underserved. 18 Laura Mercer-Rosa: As a pediatric cardiologist at the number one children’s hospital in the nation, Mercer-Rosa has dedicated her time and research to helping kids who are born dying. And through her care, the Brazilian native helps children suffering from congenital heart disease. 20 Manuel Gonzalez: Co-founder and CEO of Pediatric Innovations USA, Gonzalez saw the need for products to be marketed to Latinos in their own language. See how his innovation is making a difference in the marketing world.

22 Cancer Treatment Centers of America:

Elena Roman leads the charge to empower cancer patients and show them that through education, support and nutrition, cancer can be cured.

24 Beto Perez: This entrepreneur will have you on your feet and moving to the rhythm of the latest radio hits during his Zumba class. Perez’s enthusiasm for health, fitness and the Latino community shows as he encourages others to follow their passions. 34 Manny Gonzalez: Immigrating from Cuba with his family, Gonzalez shares the importance of disciplined life and the value of fostering growth as a new generation of Latinos rise in the STEM field.


42 Pedro Nosnik: This Texas neurologist tells the

importance of following your dreams. The Mexican native shares the story of his success in medicine and his love for the business venture he shares with his son.

46 Karl Gouverneur:

Northwestern Mutual’s vice president and chief technology officer demonstrates how improving technology has had an effect on all of our lives and how it is improving the longterm value in the financial services industry.

64 Beau Ferrari: Rising in the ranks of Univision,

Ferrari sits down with Latino Leaders Magazine at Johnnie Walker’s House of Walker in Miami to talk about the importance of pursuing opportunities, taking risks and working in at one of the most influential TV networks in the country.

4 • May / June 2014

Events coverage 48 Club Leaders of the Future: Washington, D.C. 54 Club Leaders of the Future: San Antonio 60 Club Leaders of the Future: Los Angeles

In every edition 06 08 12 66

From the editor’s desk In conversation with the publisher Southwest Landing Cellar

Letter from the editor Celebrating excellence in health for Latinos

Connecting Leaders, Inspiring the Future

Publisher Jorge Ferraez

President and CEO Raul Ferraez

Editor-in-Chief: Esther Perez Director of Journalism: Mariana Gutierrez National Director of Events: Yol-Itzma Aguirre National Sales Director: Joshua Baca Administrative Director: Cathy Marie Lopez Circulation Manager and Editorial Assistant: Carlos Anchondo Art Director: Fernando Izquierdo

In the midst of following leaders throughout our country who are making remarkable strides in their careers, we take time to recognize a certain set of people whose jobs mean so much more than monetary success. We are proud to introduce you to the inaugural health edition in which we bring you the men and women whom we entrust with our futures and the lives of those closest to us. At the top of their fields, these professionals are on the forefront of battling the biggest killers in the Latino community cancer, heart disease and diabetes – while hearing from others who are just as invested in promoting health through fitness and lifestyle. Many times, throughout various stages of our lives, these brave individuals and many others like them rise to meet us and offer their help in the full spectrum of care whether it is in prevention, surgery, consultation or recovery. And we at Latino Leaders Magazine honor their dedication and passion for others.

Starting next month, we want to hear from you. Please plan to join us on July 15 at noon for our very first “Twitter to the Editor” in which we encourage you to cram 140 characters with your thoughts on the magazine, questions you may have and commentary on the previous edition. During the hour, I’ll be looking forward to replying to each tweet. But keep watching because we plan to feature selected tweets in our upcoming July/August Editor’s Letter. So whether you’re a Twitter pro or a smartphone newbie, we’re ready to hear from you.

Editorial Art & Design: Rodrigo Valderrama Carlos Cuevas Luis Enrique González Human Resources Manager: Susana Sanchez Administration and Bookkeeping: Claudia García Bejarano Executive Assistant to the Publishers: Liliana Morales Circulation System Manager: Andrea Luna For advertising inquiries, please call 214-206-4966

Latino Leaders: The National Magazine of the Successful American Latino (ISSN 15293998) is published seven times annually by Ferraez Publications of America Corp., 15443 Knoll Trail, Suite 210, 75248 Dallas, TX, USA, May / June 2014. 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

Esther Marie Perez Editor In Chief

6 • May / June 2014

Member of Reg. # 283/01

MEMBER OF SRDS 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

a conversation with the publisher

Joe Garcia, Democratic congressman of Florida

i Photo by Jason


8 • May / June 2014

t was a warm early spring afternoon in Dallas, and the beautiful and well-illuminated residence of Nina Vaca was a busy spot since she was hosting a fundraising reception for Florida’s Democratic Congressman Jose Garcia. “I want you to come as my friend. Don’t expect to contribute with anything; I just want to introduce you to Joe Garcia,” Vaca told me when she called me a month before the event. When I shook Garcia’s hand, the first thing he told me was: “I’m tired. Lots of travel, but in this role, you need to do whatever you need to do.” I need to confess that I was a bit skeptical – I’m a particularly good “client” of politicians since I tend to buy everything they say – but his attitude and comments since the beginning of our private conversation really impressed me and got my entire interest. “I’m working on a national problem that we’re having, a real one that I cannot disclose, but is not related to the typical issues we always talk about. Some of those (problems) are not that big. The media tends to scare people and make these issues be bigger than they are, and this perception makes people more difficult to convince of the solutions. I truly believe there’s no issue we cannot say we have the possibility of solving within the next few years: immigration, health, budget, security.” Garcia is an intelligent, sensitive person; even before I finished my question, he started answering it with an impressive assertiveness. He talks with a quick pace but with a lot of expressions in his words: “We (Democrats) have a difficult reality; we have a divided house and those situations, although we’ve had them before, make things more difficult. So we need to focus on issues and things we can work together, pass together.” His vision on immigration is really interesting; he thinks the U.S. has one of the better immigration policies in the world that has worked for centuries, “but the problem, today, is that it is broken, the visa system is not working. According to the reality, illegal immigration is the most prosecuted criminal activity in the country with the highest levels of deportations we have seen.” Garcia said we need to invest in human capital for the economy to grow: “We will need another 7 million immigrants to come, work and produce for our generation to retire in the next years.” And Republicans are pretty much in agreement, said Garcia. This is the only bill they can pass with the Republicans. “The problem is that the immigration problem is so exaggerated by very small interest groups that have managed to scare the public view.” Toward the end, in a fast-paced conversation that was full of intense ideas, I liked his approach to his recap to his priority issues: “We need to fix many things on the economy so the middle class can grow again, have an intelligent tax policy with fare taxes to the middle class, we need to look toward the south for our partners and allies in Latin America with a more serious relationship with them, we need to focus in energy and how to produce it better and invest in human capital…” Then at the end, we started talking about something that really both of us are passionate about: “I’d like to see that the contribution from Latinos into the future is going to be an impactful one. I’m an optimist. Latinos are great people that have immigrated and done great things; the future of this country is bright thanks to Latino immigrants.”

Follow the Leaders




Born to Run: Esai for President

He’s a contender. Esai Morales steps into the ring to battle for the top job at the entertainment industry’s biggest union.

Story by Judi

54 • July / August 2013


Photos by

Ejen Chuang



ind a dream home. Find the right loan to finance it. Figure out what escrow payment, fees and other terms mean. Isaiah Rodriguez and his team make this all clear, whether you're looking to buy your first home or wanting to refinance. Rodriguez, a Greater Los Angeles Area mortgage banker and planner, wants to make the home purchasing process as understandable and easy as possible for people in his community. A banker for previous employers, Rodriguez enjoyed making a connection with clients and seeing them through the sometimes arduous path that is home buying. Before starting The Rodriguez Group, the California native wasn't satisfied with simply getting paperwork done and sending new homeowners on their way. He wanted conversations and a more proper interaction. Today, a first sit-down with Rodriguez might last hours. What does he talk about: You. He wants to know all about you, your background, your intentions and especially your financial situation. It's always a good time to buy real estate, he says. But is it a good time for you, is the more important question, he adds. Others simply might push a client to purchase a home so they can make a quick sale and sell off a mortgage to another entity. After those 25 or 30 days, Rodriguez says, many planners are not involved with the new homeowner. "That's it," he said. "They forget about the clients. They don't keep in touch." Rodriguez wanted to be an exception to that custom. At The Rodriguez Group, the team's motto is "Your personal approach to mortgage planning." And it is personal. He not only wants to know about the prospective home buyer. He wants to take in that knowledge and then dish out a lot of information about what the process entails in as clear a way as possible. The group's operation is about cultivating an informed clientele that focuses on one of the largest debts they will have in life, and that's a mortgage, he explained. That hands-on, personal approach is coupled with his team constantly needing to keep up with changes in the economy, loan market and other areas that affect their operations and clients. "We have to be ahead of the game," said Rodriguez. "We have to be beyond the cutting edge and be able to present the various set of information to our clients in the most simplistic, layman's terms, without confusing them." Rodriguez's sales career originated as a 15-year-old Foot Locker employee. He was born to Colombian parents, an aerospace engineer father and siblings each at least about 15 years his

senior. Also, he grew up in a rough neighborhood where gangs were predominant. "I made it out alive with a tie." With more than a decade of experience, Rodriguez makes it a point to meet with every client the group helps. "Every client will be touched by me, no matter what," he said. "They're going to hear from me. We're going to interact. The majority of my time is speaking with clients and having a lot of interaction with them." He also takes pride in being forthcoming with clients, he added, explaining that clients are given a percentage of the commission back as a lender credit and are informed that the group makes much of its revenue by selling their loans to big banks. That isn't a common practice in the industry, he noted. "This is something that a lot of brokers or loan officers do they won't disclose to their clients, and we disclose. We are very transparent." That approach has garnered much positive feedback. And it's noted on the group's Facebook page. There, clients and other members of the community share success stories, expressions of gratitude and shout outs to Rodriguez and his team. He hopes to take that positive energy and success to new locations: Austin and an East Coast presence in Florida for the moment. In Austin already is a friend of The Rodriguez Group. Austin realtor Sarah Williams shares the same passion as Rodriguez when it comes to client satisfaction. The two connected via social media, and today she sends her usually first-time home buyers only to The Rodriguez Group for loan services. "My clients in Austin, they can't believe it. It's so funny," Williams said. "They're like, 'We get more information from him than we do from someone that's five minutes away from us.'" Williams added she is happy with Rodriguez's group because she believes them to provide top-notch service, and she has a comeback for any who question her using only one loan service provider. "I actually had an agent tell me the other day, 'Well, you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket just working with one lender,'" she said. "But, I told her I'm so confident in their team, I don't worry about it." Rodriguez notices the demographic changes in the country revealing an emerging Latino population in the country. This change also has manifested in a boon in Latinos purchasing homes, which will prove to make a large impact, because with the mortgage financing education that businesses like his promotes, the population will be better informed on how to manage such debt and build wealth with real estate, Rodriguez said. "The more awareness we have, the more financial success we'll see in our community."

GETTING TO KNOW ISAIAH Favorite novelist or writer: Tom Clancy, Jim Rohn If you could have any other career it would be: Three alternatives - building, racing cars; something in the health industry; aerospace engineer You never leave home without: Pressed juice and Nike Fuelband I like to spend my free afternoons: Taking coastal drives, being out by the beach with family My worst habit: Not knowing when to disconnect (ex. responding to text messages from clients during dinner) The last movies I saw: "Skyfall" and "Fast and Furious 6" My favorite thing to wear is: Polos My favorite thing to eat: Cuban food (He still loves some Colombian food) One thing on my bucket list: Go on a weeks-long vacation and drive race car in the Spanish coastal village of Sa Calobra

Experience the lives of our leaders digitally.

Latino Winemakers Amelia Morán Ceja

16 • July / August 2013


Property & Vineyards: 113 acres in the Carneros Region. AVA(s): Carneros, Sonoma Coast First Vintage: 2001 Current Labels: 2009 Napa Carneros Chardonnay ($34), 2008 Vino de Casa Red Blend ($20), 2009 Sonoma Carneros Merlot ($34), 2010 Bella Flor - Dry Rosé of Syrah & Pinot Noir ($50), 2009 Sonoma Coast Syrah ($34), 2010 Sonoma Coast Sauvignon Blanc ($22), 2009 Carneros Pinot Noir ($40), 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($50), 2008 Napa Valley Dulce Beso (Sweet Kiss) ($40). Where to get it: By law, they only ship wine to adults 21 and older in the following states: AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, KS, LA, IL, MI, MN, MO, NC, ND, NE, NH, NV, NM, NY, OH, OR, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY. For shipping wine to other states please contact Ceja Vineyards. Adult signature is required upon delivery. Case production has increased from 750 cases to 10,000 cases per year, and Ceja wines are offered at some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the United States.

flavors and her experience with food that have shaped her life choices. Long before the California legislature recognized Amelia as “Woman of the Year” in 2005 for “breaking the glass ceiling in a very competitive business,” the first Mexican-American woman ever to be elected president of a winery was on the frontier of wine. The dynamo behind more than 140 video blogs since 2009 on preparing Mexican cuisine and pairing it with wine, Amelia has introduced thousands to exciting flavor combinations they never dreamed of. Embracing both her Mexican heritage and American home, Amelia combines the best of what she finds in food and drink, tradition and innovation. “As a minority cellar, we are shaping the wine industry,” explains Amelia, who was honored as the “most outstanding female leader, innovator and visionary in the wine field in the North Bay” by North Bay Business Journal at its 2008 Women in Business gala. “We’re embracing the best in both cultures and tossing away what doesn’t work,” says Amelia. “I don’t want to be homogeneous; my experience is enhancing my adopted country. We’re making both of our cultures better. Why not share what is wonderful—and keep it?” Salud!

Brief Story of the Winery: Ceja Vineyards is an ultrapremium Latino family-owned winery in the Napa Valley. It was founded in 1999 by Amelia, Pedro, Armando and Martha Ceja – first generation Mexican-American immigrants. Their dedication to sustainable agriculture and the gentle handling of the grapes in the cellar can be tasted in every sip of their legendaryestate-grown wines.

Ceja Pinot & Chardonnay Tasting Notes: Everybody does Chardonnay and Pinot Noir these days and sometimes, it is really easy to get confused and not stand out with your wine. But this is certainly not the case with Ceja wines. First and foremost, the Ceja family has one of the best-ever brand ambassadors that have ever existed: Amelia Morán Ceja. A lady with a fascinating conversation, delectable hospitality and an incredible product to back her up. Her enthusiasm is highly contagious, and it is really hard to not fall for her wines after you know her.

Ceja Vineyards has received numerous awards including: The California Latino Legislative Caucus 2012 Latino Spirit Award. The Spirit Awards recognize those businesses/ individuals that exemplify the spirit of the Latino community and have contributed to the State of California. Inc. Magazine selected Ceja Vineyards “Entrepreneur of the Year 2004” (one of seven) in the January 2005 issue. In addition, Ceja Vineyards was named “Best New Winery” in 2002 by over 90 of the world’s most prestigious wine writers, case production has increased from 750 cases to 10,000 cases per year, and Ceja wines are offered at some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the United States including the French Laundry.

Ceja Vineyards, Napa Carneros Chardonnay 2009 ($34) I first tasted the Chardonnay as many of the Ceja Family friends gathered at a cookout dinner at their home with lemon and garlic grilled oysters. I will never forget it with the setting sun, the warm summer Napa afternoon and the great experience of trying the wine with them. This one is filled with tropical fruit, citrus, melon, kiwi and pear. Good body and acidity, balanced and still enough personality to be a distinguished wine. Nice oak, not overwhelming the fruit flavors, and a buttery and creamy finish.

Who is Amelia Ceja? In 1967, Amelia Morán Ceja immigrated to the U.S. to join her father, a farm worker, who toiled for years in California’s vineyards. Today she’s crossing another border, turning upwardly mobile Latinos into wine aficionados with here subtle blend of viticulture, down-home cuisine and a Web-based marketing campaign. A strong matriarchal tradition in her family fostered Amelia’s independent spirit, but more than anything, Amelia feels it is

Ceja Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2008 ($50) This could be one of my favorite wines for lunch. Low in tannins and acidity, flowery and spiced. Perfect for a roast beef sandwich, a steak salad or even some pasta. I love the spiciness of the wine with light peppery and clove notes and violet and plum accents at the peak. It has a great finish, long and pleasant.


VIcente J. Fernandez, Neredia Corona, and Cristal Garcia

June 6, 2013 Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers


Ceja Vineyards President and Owner: Amelia Morán Ceja

THE LATINO LEADERS team invited a new batch of Club Leaders of the Future (CLF) to Chicago to network and be part of the conversation. They had a lively roundtable while chatting about personal experiences. Here’s what our new leaders had to say about the event and Club Leaders of the Future:


Victor Herrera and Joe Garcia

ATTENDEES: Anabel Galeana Abarca Congressional Aide 5th District, Illinois

Gabriel Chavez Program Manager Exelon Nuclear

Ramon Saucedo Relationship Manager Chase

Andres Baltazar Financial Representative// Field Director Northwestern Mutual

Jacqueline Gomez Director Office of Contract Compliance at Cook County

Ricardo A. Garcia Language & Cultural Ambassador Spanish Ministry of Education

Jesse Ruiz Securities Group DrinkerBiddle&Realth,LLP

Veronica Arreola Director Women in Science and Engineering Program: University of Illinois at Chicago

Benjamin Bernal Trustee Fox River Water Reclamation District Cristal Garcia Administrative Assistant ASPIRA Inc. of Illinois Edgar Delgado Contracting Officer General Services Administration

Joe Garcia Chief of Staff Office of Senator Martin A. Sandoval Leonore Sanchez Deputy Village Clerk Village of Maywood

Emmanuel N. Kinard Lending Manager TCF National Bank

Neredia Corona Associate Director Kraft Foods

Ennedy D. Rivera Esq. Special Prosecutor Wysocki & Smith

Noe Fragoso Broker Associate Northlake Realtors

“I’m still new to the CLF concept, but I believe that anything that helps upcoming and rising Latino leaders of Chicago come together is a great thing. So many of us want to work hard for our Latino communities and Chicago in general. I’m excited to work with everyone!.”

--- Veronica Arreola

Vicente J. Fernandez VP / Co-Founder

The CLF: Chicago group.

Victor Herrera Executive Vice President National Society of Hispanic MBA’s

“I think the best part of the evening was when each of shared a bit of our background and what drives us to do what we do. It was a special part of the evening, where each of us could draw some parallels but also see some fantastic differences.”

Rachel Gonzalez Economics & Communications University of Michigan

To read more quotes about this event and learn moreaboutotherevents,

--- Gabriel Chavez

Gabriel Chavez, Benjamin Berbal and Ennedy Rivera chat

62 • December 2012 / January 2013

Find them here

Connecting Leaders, In spiring the Future



STORY BY: Emilia Gaston Contributed photo


struggling immigrant family arrives in the U.S. chasing the American dream after crossing the border only to fall victim to a situation that forces them to have to make choices concerning their family’s well being. They have to return to the life that once was, no longer able to live with hopes of prosperity. This was not Susana Orozco’s life or reality. As a filmmaker, she hopes to bring light on a nontraditional situation she experienced as a child and young adult in her first film, “Inmigrante.” The film tells the story of Laura Reyes, whose family has accomplished all of the promises that the American dream offers, who now has to choose between her familiar life in the United States or the life she has discovered in Mexico, according to her website. Orozco grew up in California, the daughter of Mexican parents in a middle-class household in which her father was the breadwinner and her mother was a stay-at-home mom. She spoke Spanish and English as a child while she attended school in California, knowing the United States to be home. Due to her parents’ “back and forth relationship” the family moved back to Mexico when she was a preteen. “I loved it down there. It was so peaceful, and we would go to the beach every weekend. I really had a closer family life while living there.” After completing secondary school and some high school in Puerto Vallarta, the family returned to California when Orozco was a junior. She now knew two worlds, unlike many classmates who had heard stories of kidnappings and drug-induced warfare taking place in Mexico. “I didn’t know about the cartel, I didn’t know about drug dealers, I didn’t know about gang members, so this was all foreign to me because my experience there was nothing but good.”

Traditional stereotypes like these fueled the inspiration behind the film that is currently in production. “One day, my mother was watching an American film where the mother was Anglo, and she said, ‘Why can’t the mother be portrayed in a nice way?’ She was referring to the Latina mothers who are always the maid or the cook, and they’re struggling.” Orozco references telanovelas in which the mothers “are these glamorous, rich women, who are commanding but always reasonable” as her first inspirations for the film’s characters. She thought, “I’m going to create a female Mexican woman but get rid of all these clichés. We’re going to make her someone who is realistic and get rid of all these stereotypes.” And so came the beginning of a script that was nearly 10 years in the making. Although she never experienced outright racism in the United States, Orozco dealt with situations in which her nationality was questioned simply on choosing to root for the Mexican futbol team or continuing to speak to her mother in only Spanish as an adult. These situations provided all the more reason to create her film, which proves the point that not every immigrant family can relate to the stories told on the big screen. After toying with multiple ideas over the years, the lifelong aspiring filmmaker decided to follow her dreams after obtaining a business degree from the University of North Carolina. Currently, Orozco works full time at a law firm in Phoenix but has decided to fully commit herself to the production of her film as soon as all the appropriate fundraising (through is completed. Supporters of the film can learn more at

Customer Service Beyond Borders BY: TERESA LARABA Senior vice president customers


orite no Isabel Allend velist or writer: e If you cou ld have an y other jo would be: b it FBI agent

You never le

A mini note

ave home



I like to sp


Playing Elde d my free afterno o r should be w Scrolls online, even th ns: ough I riting

My worst

habit: I don'

The last m My favori

Buckets of

My favori

Scented bo

te thing to


One thing

Go to Spain


About a year ago, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly broadened the vision for our company: to become the world’s most loved, most flown and most profitable airline. Our Southwest warriors have worked very hard to set an international stage for the future of the company, and we are poised to begin realizing this vision. We chose our first three Caribbean destinations as launch markets for our new international reservations system, Amadeus’s Altea platform. These first flights will depart our initial U.S. gateway cities of Baltimore/Washington, Atlanta and Orlando.


: “Godzilla” eat:


my buck and research et list: my ancestor

te thing to

dy lotion

t’s a historic time for Southwest Airlines as we prepare for our first international flights to take off this summer. New Caribbean service begins July 1 to Oranjestad, Aruba (AUA); Nassau, Bahamas (NAS); and Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ), and we couldn’t be more excited to begin extending the Southwest Airlines Brand, legendary Customer Service, and unmatched value of Bags Fly Free® and No Change Fees® to customers traveling beyond our U.S. network of more than 80 destinations.

t listen very

ovie I saw



The hard work behind the scenes to bring online these new systems will allow us to serve more international destinations from cities across the country; we begin serving the Mexico beach resorts of Cancun and Los Cabos in early August and Mexico City and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, in November. The work leading up to this milestone has truly been a labor of love, and I join my fellow 46,000 Southwest employees in welcoming you to grab your passport and fly Southwest Airlines into our international future.

L at ino Le a de r s

On the cutting edge Using dynamic, new surgical procedures, Miguel Burch stands on the forefront of making diabetes history.

14 • May / June 2014

Story by Esther


Photo by

Egen Chung

L at ino Le a de r s

Miguel Burch

Associate director of minimally invasive surgery at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles

“Latinos are 60 percent more likely to need dialysis because of diabetes, and they’re 50 percent more likely to die from the complications with diabetes. So there’s an epidemic of obesity in this country. The big deal is that diabetes kills us, and it kills us silently.”

iguel Burch knows what it means to dream. Long before Burch became the associate director of minimally invasive surgery at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, he was a 10-year-old boy who emigrated from his native La Paz, Boliva. Burch and his mother started a new life when they moved to Virginia, which was home to a large Bolivian immigrant community, and at 12 years old, he became enthralled by medicine and science after learning about cardiac bypass surgery. “I thought that was amazing that you take a vein from somebody’s leg and put it in their heart,” Burch said. “And as I was growing up, it was a calling. It was something that I had to do.” But, as Burch is the first to point out, wanting to perform surgery and actually having the ability to do so are two very different things. In a household with limited income, Burch saw firsthand the generosity that came from his family as each and every one of them contributed the little they had to ensure that he was able to receive a quality high school education at a local Catholic school, which caused him to concentrate on maintaining good grades that would continue throughout high school, college and medical school. But academic achievements weren’t the only ideas fostered while Burch sat in class after class at Catholic school. “It bred inside of me this idea of social justice, which ended up being important because I think a lot of the work I have done over time was based on social justice. So when I got into medical school, I 16 • May / June 2014

specifically chose a medical school that served the underserved populations,” Burch said. Identifying with socioeconomically challenged immigrants is something that spurred out of a passion that he saw daily from his family. “A lot of it came from my mom and my grandma. They’re the type of people that would give the shirts off their back to anybody. And frequently, we did,” Burch said. “When a family moved in to the states, everybody just stayed with us for weeks and months at a time. Watching their passion for other people made me want to be compassionate as well.” He has concentrated that compassion on helping Latinos who now find themselves living in the United States. “My passion is that Latinos bring an incredibly warm mix to the culture. And as our population increases, unfortunately, immigrants who come to this country are increasingly getting sicker.” Because of the large availability of harmful foods and the lack of exercise, many low-income immigrant families oftentimes come with hope but are met with disease and obesity. One factor that almost always guarantees an individual will contract diabetes is the tendency to distribute weight centrally, meaning that fat gathers around the torso while the limbs stay thin because fat is more likely to put stress on the pancreas. As Latinos become engorged with junk food, there is an added danger because they are not only more likely to contract diabetes but the diabetes is likely to be more severe, Burch said.

“I almost always found a motivation to work based on just knowing that I wanted to help people.”

Throwback talent Miguel Burch was named one of Latino Leaders Magazine’s Club Leaders of the Future in 2013

“Latinos are 60 percent more likely to need dialysis because of the diabetes, and they’re 50 percent more likely to die from the complications with diabetes. So there’s an epidemic of obesity in this country. The big deal is that diabetes kills us, and it kills us silently. “People come here with so much hope for themselves and their children … but we go from this dream of opportunity to something that looks more like a nightmare.” That is where Burch is dedicated to making a difference. The frontlines of diabetes are fought first through awareness. Burch and his team at Cedars-Sinai annually work to combat diabetes among financially challenged members of the community in an annual partnership with Telemundo to reach out to those most likely to contract the debilitating disease. The outreach program extends to schools to help children learn to make changes in their diets, and equipped with that knowledge, they in turn, take that information back to their homes and become a voice of awareness among their families. Unfortunately, it is already too late for some to consider changing their diet. As Burch acknowledges, these patients who suffer from “diabestiy,” or diabetic obesity, then fall victim to an endless cycle in which they receive insulin treatments to combat diabetes, but the insulin then causes them to gain weight, which puts an even greater strain on diabetics, and their bodies demand more insulin.

Once that occurs, Burch works to guide people through the process to prepare them for surgery that will best treat diabetes. During the procedure, Burch shrinks the size of the stomach to about 10 percent of what it used to be. Then about 2 feet after the end of the stomach, he divides the intestine and joins it to the end of the stomach. The result is that because the stomach is smaller, the individual will eat less, and the food that is consumed will enter straight into the intestines instead of mixing with the digestive enzymes in the stomach. Based on the existing surgery, Burch is a principal investigator on a multicenter, randomized trial, in which he enters endoscopically through the mouth and deploys a liner, which he likes to call a “sock,” on the first 2 feet of the intestine so that food does not come in contact with the intestine. “It doesn’t allow food to pass through the inside wall of the intestine. So it protects the intestine from all the effects that food has, and in diabetics, it is curing their diabetes. “I’ve worked really hard in the last 10 years to make it safe for everybody. We noticed that our complication rates are basically the same as they are for someone who removes their gallbladder or appendix now at centers of excellence like the one I lead.” With the strides that he is making, Burch says that he has never forgotten his purpose for surgery. “I almost always found a motivation to work based on just knowing that I wanted to help people.”

Story by Amanda


Contributed photo

Queen of hearts


Brazilian native, Laura Mercer-Rosa, saves the lives of children through her work in cardiology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

here are few jobs more important than those

ensuring the well-being of children. Dr. Laura MercerRosa has the added challenge of caring for little ones with serious heart ailments that often require years of treatment. A pediatric cardiologist with 20 years of experience in her native Brazil and in the United States, Mercer-Rosa throws her energies into her research and the care of her young patients at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which was named the number one children’s hospital in the nation for 2013-14 by U.S. News and World Report. Raised in the city of Curitiba, Mercer-Rosa’s father was a physician and a big inspiration to her. She made the decision in her teens to go into medicine and entered medical school at 17—a very young age by American standards. “I don’t think I was born knowing that I wanted to be a physician, but I always liked dealing with people and thought that medicine was challenging and would allow me to interact with people,” she says. During her studies at the Universidade Federal do Paraná in her hometown, Mercer-Rosa decided she wanted to focus 18 • May / June 2014

“The fact that I know I can help these kids with very severe types of congenital heart disease is my biggest motivation”

on pediatrics. “The academic hospital where I trained had a particularly good pediatrics program, and as soon as I started rotating there, I knew I wanted to work with children.” After completing her pediatric residency in Curitiba, she received a pediatric cardiology fellowship at the Instituto do Coração in São Paolo, where she spent the next three years. Mercer-Rosa relocated to the U.S. for her husband’s job in 2000. It was a huge opportunity for her as well, she explains, as one of her biggest dreams was to be a physician in the U.S. She repeated her training in pediatrics with a residency at Miami Children’s Hospital followed by a fellowship in pediatric cardiology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she is currently based. In addition, she has held an assistant professor of pediatrics position at the University of Pennsylvania since 2011. Most of Mercer-Rosa’s new patients are newborns, and she follows their progress through the years while building relationships with the children and their families. As a mother of three, Mercer-Rosa says she is much more understanding and compassionate to what the parents endure: “I think it affects me in two ways — it makes me suffer more in a way, but I think it also makes me a better physician.” Her hard work and dedication has been recognized over the years with awards for excellence from Miami Children’s Hospital and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“I don’t think I was born knowing that I wanted to be a physician, but I always liked dealing with people and thought that medicine was challenging and would allow me to interact with people” In a field in which every case unique and important, Mercer-Rosa has a hard time selecting just one to share. “I met a mother whose fetus was going to have many congenital problems and a major heart defect,” she says. “After many meetings with the family, I thought it would be acceptable if the family decided to interrupt the pregnancy because we thought the outcome for that child would be really grim. The family decided to pursue pregnancy, and the child is almost two years old now. He has done great after a number of surgeries, including heart surgery. It was a very positive experience.” Most of Mercer-Rosa’s time, when not with patients, is spent in research and publication on the outcomes of congenital heart disease. Her main area of interest is a disease called Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare condition caused by a combination of four heart defects that are present at birth and that affect the structure of the heart, causing oxygenpoor blood to flow out of the heart and into the body. Mercer-Rosa studies how this disease affects patients as newborns and as they grow. Through research, she and other physicians can provide better treatment options for more successful results. “I can do something to help by treating the children, by reassuring the parents,” she says. “The fact that I know I can help these kids with very severe types of congenital heart disease is my biggest motivation.”

Marketing for the

masses Pediatric Innovations cofounder and CEO Manny Gonzalez advocates for health ideas to be produced and geared for a Latino population Story by Laura Rivas Contributed photos

Just a few years ago, Manny Gonzalez had visions of making a positive impact on the lives of children and of becoming an entrepreneur. Today, the former vice president for global operations at Procter & Gamble is co-founder and CEO of Miami-based Pediatric Innovations USA, a startup created in 2013 with a focus on creating products to help children be healthier and happier. With the company’s recent launch of its first product, BreathEasier Boogies Be Gone!, a nasal aspirator for children, Gonzalez has proven that making the most of one’s experience and connections are a cornerstone for turning vision into reality. 20 • May / June 2014


– whose distinguished educational background includes a bachelor’s in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University, a master’s in public policy and international finance from Harvard and time spent as a visiting scholar at Oxford – found opportunity early in the form of two summer internships with corporate giant Procter & Gamble. He passed on a full-time job offer to go to graduate school but accepted a second offer, embarking on several marketing and development positions in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Argentina over the next 15 years. Returning to the United States in 2004, Gonzalez worked his way up to vice president for global operations, a position he held from 2010-12. Additionally, during his tenure, he headed the Hispanic Leadership Team, training and developing other Latino professionals for greater visibility and viability within the company. Despite a successful 23-year career with Procter & Gamble, the entrepreneurial bug bit Gonzalez and pointed him toward a new challenge. Through his association with the Harvard Club of Miami, he met Florida-based pediatrician Jose A. Bengochea, and the two had a conversation about how the medical needs of children were not being met in the mainstream marketplace. “One of the things I learned at P&G was that when you work for a very big corporation

that sells $80 billion a year and makes $12 billion a year in profit, to move the needle forward as a company, you have to deliver 5 to 7 percent earnings per share growth,” says Gonzalez. “Another 5 percent profit is about $600 million, so you’ve got to focus almost exclusively on billion-dollar ideas. There are a lot of important, much-needed, unmet market opportunities because the market size is just not big enough to meet that billiondollar criterion.” According to Gonzalez, this creates a white space for entrepreneurs, leaving room for innovation where the corporations are unwilling to go. He retired from Procter & Gamble with experience and knowledge that would serve him well in his new venture. Launched in early 2014, the company’s premier product is BreathEasier, a nasal aspirator to relieve congestion for children under the age of six. “A young child who cannot breathe cannot eat … cannot sleep. Children can’t take medication at that age, so it has to be done through a device,” explains Gonzalez, who describes the ergonomic, BPA-free, butterfly (kid-friendly) design and increased suction power as improvements to traditional nasal aspirators. The English and Spanish-language product packaging is a source of pride for Gonzalez, who emphasizes the importance of marketing to an ever-growing consumer base that currently makes up 16 percent of the U.S. population. “Hispanics have a unique profile to provide to the American economic engine in terms of knowing what it takes

“There are a lot of important, much-needed, unmet market opportunities because the market size is just not big enough to meet that billiondollar criterion” to deliver on the broader market and meeting the unique needs of Hispanic consumers. It’s something we should focus on going forward.” So far, response to BreathEasier has been positive from the two most important groups, medical professionals and parents, many of whom have provided unpaid testimonials on the company’s website and Facebook page. While Pediatric Innovations originally intended to target pediatricians with BreathEasier, several retailers have contacted the company to place it on store shelves, and distributors are marketing the product abroad—most notably, Gonzalez says, in Africa, “where they have a very big need for this type of device because medical needs are big from an infrastructure standpoint.” It is an auspicious beginning for a fledgling company that keeps overhead low by outsourcing manufacturing, assembly, warehousing and distribution. Buoyed by its initial achievement, the company has several products in the innovation pipeline. Gonzalez encourages others who dream of parlaying their corporate accomplishments into entrepreneurial success. “Follow your passion,” he advises. “Determine for yourself what activity, topic or purpose makes you excited about the day, and whatever that is, do it. You’ll be both productive and satisfied.”

Dedication to empowerment Elena Roman reaches Cancer Its name has become synonymous with out to the Latino a gut-wrenching fear for those who have come to learn that it is growing within community to show them, but Cancer Treatment Centers of offers hope to fight cancer. that the fight against America With its new multicultural initiative, aims to reach the Latino commucancer can be won CTCA nity through its dedication to the paStory by

Esther Perez Contributed photo

tient as a whole. “It’s about empowerment. It’s about education and information. It’s about support,” says Elena Roman, chief operating officer at International Capital and Management Company and former chief operating officer of CTCA at Southwestern Regional Medical Center. Roman, who has worked in the health care industry for more than 32 years and has been with CTCA about 8 years, cannot stress enough the importance of taking back the terror that has ruined enough lives by focusing on the individuals who are fighting cancer. “The focus should always be about the patient,” Roman says. The care for cancer patients starts before they even become a patient at all. Roman says that outreach starts with awareness and getting Latinos engaged and proactive about cancer screenings and necessary checkups because cancer can no longer be ignored.

“Last year alone, 33,000 Hispanics died of cancer, and another 130,000 were diagnosed with cancer, and that was according to the American Cancer Society. It’s not going to go away,” Roman says. As a consultant, Roman has focused on her care for people after the doctor’s visit that becomes unforgettable, the moment when a patient finds out he or she has the disease. And Roman insists that there is more that can be done. “When they hear the cancer word, it’s no longer a death sentence. Cancer is a chronic disease. It can be treated. There are options.” Too many times are patients ready to give up, but Roman insists that diagnoses need to be challenged. Patients need to be ready to ask questions, get second opinions and find guidance instead of yielding to one conclusion. “Believe that there’s something else out there. Don’t only go with the first opinion.” Roman’s passion for those with cancer began long ago. “It started with my abuelita,” Roman says. “One day, I woke up and felt something on the floor, and I said, ‘What is this?’ And it was a prosthetic breast. I was about 11 then. All the time that I had been with her, I never knew that she had breast cancer. She didn’t talk about

“When they hear the cancer word, it’s no longer a death sentence. Cancer is a chronic disease. It can be treated. There are options.” 22 • May / June 2014

“I think the most important element about CTCA is it is an integrated, holistic and evidence-based approach. I think the way that it resonates with the Latino community is very natural because of that approach, ensuring that they understand the opportunities that are out there and to seek out information.” it. And when it came to why I wanted to start the multicultural initiative at CTCA, it was for that reason.” CTCA fosters a culture of support for Latinos which emphasizes the need to have loved ones present at doctors visits, connects cancer fighters with others in their communities and provides a system in which people can talk openly about their fight, including pastoral care for those who would like spiritual guidance through their fight. “I think the most important element about CTCA is it is an integrated, holistic and evidence-based approach. I think the way that it resonates with the Latino community is very natural because of that approach, ensuring that they understand the opportunities that are out there and to seek out information,” Roman says. Through their struggle, CTCA provides information to the families in the language preference of their choice and doctors who are able to relay that information in the patient’s language. After awareness and networks of support, CTCA works on possibly the most critical area in cancer treatment – nutrition. “Every single patient that comes to CTCA has a nutritionist. About 70 percent of all cancer patients die of malnutrition. They don’t die of the cancer, but they can’t eat. The chemotherapy is very toxic so what happens? They can’t sustain it,” Roman says.

Using “naturopathic methods,” CTCA focused on bringing basic care through natural foods to help the body heal in a way that is unique to each person who receives care through CTCA. “Naturopathic medicine is an approach to health care that uses natural, nontoxic therapies to treat the whole person and encourages the self-healing process. Naturopathic clinicians treat a variety of conditions, including digestive issues, respiratory conditions, chronic fatigue syndrome and cancer,” according to the CTCA website. Because food plays such a critical part in the recovery process, it is especially important for Latinos to realize the difference that diet makes in order for the body to heal. Another project Roman is working on is creating a website that gives alternative recipes for foods, such as enchiladas, that cut out ingredients that can be detrimental for cancer patients and substitute them with healthy alternatives. With the strides that CTCA is making to combat cancer through nutrition, support and medical advances, Roman stresses that cancer patients do not have to accept a doomed fate. “We’re all about care that never quits. Get the support you need. Don’t ever lose hope. It’s about the camino de esperanza and working to ensure that all of us have this vision that it’s going to work out.”

“We’re all about care that never quits. Get the support you need. Don’t ever lose hope. It’s about the camino de esperanza and working to ensure that all of us have this vision that it’s going to work out.”

one bag and my dreams Beto Perez, the originator of Zumba, talks about humble beginnings and accidentally creating a global weight loss phenomenon

Story by Julie

24 • May / June 2014


Photos by Raul



rease was the word.

When 7-year-old Beto Perez watched “Grease,” starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, he felt a moment when dance became alive inside of him. That flash of passion for the art of dance never left Perez, who would eventually travel to Miami, Florida, and create the wildly popular Zumba fitness program as an adult, which is now taught in gyms and studios at 140,000 locations in more than 180 countries.

But growing up in Colombia, Perez didn’t picture a future where he would be traveling across the world to bring his brand of dance and aerobics to eager participants looking to get in shape while having some fun in the process. “I can’t explain my passion for dance,” Perez said in a phone interview. “My mom never paid attention to dance – she said it was only a hobby. For me, it was very strong.” As a teenager, Perez won a national lambada contest in his hometown of Cali, Colombia, and was admitted to a prestigious dance academy.

“I studied for six years, taking tap dance, modern, ballet and different dance techniques,” Perez said. “I taught classes for kids, and later, I taught classes for teenagers.” While studying dance, the 17-year-old began teaching aerobics, and he choreographed with basic fitness music. One day, a chance mistake changed up the routine and would end up sparking an idea. “I forgot my music, so I put in a tape that was recorded from the radio,” Perez said. The tape included a merengue and salsa mix, which he then improvised a fitness routine for the hourlong class. “People didn’t know [that I was improvising], and I saw how people smiled and were having a good time. At the same time, I said to myself, ‘This is the thing I want to do as my job.’”

Coming to America

After bringing his unique brand of choreographed aerobics around Colombia, at the age of 30, Perez moved to Miami in the hopes of introducing America to the party. It was the new millennium, anyway. “I didn’t speak English; nobody gave me a chance because I didn’t have the technique,” he said. “Someone finally gave me a chance, and people came to my class. Then more and more people came to my class.” Though the roots of Zumba are based in aerobics, Perez said he never set out to create a program for people to lose weight. For him, the most important aspect is to have a good time. “If people are having a good time and smiling, it’s very obvious that you are doing something posi-

tive with your body; it responds in a positive way,” he said. “You smile, you sweat, you have a good time, and the results are people losing weight.” Two months after starting classes in Miami, a woman approached Perez with grateful appreciation. “She said ‘Beto, thank you. I’ve lost 5 pounds, and now, I come in with big pants,’” he said. “I never believed it was from Zumba, but she said it was.” Perez’s classes in Miami, which have since grown into 2,000 followers, were noticed by businessman Alberto Perlman, who was interested in creating something more. “He asked me if I had money, and I said no. He said, ‘OK, good,’” Perez said. “We started with nothing.”

“You smile, you sweat, you have a good time, and the results are people losing weight” Everything started after the new business duo sent a demo tape from one of Perez’s classes to a DVD developer who started selling it in TV infomercials. However, the energetic dance aerobics were still a nameless enterprise. “We needed a name for the class. In Colombia, ‘rumba’ means party and fiesta, but in the rest of the world, it means rhythm,” Perez said. “I sat with my business partner at Starbucks, and we thought of ‘Zumba.’ It was simple, easy, and everyone can say it and do it.” As a kid, Perez loved to watch “The Legend of Zorro,” so replacing the R in rumba with Z, was a testament to the masked rider, he said. “In the beginning, no one paid attention to us – they didn’t know the potential. It was a very Latin specialty,” he said.

Global phenomenon

Years later, the word Zumba is synonymous with having a fun time and the added benefit of getting in shape. An empire has been built around the workout that includes DVDs, downloaded music, workout gear and video games. The instructors are given the power to choose music and choreograph their own routines, which is an aspect Perez takes pride in. “The instructors are a strong community – they

have a passion for the brand,” he said. “We’re working with people, working with different feelings, different communities and different countries. I don’t want them to dance just like me, which is a mistake other programs make.” Zumba provides choreography, tools and steps for the instructors, but Perez encourages them to add their own flavor. “If you have something in your mind – you have a new idea – you can do it,” he said. “I want you to dance like you dance, how you feel the music. How you dance depends on your community and people.” 28 • May / June 2014

“My body is my office, and this is the only thing I do with my office – a lot of work”

“You’re going to seeLatinasinpublic offices more, and you’re going to see them in the state legislatures, in local elected[positions],in boardrooms,inboth the not-for-profit sectors and the businesscommunity — they’re going to be agents of change.”

Though the classes started with salsa, merengue and batacha music, the soundtrack has evolved to include modern music with Top 40 artists such as Shakira, Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez. The key is keeping the music fresh. “The music changes every two months; we use this as a big tool for Zumba,” he said. “We invest a lot of money in music, good composers, writers and sound. We’ll play different rhythms – African, salsa, reggaeton, cha-cha-cha, punk – it’s very dynamic.” Musicians often seek out the company for an opportunity to create music specifically geared for Zumba classes. Perez called Zumba “like a global radio station.”

“We send the music out to the instructors, and it plays at the same time all over the world. No one else has this platform.” he said. “Musicians try to find a way to promote their music; they see Zumba and its power. We, also, create our own music and our own artists for Zumba.”

The American dream

Perez’s daily life has drastically transformed in the last 20 years. Whereas he used to spend the majority of his time in a studio either teaching or choreographing a new routine, he now travels the world to bring the message of Zumba.

“I think I represent very well the American dream – I came with nothing. I slept on the streets for two nights. [I had] one bag and my dreams. But I didn’t stop, and I continue to have dreams.”

“Zumba’s everything to me – the Zumba company, educational aspect, dance, clothing, DVD department, my store, my studio – this is my work,” Perez said. “My body is my office, and this is the only thing I do with my office – a lot of work.” Every day, Perez said he receives emails and Facebook messages with outpourings of gratitude from Zumbagoers from all over the world. Unable to answer each one personally, Perez made the decision to reopen a studio in Miami, where he can teach Zumba classes again. “I have a live class, and I’m very happy with that. It gives me a chance to do what I love every day,” he said. Being an entrepreneur has brought him together with other Latinos who also strive for similar success and are proud to be Latino because of Zumba.

“When I travel around the world, I meet Latinos, and they thank me. I feel so proud and feel happy to represent this community.” “When I travel around the world, I meet Latinos, and they thank me. I feel so proud and feel happy to represent this community,” he said. “Latinos have good energy and special personality. We are fun and enjoy life – we work like crazy to create good lives for our families. “I think I represent very well the American dream – I came with nothing. I slept on the streets for two nights. [I had] one bag and my dreams. But I didn’t stop, and I continue to have dreams.” 32 • May / June 2014

Investing in the future Chevron’s Manny Gonzalez talks about his Cuban heritage; excellence in the oil, gas and energy arena; and his commitment to a new generation.

Manuel Gonzalez graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1975. With a degree in mechanical engineering, Gonzalez was the first West Point graduate to also be a Cuban refugee. Gonzalez, after enjoying a distinguished military career, would soon establish a place for himself in the oil, gas and energy arena. Today, he serves as a worldwide alliance manager at Chevron.

Story by

Carlos Anchondo Contributed photos From left, Angel Uruchima, Instrumentation and Controls Engineer at Chevron stands with Manny Gonzalez, whom Uruchima presented the Lifetime Achievement Award from HENAAC.

34 • May / June 2014

et, Gonzalez’s journey to West Point and success was not always smooth. Gonzalez, known as “Manny” by friends and family, left Cuba in 1961 as an 8-year-old boy. His father had worked against the Fidel Castro regime and supported the Bay of Pigs invasion. Soon after Castro’s takeover, Gonzalez’s family left Cuba in exile for Miami. “When I arrived in the United States, I did not know how to speak English,” said Gonzalez. “I was completely immersed. It was a challenging time, but I learned a lot.” Despite graduating from Miami Dade Junior College, Gonzalez always had his sights set on the United States Military Academy. He was rejected twice before he was finally accepted into the Long Grey Line. “I think that my determination and persistence had a positive effect on the congressmen and the senators in my district,” said Gonzalez. “It shows that if you want something badly enough and if you apply yourself, you can get it.” During his time at West Point, Gonzalez said that other cadets were well aware of his Cuban heritage. “Everyone knew. I had a pretty strong accent,” said Gonzalez. “Still, it was never really an issue. West Point teaches you how to handle extreme pressure and to become an effective leader. That applies not only to the military but is important for life in general.” After six and a half years of active service, Gonzalez accepted a job with Exxon as a drilling engineer in Texas. Between 1992 and 1998, Gonzalez was the President of MANCO Oil & Gas Technologies, and he would go on to co-found the company Isotag in 1992. Gonzalez is also responsible for facilitating the relationship between Chevron and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He worked alongside LANL to start a math and science academy, providing training for teachers, kindergarten through twelfth grade, to better help them teach in the STEM field (science, technology, engineering and math). “Those teachers now have a foundation to grow upon,” said Gonzalez. “I worked with Chevron, and now, every year Chev-

Manny Gonzalez and his wife, Rosemarie Gonzalez, have been married for 38 years.

“West Point teaches you how to handle extreme pressure and to become an effective leader. That applies not only to the military but is important for life in general.” ron makes a contribution. Together with Los Alamos and the teachers, we concentrate on poor, disadvantaged kids in New Mexico, of traditionally Hispanic and Native American communities, and we identify kids with very big potential.” Gonzalez cited the example of Srinivasa Ramanujan, a poor Indian child born in the late 1900s who became a remarkable physicist at Cambridge because of the help of Dr. G.H. Hardy. Gonzalez stressed the importance of identifying individuals with talent, who might not otherwise be able to reach their full potential. In 2012, Gonzalez was the recipient of the Hispanic Engineer National Achieve-

ment Awards Corporation (HENAAC) Lifetime Achievement Award. HENAAC, a nonprofit organization that promotes careers in STEM, gives this award to individuals who are not executives but who have 30 or more years of “amazing service and commitment to STEM.” Gonzalez, currently working on an effort called Project Sapphire, said that the STEM industry is thriving and that more and more Latinos are rising through the ranks in what Gonzalez calls “a strong pipeline.” “It is extremely important to identify young leaders with talent,” said Gonzalez. “Identifying these kids and nurturing them will help us all in the long run.”

putti n g health into the hands of the people Story by Judi

36 • May / June 2014


Images and cover art by Laura


Applying technology to bridge the yawning health care consultation gap between patients and doctors, citizens and government, subjects and researchers, is what dedicated professionals Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, Dr. Marcia Ory, Dr. Jane Bolin, Ara Najarian and Sara Elena Loaiza have effectively mastered. These health heroes use technology to bring healthy decisions to the fingertips of the Latino community. Using technology with easily digestible informa-

tion to provide support, connection and empowerment to Latinos while saving lives can be a test of patience. Sometimes, as in the case of Dr. Marcia Ory, these trailblazers even raid their own wallets when funding runs dry. To these heroes of health, it is obvious that the critical distinction between sickness and health is a lack of shared information and proactive, preventative care. Health is what drives them. Their passionate concern touches the gamut: diabetic, legless Latino vets scraping by on the Texas border; low-income immigrant moms on the edge; families fighting chronic heart, liver and kidney disease; young girls with suicidal thoughts; schoolkids with asthma. These researchers and advocates are obsessed with our well-being; they innovate, educate and facilitate. Their persistence is fueled by the unvarnished truth and gruesome facts of an impending and unnecessary Latino health epidemic. Yet, despite the gloom and doom, there is hope on the horizon; the initial cure for unawareness can be found at the touch of a screen. As the needle slowly moves, advocates see light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.

Texas A&M Techies: Regents professor Dr. Marcia Ory and associate professor Dr. Jane Bolin are two highly admired health research experts at Texas A&M’s Health Science Center School of Public Health, and they have forged a path to improve care with their highly successful tech innovation: Diabetic Assessment Kiosks, nicknamed “Diosks.” Dr. Ory, a straight-talking, no-nonsense, can-do type with that staunch pioneer demeanor unique to the Southwest is a self-described “interventionist-oriented, translational researcher.” Ory’s passion for health and aging supports the shared mission of she and Dr. Bolin, who is a blend of talents: a registered nurse, lawyer and compassionate research road warrior who travels throughout Texas speaking, observing, interacting, writing and collecting data.

Jane Bolin has diabetic horror stories of Latino vets missing limbs, stuck in wheelchairs at the Texas-Mexico border, unemployed and worse. Could these Diosks be an early warning device to people that might otherwise lose a limb? Her work proves to be personal and gratifying to Bolin. “This is so helpful to the rural poor for whom doctors and even nurses are hard to access. And often, patients don’t show up until their blood pressure is 500, and then it’s too late.” The Diosks, which perform free diabetes analysis at the information-sharing stations, saw use by 5,300 mostly Latino individuals over an 11-month study in South Texas, Central Texas and Brazos Valley while they stood in health clinics and public places. These straightforward tech stations that allow users anonymity while inputting facts proved to be highly successful. “Primarily, we had female users, who would access it in clinics during the day,”Bolin said. Ory and Bolin are advocates for patient empowerment, which the Diosks exemplify. “It was met with such enthusiasm,” Dr. Ory said. Even with this great response, the next step for permanent Diosk installations is still touch-and-go. Meanwhile, Ory is now fine tuning the technology for the Diosk 2.0 version. “We’re between funders,” she confided. “I’m basically funding it myself.” Ory envisions a “threemonth research trial where a sponsor/ funder will underwrite new software. She holds steady until then. ”We’re developing new apps. My computer science grad students are writing the code.” These diabetic analysis stations, reminiscent of something that would belong in a “Star Trek” episode, stand in easily accessible places such as drugstores and supermarkets, but retailers are slow to cede the floor space. “It’s a space issue,” Ory said. Still, these Diosks have the potential to save lives when the at-risk get comfortable with the simple touch screen and all of the information it has to share. Bolin recalls a woman who took the diet tips from the Diosk and was rewarded with noticeable weight loss. “I saw her later at the Garcia Community Arts Center. She had lost 10 pounds, and

38 • May / June 2014

“Online services are available to the masses – that is why community health centers are the providers, the safety net providers in the community are an integral part of health care. I don’t ever want to hear that Latinos don’t have smartphones. General perception: no TVs, no smartphones. We did plenty of research, found exactly the opposite. … Our community isn’t what they think it is.” Sara Elena Loaiza

Sara Elena Loaiza

Marcia Ory

her blood sugar showed drastic change. I asked her what she’d done, and she said she had just been making meals from recipes on the Diosk.” Dr. Bolin spends time out in the field; she sees the ravages firsthand and knows what areas of society still need education. One of the next targets is the schools where they hope to help parents and kids connect over Diosks. “In South Texas, Laredo, BMI (body mass index) rates are very high, 30 to 40 percent of the population, and kids have a BMI of 40 percent in fourth grade. Diosks give people tools of how to cook healthier; not eating fast food or soft drinks. It states very clearly about building a lifestyle.”

Married to the mission:

•An inactive lifestyle increases the risk for developing high blood pressure and obesity, which can lead to diabetes, chronic kidney disease and other illnesses. A Davita study shows that 65 percent of Mexican American men and 74 percent of Mexican American women got little or no leisure-time physical activity. •As observed by the World Health Organization, 80 percent of all diabetesrelated lower extremity amputations can be prevented with self- management. Latinos have a much higher rate of amputations at 82.7 percent versus Anglos at 56.8 percent among all border residents almost 16% suffer from type 2 diabetes. •A recent study by the American Heart Association stated that the risk for a Latino American adult to develop Type 2 diabetes is nearly twice as high as a nonHispanic white American adult.

“The future for Latino health does not have to be so grim, but we must look outside the box and be willing to embrace all of the myriad ways we have at our fingertips – literally.” resource web app as part of a hyper-local capacity building initiative in Contra Costa County, California, set the gold standard for online health communication. The site underscores Loaiza’s passionate belief that Latinos are tech-friendly. “It is a myth that low-income and underserved populations suffer from a digital divide – WiFi and affordable smart devices changed all that,” asserts Loaiza. “But there remains a huge information divide for nonEnglish speakers. The underserved populations are the ones most likely to access health information via mobile, and the census shows 75 percent of Latinos speak a language other than English at home. This initiative presents a true solution.”

Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas

Latino Consultants LLC, in Pasadena, California, is dedicated to its mantra: “Mission-driven since Day One.” Energetic, effective and empathetic, the married team of Sara Elena Loaiza and Ara Najarian are the dynamic duo behind Latino Consultants LLC, a top social-cause marketing firm operating for 18 years in California. Their recent successful launch of the first bilingual mobile health

Born in Mexico, Sara Elena Loaiza grew up in Boyle Heights in Los Angeles and experienced the limitations of poverty. It remains one of her strengths – connecting her to the users and making certain that they have all possible information to improve their circumstances. For example, on the Contra Costa site, Latino Consultants integrated a Federal Poverty Level, or FPL, calculator. “Users put in income by week or month. It will let them know what their eligibility is. It’s not taking information; its providing information. They know within a few minutes what they are eligible for.” It’s all about access. “Food, shelter, veteran’s assistance – in this community, they don’t have just one health issue,” Loaiza said. Holding a simple goal drove the extreme usability of

“It is a myth that lowincome and underserved populations suffer from a digital divide – WiFi and affordable smart devices changed all that” Sara Elena Loaiza the site. “The goal is to increase access to services and reduce barriers to care for lowincome Contra Costa residents by linking resources.” The tools – the mobile technology, a print resource and training components – are evidence-based and leverage the mobile health behaviors of low-income communities to engage in accessing enrollment and local health resources. The initiative development was via communitypartnerships, in which 25 local, county, faith-based, academic and private charitable organizations took

part in shaping content on their easy-to-use, web-based app,, and its Spanish-language counterpart, “What we first do is establish trust that what we created as Contra Costa is not ours. Everything about it is theirs – they own it. To sustain it, they have to own it. I don’t think that most orgs do that. “For us, feedback is lessons learned. What we can improve, we do. One of the reasons why this was so successful was because we have been strongly linked to the community.” The feedback they have received within the first six months of the app’s use has indicated that it was working “great” or “good” in 90 percent of its categories. Loaiza is adamant that sourcing health info online is the future and bristles at the idea that Latinos are living in the communications stone age. “Nielsen just came out with a survey that 77 percent of Latino homes have devices,” Loaiza said. “Online services are available to the masses – that is why community health centers are the providers, the safety net providers in the community are an integral part of health care. I don’t ever want to hear that Latinos don’t have smartphones. General perception: no TVs, no smartphones. We did plenty of research, found exactly the opposite. … Our community isn’t what they think it is.” In fact, they will take it to the next level. “We see 3D virtual reality as the next step for engaging in creating that comfort zone – it’s all about having confianza.”

Salud, dignidad,justicia: “The defining moment for me was my own experience being assaulted by protestors.” In 1994, anti-abortion protestors grabbed Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas outside a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Boston, Massachusetts, and her life was never the same. The incident created a fearless advocate for women’s health reproductive rights. Gonzalez-Rojas now wields that torch most effectively as executive director for

Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas 40 • May / June 2014

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. “In the present political climate, we are seeing a confluence of attack on women rights. This has happened in Texas where they are cutting women’s services – women can’t get a breast exam, and they are cutting easy access to abortion. All of this means that Latinas are impacted.” Not every woman who is going to a female health clinic is going to terminate a pregnancy. Checkups, mammograms, preventative pap smears, and prenatal care are also vital services offered in support of female health. Despite this, many clinics are targets for attacks on women, their personal choices and the doctors who serve them. For this reason, many are turning to Telemedicine, or “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications is one way technology is helping to improve patients’ clinical health,” according to Telemedicine has also been the access point for women to obtain health care, including medicinal early term abortions. Telemedicine is hardly limited to only women’s health; it addresses all kinds of illnesses, says Gonzalez-Rojas. The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, whose website offers concrete inspiration and support through slogans and engagement through programs to counter a lack of women’s health resources. Two of these programs are Yo te apoyo/I support you,” a campaign voicing Latino support for loved ones who have had or need an abortion, and “Soy Poderosa,” an ongoing campaign that collects photos and quotes from Latinas about how they show their power. Gonzalez-Rojas was encouraged by “the national polls taken by Lake Research Partners that shows 67 percent of registered to vote Latinas would support close friends and family members who had an abortion. Fortythree percent say they would provide a lot of support. Only

23 percent say they would not feel comfortable offering support,” she said. Another slogan, “#15years is too long to wait,” urges Latinas to contact policymakers to adopt inclusive immigration reform that addresses the needs of immigrant women and children. The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is the only national organization working on behalf of the reproductive health and justice of the 24 million Latinas, their families and communities in the United States through public education, community mobilization and policy advocacy, says Gonzalez-Rojas. And it has not gone without recognition, in September 2013, the organization received an “award for best nonprofit in social media from Latinos in Tech Innovation & Social Media, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing the social, civic and economic status of the Latino community through digital media,” according to its website. Gonzalez-Rojas says the moral of the social media story is simple: “The future for Latino health does not have to be so grim, but we must look outside the box and be willing to embrace all of the myriad ways we have at our fingertips – literally.”

“We see 3D virtual reality as the next step for engaging in creating that comfort zone – it’s all about having confianza.” Sara Elena Loaiza Jane Bolin

Generations excellence of

Texas neurologist, Pedro Nosnik, achieves the American dream through success with personal strides and partnership with his son 42 • May / June 2014

Amanda Casanova Photos by Emilia Gaston Story by

In a medical center in Plano, Texas, Dr. Pedro Nosnik’s name is featured in the middle of a large directory of other medical offices. For the Mexico native, the sign, signifying his private medical practice, testaments to a dream come true. ome 1,500 miles away in New York, Nosnik’s name is featured again — this time spelled backwards as part of a joint business venture with his son. It is also a dream come true, Nosnik said. For Nosnik, the American dream was twofold: building a career as a doctor and building a business from scratch. “Some people say that when you’re 17 or 18 you don’t what you’re going to do, but at that time, I knew,” Nosnik said. “I just had an interest in both medicine and business.” For a few months after graduating high school in Mexico City, Nosnik started accounting school, but still, he was intrigued by the complexities of the brain, so he enrolled in the National University Autonoma de Mexico. He graduated and moved to the United States in the late 1970s, where he started training in internal medicine in Maryland. Later, he completed neurology training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, and finally, in 1991, Nosnik started his own private practice.

“ You start from nothing, and you grow more and more. I think it’s very rewarding for people who do that.” 44 • May / June 2014

Then, about three years ago, Nosnik and his youngest son, Steven, launched Kinson, a New York and New Jersey importer and distributor of wines from all over the world. It’s much different than his past business ventures. In 2004, he founded the Head and Spine Institute of Texas, a company that is lauded for its work in intraoperative neurophysiology, a process

that monitors the nerves, spine and brain of a patient during surgery. He also operates a private practice, where he diagnoses and treats neurological disorders ranging from headaches to spinal cord problems. But Kinson, a small business started from a deep love of wine and sheer ambition, is something Nosnik has always wanted to be part of.

“I really believe that the human side is very important.”

“It just makes me very proud to contribute to American society,” he said. “The business aspect is a challenge. It’s a challenge to grow something, to put a little seed and see the plant, the tree grow up. You start from nothing, and you grow more and more. I think it’s very rewarding for people who do that.” Nosnik said he loves business because, like medicine, it challenges him. “There’s so much satisfaction in seeing it grow,” he said. “You create a new place for people to be and to make a living. It’s a new opportunity. “In medicine, it’s a great sensation when we have a difficult case, and the reward is that you help the patient and that you have done something good.” In nearly 34 years of private practice, Nosnik has earned D Magazine’s recognition as one of the best doctors in Dallas for his work in neurology. He is consistently regarded as one of the most talented experts in his field and one of the most sought out.

A few weeks ago, a patient who remembered Nosnik from nearly 20 years ago came in to visit, telling Nosnik he had looked up the specialist for a reason. “He said he came in to see me because he felt comfortable with me,” Nosnik said. “I last saw this patient in the ’90s, and he still remembered me. “I have to be thankful for my Latin background that gave me understanding of the human element,” he said. “It taught me how to look at patients not as objects. That makes you successful when you know what you’re doing and when you make them comfortable.” In an age where some value efficiency over quality, Nosnik said he’s staying traditional. “There’s a lot of pressure on physicians on how to best provide medical services,” he said. “Time is money, and that gives less time for doctors to spend with patients. I really believe that the human side is very important.”

It’s something Nosnik learned from mentors and family in Mexico and something both he and his wife, Ani, have passed on to their own three children, Leah, Israel and Steven. “There’s a warmth of living in Mexico,” he said. “People are welcoming, open. I grew up in that environment where people care about relationships and about other people. The Latin culture brings that warmth in American society.” He said one of the greatest lessons he’s learned is the value of hard work and making the most of opportunities— whether in business, medicine or any field. “Jorge Cervantes, one of my mentors, told me once, ‘Pedro, we all get opportunities passing in front of our eyes. The successful one is one who recognizes the opportunity and grabs it. The nonsuccessful one is the one who will never recognize the opportunity.’ “I will never forget that.”

The value of vision Northwestern Mutual’s Karl Gouverneur tells how his commitment to technology and culture has brought him success “STEM is rooted in every moment

“We are awakened by the alarm on our smartphone and alerted that there is traffic on our normal commute. We start our cars. Stop at traffic lights. We can watch live TV on our phones. Pay for breakfast with our credit card ... the list of moments made possible by STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is endless.” said Karl Gouverneur, vice president and chief technology officer of Northwestern Mutual.

Story by Molly Crego Contributed photo

46 • May / June 2014

of our day.” This on-demand, anytime, anywhere ever-evolving industry will continue to expand and change our business and society – and Gouverneur predicts the role of technology professionals will grow exponentially in the next 10 to 30 years. Gouverneur grew up in Caracas, Venezuela with a family that was dedicated to learning and with a father committed to pushing his son to always work harder, learn more and be better. “For me, a Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 computer started it all,” he said. His dad brought home the computer, and it kick-started what would become his life’s professional passioninformation technology. After teaching himself the Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code, or BASIC, programming language in the early ’80s, he continued to be fascinated by computers and technology. From the moment he was introduced to the computer, it was clear to him that they were going to change the world. “I caught a glimpse of the future working at my father’s business, which utilized computers – a future where computers were helping write documents, calculate payrolls, run manufacturing and create a much more efficient business – which, in my eyes, translated to a vision of a better society,” he noted. However, Gouverneur couldn’t have imagined what amazing strides would be made between then and now. “Little did I know how much impact information technology would have today with cloud, mobile and social computing plus what we can do with advanced analytics,” he added.

Gouverneur left Venezuela in 1984 and moved to Gainesville, Florida, to attend the University of Florida where he received a bachelor of science degree in business administration majoring in computer science. He worked on campus in the university’s Information Technology department. “Back then, punch cards were still in use though the university was migrating to online access and personal computers,” he said. Today, being in IT at Northwestern Mutual for Gouverneur means having the opportunity to transform business and enable financial representatives and employees to deliver solutions for policy owners to create their financial security. “Technology is at the core of how we deliver our commitment to our clients. The financial services industry does not provide a tangible product for people to feel, see, touch or taste but instead is based on a promise that is saved electronically; therefore, IT is integral to our success.” he added. Recently, Northwestern Mutual was named winner of the 2014 Milwaukee Business Journal’s Eureka Award which recognizes creativity, innovation and progress in business, the arts, education, health care and other areas. “Technology touches every area of business at Northwestern Mutual, and we concentrate on delivering long-term value. That commitment to our business includes embracing talent from all backgrounds and perspectives to help ensure a strong future because understanding the changing world is a critical part of seizing new opportunities,” Gouverneur said. As the father of two, Gouverneur encourages his children to be familiar with

“The financial services industry does not provide a tangible product for people to feel, see, touch or taste but instead is based on a promise that is saved electronically; therefore, IT is integral to our success.”

their Venezuelan background. “Despite the challenges that exist in Venezuela today, I want to ensure they understand that’s part of their roots. Since everyone in my extended family speaks both Spanish and English, passing on this bilingual aspect to my children is important but was not easy. It required patience and encouragement,” he said. Gouverneur added, “Being bilingual is a great skill to bring to the table, and to have success in any industry, it’s important to be well-rounded.” As his career has unfolded over the years, Gouverneur remembers a common phrase that his father said often: “Don’t make the same mistake twice.”

“The point, of course, is if and when mistakes happen, learn from them. Then, your mistake is worth something,” he emphasized. “I very much view technology as a conduit for ensuring that our clients and policy owners feel safe, smart and inspired by the decision to trust Northwestern Mutual to keep the financial future of their families on track. I proudly take that very seriously,” said Gouverneur.

About Northwestern Mutual Northwestern Mutual has been helping families and businesses achieve financial security for nearly 160 years. Our financial representatives build relation-

ships with clients through a distinctive planning approach that integrates risk management with wealth accumulation, preservation and distribution. With more than $217 billion in assets, $26 billion in revenues and more than $1.5 trillion worth of life insurance protection in force, Northwestern Mutual delivers financial security to more than 4.2 million people who rely on the company for insurance and investment solutions, including life, disability and longterm care insurance; annuities; trust services; mutual funds; and investment advisory products and services. Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI, and its subsidiaries. Northwestern Mutual and its subsidiaries offer a comprehensive approach to financial security solutions including: life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability income insurance, annuities, investment products, and advisory products and services. Subsidiaries include Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC, broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC; the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, limited purpose federal savings bank; Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company; and Russell Investments.

Club LEADERS of the Future

March 20, 2014 Taberna del Alabardero

BY Eric Christensen photos by Kris Connor

The inaugural Club Leaders of the Future of Washington, D.C., met at the District’s Taberna del Alabardero on March 20. Entrepreneurs, advocates, educators, a documentarian, a member of the First Lady’s staff and others got acquainted over wine and passed appetizers. Although their backgrounds may have differed, they all shared an impressive amount of drive, creativity and accomplishment that belied their age. Inside one of D.C.’s most dignified restaurants, the seventeen young leaders enjoyed Old-World service and a three-course dinner featuring authentic Spanish food from the award-winning kitchen and wine produced by Mexican-American vintners. After more formal introductions, the guests discussed how to unify and advance the Latino community. The group discussed the value of highlighting Latino success stories, the importance of education, the costs of division among Latinos and the need to put oneself on the line to mentor and promote the next generation of young leaders. As the evening wound down, the discussion continued in small groups, each trading business cards, making plans and considering how to transform those plans into concrete actions. What started that night is likely to have a dramatic impact on the Latino community and beyond.

Presented with the support from:

The group enjoyed an intimate setting and authentic Spanish cuisine.

48 • May / June 2014

Julián Alcázar,

Javier Arreola,

Daniel Bremer

Outreach and Engagement Associate, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Co-founder, Asociación de Ingenieros Líderes Unidos por México A.C. and Carlos Slim Scholar at George Washington University

Associate Director, Government Relations, National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, and President, Mexican Professionals Network, D.C. Chapter

For Julián Alcázar, growing up in Compton, California, college did not seem like a legitimate option. His mother, a housekeeper at a local casino, pushed him to get educated, but Julián would brush her off. But the day after Julian Alcazar he graduated high school, she drove him to the local community college and signed him up. He eventually transferred to the University of California, Berkeley. On his graduation day, the director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans offered him a job, and again, Julián’s mother pushed him to accept it. Julián has embraced his mother’s fearlessness and stressed the value of seizing opportunities when they appear. He worked at the Democratic National Committee headquarters during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, and now, he works for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Julián likes to say that he “stands on the shoulders of giants,” and by keeping his mother and younger sister in mind, he thinks of himself as a bricklayer, laying down a path that one day others may follow.

Javier Arreola was born in Querétaro, Mexico. He studied at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where he represented UNAM’s school of engineering students in the Council of Sciences, Physics, Mathematics and Engineering and won the Mexico City Engineering Award for best civil engineering dissertation of the year. Javier also participated in the Goldman Sachs Global Leaders Program in 2009 and the Stanford University Summer Honors Program in 2011. An avid promoter of the STEM fields, he also co-founded the nongovernmental organization Asociación de Ingenieros Líderes Unidos por México A.C. to promote engineering leaders in the United States and Mexico. He is currently earning his master’s in engineering management at George Washington University as a Carlos Slim Scholar while also serving as the president of the Mexican Students Association and working as a Research Assistant at the Brookings Institution.

Daniel Bremer was born in Mexico City and was raised in Monterrey, where he studied before coming to the United States. Daniel is a passionate advocate for education reform and funding, especially for college-access initiatives. Daniel works as an in-house lobbyist for the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, which seeks to increase access to higher education for the poor. He also serves as the president of the D.C. chapter of the Mexican Professionals Network, part of a global network that, with support from the Mexican government, aims to organize talented members of the Mexican diaspora and continue the development of Mexico. Daniel was also recently named the chairman of the Americas Region, making him responsible for 19 chapters and 2,600 members of the network. Jorge Ferraez, center, leads the 2014 club leaders of Washington, D.C., in discussion.

Club LEADERS of the Future Mateo Samper offers his opinion during the night’s discussion.

Veronica Diaz

Gabriel Espana

Executive Assistant to the CEO, Hispanic Communications Network

Principal Investment Officer, Manufacturing Agribusiness and Services, International Finance Corporation

Veronica Diaz was born in Newington, Connecticut. Her parents are from Puerto Rico and Peru, and while growing up, she often traveled to both places. She studied International Service and Latin American Studies at the Catholic University of America and knew she wanted to have a positive impact on the Latin American community. After spending some time advocating for immigration reform, she went to work for the Hispanic Communications Network, where she produces and syndicates public service messages that are designed to empower, educate and assist the Latin American community. During the dinner, Veronica announced that soon she would be promoted from the executive assistant to the CEO to the head of project management.

Washington, D.C., club leaders enjoy dinner and discussion at the Taberna de Alabardero.

50 • May / June 2014

Gabriel Espana grew up in Mexico City, where he studied civil engineering before earning his M.B.A. with a focus on finance. He saw the need to support the private sector in Mexico and beyond, to develop initiatives that embrace change and emphasize helping the poor and to improve lower-income families’ access to goods and services. Ultimately, this drive led him to several positions in investment banking and development banking before he started working at the International Finance Corporation. Among other programs at the IFC, Gabriel has designed an affordable housing program model that was implemented in Mexico. It was so successful that it has been replicated in other countries, including India, South Africa and Brazil.

Diane Garza Associate Director, Latin American Board, Georgetown University

Diane Garza grew up in Miami, the daughter of Cuban parents. She studied government and theology at Georgetown University before getting her master’s in social responsibility at Anahuac University in Mexico. Her passion has always been helping people. “Everyone has something special. I want to help them find it and hone it so that they can then empower others,” she said. Diane went on to work for an international nongovernmental organization focused on human rights, political prisoners and democracy in Cuba, where she served as a spokesperson. She also co-founded a nonprofit to empower youth in Cuba before returning to Georgetown University to focus on youth leadership development in Latin America. The Latin America Board has brought in young leaders from more than 17 countries for leadership development events and to connect business and political leaders from diverse backgrounds. Diane is also working toward a certificate in leadership coaching.

Rosa Mendoza (center) joins the discourse during dinner.

Carlos M. Gutierrez Jr. Attorney, Government Affairs, Clark Hill

Ximena Gonzalez Deputy Associate Director, Office of the First Lady of the United States

Ximena Gonzalez was born in Mexico before moving to Texas when she was young. While attending the University of Texas at Austin, she was awarded a fellowship to study for a semester in D.C., where she ended up working for the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, just as the Let’s Move program was beginning. After graduating, she was offered a position on the first lady’s staff during President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Working with the Office of the Social Secretary, Ximena is responsible for issues of protocol, travel, statements and logistics. During the dinner, Ximena recalled how meaningful an experience it was to visit Mexico as a member of the staff that accompanied the Obamas. Although Ximena does not intend to enter politics when her time on the first lady’s staff ends, she has come to value that sense of pride and personal belief she has found working for the Obamas, and she hopes to find a similar source of motivation in the future.

Bryan Ramos Founder and Organizational Architect at Zatori

The former director of leadership and innovation at Technology Worx Inc., Ramos’ 14 years of experience has made him familiar with the hard work and dedication that goes into helping companies maintain effective business solutions. In 2011, Ramos founded of Zatori, a branding and marketing service that intertwines creativity with practicality to guide clients as they reach out to consumers using social media platforms through authenticity, imagination, passion, simplicity, and focus. Achieving his Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture from the Catholic University of America and then his executive master’s from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, Ramos’ qualifications attest to his dedication to education. But Ramos also sees the importance of investing in and serving others through involvement in community outreach programs.

Carlos Gutierrez Jr., the son of Mexican and Cuban parents, grew up in Mexico, Canada and Australia before eventually settling in Michigan. Carlos studied political science at the University of Michigan before moving to D.C. to work as legislative aide to Congressman Mario Díaz-Balart. After obtaining his master’s in executive leadership at Georgetown University, Carlos worked at the Inter-American Development Bank, focusing on trade integration, and then studied at Georgetown University’s Law School. He worked with the Young Leaders Group of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC and the Mexico-Israel Chamber of Commerce before working at the law firm Clark & Hill.

Guido Lara Founder and CEO, Lexia

Guido Lara was born in Mexico City, studied in Mexico and Spain, and eventually earned his doctorate of philosophy in communications and social theory. He founded Lexia, a consulting firm that offers strategies based on consumer insights and marketing advice. Guido combines modeling, situation analysis, expert advice and proprietary tools to create a unique solution for a variety of clients that include companies such as Bimbo and two presidential campaigns in Mexico.

Club LEADERS of the Future

Rosa Mendoza

Ruben Olmos

Diana Rodriguez

Executive Director, Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership

Managing Partner, Global Nexus LLC

Senior Manager, Mexico Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Rosa Mendoza grew up in Washington State, where she was a part of the first generation of her family to go to college, after her family stressed the value of education and the opportunities it offered. After she earned her bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations and her master’s in higher education administration, Rosa realized her interest in politics was growing, so she moved to D.C. She worked for a communications firm before working for Congressman Henry Cuellar and the Raben Group. She now works for the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership, where she serves as a voice for Latinos on technology and technology policy. HTTP encourages adoption of technology and broadband access among Latino communities.

Raul Torres (right) and Bryan Ramos (center) listen as Veronica Diaz talks about diversity within the Washington, D.C., Latino community.

52 • May / June 2014

Ruben Olmos was born in Mexico City before coming to the United States for high school. He then returned to Mexico and entered politics, which meant joining the Partido Revolucionario Institucional. He continued on this path until 2000, when Mexico experienced a political shake-up. He gave up his dreams of becoming a state governor, coming to D.C. in 2002, where he earned his master’s in public administration from American University. For two years, he worked in New York at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas before returning to D.C., where he started his own consulting firm, Global Nexus. In this position, he represents Mexican interests in D.C. and introduces U.S. interests to their Mexican counterparts. He has worked with governors, mayors and the private sector. Ruben hopes to keep growing his company and to continue improving the lives of people on both sides of the border, especially as Mexico continues to undergo fundamental changes.

Diana Rodriguez grew up in Anaheim, California, and often traveled to Mexico to visit her family, who first came to America as guest workers 50 years ago. From an early age, she had an interest in international affairs. She studied political science and Latin American affairs at the University of California, San Diego and traveled to Mexico, Cuba and Brazil before returning to Anaheim to work on the Venezuela edition of the magazine Foreign Policy. After spending a few years working for think tanks and other organizations, she returned to school, earning her master’s in international affairs at Columbia before joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In this position, she works on programs that improve U.S.-Mexican relations and the development of their mutual financial sectors.

Diane Garza

Mateo Samper

Gabriel Zinny

Raul Torres

Director, Growth Strategy and Development, Latin America, Teach for All

Founder, Kuepa

Former National Leader of Youth Programs, Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), and Master’s Candidate, George Washington University

Mateo Samper was born in Colombia and studied in Paris before returning to Colombia to work as a lawyer and in the Ministry of Education. While there, he says his eyes were truly opened to the needs of the children in the area, especially those displaced by the conflicts in Colombia, and it transformed his life personally and professionally. Therefore, Mateo wanted to focus his efforts on education and other social issues affecting those children. He earned his master’s in public policy and economic development from New York University and began working for the Americas Society and Council of Americas. He now works as the director of growth strategy and development in Latin America for Teach for All. Modeled after Teach for America, Teach for All recruits talented recent graduates to return to underserved areas in Latin America.

Stephania Sferra Documentary Filmmaker and Student, Georgetown University

Stephania Sferra grew up in Spain, France, Mexico and the U.S. She currently is a junior at Georgetown University, studying international politics and international law. She recently co-produced a documentary “A Whisper of Solace: The Origins of the General Victims Law in Mexico.” In January 2013, because of the widespread violence caused by the Mexican Drug War, the govern-

Gabriel Zinny grew up in Argentina before moving to the U.S. and getting his master’s in public policy at Georgetown University. While still a student, Gabriel realized that real reform was needed in education, and that this idea of mental capital would serve as a foundation for developing Latin America. After working for the Inter-American Development Bank, implementing new technologies in the education sector, Gabriel founded Kuepa, an online service that offers remedial education for high school dropouts. Kuepa serves slightly older students, typically, 18-28, allowing them to get credit for these online courses. Gabriel has also written four books and regular columns for the Washington Post and the Huffington Post on education. He also is the managing director at Blue Star Strategies LLC, focusing on infrastructure, education and energy in the Latin America practice.

ment passed the General Victims Law, a law meant to protect the fundamental rights of the victims of organized crime. The documentary explores the General Victims Law through interviews with several of the law’s key architects, including Javier Scilia. Stephania works with Scilia at his Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity and the Organization of American States, where she works to advance human rights and democratization throughout Latin America.

Raul Torres was born and raised in Mexico City, before moving to the U.S. to study at Endicott College. After completing his undergraduate study, Raul earned a Professional Certificate in Political Analysis at Mexico City’s CIDE, took graduate-level courses in government at Harvard University and was the only Mexican at the Harvard Negotiation Institute. In 2008, Raul joined PAN, and in 2009, he served as the national coordinator for first-time voters in the midterm election. In 2010, he served as an adviser to the Mexican Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and to the Mexican Congress. In 2010, he also managed campaigns for national-level offices. In 2012, he was the national coordinator for first-time voters for presidential candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota. Raul also founded a platform called “New Talents” that encourages talented Mexicans to participate in Mexico’s public sector. He also founded a lobbying firm in Mexico that focuses on strengthening the political-business relationships between the United States, Mexico and Latin America. Raul is currently a master’s candidate in political management at George Washington University.

Club LEADERS of the Future

April 17, 2014 Lüke Restaurant

BY Esther Perez photos by by Solstice Photography Professional photos contributed

On the evening of April 17, aspiring entrepreneurs, lawyers, artists and advocates met amid the clanking of silver and twinkling lights at the San Antonio Riverwalk’s Lüke Restaurant with one mission: to change the world. The goal is simple, but the execution will cost each of these leaders a life dedicated to the people, culture and progress of their city in the heart of Texas. But at the inaugural meeting of the San Antonio chapter, these leaders have embraced that challenge.

Presented with the support from:

The inaugural San Antonio Club Leaders of the Future gather to celebrate Latinos’ impact on their city. From left, Jaime Menendez, Juan Pablo Alcantar and Jorge A. Gamez Gonzalez Jr. represent the San Antonio Chapter of the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos.


54 • May / June 2014

Jimmy Castellanos

Elizabeth Delgado-Luna Owner/manager of ED Real Estate Ventures

The San Antonio native’s humble beginnings sparked a thirst for education. “Education was the cornerstone to becoming who I am today, that and my faith in the Lord,” Luna said. Luna earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Texas at San Antonio and is actively pursuing her MBA at Our Lady of the Lake University. As the marketing director for Southwest General Hospital in San Antonio, she oversees media relations and a strategic advertising and marketing campaign geared toward increasing public awareness of the hospital’s services and preference for Southwest General Hospital in one of San Antonio’s fastest growing communities. In addition to her full-time duties at the hospital, she is the owner and manager of ED Real Estate Ventures, which helps those who are socioeconomically challenged and those who are running a small business through her residential and commercial real estate.

David Vega joins the discussion.


Greg Palomino Owner/operator of CRE8AD8

Palomino, a Texas native who graduated Trinity High School in Euless, attended the University of Texas at San Antonio where he majored in marketing, public relations and business management, departing in 2007 to continue the path of success with his company, CRE8AD8. He launched CRE8AD8 Event & Travel Management in 2007 after almost a decade of planning events internally for Victoria’s Secret, FedEx and UPS.  CRE8AD8 has grown to be one of the most recognizable and awarded event and travel companies in the U.S. and currently ranks as one of the top 50 globally for planning incentives, meetings and conventions.  CRE8AD8 plans events globally for small to Fortune businesses, employs over 250 employees and managed over 85 million dollars in the 2013 events.

Born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Castellanos discovered his passion for architecture and helping his community at an early age. He migrated as a young student to El Paso, Texas, where he helped his father in construction and remodeling projects. While taking drafting classes in high school, he began to help families in his community of Socorro, Texas, by sketching and drawing plans for their homes. In 1996, he relocated to Arlington, Texas, to pursue his career in architecture. After graduating from the University of Texas at Arlington, he went on to work for several architecture leading-firms in Dallas. He also served as the architect for Methodist Healthcare System before joining RVK-Architects in San Antonio, where he is currently helping lead their health care practice. In 2010, he co-founded the Latinos in Architecture Committee (LiA) under the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the first committee of its kind in the nation to help Hispanics network between design professionals and enriches the practice through diverse cultural views by fostering participation in education, professional and communityoriented programs. Today, LiA, thanks to its leaders, champions, and volunteers, has grown to more than 500 members, with committees established in Dallas, Austin and San Francisco.

Club LEADERS of the Future

Haydeé Muñoz De la Rocha Director/Editor of ART Magazine

Melanie Castillo Attorney

After earning a bachelor’s degree from University of Texas, graduate school at the University of Texas at San Antonio and then law degree from St. Mary’s School of Law, Castillo decided that she wanted to follow her passion in ensuring care for the underserved in her community. In 2000, Castillo joined USAA Child Development Center – Bright Horizons, which provides on-site childcare where children can learn and grow in a safe environment. Looking to the future, she aspires to continue through advocacy as chancellor or councilwoman and continue to inspire others such as her teenage children to follow their dreams and make a difference in the world.

Born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Munoz De la Rocha found that her passion is in art, and after graduating from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a focus in sculpting and art history, she launched ART Magazine in January 2012. Her magazine provides visual transition of the art scene in San Antonio to the city dwellers so that they can experience a different aspect of their city’s culture. As the daughter of a civil engineer and a history major, her creative desires, which span from curating to writing to painting, may not have been understood by her parents but definitely were supported. Despite the struggles that her publication has faced, her accomplishments have far outweighed it, and the magazine continues as it morphs from a focus on visual arts to creative content.

Jorge Ferraez, center, leads the conversation of the evening.

David “Shek” Vega Owner and operator of Gravelmouth

Born in 1981 and raised in the MexicanAmerican working-class neighborhoods of the South Side of San Antonio, Vega has been an active street artist for over 15 years. Vega chose to make a name for himself by embracing a different kind of art that not only allowed him to create his identity but also gave him an opportunity to be propelled into the art world. Vega’s large-scale works can be seen throughout San Antonio, on abandoned walls from his beginnings as a graffiti artist and on local and national businesses and corporations from his transition to murals. As founder and owner of Gravelmouth Gallery, Vega’s goal is to help artists like himself, who may have felt like there were not an abundance of opportunities available, to make the transition from graffiti art to the contemporary fine arts. The origin of the name was to appeal to those who have a taste for the art of the streets, and Gravelmouth has been recognized as one of the top three art institutions in San Antonio since its opening in 2010. Jorge Herrera, standing, talks about his passions of defending his clients, impacting the city and leading his family.

56 • May / June 2014

Magaly Chocano introduces herself at the Club Leaders of the Future event in San Antonio.

Ruby Resendez Co-owner of Cilantro Creative

As president of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Chamber of Commerce, which has seen 50 percent growth in membership with young leadership in the last six months, Resendez is a big proponent for initiating change and diversity in the city. The chamber is currently working to bring national certification to current LGBTowned businesses in the area, which will encourage growth in the city she loves. “I think it is a team effort on everybody’s part. I think all of us pushing together and making our voice louder is exactly what will help us to what we need to do.” “Keep up the work you are doing. We do it all together.”

John Watts Nieto

Cassandra Lazenby

Arts administrator

TV Personality

Born and reared in San Antonio, Texas, John Watts Nieto became interested in theatre and choir at Palo Alto College, which inspired him to study radio, television and film at San Antonio College. He then transferred to Our Lady of the Lake University, where he was a photographer in the Office of Public Information and in May of 1995, earned his Bachelor of Arts in communications. Upon graduating, he moved to Dallas, Texas, to work as a production assistant for KFWD- Telemundo on a daily live PM Magazine show entitled, “Variadisimo.” Nieto was then promoted to assistant director of creative services. Nieto volunteered his time with the men’s prison fellowship through his former church, Covenant Church in Carrollton, Texas. He was an active volunteer through his church with the Department of Fine Arts, as an actor and production assistant. One of John’s greatest highlights as an arts administrator was when he was contracted to be the talent director for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Conference and Gala, featuring President Obama in Washington, D.C. In March of 2014, two of John’s “Avant Guard” Fiesta Hats were placed on display at the Smithsonian Affiliate, University of Texas, Institute of Texan Cultures for a Fiesta Hat Exhibit entitled, “Hats Off To Fiesta.”

As executive producer, TV host and personality at the CBS affiliate for about a decade and then at FOX, Lazenby left her job to pursue a passion for Latina empowerment. Born in El Paso, Texas, Lazenby came from a household with hardworking parents who encouraged her to continue her education, and with that she became the first of her family to graduate from college. After graduation, she realized that she had a platform through TV to give a voice to those who were not being heard in her community, and she used it to raise money for children in the area through organizations such as San Antonio Youth and St. Peter-St. Joseph’s Children’s Home. “I believe that if we are given a blessing, we should be able to give it back,” she said. After leaving TV, Lazenby has been working on writing a book that focuses on encouraging and mentoring young, Latina women to navigate the professional world, and she continues to focus on giving back to the community.

Club LEADERS of the Future

Jaime Menendez Entrepreneur

Jorge A. Gamez Gonzalez Jr. Chairman of Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos-Jovenes

Born in the U.S. but raised in Mexico, Gonzalez says he has a vision for both countries to benefit from Latinos working to better their communities. Moving to San Antonio from Monterrey, Mexico, Gonzalez saw a need for a platform to reach out to Mexicans in universities throughout the U.S. who are looking to become entrepreneurs. In San Antonio, Gonzalez connects Mexican nationals with businesses for jobs and internships. Gonzalez is currently working with a law firm to get businessmen visas for the jobs they secure in this country. At the same time, Gonzalez works directly with a mining company in Vancouver, Canada, which holds offices in San Antonio and Mexico.

Javier Herrera Attorney at the Herrera Law Firm

The passion so deeply rooted in Herrera’s work as a child trial lawyer stems from his experience with the Boys and Girls Club as a social worker after graduating from Boston College. As a member of the

58 • May / June 2014

Juan Pablo Alcantar President of AEM-Jovenes

Born in Vera Cruz to a family that has long been steeped in the military and in politics, Alcantar became involved in politics at 19. By 20 years old, he had already become a campaign coordinator and then he became a campaign coordinator for the presidential candidate the Mexican National Party. But being around leaders, Alcantar saw the need for people to take charge of their positions. So he moved to America and decided to help Mexicans now living in the United States to improve their education, garner important experiences for their career and promote trade amongst companies in San Antonio. He has since joined the Army and now is a freelance political consultant in an international company in San Antonio, and he has a passion for young entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in their city, in Texas and eventually in the United States. “If you are going to become a leader, start now.”

American Association of Justice for trial lawyers and the San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association, an active member of the San Antonio Young Lawyers Association, Herrera is dedicated to helping young, Latino lawyers make a difference through litigation.

Working for De Bello Van, a startup company that remodels and customizes vehicles to provide luxury to businessmen for professional use, Menendez is excited about the possibilities available to Latinos who starting their own companies. Originally from Puebla, Mexico, Menendez moved to San Antonio to help with the business because of the atmosphere that promotes business growth in the city. He has found that since joining the AEM, he has been able to find opportunities and wisdom from the community of Latinos who have been involved in helping him develop as an entrepreneur.

Elena Villasenor Sullivan Attorney at Jackson Walker LLP

Born in Houston but raised in San Antonio, Sullivan attended Boston College with a focus on international studies and helping immigrants in the country, and her passions aligned as a trial attorney who serves as an advisor to companies and individuals who need representation in civil courts. As a mother and community advocate, her passion is to teach younger women about their financial independence and education, which she displays as a board member for Junior Achievement South Texas.

Magaly Chocano

Jessica Garza

Jorge Herrera

CEO of Sweb Development

Associate director at AT&T

Attorney at the Herrera Law Firm

As CEO, Magaly Chocano brings years of production and marketing experience to bear on every major project Sweb undertakes. Magaly spent many years as an agency broadcast producer in the US Hispanic and Latin American markets developing TV, Radio and Print Campaigns for clients such as Coors Light, Reynolds Wrap, Burger King, Nestle and General Mills. She worked for several years as a broadcast, print and freelance producer for Bromley Communications. Prior to her work at Bromley, Magaly served as the director of international alliance and student services for the Savannah College of Art and Design campus in Lacoste, France. In 2009, Chocano created the first platform for people to build their own iPhone application, which launched with the help of the PR firm that backed Featured in Time Magazine, BusinessWeek, ABC News and many others, her business overnight became a nationally recognized company that works to develop websites, systems, web apps, mobile media apps and social media marketing for Fortune 500 and nonprofits clients all over the world. In June 2013, Chocano was recognized as one of the 10 fun and fearless Latinas by Cosmopolitan Magazine.

With a focus on giving back to communities in which children can realize that there are opportunities outside their initial surroundings, Garza started in nonprofit world after graduating from Boston University as a communications major. Coming from a small town, Garza realized that she was able to connect with the children she worked with, but later expanded her experience by joining AT&T as compliance manager so that she can continue to dedicate not only time but also monetary donations that can aid in aspects she would otherwise not be able to reach. Working as a reading tutor in communities and schools in the San Antonio Literacy Program, she says that she feels the responsibility. “It is our duty as Latinos and as young professionals to get out there and tell these kids that whatever their dream is they can do it.�

As a generator of change, Herrera joins his father and brother at their law firm in which he is able to protect his clients and their families by representing them in the court of law. In a firm that is growing and expanding to the west side of San Antonio, the heart of Chicanos, Herrera considers himself blessed to be doing what he loves. After graduating from Columbia University in New York, Herrera got involved in politics and graduated from the law school of the University of Texas. His decision to move to San Antonio was rooted in the desires to improve his hometown. He currently is involved in the South Texas Hispanic Fund, which is the first fund in Texas that gives 100 percent of the money it raises back to nonprofits in the area such as the Guadalupe Cultural Center, Impact San Antonio and many others. Involved in the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Herrera is a proponent of small businesses in city and their success to help keep the city alive.

From left, Greg Palomino and Elizabeth DelgadoLuna attend the inaugural San Antonio event.

Club LEADERS of the Future

April 24, 2014 SLS Hotel - Beverly Hills

Story BY Elizabeth Ohanesian photos by Ejen Chung

Club Leaders of the Future held a Los Angeles roundtable on April 24 at SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. The sleek, modern decor of the hotel’s Garden Room and terrace matched the vibe of the event, which brought together a diverse group of accomplished individuals. Their backgrounds and career interests differed, but their forward-minded approach to their fields was similar. During the gourmet dinner, the leaders spoke about their personal histories and goals. The LA leaders dream big and work hard to make those dreams a reality. They are driven by new ideas, a passion for their careers, a desire to share cultures and an urge to help others.

Presented with the support from:

Erik Gomez, center, talks about his love of helping the community as a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual.

Club Leaders of the Future, from left, Elena Sanches, Adriana Pena, Richard Hernandez and Miguel Hernandez network at SLS Hotel - Beverly Hills.

60 • May / June 2014

Gabriel Duarte Estate Planning and Tax Attorney

When Gabriel Duarte was in college, he worked for an estate planner. Though he was only completing office work at the time, the experience sparked an interest in the laws surrounding estates and taxes. “ I’m kind of an organized type of person,” says Duarte. “It kind of fit my personality.” After graduating from USC Law School, Duarte is now working in Century City doing estate planning and trust and estate admiration. “The area of law is constantly evolving,” says Duarte. “It’s a constant studying process that I have to go through to make sure that I’m on top of the law.” Duarte’s motivation is, in part, to help forge the road to success “for people who come from where I come from.”

Francesca Sweet Product Manager, Beats by Dre

“The consumer is at the forefront of everything that I do everyday,” says Francesca Sweet. Sweet has spent years working in consumer electronics. For six of those years, she was part of the team at Sony. She handled the Latin America market and then became a product manager for the U.S. market. The talented product manager works for Beats by Dre, which is owned by Dr. Dre – whose real name is Andre Young – and Jimmy Iovine. Sweet is part of the team that is helping to build the company’s speaker department and works heavily with bluetooth portable speakers. “The consumer is everything to us,” says Sweet. She learned early on that “no challenge is too big” and to never fear “whatever responsibility comes your way.”

Eva Perez Director of logistics for Cliftons Cafeteria

“I love to cook. I love to eat,” says Eva Perez. “I love the history, the culture that comes with the food – the happiness that it brings to people.” Born in Northridge, California, she turned her love of food into a career when she studied restaurant management in culinary school. Today, she works with various high-volume restaurants in L.A. to implement five-story restaurant bar concepts projected to revolutionise the restaurant, bar and dining experience. She studies the way they do business and makes suggestions to help streamline operations and turn a profit.

Erik R. Gomez Financial Representative with Northwestern Mutual

Gomez has worked with Northwestern Mutual since 2005 and is based out of the Mulroy Network office in Newport Beach, California. Erik received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and Business Finance from California State University Long Beach. Gomez continues to be involved in his community as a member of the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Orange County United Way’s Financial Stability Impact Council and is heavily involved at Santa Ana College. Erik enjoys surfing, as he lives in Surf City U.S.A., and is an avid squash player. His favorite role, however, is dad to his three children.

Ivan Valenzuela General Manager at Division Camera

Ivan Valenzuela is your go-to person for professional camera equipment, lighting and other related gear. He provides the supplies for movies, TV shows and commercials. Valenzuela loves cameras, but he stumbled into the field “by accident.” At the age of 17, Valenzuela came to the U.S. from his native Jalpa Zacatecas, Mexico. He went to work, met people and learned a new language and a new business. When he got the offer to manage a camera shop, he jumped on the opportunity. After many years he started to rise in the industry from cleaning the place to electronic technician, prep technician, video engineer and currently general manager of one of the leadeing companies in the motion picture industry in Hollywood.

Wendy Carrillo Media personality

As a media personality, public speaker and communications professional with a passion for politics, popular culture and education, Carillo is a natural bridge builder, connecting millennials, multicultural communities, specifically the growing bilingual Latino-American population with general markets. She has led and been a bilingual spokesperson for media, mail, and grass-roots campaigns in politics and labor, focusing on engaging voters in progressive elections. Wendy is the host and executive producer of “Knowledge is Power,” an award winning public affairs program on Los Angeles radio station KPWR targeting Latinos 18-34 and is also a writer for NUVOtv which targets English speaking Latinos.

Club LEADERS of the Future Gabriela Benitez

Alfonso Ayala

Saskia Pallais

Instructional Coach for the Garvey School District

Lanvin, Freelance stylist

Director of Family and Community Engagement, Partnership for Los Angeles Schools

Gabriela Benitez is an instructional coach with the Garvey School District. Her current focus is supporting teachers and parents in preparing their students with 21st Century Learning Skills. Under this district, she was part of the school leadership team that was recently granted the California Distinguished Schools Award.  Although her career in education began in Los Angeles, Gabriela grew up in the neighborhood where her current district is located. She held a teaching position with the Los Angeles Unified School District for 10 years before moving on to becoming an administrator.  Her leadership includes being part of the start-up administrative teams for 2 Los Angeles based charter school organizations.

Elena Sanchez Actor and Stuntperson

Elena Sanchez interest in acting began with a few courses at Cornell University. She didn’t study theater there but went on to drama school in New York after graduating from college. Since then, she has appeared on television and film, but you don’t always see her face. Sanchez is also a stuntperson and has stood in as a double for some big Hollywood stars. Sanchez, who was born in Germany, was involved in gymnastics in her youth. That gave her the necessary athleticism for stunts. From there, she built up her skills. “You train your fighting skills, your driving skills,” she says. She also worked on strength and conditioning and learned how to do things like fall properly. Acting and stunts can be two different types of performance. “If it’s strictly doing stunts, it’s strictly a physical thing,” says Sanchez.

62 • May / June 2014

Alfonso Ayala’s fashion career began with sneakers. “I have a huge sneaker collection,” says the stylist. “I’ve got about 250 to 300 Adidas.” He works with sneaker companies, posting photos of new shoes on Instagram to get people talking. He has also been working on a video for popular blog dedicated to the casual footwear that has become a collecting obsession for many. But, Ayala isn’t just about sneakers. He also works for Lanvin, the 125-year-old French fashion house. When he lived in Dallas, Ayala landed at job at noted department store Barney’s. There, he was introduced to luxury fashion and the people who shop for them. He met a lot of athletes, which helped him build a freelance styling business. He has worked with members of both Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Cowboys. Less than two years ago, he moved to Los Angeles.

Adriana Peña Marketing, Entravision

Adriana Peña has spent her career working in many aspects of media, both in the U.S. and Mexico. She has worked on the newspaper end and in an agency. Now, she handles marketing for Entravision. She loves marketing, loves the challenge of bringing ideas to people. “I don’t wait for things to happen,” says Peña. “I make things happen. I make things happen with people around me.” Peña finds talented people and gets them together to tackle projects. “It’s about creating a synergy, an ecosystem of talented people, partners or clients,” she says, “creating those virtual circles of talented people that are driven to do results.”

Born in Nicaragua and raised in Miami, Saskia Pallais came to the U.S. with her family during their country’s revolution. “Even though we kind of have to start from scratch in the U.S., education was always a given for me,” says Pallais. “I was going to go to college. I was going to get my master’s.” Now, Pallais works to improve education for young people in Los Angeles, where she leads the schoolbased family and community engagement strategy and manages a pioneering parent training program for one of the leading K-12 urban turnarounds in the US, serving 17 schools and 15,000 students. In 2007, Pallais worked for Hillary Clinton in her bid to become the first female president.

Javier Chapa Founder and CEO of Texican Media

Javier Chapa was studying agricultural development at Texas A&M when he was asked to train military extras on “Courage Under Fire.” “I had never been on a movie set before, and I was just fascinated by the process,” says Chapa. He flipped for film but decided to go to law school instead. Chapa, who grew up in South Texas, delved further into his film fascination while he was a law student. For 12 years, Chapa has lived in Los Angeles. When he first made the move, he learned that everyone needs a specialty. He also saw a lack of Latino creatives in Hollywood. “I took a passion for wanting to produce and create Latino content in TV and film and keep the spirit and voice alive of our culture,” he says.

Richard Hernandez

Cecilia Rios Murrieta

Fernando Chavez

Consultant, Toyota Motor Sales, North America

Founder and owner, La Niña del Mezcal

FaithLauncher, Founder and CEO

Richard Hernandez was raised across the globe. His dad was in the Army, so moves were frequent. Hernandez was born in Texas but “lived in every time zone in the U.S.” He also spent time abroad. Because of that experience, Hernandez was drawn to working for Toyota. He was at a college career fair when he spotted the car company. Today, Hernandez works at Toyota in corporate responsibility and is also part of the advisory council for Todos, a group that strengthens relationship between the company and Latino community members. “I like to think that we’re socially responsible,” he says. “It’s not just pushing a product or selling something. We really are trying to engage a community and touch a chord with them. It’s that connection with our brand.”

In 2009, Cecilia Rios Murrieta visited Oaxaca. “I felt right at home when I got there,” she says. Murrieta immediately fell for everything from the people to the art that exist in the Mexican state. She had traveled to Oaxaca with her brother and a friend. The friend’s family made mescal, and Murrieta was inspired to take the beverage to a new audience. “I couldn’t understand how people in Mexico weren’t embracing it as I thought they should,” she says. Her passion for mezcal led her to pursue certification as a Mezcalier, and later to establish one of the first blogs about Mezcal and the culture that surrounds it. Today, she is the proud owner of a Mezcal brand from Oaxaca and she continues to share her knowledge about the spirit through tastings and pairings.

David Hernandez

Miguel Hernandez

Special Education Aide, USC Hybrid High School

Co-owner, Antigua Bread

When David Hernandez was ready to graduate from University of Southern California, he signed up to be a part of Teach for America. Hernandez wanted to travel “far and wide.” Instead, he traveled a couple miles. His assignment was USC Hybrid High School in downtown Los Angeles. Hernandez didn’t go far, but he is gaining a new experience. Up until recently, he was a student. Hernandez is an aid in the special education program at the blended high school. He works primarily with ninth grade students whose needs vary. He also works the students’ families to “build and overall support system for special education kids.”

To see full bios, visit

When Miguel Hernandez was a child living in Guatemala, he used to visit his uncle’s bakery. “I was just eating the crumbs,” he says. “I didn’t know how to bake or anything.” However, bakeries have been the family trade for 50 years and, eventually, Hernandez took on one of his own in Los Angeles. Hernandez was working as a dispatcher for DHL when he and his brother decided to make their childhood dream of owning a business come true. They were going to open a bakery. Getting the bakery open was rough. However, after nine months, the first Antigua Bread establishment was ready. It was an immediate hit. Two years later, they opened up a second outpost. “Failure was never in my mind,” says Hernandez.

Fernando Chavez had been working in finance. His background, though, was in technology. A few years ago, he saw an opportunity to bring his technological skills, financial background and Christian faith together. Chavez founded FaithLauncher, a crowdfunding platform to help faith-centric projects. Two years ago, FaithLauncher unveiled the beta version of the site. Their first users were non-profits and other related organizations. However, any type of project with “faith and family values” is welcome and, over time, a number of different artists have also relied on FaithLauncher to secure funds for special projects. “It’s been exciting because we’ve had Christian artists and filmmakers and other folks and come to the platform and raise their funds and create their films, create their albums,” says Chavez.

Jordan Lara Real estate broker, Lara Commercial Group

Born and raised in Cypress, Jordan Lara aka “JL” is a 26-year-old commercial real estate broker, a recording rap artist/singer and a follower of Jesus with a heart for the mission field. On and off stage JL speaks passionately about the miracles God has done in his life and credits his family, world travels and powerful testimony as the heartbeat of his music, lyrics, success in real estate and life. For years, JL has written, recorded and performed in several realms, building up to the release of his first solo album entitled, “City of Hope.” By trade, Jordan is an active member of DAUM Commercial Real Estate Service’s South Bay office.

Story by Esther

Marie Perez

Johnnie Walker's Next Steps: Beau Ferrari

On February 26, Latino Leaders Magazine partnered with Johnnie Walker’s House of Walker to host a discussion with one of Miami’s most outstanding leaders: Beau Ferrari. As executive vice president of operations of Univision Networks, Ferrari has personified what true leadership entails – the vision to push Univision’s content to the next level, the courage to implement his ideas and the skills to successfully manage his team to make them a reality. During our event, he shared with our audience his lessons for success and dreams for the future. Beau Ferrari’s parents never knew exactly what would become of their son when they first raised him to work hard in school and sports, but under their guidance, he has grown to be executive vice president of operations at Univision Networks.

64 • May / June 2014

“My mother and father stressed the importance of education and were constantly really looking at that as something that could help create opportunities.” Ferrari was born the son of an Argentinian immigrant father who came to this country as an entrepreneur, ready to seize the opportunities that this great country held. In seeking opportunities, Ferrari became the first in his father’s family to go to college, and while attending classes at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he took his father’s ambition one step further, interning at the office of the vice president under the Clinton Administration. Between maintaining his 30-hour week courses at Georgetown and his internship at the White House, Ferrari admits that

“Building and operating is really what I enjoy doing on a day-to-day basis. And so rather than being on the advisory side or the services side, going and actually building teams, collaborating with teams, being a part of being responsible for carrying through a vision that’s going to change things - you can only do that in an environment like we’re in.” The entrepreneurial drive that flowed in his blood took him to Univision, where he has overseen Univision’s launch of its 24-hour sports cable network, supervised the joint venture between Univision and Disney’s ABC for ’round-theclock news and lifestyle content and worked directly with CEO Randy Falco.

it was a challenging time of his life, but the challenges that he faced forged a certain fortitude that could never have come through ease. “I always tell people that one of the most important things is to take risks and take chances and put yourself out of your comfort zone.” But after graduating with degrees in finance and business administration, Ferrari wanted a different degree of challenge, and he immersed himself in the world of investment banking with Morgan Stanley. Eventually, he would co-found a private equity investment and managing firm, where he learned how companies were built and operated, and in that manner, he found that he really wanted to do the building and the operating firsthand.

“Everybody is focused on really delivering a great product and content to your audience, and you see the tangible results in what happens, whether it’s becoming No. 1 in the ratings for the first time in TV, beating out the NBC, ABC, CBS or whether it’s launching new networks that are going to reach to a new audience with entirely new content offering,” Ferrari said. Ferrari’s conviction is rooted in one thing: following your passion no matter what difficulties lie in the way. “I really believe that opportunity results when you are prepared and you are approaching things in an innovative way that is working collaboratively with the team,” he said. “You need to embrace innovation and risk, and those are the things that we try to bring as we approach our work every day.”

What Jorge Ferraez

is Drinking

Talking with

the president of the world’s best wine


’m still fascinated with Spanish Tempranillo, a varietal that makes real balanced wines; big, concentrated and at the same time aromatic, medium tannins and ample fruitiness, a little like Bordeaux wines (with all due respect for the differences). In Ribera del Duero, Tempranillo wines express with a little more concentration and spiciness, according to me. So, not long ago I sent an email to Carlos Moro, president of Grupo Matarromera, considered the third most important bodega in the region and winner of the Best Wine of the World category in 1994, and I asked him some questions I was very curious about. “I founded Matarromera in 1988, after working here and there but not related to the wine industry. Since I was a kid, I was interested in wine. I used to walk the vineyards with my dad and uncles who owned bodegas as well, but my dad sent me to Madrid to study engineering, and I stayed there until I was able to establish my own bodega in ‘88,” Moro said. Moro selected a fantastic piece of land along what they call the “golden mile” along the river Douro and established Matarromera there. Working in detail and paying attention to growing and vinification processes, they launched the first vintage in 1994. “Then, we got the Best Wine of the World award, and that put us on the map but also set for us the tremendous challenge of keeping up with the quality, thus showing consistency.” Over the years, Moro and his team have been able to keep that quality and grow as a business as well. The group owns seven bodegas and produces olive oil and a nonalcoholic wine which is “first of it’s class in the world,” Moro said. He confesses to me that his favorite wine is his own Pago de las Solanas ($312) their top of the line wine from 100 percent Tempranillo, 21 months in barrel and 24 months in the bottle, very limited production only in extraordinary vintages.

Carlos Moro

President of Grupo Matarromera 66 • May / June 2014

Hall Wines Ellie’s 2007 Region: Napa Valley Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc Price: $80 Aromas: Red Fruit, lactic, blackberries Flavors: Mocha, cherry, black pepper Impression: Heavy, meaty Structure: Concentrated, full body Drink with: Texas steaks Why I loved this wine? Impressive and bold My Rating: 92 pts.

Shafer Hillside Select 2004 Region: Napa Valley, Stags Leap District Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon Price: $155 Aromas: Chocolate, red currant, brie cheese Flavors: Toasted coffee, rosemary, cherries Impression: Silky and Round Structure: Big, great structure and firm tannins Drink with: Big juicy steak Why I loved this wine? Wow! What a delicious wine My Rating: 95 pts.

La Cueva del Contador 2007 Region: Rioja, Spain Varietal: Tempranillo Price: $145 Aromas: Red currant, licorice, green pepper Flavors: toasted espresso bean, cherries, leather Impression: Powerful Structure: Round and complex Drink with: Beef Ragu, Braised Lamb, Paella. Why I loved this wine? Unforgettable wine My Rating: 94 pts.

Latino Leaders Magazine | May/June 2014  
Latino Leaders Magazine | May/June 2014