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Awardees

Top Latino Leader Award

Aarón Almada

Aarón Almada

Sr. Manager, Community Impact & Investment
Capital One

Aarón Almada
Aarón Almada
Sr. Manager, Community Impact & Investment
Capital One

Aarón Enrique Almada is a purpose-driven professional with over 15 years of progressive experience across a broad range of business consulting, strategy and program design, project management, and diverse community relations functions.

Almada is part of the Community Impact & Investment team within Capital One’s External Affairs division, and in his role as a CSR strategist helps lead the enterprise’s Racial Equity & Social Justice impact strategy design and partnerships. Almada was originally brought to Capital One in 2016 to build the community investment and engagement strategy across the national Capital One Café footprint. During the four- and half-year period, Almada managed investments across 30 diverse markets, implemented community-based strategies to meet Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulatory obligations, strategically leveraged key partnerships that supported hyperlocal

business development, and forged nearly 100 partnerships that continue to provide significant reputational lift for the enterprise. Almada was also the chief designer of the Retail Bank’s National Signature Partnership with Dress for Success focusing on the economic independence and empowerment of women at the time of the transition into his current role, the partnership’s reach touched down in 20 Capital One markets. Previous to his current role, Almada also led the enterprise’s largest philanthropic portfolio, focused on financial well-being initiatives that help

individuals manage debt and build credit.

Almada is heavily active in Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) efforts at Capital One, serving as the Greater Washington Chapter Lead for the ¡HOLA! Hispanic Business Resource Group, an active member of the OutFront LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group, as well as leading several cross-functional projects focused on national operational excellence of BRGs.

Prior to joining Capital One, Almada held several roles at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) including fundraising and program management functions.

Born in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, México and raised in Tucson, Arizona—Almada earned an M.S. in Mexican American Studies, Critical Education & Migration and a B.A. in Political Science both from The University of Arizona. He currently resides in Washington, D.C.

Adorys Velazquez

Adorys Velazquez

Deputy Chair of the New York Corporate Department/Partner
Baker Botts LLP

Adorys Velazquez
Adorys Velazquez
Deputy Chair of the New York Corporate Department/Partner
Baker Botts LLP

Adorys Velazquez is the Deputy Chair of the New York Corporate Department. Adorys works with clients in the capital markets and mergers and acquisitions arenas, and advises clients in matters related to securities laws compliance and general corporate matters. Adorys works with domestic and international companies, as well as leading international investment banks. Adorys has significant experience advising companies in the TMT sector and the energy sector, as well as advising publicly traded master limited partnerships (MLPs) and clients in the international maritime and offshore sectors.

Christopher Marquez

Christopher Marquez

Vice President Global Field Services
Dell Technologies

Christopher Marquez
Christopher Marquez
Vice President Global Field Services
Dell Technologies

Christopher Marquez has spent over two decades in the IT industry and currently works for Dell Technologies. An Industrial Engineer from New Mexico State University, Christopher has spent most of his career in the US combined with years of international experience. He has worked 2 years in Edmonton, Canada managing Technical Support operations as well as 6 years leading APJC Support operations based out of Tokyo, Japan. Christopher has vast experience managing across complex Western, Asian, European and Latin American markets. He also has broad organizational leadership capabilities, running small high skilled teams as well as large operations spanning multiple cultures and countries.

Christopher is also an active corporate member with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Hispanic Association of Corporate Responsibility (HACR) and the Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC).

Christopher serves on the board of the Ysleta Education Foundation in efforts to provide higher education scholarships to economically disadvantaged high school students. He also serves on the University of Houston Bauer Business School Customer Experience Program Advisory Panel. Christopher is also an active committee member of Latinitas, which focuses on providing media and technology programs for young girls in underprivileged communities

Christopher was awarded the HITEC Top 100 Hispanic Executives in IT award in 2019 and 2020 as well as the Leadership Excellence in Technology award by the National Diversity Council in 2020.

Christopher was born in El Paso, TX and currently lives in Austin, TX with his wife and three children.

Mike Flores

Mike Flores

Chancellor
Alamo Colleges

Mike Flores
Mike Flores
Chancellor
Alamo Colleges

Dr. Mike Flores assumed the role of chancellor of the Alamo Colleges District on Oct. 1, 2018, after unanimous vote by the Alamo Colleges District Board of Trustees. With more than 20 years of service to the Alamo Colleges District, Dr. Flores possesses the distinction of being the ninth appointed chancellor and the first Hispanic chancellor in the district’s history.

Flores’ vision for the Alamo Colleges District –eliminating poverty through education – is based on his personal experience as a child of migrant farmworkers who pursued education to gain economic and social mobility. Through his leadership, the Alamo Colleges District has launched AlamoPROMISE, a tuition-free college program for graduating high school students in Bexar County and one of the most significant initiatives implemented in the region. The program has secured over $16 million* in governmental and philanthropic support to fund education for nearly

10,000 AlamoPROMISE scholars.

As a leader, Flores supports empowering students for success through high-impact teaching and learning practices, including academic advising, early access to college through high school programs and experiential learning opportunities through apprenticeships, internships, and volunteer experiences. Aligned with the vision for eliminating poverty, Flores has supported the launch of Student Advocacy Centers at each of the district’s five colleges and reduced tuition for students enrolled fully online.

During his first year as chancellor, Dr. Flores led the Alamo Colleges District and its five colleges in celebrating the recognition as the only community college system in the nation to be awarded the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership.

Other achievements during Flores’ leadership as chancellor include: Palo Alto College named Rising Star by the Aspen Prize for Community College

Excellence (2019) Ellucian Impact Award for using technology to enhance student experience (2020) San Antonio College named winner of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence (2021) and the American Association of Community Colleges Award of Excellence for Student Success (2022).

He is nationally known as a former coach for Achieving the Dream and as a fellow for the American Council on Education, Aspen Pahara Institute, and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

He conducted postgraduate studies at the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management and is in demand as a speaker at national higher education conferences. Flores was also awarded the Ohtli Award, one of the most prestigious awards given by the Mexican government, acknowledging his work to educate and empower Mexican and Mexican-American students

Flores has worked with numerous community-based organizations in San Antonio, Houston, and Chicago. He also serves as a board member for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, UP Partnership, United Way San Antonio, Achieving the Dream, College Board’s Community College Advisory Panel, and the World Affairs Council.

Flores was born in Del Rio, Texas, and is a graduate of Holmes High School in San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin, a master’s in Political Science from Illinois State University, and a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

He lives in central San Antonio with his wife Martha, a talented creative director and entrepreneur, and their daughters, Mara Zoe and Mia Ximena.

Elijah Jones

Elijah Jones

Director of Health Equity & Clinical Resources
Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities

Elijah Jones
Elijah Jones
Director of Health Equity & Clinical Resources
Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities

Elijah Jones (he/him) is a licensed independent social worker, licensed independent chemical dependency counselor, and certified diversity professional. He received his undergraduate and graduate degree in social work from the University of Toledo and is currently a PhD candidate in educational psychology at the same institute.

He is the Director of Health Equity and Clinical Resources for the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities (Columbus, Ohio). In this role he provides support and leadership around health equity issues for Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) Boards throughout Ohio. Prior to this role he was the Manager of Treatment Services for the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Lucas County where he actively monitored over 14 million dollars in mental health and substance use disorder treatment services and was an advisory board member for the Lucas County Trauma Informed Care Coalition. He was a mayor appointment chair for the Social Justice Committee of the City of Toledo’s Human Relations Commission. A social work leader, he has served as the Region 1 Director for the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, teaching college level social work courses, and training future social workers. In 2021 he was a recipient of Toledo’s 20 Under 40 Leadership Award and in 2020 he was awarded the Diamante Adult Leadership Ward by the Latino Alliance of Northwest Ohio.

An inclusive leader, educator, and solutionist, Elijah is committed to social justice and developing strategies to solve complex problems.

He currently works for the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Lucas County as the Manager of Treatment Services where he works directly with the contracted treatment providers. He serves on the advisory board for the Lucas County Trauma Informed Care Coalition and has worked with a small group to lead efforts on making Lucas County a more trauma informed community. He also serves as co-chair for the Social Justice Committee under the Human Relations Commission for the City of Toledo and is the Region 1 Director for NASW Ohio. His experience includes psychiatric crises for youth and adults,substance use disorder treatment, and integrated care. He has served as an adjunct instructor for social work at the University of Toledo and St. Louis University and continues to supervise social work students in field placements.

An inclusive leader, educator, and solutionist, Elijah is committed to social justice and developing

strategies to solve complex problems.

Eric Franco

Eric Franco

President
Franco IO Consulting

Eric Franco
Eric Franco
President
Franco IO Consulting

Eric has over 20 years of experience consulting, coaching, and developing leaders across multiple industries. He has coached leaders, teams, and individual contributors towards amazing results, by helping them meet or exceed their goals using coaching and Industrial and Organizational Psychology methods and resources. Eric brings leadership, business, and analytics expertise that has aided his ability to successfully design and implement methods and structures to support organizations and leaders as they focus on optimizing talent structures, driving organizational objectives, and elevating leaders to make an impact resulting in approved attrition, engagement, and performance.

Eric has expertise in leading the entire life cycle of talent including identification, hiring, on-boarding, talent development, accelerating talent, knowledge transfer and retention. His methodical approach, paired with his results driven mindset has helped leaders and organizations thrive. These include:

- Designed and implemented processes and structure to reduce negative attrition and increase overall engagement

- Coached multiple individuals (ICs and Managers) resulting in promotions or stretch assignments.

- Instrumental in the development of multiple high performing teams

- Designed and implemented new dashboards to reduce cycle time and provide actionable metrics on staffing

Eric is a published author “the Introvert Ninja”, a children’s book that utilizes his Introvert H.E.A.R. Model, which provides support and tools for parents to help their child flex styles successfully. He has been a guest on numerous podcasts, workshops, and conferences, speaking about leadership development, onboarding, knowledge management, change management, Situational Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Critical Conversations, Influence without Authority, and leadership branding.

Fresia Pareja

Fresia Pareja

Assistant Attending, Department of Pathology
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Fresia Pareja
Fresia Pareja
Assistant Attending, Department of Pathology
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Fresia Pareja, MD PhD, originally from Peru, is an Assistant Attending Pathologist and physician-scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York. Fresia graduated as a Medical Doctor in Peru (Universidad Catolica de Santa Maria) and conducted her PhD studies in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. Subsequently, she trained in Pathology at Columbia University/New York Presbyterian Hospital and at MSKCC. She is currently a breast pathologist and cancer researcher at MSKCC, and is undoubtedly an influential leader and mentor in the Latin American Pathology community.

She has made significant contributions in the pathogenesis of cancer and in translational cancer research. She identified two novel tumor suppressors, led a panoply of studies on rare forms of breast cancer, and defined the role of early mosaic mutations in cancer risk. She has authored over 75 scientific publications in top tier journals and four book chapters. She is the recipient of the K12 Paul Calabresi Award in Clinical Oncology (National Institutes of Health) and the 2022 Young Investigator Award (Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, MSKCC). Fresia has a deep commitment to the Latin American community. She was the president of the Latin American Pathology Foundation (LAPF 2019-2021), an organization seeking to promote excellence among Latinos in Pathology, and frequently gives talks in US, Europe and Latin America. Her ultimate goals are to contribute with knowledge to help develop new strategies for the management of cancer patients, and to promote Latino talent in medicine and science.

Gavin Villareal

Gavin Villareal

Partner
Baker Botts LLP

Gavin Villareal
Gavin Villareal
Partner
Baker Botts LLP

Gavin Villareal is the Partner in Charge of the Austin office of Baker Botts L.L.P. and the Austin office Litigation Department Chair. He represents clients in a wide variety of complex business-related disputes in state and federal trial and appellate courts. He has significant first-chair experience litigating claims alleging professional negligence, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of fiduciary duty, and financial services fraud, as well as claims involving state and federal constitutional and preemption issues.

Mr. Villareal won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court victory as lead counsel in Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, 139 S. Ct. 2356 (2019). The case overturned almost half a century of precedent interpreting Exemption 4 to the Freedom of Information Act. Commentators described the case as “one of the most important business-related cases on the Supreme Court's docket” in the 2018-19 term.

Mr. Villareal has held leadership positions in numerous professional and community organizations. He is an Elected Member of the American Law Institute, a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, and he has held leadership roles with the Austin Bar Foundation, the Austin Bar Association, the Austin Young Lawyers Association, the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin, the HBAA Charitable Foundation, the Mexican-American Bar Association of Texas, Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas, the Mexic-Arte Museum and the Harvard Club of Austin. He currently serves on the board of Austin PBS and is a member of the President's Council of Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

J. Manny Santiago

J. Manny Santiago

Executive Director, WA State LGBTQ Commission
State of Washington

J. Manny Santiago
J. Manny Santiago
Executive Director, WA State LGBTQ Commission
State of Washington

J. Manny Santiago is the inaugural Executive Director of the Washington State LGBTQ Commission, having been appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to his cabinet in 2019. Originally from the mountains of Puerto Rico, Manny graduated with a degree in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez Campus. He studied theology, obtaining a Master in Divinity at the Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts, and studied Public Administration at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico in Ponce. Manny serves on various committees and workgroups on religion, Latinx identity, sexual and gender identity, and immigrants’ rights at the national and international level. He is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum– Tacoma/Pierce County and serves his community as a member of the board of directors of Tacoma Community House, and Waves Ahead – SAGE Puerto Rico, as well as the board of trustees for the Tacoma Art Museum. His writings have been featured in several books and professional journals, as well as in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and many other national media. He currently lives in Tacoma with his husband and enjoys cooking, oil painting, traveling, hiking, and reading works by Latina women writers.

José Gomez

José Gomez

Sales Engineering Manager
Imperva

José Gomez
José Gomez
Sales Engineering Manager
Imperva

José Gomez is a cybersecurity expert, diversity champion, and entrepreneur. At Imperva, a global cybersecurity company, he is a Sales Engineering Manager. In this role, he leads a team that designs security solutions for large enterprise customers in the United States. For more than 20 years, Gomez has helped organizations navigate the challenges of protecting applications and data in cloud, hybrid, and on-premises environments.

He is a founding member of the Imperva Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Council. As a co-chair, Gomez helps influence and execute programs that aim to provide an inclusive and respectful environment where employees feel welcomed and valued. In addition, he owns and operates three restaurants with his family in California.

Outside of work, Gomez is a fitness enthusiast and a former fitness model and competitive bodybuilder. He competed in NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” in 2021 under the name, the “Bow Tie Ninja”. Following his appearance on the television series, he now volunteers as a coach to other participants. Aside from this, he is a master scuba diver and volunteers his time cleaning up rubbish from the floor of a local river.

Gomez graduated as valedictorian from Heald College in San Jose, California with a degree in electrical engineering.

Jose Minaya

Jose Minaya

Chief Executive Officer
Nuveen

Jose Minaya
Jose Minaya
Chief Executive Officer
Nuveen

As Nuveen’s Chief Executive Officer, Jose Minaya is responsible for the firm’s vision, strategy and day-to-day operations, and chairs the Nuveen Executive Committee. He and his leadership team set and execute key growth initiatives and provide oversight of all investment management teams and client businesses.

Jose previously served as Nuveen’s President and CIO, responsible for overseeing all investment activities for more than $1 trillion in assets including equities, fixed income, real estate, private markets, natural resources, other alternatives and responsible investments. Prior to that, he led TIAA’s global real assets division and was responsible for setting strategy and developing investment capabilities across real estate, agriculture, timber, infrastructure, energy and alternative credit strategies. He joined TIAA in 2004, and has more than 25 years of investment experience at firms including AIG, Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan.

Jose serves on the board of the Robert Toigo Foundation, an organization that fosters career advancement and increased leadership of underrepresented talent, and the National Forest Foundation, a leader in forest conservation efforts. He also serves as executive sponsor for TIAA’s Inclusion and Diversity initiative, working to build a diverse and inclusive environment throughout the enterprise. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Finance at Manhattan College and his M.B.A. from Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School of Business.

Louis Quiñones, Jr.

Louis Quiñones, Jr.

Chief of Corrections
Orange County Corrections Department

Louis Quiñones, Jr.
Louis Quiñones, Jr.
Chief of Corrections
Orange County Corrections Department

Louis A. Quiñones, Jr. currently serves as Chief of the Orange County Corrections Department in Orlando, Florida. He is the first Hispanic Chief of Corrections in Orange County and the first Chief to have worked his way up to the top spot after starting as a correctional officer.

He began his career in 1987 as a Detention Deputy with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. In 1989, he joined Orange County Corrections as a Correctional Officer. He was promoted through the ranks to Lieutenant and in 2010, he joined Osceola County Corrections as a Captain. He went on to become Deputy Chief, Assistant Jail Administrator at the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office in San Antonio, Texas. In 2017, he became Deputy Chief at Orange County Corrections and in 2018, he was appointed Chief of the Orange County Corrections Department.

Chief Quiñones’ credentials include a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Administration from Columbia College, and a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership from Mountain State University. Chief Quiñones is a Certified Corrections Executive (CCE), Certified Jail Manager (CJM), Certified Public Manager (CPM), and a Certified National Auditor with the American Correctional Association (ACA). He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the American Jail Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Additionally, he is on the Governance Board for the Central Florida Informational Exchange, the Governing Board for the Central Receiving Center, the Public Safety Coordinating Council, and the Orange County Domestic Violence Commission.

Luis Martinez

Luis Martinez

Deputy Manager of Multicultural Affairs and International Relations
City of Orlando

Luis Martinez
Luis Martinez
Deputy Manager of Multicultural Affairs and International Relations
City of Orlando

Luis M. Martínez-Alicea earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Sacred Heart of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Ana G. Méndez University, Orlando. Luis also obtained The DiversityFIRST™ Certification by the National Diversity Council, which makes him a certified diversity professional to create and lead highly successful diversity, inclusion and equitable strategies for organizational excellence and a competitive edge in today's global marketplace.

Martinez founded Starlight Productions, a Puerto Rico-based nonprofit organization that encouraged talented kids and youth to develop their artistic abilities through training and musical theater performances. Luis led media and public relations efforts, helped increase awareness in the community on the organization’s mission and goals, created partnerships with corporations and government agencies and organized fundraising events and promotional initiatives.

In 2000, Martinez relocated to Orlando to enhance his professional career and pursue a master’s degree in business.

Subsequently, Martinez worked at El Nuevo Dia newspaper as a marketing coordinator and reporter. Afterward, he served five years as director of marketing & recruitment at Ana G. Mendez University, Metro Orlando Campus, where he implemented student recruitment and marketing strategies to create strong community bonds with the Hispanic/Latino adult population, increase corporate branding and diversify the student population in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity.

In January 2012, Luis was pleased to be appointed by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to establish the city's Office of Multicultural Affairs to enhance the engagement of the Hispanic, multicultural and LGBTQ+ communities with the municipality. Under his role, Luis makes recommendations to the Mayor in the implementation of city policies, advocacy and initiatives that foster diversity, inclusion and equity. He also serves as the Mayor's spokesperson to Hispanic/multicultural media, manages international relations and Spanish communications, as well as coordinates cultural events and creates community outreach strategies to keep residents, newcomers and businesses from different cultural backgrounds and walks of life informed about the city services and programs. In addition, he maintains ongoing relationships with multiethnic chambers of commerce, professional associations and consulates.

Marcos Pesquera

Marcos Pesquera

System Vice President, Community Benefit, Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
CHRISTUS Health

Marcos Pesquera
Marcos Pesquera
System Vice President, Community Benefit, Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
CHRISTUS Health

Marcos Pesquera is the System Vice-President for Community Benefit, Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at CHRISTUS Health. CHRISTUS Health is an international Catholic, faith-based, not-for-profit health system with over 46,000 associates with the mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. In this role, Marcos works to promote a culture of diversity and inclusion that promotes racial and social justice, ensure healthcare that is equitable for all and improve impact of community benefit investments.

Prior to joining CHRISTUS Health, Marcos was the Executive Director of the Adventist HealthCare Center for Health Equity and Wellness. Adventist HealthCare, an integrated health care delivery organization based in Maryland. In this capacity, Mr. Pesquera created and implemented initiatives that eliminate barriers to enable health equity in health status, health care access, treatment, and outcomes within the health care system and the community.

Pesquera also served as senior director of Diversity Programs for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States. He also served as a Medical Center Administrator and Director of Pharmacy Operations.

Marcos was recognized as a Health Care Hero by the Daily Record News. He received the Health Equity Award from the “National Dialogue on Diversity” and the Distinguish Healthcare Leadership Award from the National Association of Health Services Executives. Marcos also received the Diversity First Leadership Award from the Texas Diversity Council, the Excellence Healthcare Diversity Award, Top Chief Diversity Officers in Healthcare and recognized as a 2022 National Latino Leader Award Winner from the National Diversity Council.

Marcos lives in the Dallas, Texas area with his wife Kinny of 37 years. He has served in many committees and boards. He currently serves in the American Hospital Association’s Population and Community Health Advisory Committee and is President-elect for the National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives.

Melissa Vela

Melissa Vela

Vice President, Community Manager, Community & Business Development
JPMorgan Chase & CO

Melissa Vela
Melissa Vela
Vice President, Community Manager, Community & Business Development
JPMorgan Chase & CO

Melissa Vela is a Community Manager in Houston, Texas for JPMorgan Chase. She is a local ambassador for Chase whose job is to build and nurture relationships with key community leaders, nonprofit partners, and small businesses at the neighborhood level. Melissa hosts financial health workshops, facilitates non-profit partnerships and offers community programming. She is helping to advance racial equity by supporting Black and Latinx communities with tools and resources to help them improve their financial wellbeing. Her work is tied to a $30 Billion Racial Equity Commitment JPMorgan Chase announced at the end of 2020. This is an effort to reverse the effects that structural barriers in the U.S. have created like profound racial inequalities, made worse by the pandemic.

With over 17 years of experience in the financial services industry, Melissa has held a number of positions within the retail bank. She is currently a member of Business Resource Groups at Chase like Adelante and Women On The Move and serves on Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo’s Go Tejano Committee.

Melissa Vela is a native Houstonian and spends her free time with her two daughters, husband, and pug! She graduated from the University of Houston Clear Lake with a bachelors degree in Business Management.

Noel Cárdenas

Noel Cárdenas

Senior Vice President & Chief Executive Officer
Memorial Hermann Hospital

Noel Cárdenas
Noel Cárdenas
Senior Vice President & Chief Executive Officer
Memorial Hermann Hospital

Noel J. Cárdenas is the Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Hermann Southeast and Pearland Hospitals in Houston, TX. A combat veteran who served more than 30 years with the Texas National Guard and the United States Army, he retired at the rank of Colonel. While on active duty, he served in multiple healthcare leadership positions, including Battalion and Hospital Command. Two Legion of Merits and three Bronze stars are among his numerous recognitions.

Cárdenas has over 35 years of healthcare leadership experience and is board certified in healthcare management through the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). He has served as the Army Regent for the ACHE, a Board Member for the National Forum for Latino Healthcare Executives and was elected to serve a three-year term on the Board of Governors of the ACHE. He is notably the only Latino member on the Board.

Passionate about mentorship and coaching, Cárdenas credits two mentors – both senior Latino healthcare executives - for their encouragement and support during key moments in his career. Aware that Latinos, nationally, make up only a small percentage of senior healthcare executives, Cárdenas hopes his work as a mentor will help inspire others to move into these leadership positions.

Married for 32 years, Cárdenas and his wife, Cristi, reside in Houston. They have three children: Andrew, a Physical Therapist in Frisco, TX Kristian, a student of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University and Noah, a Project Engineer with the Hanover Company in Charlotte, NC.

Nury Castillo-Crawford

Nury Castillo-Crawford

Director of Academic Support
Gwinnett County Public Schools

Nury Castillo-Crawford
Nury Castillo-Crawford
Director of Academic Support
Gwinnett County Public Schools

Nury Castillo Crawford is the director of academic support for the largest school district in the state of Georgia. She is an award winning author, and with a vision to change the narrative of who an immigrant is via books, she launched 1010 Publishing. Nury is a pioneer and leader in education, she launched and leads the district’s first mentoring

program for Latino students whose main focus is to close the graduation gap and provide additional strategies to support equity in student achievement. In this program she not only focuses on the empowerment of the students in the program, but also the parents.

She is a graduate of Florida A&M University where she earned both her B.S. and M.S. degrees. Additionally she is certified in both ESL and Gifted education. Nury has been an education leader for over 20 years and is an advocate for bilingual and bicultural representation along with equity and representation in both the classroom and leadership in schools. Her passion is ensuring every student feels seen, respected, and validated. She leads, collaborates, and supports leaders and aspiring leaders in education via her leadership role as president in the state organization, Georgia Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents.

Nury's most recent initiative is opening a small bookstore. THE little BOOK SPOT-a multilingual bookstore, in metro Atlanta, where the Latino community is growing. Nury has been recognized for her work through many awards, from national educator of the year in 2019 and consecutively made the list for 50 Most Influential Latinos for 3 years in Georgia. Nury has been featured in many multi-media outlets, both nationally and local news reach, and both in English & Spanish.

Teodoro Anderson Diaz

Teodoro Anderson Diaz

Vice President Outpatient Behavioral Health Services at the Family Health & Wellness Centers
Wheeler Health

Teodoro Anderson Diaz
Teodoro Anderson Diaz
Vice President Outpatient Behavioral Health Services at the Family Health & Wellness Centers
Wheeler Health

Teodoro Anderson Diaz, Vice President of Outpatient Behavioral Health at the Federally Qualified Health Centers operated by Wheeler Clinic as of 2019. He oversees behavioral health services across the lifespan at the centers located in Bristol, Hartford, New Britain, Plainville and Waterbury. Experience includes more than 20 years working in inpatient, outpatient, and community-based settings. He received a Master’s in Social Work, and a Master’s in Human Services Administration from Springfield College. He resides in Hartford, CT.

Victor Verastegui

Victor Verastegui

Vice President, Head of Operations
New York Life Insurance

Victor Verastegui
Victor Verastegui
Vice President, Head of Operations
New York Life Insurance

Victor Verastegui is Vice President and Head of Operations for New York Life Direct in Tampa Florida. He is responsible for managing Call Center, Claims, Policy Administration, and Underwriting functions, leading over 500 professionals that serve two million direct-to-consumer policyholders. He has held several leadership positions in his 25-year career including operations, service, marketing, sales, and wealth management but attributes his success to time spent in working directly with customers. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Texas at Austin.

Victor is an advocate for minority causes leveraging his personal experiences growing up in South Texas to help NYL engage underserved communities. He is a business advisor for the Latino Employee Resources group, a member of the NYL Supplier Diversity Advisory Committee, and is a sponsor for a partnership with Year Up to provide underserved youths with professional training and job experiences. He is committed to professional development through mentoring and coaching as part of NYL’s mentorship program.

Under Victor’s leadership, NYL Direct received several industry awards from the International Quality and Productivity Center (IQPC) and the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) including Call Center of the Year, Best Strategic Value to the Organization, and Best in Class Call Center. He was recently named as a 2022 Latino Leaders Worth Watching by Profiles in Diversity Journal.

Dr. Héctor P. Garcia Legacy Award

The Dr. Héctor P. García Award is the National Latino Leadership Conference's Legacy award, celebrating the dedicated service and accomplishments of Dr. Héctor P. García (bio here), a physician, military veteran, and advocate for the rights of Latinos in the US.

We are honored to award

LTC Consuelo Kickbusch
Founder and CEO
Educational Achievement Services, Inc.

As the 2022 Dr. Héctor P. García Legacy Award Winner

Consuelo Kickbusch

Consuelo Kickbusch

Founder and CEO
Educational Achievement Services, Inc.

Consuelo Kickbusch
Consuelo Kickbusch
Founder and CEO
Educational Achievement Services, Inc.

Born and raised in a small barrio in Laredo, Texas, Consuelo Kickbusch overcame poverty, discrimination, and illiteracy to become a successful community leader. Lacking material wealth, Consuelo’s immigrant parents taught her to value her culture, traditions, values and faith.

Throughout her education at Hardin Simmons University and rise to highest- ranking Hispanic woman in the Combat Support Field of the U.S. Army, she embodied their invaluable lessons, eventually retiring to fulfill her mother’s dying wish –that she return to her roots and become a community leader. She founded Educational Achievement Services, Inc. maintaining a strong dedication to saving the youth of America by mentoring students and parents across the United States. In addition to her work with American youth, Consuelo reaches audiences in corporate, professional, non-profit and multicultural markets.

Proud mother of five daughters, and grandmother of 5 grandchildren, Consuelo resides in Nevada with her husband, David.

Top Employer for Latino Leaders