Sphinx Organization Secures Exclusive Corporate Support of All-Black and –Latino Orchestra

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Mercedes-Benz Financial Services to present the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra in 2018

Detroit – Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has enhanced its long-standing partnership with the Sphinx Organization, a national nonprofit dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, as the presenting sponsor of the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra for the 2018 season. This new support of the symphony complements Mercedes-Benz Financial Services’ long-standing sponsorship of the Sphinx Competition Audience Choice Award.

“We are thrilled to expand our existing partnership with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services,” stated Afa Dworkin, president and artistic director of the Sphinx Organization. “Their continuing support allows us to highlight the importance of inclusion in the field of classical music, both in our communities and the around the globe.”

The Sphinx Symphony Orchestra is the world’s first orchestra comprised of America’s top Black and Latino classical musicians. The ensemble includes past and present members of nearly a dozen of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious orchestras, as well as faculty members of leading music institutions in the country. Some of the organizations represented include:

  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
  • Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
  • The Cleveland Orchestra
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
  • New York Philharmonic
  • Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera House
  • Louis Symphony Orchestra
  • Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra

In addition to performing, the musicians of this ensemble fulfill a unique role. The orchestra members serve as mentors to young musicians and teachers through master classes and lectures. Plus, the group promotes works by Black and Latino composers.

“At Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, we aim to provide rewarding, life-changing opportunities in the communities where we live and work,” said Mary Beth Halprin, director of Corporate Communications for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

“In the 14 years we’ve been partners, the Sphinx Organization has impacted thousands of individuals across the nation. We are pleased to be able to continue to grow that impact globally through our sponsorship of the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra.”

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services has been a supporter of Sphinx and its mission since 2004 – previously providing support for Education and Access, Artist Development and Performing Artists programs. The company’s philanthropic efforts are rooted in long-term partnerships with organizations committed to creating positive social change in four focus areas: Education; Community Enhancement; Arts & Culture; and Diversity & Inclusion.

The 21st Annual Sphinx Competition, presented by DTE Energy Foundation and hosted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, will be held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, 2018 at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Details related to acquiring tickets to attend the Finals Concert on Sunday, Feb. 4, may be found at www.DSO.org.

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About the Sphinx Organization

The Sphinx Organization is a Detroit-based, national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Sphinx programs reach more than 100,000 students, as well as live and broadcast audiences of more than two million annually. Sphinx works to create positive change in the arts field and in communities across the country through a variety of programs organized into four main principles: Education and Access, Artist Development, Performing Artists and Arts Leadership. Read more about Sphinx’s programs at www.SphinxMusic.org.

About Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC

Mercedes‐Benz Financial Services USA LLC, headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, with Business Center Operations in Fort Worth, Texas, provides brand‐specific financial products and services for Mercedes‐Benz and smart automotive dealers and their retail customers. In the U.S. trucking industry, it conducts business as Daimler Truck Financial and provides flexible financial products and services for Daimler Trucks North America commercial vehicles branded Freightliner, Western Star, Thomas Built Bus and Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Inc.

Mercedes‐Benz Financial Services USA LLC serves as the headquarters for operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, and has approximately 2,242 employees throughout the Americas. It is a company of the Daimler Financial Services Group, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, which does business in 40 countries and has an employee base of approximately 12,062 people worldwide. Daimler Financial Services is one of the leading financial services organizations worldwide and was ranked fifth out of 25 on the list of the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces by the Great Place To Work Institute in 2016. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA LLC was also named one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in 2015 and 2016, and one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Women in 2016 by Great Place to Work and Fortune.com. For more information, please visit www.mbfs.com/corp or www.facebook.com/mymbfs. For more information about Daimler Truck Financial, log onto www.daimler-truckfinancial.com.

In a fight for much-needed green spaces, these Latino advocates bring a winning formula

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Viviana Franco attended high school in an affluent Southern California neighborhood that had tree-lined streets, walking trails and parks.

When she went home at the end of the day, she was greeted by a starkly different neighborhood that had liquor stores, broken sidewalks, potholed streets and no green spaces.

Franco grew up in Hawthorne, California, a city in Los Angeles County that was transformed by the construction of Interstate 105, an east-west highway that runs between Los Angeles International Airport and the city of Norwalk. The project left a number of vacant lots along the freeway, including one on the corner of 118th and Doty where Franco and her friends would play baseball and tag.

The lot was 13,000 square feet and was consistently littered with debris such as old couches, used condoms and syringes, Franco recalled, making it unsuitable for kids to play on.

“But we did,” she said. “We had no other choice.”

It was Franco’s experience with that particular vacant lot to which she credits as the catalyst for a non-profit she established in 2007 called From Lot to Spot (FLTS), which is dedicated to developing green spaces in low-income communities.

Since its inception, FLTS has opened and organized four parks, including Bicentennial Park, as well as five community gardens, one bicycle trail and one large urban tree canopy in the greater Los Angeles area.

“In these neighborhoods we have so many of these vacant lots that no one takes care of, nobody takes accountability for, so we have no parks,” she said.

Noticing all the neglected spaces in her community, Franco asked: “Why don’t we make a park here?”

Franco is among Latino advocates across the United States fighting to increase parks and enhance accessibility to green and open spaces for Hispanic communities, which struggle to access these spaces that are available in many other neighborhoods, according to a 2015 report by Hispanic Federation.

In Los Angeles County, where Franco’s organization is based, the disparity in park space is significant. According to a 2016 report from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the city of Malibu has 55.5 acres of park space per 1,000 residents, versus 0.7 acres in East Los Angeles. The racial makeup in both areas is also significantly different: in Malibu, about 93 percent of the population is white, while East Los Angeles is approximately 97 percent Latino, according to U.S. Census estimates.

Green spaces and parks have been linked to a multitude of positive outcomes including better health, less stress and stronger communities. But in neighborhoods where these places aren’t available or easily accessible, residents aren’t able to enjoy these benefits.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s great idea for teaching civics to English-language learners

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The U.S. has an estimated 4.6 million English Language Learning (ELL) students, of which 3.4 million are Spanish speaking. According to iCivics, an education non-profit, students tend to struggle more with social studies and civics because the academic language used is difficult, and teachers have limited training and resources to help them.

Enter Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The nation’s first Latina Supreme Court Justice, who sits on iCivics’ board, envisioned making a game available in Spanish that teaches U.S. civics in a more approachable and engaging way.

The result is ¿Tengo Algún Derecho?, a Spanish-language translation of “Do I Have a Right?”, which was first released in 2011. The game teaches the fundamentals of American civics and how U.S. democracy works by familiarizing students with American civil liberties. It challenges players to run their own law firms that take pro-bono cases in which clients’ constitutional rights maybe have been violated.

“Do I have a Right?” was first released in 2011. Since then, the game, which is free of charge, has been played nearly 9 million times.

“Supporting students is a cause very near to my heart,” said Justice Sotomayor. “We need all young people engaged in the future of our democracy. Initiatives such as this one mark an important step towards ensuring that, no matter what language they speak, all young people have access to the knowledge and skills they need to fully participate in those important conversations.”

Studies have found a link between an American’s knowledge of U.S. civics and their participation in the voting process, regardless of party affiliation.

“Young people who recalled experiencing more high-quality civic education practices in schools were more likely to vote, to form political opinions, to know campaign issues, and to know general facts about the US political system,” said Peter Levine, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), about a study released in 2013. “Civics education was not related to partisanship or choice of candidate. These results should allay political concerns about civic education being taught in schools.”

Kristen Chapron, the project lead for iCivics’ new release, said that what makes their game so effective is that it’s experiential learning. Each game is about a half-hour, and students can pick what type of avatar they want to be. “Rather than sitting in a classroom and listening to someone talk, or reading a textbook, the students get to be the lawyer. You have control of the game and you remember it more,” said Chapron.

Having Justice Sotomayor working on this project, said iCivics executive director Louise Dube, has made a big difference. “I think it is her mission in life to be an inspiration to her community, and to kids in particular,” said Dube. “For someone who has come from such humble origins and has achieved so much, it is transparent to the kids and they really identify with her.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez to Run for Texas Governor

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Texas’ first Hispanic female sheriff says she will run against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in 2018

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez announced Wednesday morning she will run as a Democratic candidate for governor of Texas.

“I’m stepping up, for Texas, for everyone’s fair shot to get ahead. I’m in,” Valdez proclaimed in a news conference in Austin. “My name is Lupe Valdez. I’m a proud Texas Democrat and I believe in common sense government, that’s why I’m running for Texas Governor. I’ve dedicated my life to defending Texas and I’m not done yet.”

The announcement comes after media reports and speculation last week that she would file as a candidate in the Democratic primary.

Valdez signed the official paperwork before taking the podium at the Texas Democratic Party headquarters in Austin.

“We’re here to make people’s lives better, not hurt them,” Valdez said during a news conference announcing her candidacy Wednesday. “Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but for far too long hard working Texans have been left behind, kept out, and frankly attacked for who they are, where they come from and who they love. Texas and businesses are begging for a return of common sense, smart investments and just plain sanity.”

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

NGLCC Renamed “National LGBT Chamber of Commerce”, Reaffirms Mission as Business Voice of the LGBT Community

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The business voice of the LGBT community, formerly known as the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, has announced that the organization will formally shorten its name to its acronym “NGLCC” and be known as the, “National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.”This change, which is accompanied by an organizational visual rebranding, moves to better include the bisexual and transgender members of the LGBT business community for which NGLCC has fiercely advocated over the past 15 years.

As NGLCC marked its fifteenth anniversary at its 2017 National Dinner awards gala on Friday, November 17, NGLCC co-founders Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell were joined on stage by transgender business leaders as they reiterated the organization’s pledge to advancing economic opportunities for all members of the LGBT community.

“The LGBT business community is stronger than ever and our organization must continue to evolve to be the best champion we can be for our businesses. That starts with ensuring every element of our brand demonstrates our commitment to all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender entrepreneurs, as our new moniker of ‘NGLCC: The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce’ shows,” said NGLCC Co-Founder & President Justin Nelson. “As we continue to assert our community’s presence and importance in the American and global economies, it is essential that NGLCC lead boldly with a vision for the future of LGBT business that is not only inclusive of all members the LGBT community but also celebrates diversity in all of its forms.”

Under its new name, NGLCC will continue to advance the interests of LGBT business owners, which now number at an estimated 1.4 million in the United States and boast a combined estimated economic impact of over $1.7 trillion, per NGLCC’s groundbreaking America’s LGBT Economy report.  Additionally, the NGLCC Global program will continue expanding the important connection between LGBTI human rights and economic opportunity around the world.

“In the fifteen years NGLCC has been increasing opportunities by certifying and networking LGBT business owners we have witnessed countless shifts toward greater inclusion and recognition of the diversity that makes our community so dynamic and vital.  While our name may change, our mission remains constant: ensuring economic opportunity and prosperity for the LGBT business community in the United States, and around the world,” said NGLCC Co-Founder & CEO Chance Mitchell.

NGLCC expects to see support for the LGBT business community continue to grow, particularly with the recent inclusion of LGBT-owned businesses as an application criterion for the Billion Dollar Roundtable and to a company’s survey on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. NGLCC recently certified its 1000th LGBTBE and plans to double that number by 2020.

Read more here

November is Native American Heritage Month

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It’s time we all show up for Native American communities.

During Native American Heritage month, we at the American Indian College Fund want to shed light on our one unwavering purpose – increasing the number of American Indians who hold college degrees. Currently only 13.8% of American Indians have a bachelor’s degree – less than half the national average. Every year, we empower more than 4,000 American Indian students to start and stay in school, complete their degrees and launch careers that benefit us all. Over 27 years, we have provided more than 119,000 scholarships and almost $170 million to support American Indian students’ higher education ambitions.

We also want to acknowledge the common goal we share: never forgetting the importance of preserving our collective history, culture and languages. In the United States today, we each have a unique sense of identity living in communities that are immersed in many cultures, creating positive, productive communities we all enjoy!

But, like many other populations, when Native American communities are not acknowledged, the impact is tremendous. To not be seen or acknowledged reinforces the misperceptions that we are figures of the past instead of thriving and active members of today’s communities. And it hinders our students’ ability to succeed. In spite of that, the American Indian College Fund has amazing scholars who are breaking down barriers within Native communities, and across non-Native communities, all of which makes a noteworthy impact on our country.

We all live in the modern world, with all the modern problems that go along with it. And, like you, our Native scholars want to effect change, contribute and thrive by integrating modern and traditional knowledge. And the way to achieve this is through education.

Let’s shine a light on all the reasons EDUCATION IS THE ANSWER and acknowledge Native American communities exist as a vibrant and positive part of our country and our world. Visit www.standwithnativestudents.org and https://www.thepetitionsite.com/526/196/391/lets-showup4nativecommunities/ to learn more.

First Two Latinas Are Elected to Virginia House of Delegates, Making History

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Elizabeth Guzmán and Hala Ayala became the first Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, part of a Democratic sweep in the state.

Two Latinas, Elizabeth Guzmán and Hala Ayala made history in Virginia; they are the first Hispanic women elected to the state’s House of Delegates.

The two women not only beat long-term incumbents, but flipped their districts from Republican to Democrat. Ayala’s opponent, Richard Anderson, ran unopposed in 2015, but while the Democrats did not even run a candidate against Anderson in the 51st District, Ayala beat Anderson by almost six percentage points and mobilized fourteen thousand voters to win. Similarly, Guzmán was able to increase turnout in Prince William by 72 percent and was able to win by a comfortable nine point margin.

Guzmán, who is Peruvian-American, is a public administrator with a background in social work whose platform includes expanded preschool and family and health services, including mental health, and more accessibilty to these services in local schools.

Ayala is a cyber-security specialist who helped organize the historic Women’s March — she was a local president for the National Organization of Women —and quit her job to run for office in the county where she grew up. She told a reporter during her campaign that she believed Pres. Trump and his administration would “discriminate against people who look like me.” During the campaign, she spoke of how she had been on Medicaid several years ago to be able to obtain the health insurance that saved one of her two sons, and vowed to fight for these programs.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete article.

Research suggests American Indians are finding ‘image power’ with social media

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Throughout the United States’ history, American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities have struggled with misrepresented portrayals in media and entertainment, ranging from silly characterizations to harmful stereotypes.

To understand how these communities are taking action on their own behalf, researchers in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) are exploring ways AIAN communities are using social media platforms like Instagram to reclaim “image power” — the ability to visually craft their own narratives about their culture. Instagram is particularly interesting because it emphasizes images.

Rich Caneba, a doctoral student in IST, is working to understand how members of AIAN communities self-represent their culture, in part because “the visual representation of American Indians by this broader Western society hasn’t typically been done by the American Indian community itself.”

This was highlighted for him during a previous research effort, when Caneba interviewed an American Indian man and asked him what he wanted people outside of his reservation to know about him and his culture.

The subject, a 64-year old former truck driver who hasn’t had a drink in 40 years, said, “I’d like them to know we’re not all drunks. Sure every society has one or two. But when they assume everyone is, that’s just wrong.”

Topical examples ranging from the names and logos used with sports teams like the Cleveland Indians and the Washington Redskins, to popular films like Disney’s “Pocahontas,” demonstrate how the community’s narrative and visual identity is largely constructed by those external to the AIAN communities.

“These images are especially powerful in today’s media environment, where we can share images more easily,” Caneba explained.

Continue onto Penn State Newsroom to read the complete article.

Dennis Banks, a Leader of American Indian Civil Rights Movement, Dies at 80

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Dennis J. Banks, the militant Chippewa who founded the American Indian Movement in 1968 and led often-violent insurrections to protest the treatment of Native Americans and the nation’s history of injustices against its indigenous peoples, died on Sunday night. He was 80.

His family announced the death on Mr. Banks’s Facebook page, saying he had not wanted to be put on life support. He had developed pneumonia after undergoing heart surgery this month, The Associated Press reported.

The family statement did not say where he died. Mr. Banks had lived on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. He was born and had grown up there.

Mr. Banks and his Oglala Sioux compatriot Russell Means were by the mid-1970s perhaps the nation’s best-known Native Americans since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, who led the attack that crushed the cavalry forces of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in the Montana Territory in 1876.

Mr. Banks, whose early life of poverty, alcoholism and alienation mirrored the fates of countless ancestors, led protests that caused mass disorder, shootouts, deaths and grievous injuries. He was jailed for burglary and convicted of riot and assault, and he became a fugitive for nine years. He found sanctuary in California and New York, but finally gave up and was imprisoned for 14 months.

He once led a six-day takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, and mounted an armed 71-day occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Wounded Knee was the scene of the last major conflict of the American Indian Wars, in which 350 Lakota men, women and children were massacred by United States troops in 1890.

While his protests won some government concessions and drew national attention and wide sympathy for the deplorable social and economic conditions of American Indians, Mr. Banks achieved few real improvements in the daily lives of millions of Native Americans, who live on reservations and in major cities and lag behind most fellow citizens in jobs, housing and education.

To admirers, Mr. Banks was a broad-chested champion of native pride. With dark, piercing eyes, high cheekbones, a jutting chin and long raven hair, he was a paladin who defied authority and, in an era crowded with civil rights protests, spoke for the nation’s oldest minority.

Continue onto The New York Times to read the complete article.

Singing star Ricky Martin uses voice to help others

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Five-time Grammy winner Ricky Martin was changed forever 15 years ago, when he helped save three girls who were being sold into prostitution in India.

Martin is 45 and still performing in sold-out venues, where crowds invariably request “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” but the crazy life? That’s yesterday’s news. These days, he’s settled into a deeply meaningful life, starting with his foundation, rickymartinfoundation.org, a leading voice in exposing human trafficking globally since the launch of the awareness campaign Slaves of a New Era in 2004.

“My dream right now is seeing the abolition of modern day slavery and human trafficking,” he said.

The mission of the foundation: denounce human trafficking and educate about its existence through research and community initiatives, anchored in the defense of children and youth rights.

The vision: a world free of human trafficking.

The strategy: The foundation researches human trafficking in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean to educate and sensitize the public with the hopes of preventing more people from falling victim to this crime.

Human trafficking is a tragic problem. Approximately 30 million people are victims of human trafficking, of which 5.5 million are children. Human trafficking is the second most lucrative crime in the world, generating $150 billion annually.

To help, visit rickymartinfoundation.org.

Martin, who first gained fame as a member of the band Menudo, continued his evolution in 2008, when he became the father of two sons, Matteo and Valentino. Every action Martin takes, even while performing, is tethered to his undying commitment to his sons’ well-being.

On top of that, parenting is a blast, he said.

“It can’t get better,” he said. “I want my children to be proud of their father and to say, ‘My father is the best dad in the world.’ And I want them to belong to a modern family, and live a path of happiness and calm.”

He’s been taking them on the road with him their entire lives.

“They’ve been traveling since they were born because I’ve been on the road ever since, pretty much,” he said. “I’m their stability.”

A study in revelations, the pop star most famous for “Loca” and “She Bangs” altered his trajectory again in 2010, when he came out as gay, after which he realized, “Oh, my God, this is it. Perfect. Perfection.”

“The years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed,” he said at the time.

Martin advocates for LGBTQ rights, and battles bullying wherever he sees it.

“When someone isn’t ready we must not try to force them out,” he said. “People are being bullied and committing suicide because they’re gay, and it’s horrible.”

Martin and his family have settled down in Las Vegas — for now — as Martin performs at The Park Theater at Monte Carlo.

At Monte Carlo, Martin is belting out his greatest hits to sold-out crowds of 5,000-plus.

Here’s how his shows are being promoted: Head inside the stunning Park Theater, a revolutionary new space that delights every sense with its state-of-the-art visual and audio effects. As the lights go down and Ricky takes the stage, a sweeping projection screen brings you closer to the pop star than you ever thought possible. You can’t resist singing along as the Latin superstar delivers an exhilarating performance of chart-topping favorites and current hits, including “Livin’ la Vida Loca,” “Vente Pa’Ca,” and “She Bangs.” Complete with incredible costume changes and 18 of the most talented dancers in the industry, the intoxicating show leaves you buzzing long after the last song.

Martin has accepted a role in, “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” set for release in 2018.

Martin will play Gianni Versace’s longtime love, Antonio D’Amico.

“It’s a story that needs to be told,” said Martin. “We’re going to go mainstream with a story that talks about homophobia, that talks about hate, that talks about indifference. I feel humbled. It’s so raw and honest and so dramatic and sad. But at the same time you show the love of Gianni and Antonio and 15 years of struggling, fighting. It’s something that I really wanted to be loud about.”

Born December 24, 1971, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ricky Martin began appearing in commercials at age 6. He joined the teen singing group Menudo in 1984, and sang with them for five years, earning stardom.

His debut solo album, Ricky Martin, was released in 1988, followed by a second effort, Me Amaras, in 1989.

In 1993, Martin moved to Los Angeles, where he made his American TV debut in the NBC sitcom Getting By. In 1995 he acted on ABC’s daytime soap opera, General Hospital, and in 1996 he starred in the Broadway production of Les Miserables.

Martin’s third album, A Medio Vivir, came out in 1997, the same year that he lent his voice to the Spanish-language version of Disney’s animated feature, Hercules. His fourth album, Vuelve, released in 1998, featured the hit single, “La Copa de la Vida” (The Cup of Life), which Martin performed at the 1998 World Cup soccer tournament in France, as part of a production broadcast to 2 billion people around the world.

At the Grammy Awards in 1999, Martin gave a sizzling performance of “La Copa de la Vida” at Los Angeles’s Shrine Auditorium just before picking up an award for Best Latin Pop Performance for Vuelve. He followed that star-making Grammy night with the release of his phenomenally successful first English single, “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” Martin was also featured on the cover of Time magazine and credited with helping to bring a growing Latin cultural influence into the mainstream of American pop music.

Martin was nominated in four categories at the Grammy Awards the following year, cementing his status as a pop music legend.

Decades after becoming a megastar, Martin hasn’t lost his impressive voice, his rhythmic moves, his movie star looks or his fans.

He’s still a classic, triple-threat performer — he can sing, dance and act.

But he’s a living example of the old adage, “Experience is the best teacher.” He hasn’t lost anything, but he’s gained quite a bit: perspective and wisdom, for starters.

He’s Ricky Martin 2.0, if you will.

A conscientious, committed father, a loudspeaker for those in the LGBTQ community who are being silenced, a freedom fighter against a 21st-century version of human bondage.

This is a man who’s interested in a humble kind of heroism.

“Heroes represent the best of ourselves, respecting that we are human beings,” he said. “A hero can be anyone from Gandhi to your classroom teacher, anyone who can show courage when faced with a problem. A hero is someone who is willing to help others in his or her best capacity.”

The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement Makes a Mark with today’s Workforce

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HACE is a national non-profit that devotes its time to the employment, development, advancement of current and aspiring Latinos. HACE’s mission is to establish a strong population of Latino professionals beyond multiple industries that will create a channel of diverse talent and numerous opportunities for leadership roles. Their vision is to see a world where Latinos are achieving their full potential personally and their community. Patricia Mota, the CEO of Hispanic Alliance of Career Enhancement, shared some insights into some of the organization’s core values and strategies to move the mission forward, revealing a strong focus on long term and multi-generational leadership programs.

Interviewer: Ruben Saavedra

Interviewee: Patricia Mota, President & CEO of HACE

In your own words, what or who is HACE?

HACE is a like a big family, it’s a network of high potential members who are actively supporting one another’s career aspirations across generations”

What brought you to HACE?

In 2010, I was wrapping up my graduate degree in public administration. My goal was to serve the Latino community by working with a national nonprofit that serves the community.  After interviewing with a few organizations, when I interviewed with HACE board and staff members, it was a perfect match.  I saw so much potential for not only myself with HACE, but for the community overall.  This has been the case because I learned a lot and was promoted twice.

What are some key components of the programs HACE has to offer?

Self-Awareness, Culturally-Relevant Leadership Training, and Coaching. HACE offers a variety of programs to assist companies recruit, retain and advance Latinos in the workplace.  Some of our flagship programs include a women’s leadership program that has impacted over 750 Latinas across the national. A key component is an assessment of the participants to understand their capabilities to build off.  All of our programs offer opportunities to connect aspiring leaders with mentors, leadership programs with rigorous content and cultural sensitivity, and a strong network of Latino professionals to support each other

How does HACE continue to empower its members after completion of one of their programs?

We have created an alumni network for each of our program which is led by an alumni board, which keeps participants engaged to mentor back, become ambassador of HACE and host professional development events.

Can you explain the importance of having Latinos in leadership positions?

Currently, there is a shortage of Latinos in leadership positions. Certainly there are great examples – and we all need to do a better job championing those – but our mission is to help Latinos reach higher levels of leadership. Many Latinos entering higher education and professional careers are still the first in their family to do that. We thrive to showcase more examples of success stories to inspire future generations and equip them with mentors and models.

What difficulties has HACE had to overcome to carry out its mission and goals?

When the recession in early 2000, HACE almost had to shut its doors. Fortunately, our great board members and other leaders took it upon themselves to make personal contributions and fundraisers to make sure the organization could keep moving forward, and here we are back and stronger today with at least 25% growth year after year since then.”

What is the biggest challenge Latinos face in the workplace today? How does HACE prepare them to overcome it?

Better showcasing the impact of our work.  In general, and I could even say for myself, Latinos shy away from asserting their accomplishments. HACE prepares Latinos to build alliances within an organization to advocate for them, and find the people can really speak to what you have done in the company.

How vital is diversity & Inclusion to the workplace?

“Its beyond race and ethnicity; it’s also about diversity of thought, preferences of leadership styles and ideas. Amongst Latinos there is a lot of rich diversity that we should be embracing and making sure our country knows about.  That diversity brings innovative ideas, increases performance of companies who hire employees reflective of the market they serve”

What’s in the works for HACE in the next few years?

To continue to build off the mission and vision that we have enhanced over the last couple of years with a focus on leadership development. By the end of 2018, we will have implemented a full cohort based leadership academy for high school students, college students, emerging leaders and mid-level Latina professionals.  We will continue to expand these programs in other markets.

What is the strategic planning that goes behind each one of HACE’s programs?

Diversify our revenue streams, continue to enhance our programs, processes, and procedures, and to expand visibility and reach through individual and corporate partnerships. We are looking to reach 100,000 members by 2020 and enroll over 1,000 Latinos in our program each year.

Aside from programs, what does HACE do to contribute to their members’ leadership development?

We offer the monthly webinars, one on one coaching sessions, and free events throughout the year to network.  We also conduct customized workshops for employee resource group and host a national leadership summit annually.

How do you ensure HACE and its programs communicate its core values?

Being clear and consistent. HACE’s core values align with our mission and vision. The vision is to see a world full of Latinos that reach a high potential for themselves and the committees we serve. We are actively pushing that forward in all of the programs we are doing.

What is one characteristic participants build after finishing one of HACE’s programs?

Confidence, the assertiveness to navigate the political and workforce climates.

How have you contributed to the success and culture of HACE?

I’m fortunate to be able to work in a role that is my own personal mission. My personal mission has always been to a promoter or advocate for a community but also ensuring that we can be the best we can to do so effectively.