Being both young and Hispanic can feel daunting in America. Adversity can create obstacles and discourage young Hispanics from dreaming large. However, some young Hispanic-Americans are shattering the status quo. One of those people is Dan Esterly.
If you’re from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you may be familiar with Esterly’s work. At the age of 28, he is a business owner, Ph.D. student, radio host, and is heavily involved in Pittsburgh’s non-profit community. Esterly wasn’t always a success story. He was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and was given a two-day life expectancy from malnourishment at the orphanage. Despite the pessimistic health outlook, he was adopted and was raised in Pittsburgh. Esterly also battled depression and alcoholism in his young adult life.
After much adversity, Esterly was able to rise above the initial cards he was dealt. He entered the workforce at the age of 13, started college at the age of 16, and began graduate school at the age of 21. In 2008, Esterly saw an opportunity to start actively buying stocks. He was able to outperform most financial professionals and was sought after to advise financial professionals. Esterly stated, “My first experiences in consulting were accidental. A fund manager from Boston called me for input, simply from word-of-mouth from the Pittsburgh business community. I was truly flattered and stunned, because of how young I was.”
Esterly went on to earn an M.S. in Professional Counseling and an MBA in Healthcare Management. He attributes his education to building the foundation for his business in consulting. “I needed to master both fields to thrive. Business has various human elements, and counseling has a lot to teach us about organizations. The same principles that apply to group behavior also enhance an organization’s well-being.”
Esterly then went on to work as a lobbyist in biotechnology. One of his projects raised more than $34 million from the federal government to fund drug research. Regardless of his occupation, Esterly has always focused on increasing financial value for companies.
In 2016, Esterly decided to diversify his business. He founded Public Waves, LLC, which eventually became a successful consulting venture. “I have had clients from Texas to Pennsylvania. It’s truly been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my entire life.” Currently, Public Waves, LLC serves clientele including the Energy Innovation Center Institute, Community Liver Alliance, Water4Life Mozambique, and CSD Engineers, LLC. He provides consulting services ranging from workforce development & economic research to other organizational services.
Esterly also is a full-time doctoral student at Point Park University’s Ph.D. program in Community Engagement. “It’s somewhat of a leadership degree with a research focus on benefiting the community. The Pittsburgh community helped me to succeed and I am constantly looking for ways to give back.” He hosts a radio show through Point Park University, called Behavior Business, where he invites guests on the show from both the business and mental health community. Esterly also continues to self-manage his portfolio and consult on other larger investment portfolios.
In 2015, Esterly established a charitable investment fund called Esterly Fund. To date, the fund supports 17 non-profits in Pittsburgh. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Glade Run Foundation and Ten Thousand Villages Pittsburgh. “I truly don’t think my life would have turned out this way in Honduras. It’s surreal sometimes to think of my journey and how different things could have been. I am grateful for every day on this earth and hope to give back ten-fold.” Esterly is considered a young rising star in the Pittsburgh business community.
At the age of 28, Esterly insists he has only just begun. “It’s been my experience that businesses don’t care what race, nationality, age, etc. you are. If you can provide value for a company, companies will value your service. That’s the beautiful thing about America. You really can create or re-create your life here.”