ALPFA’s Future Has Never Been Brighter.
By Damian Rivera, CEO, Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA)
ALPFA started 47 years ago as the first national Latinx professional association in the United States focused on impacting the lives of aspiring and talented Latinx professionals across the country. With the opportunity of stepping into the role of CEO of ALPFA I am honored and humbled to continue the legacy built by our members, countless volunteers, leadership teams from our professional and student chapters, and corporate partners that have made ALPFA what it is today. As I think back to my childhood growing up in Wagner Projects in Spanish Harlem, NY in the 80’s, I can’t believe that in the same way the Latinx community helped give me opportunities in life, I am now in a position to do the same for others. What makes it even more exciting is I’m not alone, I have an extended family of 80,000+ members focused on the same mission.
For those that have not heard of ALPFA we are a family of passionate students, professionals and corporate partners that together empower the Latinx community for success. This group is often referred to as our ALPFAmilia. ALPFAmilia isn’t just a word, it is the culture and fabric of our organization, nuestra cultura. It’s common to hear stories of Latinx students who show up to a college campus, far from home, searching for someone who looks like them, someone who they can share their experiences with and someone who understands their journey. On campuses throughout the nation, we are there to help students, some first generation, some not, but all looking for a group to embrace on this portion of their life’s journey.
One example of where this happens is at the ALPFA Annual National Convention, which is occurring in Nashville, TN this year. Yelesina Hernandez, a student at the University of Houston Bauer College of Business was given a scholarship and an internship from E&Y at the 2018 convention. And Rena Lethbridge, a student at UCF who is a STEM major in mathematics, received an internship offer from Synchrony as a Data Analyst is another example. These are the opportunities that create transformative impact early in life.
The ALPFAmilia also focuses on our Latinx professionals. Leaders like Elizabeth Diep, who joined ALPFA 20 years ago as a motivated accounting student at Pace University, sturdily supporting ALPFA, joining PwC, and earning promotions all the way to partner more than six years ago.
As we approach our 50th anniversary, we are embarking on our next evolution. Our strategy will provide a holistic support system for our membership through focused core knowledge of ALPFA resources, and strategic partnerships with other corporations, non-profits, and governments. We are calling this model the Social Mobility Value Chain (SMVC), which is the ecosystem of programs and partnerships that together provide members of its community the skills, resources, and opportunities to have mobility up socioeconomic strata.
It’s time for a bold plan that will drive exponential growth and position our community for success in all facets of business and community life. Our goal is not to grow ALPFA for ALPFA’s sake, but to enable our community to grow vigorously activating social mobility for the Latinx community across the country. And, when the Latinx community win, in the marketplace and in the community, our country wins.
Damian Rivera is the CEO of the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA). Prior to taking on the CEO role of ALPFA, Damian has been a Managing Director in Accenture’s Resources Utilities practice for the past 21 years where he started his career as a coder in their Technology Practice. Most recently, Damian focused on Customer Care Transformation work for utilities including helping clients with strategically pivoting to digital capabilities as they look to improve customer engagement. Damian has performed Digital Transformation Strategy and Implementation, Customer Information System builds, Utility Customer Analytics as well as Customer Care operations work.