10 Latinx business leaders who are championing diversity in their companies — and within their own community
For Hispanic Heritage Month, Business Insider wanted to spotlight Latinx business leaders driving change not only through their work, but within their communities.
The Black Lives matter protests and the ongoing pandemic have led to louder and more effective calls for racial and ethnic equality in the US. The demand for action has spilled into the business world, where leaders across industries are starting to push for change and actionable reform.
To help us find Latinx leaders whose impact is being felt outside their companies, we reached out to We Are All Human, a nonprofit championing diversity, and the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Of those nominated by the organizations, Business Insider chose 10 leaders doing extraordinary work.
The list includes everything from an entrepreneur making personal finance more accessible to Spanish speakers, to nonprofit founders helping young Latinx women achieve career success.
Throughout this piece, we use the phrase “Latinx,” which is a gender-neutral alternative to “Latino” and “Latina.”
Read below to see the 10 leaders Business Insider selected.
Beto Altamirano is the founder and CEO of Irys, a AI-powered software company that lets residents suggest community development projects.
When Altamirano isn’t working on his startup, which has raised over $1.2 million in venture capital, he’s writing about urban development, the future of cities, and Latinx politics for the World Economic Forum and NPR’s Latino USA.
His work in technology and public policy has been recognized by the nonprofit the Aspen Institute Latinos & Society and Aspen Ideas Festival.
“I think being Latino and having a bicultural experience naturally builds empathy in a person. Being Latino has helped me better understand cultures and people,” he said.
Carlos Garcia is a serial entrepreneur best known for Finhabits, a bilingual personal finance app.
Garcia is the founder and CEO of Finhabits, a personal finance app that’s accessible in both English and Spanish. The entrepreneur, whose parents were born in Mexico, has over 15 years of financial technology experience on Wall Street.
He was recently selected by Goldman Sachs for its eight-week entrepreneurial program to grow his app, which aims to give the Latinx community access to high-quality financial services.
“To me, being Latino means having a very strong identity. It means culture, tamales, familia, hard work and love for Mexico and the United States,” Garcia said.
Fernando Reyes is chairman of Reyes Automotive Group II and Reyes AmTex Automotive, which are both tier-one suppliers for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas Inc.
Reyes is an important actor in the manufacturing space, having led the manufacturing of plastic parts and carpeting for the Toyota Tundra and Tacoma Trucks since 2005.
Outside of work, Reyes is chair of the board for The Bank of San Antonio’s community reinvestment act committee, where he works to increase lending to the Latnix community and those from marginalized backgrounds.
“I am very proud of my Latinx/Hispanic heritage and culture,” he said. “A Latinx/Hispanic person is part of a culture that is so diverse within itself, yet provides such underlying support.”
Jacqueline Ruiz is the founder of two companies — a marketing firm and a book publishing company — and is personally the author of 22 books.
When not working at her marketing firm or book publishing company, Ruiz is committed to giving back. She runs a nonprofit called The Fig Foundation that helps Latinx women ages 15 to 25 pursue their education and career passions, and runs a speaker series in Chicago and New York focused on the same topic.
In 2016, she raised enough money to build a classroom at an orphanage in her hometown of Mexico City. In her spare time, she flies planes as a pilot.
“My heritage means the full expression of myself, the beautiful juxtaposition of the pragmatic business best practices that I have learned in my career and the whimsical impact-driven iniatives that I can fully embrace as a Latina,” she said.
Jeronimo Escudero is a senior director for brand-building innovation at P&G.
At P&G, Escudero leads all recruiting, retention, and talent development for US Hispanic managers in the brand function. He also is a leader of the company’s Hispanic employee resource group.
Recently, he helped P&G raise over $3.5 million in pandemic relief aid and deliver over one million of the company’s products to some 200,000 families.
“Being Hispanic provides me with a sense of identity and values that I use as my compass to help me bring my best self forward,” he said. “It has also provided me with a sense of belonging in America, as over the years I have created strong relationships with so many other Hispanic diasporas with similar values.”
Jesus Mantas is a senior managing partner in IBM Services, a $44B unit of IBM.
At IBM, Mantas runs strategy, innovation, and corporate development for the company’s global business services operations.
Since 2014, he’s focused on career development, engagement and outreach among Hispanic talent and serves as co-chair of IBM’s Hispanic Diversity Council. Mantas is an advocate of singer will.i.am’s I.AM.ANGEL Foundation, which is dedicated to improving access for underserved youth to STEM education.
“Investing to help the growing, youngest minority group in the US will help everyone in the country as we shape a more inclusive, diverse, and better-performing society,” Mantas said.
Luis Miguel Messianu is the founder and CEO of Alma, a multicultural advertising agency in Miami.
As founder and CEO of advertising agency Alma, Messianu has worked with McDonalds, Clorox, MolsonCoors, State Farm Insurance, and other top companies. He employs more than 150 people from over 30 different nationalities, all of whom help brands communicate their messages to people from a range of backgrounds.
He also teaches creative strategy and execution at the University of Miami’s School of Communication.
“I’m convinced that interesting ideas come from interesting people. It’s as simple — and complex — as that! And in all candor, it better reflects the changing face of America,” Messianu said.
Paola Santana is a lawyer and two-time tech entrepreneur.
Based in Silicon Valley, Santana is the founder and CEO of Social Glass, a tech and AI company that helps government agencies run more efficiently. One of her products, Glass Commerce, helped the government deliver more than 4.5 million pieces of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.
As cofounder of drone delivery company Matternet, she helped establish a drone-delivery network authorized for permanent operations over a major city. She also mentors several Latinx and Black women in the tech, fintech, healthcare, airspace, and drone industries.
“Being Latinx/Hispanic means totally embracing my roots, where I come from, and my experience of growing up in a part of the world characterized by deep social and economic deficiencies, but possessing the most resilient and hopeful people that I’ve encountered in my life,” Santana told Business Insider.
Rosario Casas is a serial tech entrepreneur.
Casas is the cofounder and CEO of XR Americas, a company that produces virtual reality workforce-training programs. She is a graduate of the WXR Fund, a startup school funded by the elite incubator Y Combinator.
She is also the founder of digital consultancy BCPartners Tech. During the pandemic, Casas and her cofounders decided to create a digital incubator for Hispanic-owned small businesses. With a free eight-week program, mentors, and networking tools, the incubator helped several Latinx business owners boost their online presence.
“Being Latinx/Hispanic means to be passionate about our purpose, and in my case, I use that passion — or obsession — to impact for good the lives of others,” she said. “We know how to solve problems with fewer resources, which could be a significant advantage when learning how to use digital tools and technology.”
Stacie de Armas is a senior vice president of inclusive insights and initiatives at data and analytics firm Nielsen.
De Armas is a researcher, consumer behaviorist, and subject-matter expert on diverse communities. At Nielsen, she oversees data collection and analysis on diversity and inclusion in the media. In her spare time, she is an adjunct professor of qualitative research at California State University, Los Angeles, and California State University, Northridge.
“Cultural psychologists and sociologists agree that Hispanics are a collectivist culture,” she said. “Things like kinship, family, and community are extremely important to us, bringing pride, loyalty, and cultural harmony. I value and respect these traditional and cultural influences that are alive in me.”
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