One would think that, as the country’s largest Hispanic-majority large metro in the country, the Alamo City would be a national role model as to Latino involvement in top decision-making civic and business echelons.
Alas, such is not the case.
In fact, our community still has a long way to go in terms of proportionate representation in high-profile leadership posts such as elected officials, CEOs and corporate board members, as well as with the challenge of growing Latino philanthropy.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of efforts and campaigns to reverse the tide – the Latino Foundation of San Antonio (Latino Foundation) being one of them.
The Latino Foundation, a community outreach fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation, was founded in 2007 as the South Texas Hispanic Fund before transitioning to its current name in 2018. Its mission has been to enhance Latino economic, cultural, civic and philanthropic leadership in San Antonio.
“I’m excited about the work we’ve done but there remains so much to do,” said John Cruz, Senior Vice President at Broadway Bank and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Latino Foundation. “This is one of those efforts everyone should be 100 percent behind since we continue to be underrepresented at the executive and corporate levels in San Antonio.”
Since its inception, the Latino Foundation has focused on four main impact areas as part of its mission toward boosting Hispanic leadership in San Antonio: Philanthropy, civic involvement, arts and culture and economic.
Fundraising is always a challenge and thus the philanthropic push has been a gradually growing effort. On the arts and culture front, the ongoing pandemic put a halt on grantmaking in 2020 but traditionally Latino-serving arts and culture organizations have received $5,000 grants in support of their work.
The civic push initially offered a partnership with MOVE Texas to increase voter registration efforts in areas of San Antonio with traditionally low registration levels. It worked, as seen in subsequent elections when turnout in the targeted areas went up.
The more current civics effort offers college students an internship program with our elected representatives at the state and federal levels.
The program works through a partnership with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) in order to offer grants to college students looking for experience working with the offices of members of San Antonio’s congressional delegation in the nation’s capital.
The program has been halted since 2020 due to the pandemic but the plan is to bring it back in Spring 2022, said Ramon Contreras, a lawyer with Catalyst Advisors and founding member of the Latino Foundation who’s currently in charge of its civics impact area.
“This work is very meaningful to me,” said Contreras, who created the foundation along with Cruz and others in their class of the renowned training program Leadership San Antonio. “I want to continue helping our future community leaders through the Foundation.”
Right at the top of the current priority list for the Latino Foundation is helping diversify C-suites and corporate boards in San Antonio. Again teaming up with UTSA through its Executive Leadership Program, the foundation sponsors candidates with the very deliberate intention of placing them in top posts and lining them up with a personal mentor.
Candidates such as Leticia Mond, currently the Chief Financial Officer for the CCC Group, an industrial construction company.
Mond recalls her training experience as having a long-lasting effect.
“The leadership program has had a positive impact on my life and my career,” said Mond, who serves on the board of the San Antonio Medical Foundation as well as on the board of Texas Heritage Bank.
Mond hopes that the Latino Foundation will continue receiving community support so it can continue its significant work uplifting San Antonio’s Hispanic business community.
While the San Antonio Area Foundation continues to lend administrative support to the Latino Foundation, the latter is independently responsible for its own fundraising. Anyone interested in contributing to the Latino Foundation can go here to make donations.
“I would strongly recommend the Latino Fund to other professionals and to those who have served in our local community and are ready to increase their capacity in the corporate leadership area,” Mond said.
Learn more about how the San Antonio Area Foundation enhances Latino economic, cultural, civic and philanthropic leadership that reflects the population of the Latino community in San Antonio through the Latino Foundation of San Antonio.
Hernán Rozemberg is the San Antonio Area Foundation’s Director of Communications and Storytelling.