News Column

The 100 Influentials

October 2004, HISPANIC BUSINESS Magazine
2004 Influential and Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez.
2004 Influential and Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez.

Influence happens when a leader motivates followers. Unlike leadership, which is a quality of the individual, influence depends on social context and the challenges of the moment. This year, the U.S. Hispanic community faces a complex mix of challenges, resulting in a fascinating selection for the 2004 Hispanic Business directory of 100 Most Influential Hispanics.

Shaping this year's directory are three crucial arenas of influence that have emerged this year for the Hispanic economy: politics, the financial industry, and nonprofit organizations.

View the Hispanic Business 2004 list of Influentials >>

With a presidential election looming, Hispanics are gaining new traction in the nation's political machines, with a growing number occupying key positions with the power to influence economic-development policy. Meanwhile, surging growth by Hispanic companies has propelled the issue of access to capital into the public spotlight.

Amid this growth, nonprofits are playing an increasing role as catalysts of economic empowerment for the Hispanic community. In testimony before a congressional subcommittee this summer, New America Alliance Chairwoman Ana-Maria Fernández Haar noted that many potential solutions exist for the Hispanic capital gap, "but one which American Latino business leaders are uniquely capable of leading is investment in our community through coordinated philanthropy and public and private strategic collaboration." A recent Milken Institute report cites plans for the Isabella Project, a pilot program to invest $75 million to $100 million in San Francisco-area Hispanic companies. The project seeks "the democratization of capital" with the cooperation of nonprofits, including the San Francisco Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

And at key Hispanic nonprofits, leadership changes hold the potential to reshape agendas. At the National Council of La Raza, founder Raul Yzaguirre has recruited new CEO Janet Murguia. And at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Antonia Hernandez has moved on, replaced by Ann Marie Tallman as president and general counsel. These changes represent a passing of the baton to a new generation that will affect the distribution of influence in the Hispanic community for the foreseeable future.

Other members of the elite 100 come this year from myriad fields including technology, athletics, education, and industry after being nominated by readers, Web visitors, contributing editors and writers, magazine staff, and the nominees themselves.

The increasing number of Hispanics in positions of influence leads to a challenging selection each year, with Hispanic Business attempting to compile a list that recognizes those who have had recent, national impact.
Ultimately, on the pages that follow are some of the community's most accomplished and inspiring individuals.

Research for the Hispanic Business 100 Most Influential Hispanics® was conducted by Acting Research Supervisor Michael Caplinger and Senior Research Assistant Cynthia Marquez, under the direction of Chief Economist Juan Solana.

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