EXPANDING THE DEMOGRAPHICS: ALPFA On the Upside
Growing association gives an edge to young professionals through mentorship, hands-on experience, scholarships and exposure to potential employers.
Bigger is better. So says Manny Espinoza, CEO of ALPFA, which bills itself as the nation's oldest and largest Hispanic professional association for finance, accounting and related fields.
When an opportunity arose last year for the L.A.-based ALPFA to merge with a growing student organization called National Hispanic Business Association, he jumped at it.
"Critical mass is important," Espinoza tells HispanicBusiness magazine. "The larger you are, the more you can leverage your resources."
And his organization has become significantly larger.
In a year's time, ALPFA's membership has surged from some 11,500 to 14,000. The lion's share of the non-profit group's new members are business students who were formerly members of NHBA.
Forging the Merger
Founded in 1972, ALPFA was initially an acronym for the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting. The group dropped the tagline last year, in accordance with its ongoing effort to expand the tent to include business professionals in other fields, such as
marketing and insurance.
A primary goal is to help Hispanics in the business world network and market their leadership skills. The association comprises two main divisions: one for students, the other for professionals. A primary goal of the groups is to help Hispanics in the business world network
and hone their leadership skills.
Meanwhile, NHBA, which ceased to exist on Jan. 1, was a booming student organization for Hispanic business students that, in just half a decade, grew from about 10 chapters to 50. "In some markets, we were bumping heads with them," explains Espinoza, a retired partner with
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the largest of the big four accounting firms. "They were growing and we were growing. Everything started matching up."
As for ALPFA, each of its dozens of chapters around the country creates its own schedule for symposiums and keynote speakers.
Every year, all members nationwide assemble for an annual convention, which this year takes place in Orlando in early August. Last year's merger was finalized in November, but the transition is still in motion.
Students and professionals mingle from San Diego, Cal. (left) and Antonio,Tex. symposiums. means ALPFA will significantly expand the student portion of its nationwide brand.
The group still comprises 39 professional chapters, but after the merger, the number of student chapters, which are typically located on college campuses, has risen from 50 to 75. The count is expected to reach nearly 100 by September, as the remaining NHBA chapters switch over. Still, despite the recent acquisition, Espinoza said ALPFA isn't as large as he'd like it to be.
"Our vision is to become a name everybody would know," he says. "I think we're getting there, but we're nowhere close."
ALPFA is already significantly larger than other well-known minority organizations, such as the National Black MBA Association, which includes roughly 6,000 members, and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, which claims some 8,000.
Espinoza says the next step is to increase ALPFA's presence and visibility at community colleges, where minorities often make up a sizable portion of the student base.
Benefits to Students
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