News Column

2006 Influentials: Ten to Watch

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Joseph M. Guzman
Director of Planning, Policy, and Liaison
Biometrics Management Office, U.S. Department of Defense
Dr. Joseph M. Guzman assumed the position as director of the Biometrics Management Office (BMO) for the Department of Defense after joining the office in January 2005, on loan through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) program, to lead efforts in biometric policy implementation and planning. He comes to the BMO from the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) Corporation, a federally funded research and development center serving the Department of the Navy and other defense agencies, where he was a senior economist working on educational assessment, program development and biometrics policy. In addition to a Ph.D. in Economic Analysis and Policy from Stanford University, Dr. Guzman holds advanced degrees in economics, statistics, and business research from Stanford. Dr. Guzman also holds an MBA and an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Arizona. Additionally, Dr. Guzman is a co-founder of the American Society of Hispanic Economists.

Lourdes M. Hassler
National Society of Hispanic MBAs
In January of this year, Lourdes M. Hassler assumed the role of CEO for the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), a non-profit organization created in 1988 that now has 29 chapters and more than 7,000 members in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. As CEO, Ms. Hassler directs the overall current affairs of the organization, including the strategic direction, finance, human resources, and general operations. She will lead the growth initiatives and develop national partnerships to effectively position NSHMBA into the next century. Before joining NSHMBA, Ms. Hassler was director of Latin America sales and marketing for American Airlines, a career that spanned more than 20 successful years in strategic operations, international marketing, and operational finance. She holds a Marketing Degree from California State University at Northridge, and graduated this May from the Executive MBA program at Texas Christian University.

Oscar Hijuelos
Oscar Hijuelos became the first Hispanic to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction with The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989), the story of Cuban musicians in New York in the early 1950s – when Latin music first swept the United States. A second-generation Cuban American, Mr. Hijuelos grew up in New York and earned a master's in creative writing from City College. In 1983, he published the novel Our House in the Last World, the first of his rich explorations of memory and family life. His fifth novel, Empress of the Splendid Season, was published in 1999. Three years later, in A Simple Habana Melody, Hijuelos returned to "when the world was good," in 1920s Havana with a love story told by a Cuban composer whose infatuation inspires him to write the most famous song of his career.

Miguel Marquez
ABC News
From Iraqi battlegrounds to storm-torn Keys, Miguel Marquez has seen a lot of things since joining ABC News as a correspondent in May 2005. Though based in Los Angeles, Mr. Marquez spent a month in Iraq covering one of the biggest months for U.S. casualties since the war began, and also reported on Iraq's constitutional process. He also braved Hurricane Dennis to report from storm-prone Key West, Florida. Prior to ABC, Mr. Marquez had served as a Los Angeles-based correspondent for CNN since 2003. On assignment he covered the California wildfires and mudslides, the gubernatorial election, and the Michael Jackson trials. Previous to his reporting career, he also spent several years in Washington, D.C., as a legislative aide to then-United States Representative Bill Richardson and as a researcher for the Congressional Research Service. Mr. Marquez earned an associate's degree from the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico, a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of New Mexico, and a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University.

Carlos Mayans
Wichita, KS
Wichita Mayor Carlos Mayans, in the third year of a four-year term, is the city's first Hispanic mayor to be elected by a popular vote. Prior to his mayoral campaign, Mr. Mayans served five, two-year terms in the Kansas House of Representatives as chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, Local Government Committee, and Kansas' Future Committee. In addition, he owned and operated a multi-service insurance and risk management agency for more than 25 years in Wichita. Mr. Mayans, a native of Cuba who was raised in Wichita, earned a BA in political science from Georgia State University and his master's in human resources from Webster University. He has completed additional post-graduate studies, including the Leadership in Minority Health program and the Mayor Leadership program, both at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Sonia Nazario
Los Angeles-based Sonia Nazario, a projects reporter for the Los Angeles Times and 2003 Influential selection, has spent more than two decades reporting and writing about social issues, earning her dozens of national awards. In 2006, Random House released Enrique's Journey, a true story in which Ms. Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States. (HBO has purchased Enrique's Journey and is making it into a six-part mini-series.) The newspaper series upon which this book is based won more than a dozen awards, among them the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing; the George Polk Award for International Reporting; the Grand Prize of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award; and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Guillermo Martinez-Marquez Award for Overall Excellence. Ms. Nazario, a graduate of Williams College, grew up in Kansas and Argentina and earned a master's degree in Latin American studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Pilar O'Leary
Smithsonian Latino Center
As director of the Smithsonian's Latino Center, Pilar O'Leary is responsible for fulfilling the Center's mission of fostering understanding and appreciation of Latino contributions to society and culture by leveraging the vast resources of the Smithsonian Institution. The Center works with all the Institution's museums and affiliates to develop exhibits and educational programs that underscore the best of Latin culture. Prior to the Smithsonian, Ms. O'Leary served as special assistant to the Daniel Mudd, president and CEO of Fannie Mae. While in that role, she undertook a number of projects to help Hispanics succeed in the homeownership realm, including the development of a companywide strategic plan to increase Hispanic homeownership opportunities. Before joining Fannie Mae, Ms. O'Leary worked at two prestigious Wall Street firms: At the New York and Buenos Aires offices of J.P. Morgan, where she served as derivatives and banking counsel for the company's Latin American offices and subsidiaries; and as a Latin American equities analyst at Goldman Sachs.

Carlos F. Orta
President & CEO
Hispanic Association of Corporate Responsibility (HACR)
Carlos F. Orta in March took over the position of president and CEO of the HACR. Since 2004, Mr. Orta served as director of Community Outreach for the Western Region for Anheuser-Busch, Inc., responsible for the company's Latino community outreach, which included developing and maintaining relationships with new and emerging community leaders; directing corporate, philanthropic, and media related contributions throughout the region; and recommending funding levels for local and regional community-based organizations. Prior to 2004, Mr. Orta served at a variety of levels for Ford Motor Company in its Corporate Affairs Division. Mr. Orta's career in the public sector began as a legislative staffer for two former members of the Florida House of Representatives. He was also the executive director of Miami-Dade County's Legislative Delegation, the state's largest and most diverse bipartisan legislative delegation, comprised of 27 members. Mr. Orta is originally from Miami, Florida, and a graduate of Barry University with a degree in Liberal Studies.

Eddie A. Perez
Hartford, CT
Eddie Alberto Perez lives the American Dream everyday. He was first elected Mayor of Hartford in 2001 – the city's first Hispanic Mayor – and by changing the City Charter in 2002, he is now the CEO of Hartford. Born in Corozal, Puerto Rico, Mr. Perez arrived in Hartford in 1969 at the age of 12. His family (Mama Felicita, brothers William, Orlando, Wilfredo, Moises, Nelson, Ruben, Noel, and his sister Jeanette) was greeted by substandard housing and limited opportunities for Latinos. In order to escape the social turmoil in Hartford during the 1970's, the Perez family moved frequently in search of a safe environment. Mr. Perez graduated from Hartford Public High School in 1976, and later earned an Associate's Degree from Capital Community Technical College. Along the way, his affiliations included the youth group at Sacred Heart Church, led by Father Tom Goekler. Father Tom Goekler and "Big Brother" David Lowery became father figures to the future Mayor, instilling in him the passion for community service, and the commitment to change any social or economic injustice confronting people.

Rebeca Vargas
Director of Hispanic Markets, Retail Banking North America
As Director of U.S. Hispanic Markets at Citigroup, Rebeca Vargas is responsible for coordinating the consistency of Citigroup's message and products to the U.S. Hispanic Market as well as finding new communication channels to promote products and services tailored to the needs of the Hispanic customer. She also acts as a liaison between Citigroup's U.S. businesses and its Banamex operations in Mexico in order to leverage cross-border capabilities, particularly with new product development. She has been critical in developing products tailored to the needs of the Hispanic segment, such as the new Access Account from Citibank, and Citibank Global Transfers. Before coming to the US, Ms. Vargas had several positions at Bancomer, the second largest bank in Mexico. She is founding co-chair of the Citigroup Hispanic Employee Network, and also sits on the board of directors of the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families and the Corporate Advisory Board for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Trilingual Ms. Vargas holds an MBA from Tulane University and a BA in Accounting from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de Mexico.

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