The Latino-American Student Organization (LASO) hosted its first alumni dinner at the Harvard Club of New York City on Friday, April 4. Nearly 50 HBS alumni, current students and guests crowed into the Harvard Club’s Mahogany Room to celebrate LASO’s evolution as an organization.
Founded in 2001, LASO is a growing organization for American Latino students and alumni. In two years the organization has grown from 6 student members to nearly 50 in the 2002 – 2003 academic year.
Approximately 30 American Latino students have been admitted to the HBS Class of 2005 in the first and second rounds. Luis Rodriguez (NF), an active member of LASO, was recently elected Co-President of the HBS Student Association.
An evening highlight was a speech by distinguished HBS alumnus Arthur C. Martinez (HBS ’65), the former Chairman and CEO of Sears, Roebuck & Co., on the subject of managing in turbulent times. Mr. Martinez predicted that the current economic malaise would persist for the foreseeable future, making good corporate leadership all the more important. Mr. Martinez discussed the recent trend of corporate boards selecting their corporate leaders based more on their charisma than competence citing Bernard Ebbers of MCI/WorldCom and Jean-Marie Messier of Vivendi as examples.
Mr. Martinez also discussed the importance of the servant leader who listens first to the needs of her or his team and acts second. This message resonated with an audience composed of people who are current or future leaders of the U.S.’s fast growing Latino community.
Kenneth A. Powell (HBS ’74), another guest of honor and the President of the HBS African-American Student Union Alumni Association, remarked that “Mr. Martinez’s message regarding the importance of a servant leader is very relevant for this audience. LASO is in a position to build an enduring organization that serves not just HBS alumni and students, but the broader Hispanic community.”
The primary purpose of the LASO alumni dinner was to forge stronger relationships with HBS Hispanic alumni of all ages. Joshua Yguado (NF) commented, “I was very impressed with the wide range of alumni turnout. Graduates from the last four decades were represented from a variety of industries, including investment banking, asset management, private equity and the music business.” Monica Rosen (NH) added that “the dinner provided students with an excellent opportunity to meet Hispanic alumni who share their hope of strengthening the Latino community in the U.S.”
The next step for LASO’s drive to build a strong bridge to Latino graduates of HBS is to work with a group of these alumni who are committed and highly motivated to build a LASO alumni association.
Several alumni have already indicated their strong interest in playing an active role in the organization. Many others have said that they are not well connected to other Latino alumni and would value an organization that brings them together. Mina Pacheco-Nazemi (NJ), Co-President of LASO stated that “we have ambitious plans to increase LASO’s presence on campus next year and engage our alumni in meaningful ways.”