Katherine Bahamonde (NF), Alma Mathias (OG), and Tannya Gaxiola (OJ), Contributing Writers
April 7, 2006 – Over one hundred current and former students and honored guests gathered at the New York City Harvard Club to officially inaugurate the Latino Alumni Association of HBS. Its mission is to provide post-graduate management education, networking, and career advancement opportunities for Latino alumni of Harvard Business School.
“A strong Latino Alumni Association is the critical element to sustain the connection between alumni, the students, and the school. This link will enable alumni to stay abreast of current issues at the school, students to have access to a valuable career and mentoring resource, and the school to leverage the alumni as evangelists of HBS and promote diversity,” said Anthony Alvarado (OI), outgoing Latino Student Organization VP of Alumni Relations.
The Latino Student Organization (LASO) is an entirely student-run initiative serving the Hispanic American student population at Harvard Business School (HBS).ÿ LASO seeks to create a positive environment for its members by providing services in the following areas: ÿa) professional development, b) alumni relations, c) admissions, and d) campus support. Founded in 1999, LASO has grown significantly in recent years in both size and stature.
Sol Trujillo delivered the keynote address on the topic of “Bridging the Hispanic Leadership Gap.” Mr. Trujillo is distinguished by being the first US-born Latino to run a Fortune 200 company, even though his parents never attended college. Mr. Trujillo acknowledged the challenge of taking pride in being Latino while also recognizing the Hispanic leadership gap, “My request of all of you besides being proud is to please give back.”
Mr. Trujillo exhorted alumni to give back to their communities by contributing time, money, and influence and told all of the attendees, “Everyone should be proud of their heritage.My name is Trujillo, has been, and will be.” In asking students and alumni to become leaders in their communities, he shared the secret to his own success, “The most important thing to a leader is passion. It’s what lets you say ‘join me or get out of my way’.”
Mr. Trujillo warned the audience that if the Hispanic leadership in the United States does not affect education levels, the consequences will be dire. Mr. Trujillo noted, however, that HBS alumni can make a difference by working with civil institutions, but that “if you want to change paradigms you have to take risks.”
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Trujillo challenged the audience, “Do you step back or step forward?” By sharing a story about confronting prejudice in Australia, Mr. Trujillo answered himself, “We’re going to show.what a Trujillo can do.”
Although the Latino Alumni Association is in its infancy, this year’s dinner marked the fourth anniversary of the Annual Latino Alumni Dinner. The dinner was presented by the Latino Student Organization and sponsored by American Express and Time Warner.
“It was a great opportunity for current students to speak with alumni and learn from their experiences as well as to find out about new opportunities that are out there.it was exciting to see the commitment of the alumni to the success of the LASO organization and their willingness to help with recruiting and job placement,” said outgoing LASO Co-President Alma Mathias (OG).
The dinner provided a valuable networking opportunity for an impressive list of HBS alums representing more than 40 companies across a myriad of industries.ÿ However, the speakers highlighted the fact that the Alumni Association hopes to be much more than a professional organization.ÿ
According to incoming LASO Co-President Katherine Bahamonde, “While Latinos are expected to reach 25% of the total US population, currently 50% of Latinos do not finish high school, upwards of 23% are in poverty, and the community is considerably underrepresented in important social spheres such as business, politics, and the media.ÿ As HBS students, we are in an incredible position to effect positive change.”
Incoming Latino Student Organization Co-Presidents Katherine Bahamonde and Aziel Rivers gave the closing address by sharing LASO’s plans for the coming year, which include increasing the number of Latino applicants, maintaining high yield among admitted students, building a stronger campus community, and leveraging the alumni network.
Abe Tom s Hughes II (HBS ’91) and Gabe Esparza (HBS ’00), who were instrumental in launching the Latino Alumni Association and now sit on its board of directors, were especially pleased with the event’s success. Afterwards, they celebrated by inviting all attendees to an after-party at Pacha to socialize in an informal, festive atmosphere.