English Language Learner Coordinator, Clark County School District, NV
Yesmi Rios was raised in Fresno, California. Her parents migrated to the United States from Mexico when she was five years old in hopes of providing a better future for their six children. The family worked in the agricultural fields, picking fruits and vegetables to sustain themselves.
Yesmi transposed her hard-working ethic to her academic studies. As a high school student, she was motivated to pursue a higher education after sitting in a math class and feeling devastated that she knew more than the teacher. She made a decision that she wanted to be the best math teacher in the world. She began that path by earning her B.S. in mathematics from UC Davis.
As an undergraduate student, she traveled to various migrant camps to educate the children of migrant workers in the fields of math and science and provide English classes to the parents of these children. Her focus has always been on the areas that hinder many Hispanic students the most, English, math and science.
Yesmi continued her education at Harvard University where she earned her Master’s in both Mathematics and Education. As a graduate student at Harvard University, she collaborated with M.I.T. and Harvard professors to develop mathematical software that provided visual representations of abstract math concepts for limited English proficient students.
In her current role, Ms. Rios oversees more than 110 K-12 schools and works to ensure that 68,000 non-fluent English speakers are provided appropriate educational services to ensure their academic success. Her love for education has never ceased and she is currently working on a Ph.D., with a focused topic on reducing math anxiety for Hispanic students. She loves to educate herself as much as she loves to educate others.
The Rising Star
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
As the nation’s first Hispanic Deputy Administrator of SNAP and among the youngest and select Hispanic Senior Executives at the Department, Lisa Pino has reached her ultimate priority of giving back. In her current role, she oversees a $50 billion Food Stamp program that helps feed 409 million people, including 7 million Hispanics.
Her path to the nation’s capitol was arduous but she relishes every moment and experience that led her there. As the first-generation daughter of immigrant parents, she is also her family’s first college graduate. Having grown up in New York, Lisa made the difficult decision to move to Arizona in pursuit of a quality, affordable education. She engrossed herself in her new community. When she graduated law school, she received the Dean’s Award and State Bar Award for her public service. She later became a National Hispana Leadership Institute Fellow.
Lisa was motivated to pursue a law degree because of the law’s dearth of Hispanic representation. Financing her way through law school was especially difficult. She exhausted every source of income available, and completed her studies combined with support from HSF.
Upon graduating, she joined a competitive immigration law firm and then returned to the public sector representing migrant farm workers. She was then Executive Director at a small Arizona college serving many Hispanic single mothers. There she developed and implemented the college’s first diversity plan to improve student retention and graduation.
As a professional, she strives to serve as a community role model. Since joining the USDA in 2009, she has mentored Hispanic interns, worked on Civil Rights priorities, and created and completed a national roundtable tour addressing access issues among communities of color. Lisa is passionate about helping others; especially assisting young people realize their dreams through education.
Roger Cepeda, the son of Hispanic immigrant parents with humble beginnings, always went the extra mile to try to achieve the best education. His perseverance has paid off as he now serves as Associate General Counsel for GE Healthcare. In this role he provides strategic legal advice to a $1B global medical device business selling Computed Tomography scanners. These complex machines are used to create diagnostic images of internal anatomy that help determine the course of treatment for patients all over the world.
Roger always strives for the best, especially with respect to education as his parents emphasized the need for a higher education. He graduated from high school with honors which in turn led to a full tuition scholarship to attend the University of Chicago. His first semester in college was supposed to be an exciting time as a student but family medical emergencies arose. During this time, his father underwent a quintuple bypass heart surgery. Three months after the surgery, his mother was diagnosed with operable cancer. Despite these challenges, Roger’s parents urged him to stay focused on his studies.
In 1992, Roger received his BA in Philosophy cum laude. With the goal of studying corporate law and business, he was accepted by Georgetown University, where he earned a dual JD/MBA by the age of 26.
As a professional, Roger is a great model to many students. He speaks with young people about setting priorities, reinforcing his parents’ message that education is of the utmost importance. He encourages students to aim high and hopes that others with humble beginnings can see what they can achieve through their own hard work and commitment.
Edgar Martinez, D.O., F.A.C.P.S.
Medical Director, Dr. Edgar Martinez Medical Center
Edgar Martinez is a respected doctor who is beloved by his family and patients. Born in Nicaragua, he and his six siblings were raised by their father after his mother passed away when Edgar was only one year old. This unfortunate passing coupled with the experience of pulling his friends bodies from the havoc caused by the earthquake in Nicaragua as a 13-year old inspired him to pursue a career in medicine so he could help others.
Edgar arrived in the United States without knowing the language but was determined to learn English and did so quickly. While in high school, he worked odd jobs to financially contribute to the family. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Edgar saw this as a vehicle to pursue a higher education that was not affordable at the time. After completing his service he began his educational path at East Los Angeles College.
He confronted many barriers, including being an older student and having a counselor discourage him from his dream. He was steadfast in his goal and transferred to California State University, Los Angeles and completed Medical School at Michigan State University.
Today, Dr. Martinez has his own clinic in Huntington Park, a primarily Latino community, where he serves in family practice, sports and geriatric medicine. A constant learner, he stays current with the medical field. He combines his knowledge with compassion for the individual to deliver the best service.
Dr. Martinez is a pioneer and inspiration in his community and family.
He mentors Latino medical students. The first in his family to earn a college degree, he has been proactive to ensure he is not the last. Currently, eleven family members have graduated college, including his son who is also pursuing a medical degree.
President, Univision Networks
In his role as president of Univision Networks at Univision Communications Inc., César Conde oversees three television networks - Univision, TeleFutura and Galavisión - as well as several corporate functions.
Since joining the Company, Mr. Conde has been an innovative leader, serving in many roles prior to his current appointment. Most recently he served as executive vice president and chief strategy officer where he spearheaded strategic initiatives focused on the growth and profitability of the Company across all divisions.
In between posts within Univision, Mr. Conde served as a White House Fellow for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. He was one of twelve selected for this prestigious fellowship.
Prior to joining Univision, Mr. Conde was vice president of Business Development at StarMedia Network, the first Internet company focused on Spanish and Portuguese-speaking audiences globally. He began his career as an investment banker at Salomon Smith Barney in their Mergers and Acquisitions Group.
In addition to his professional endeavors, Mr. Conde is active in the development of educational opportunities for young Hispanics. He is the chairman and co-founder of the Futuro Program, a non-profit organization that provides role models and educational workshops to Hispanic high school students. While in college, he was president and co-founder of the Cuban-American Undergraduate Student Association at Harvard.
He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Conde is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.