MIT Sloan Fellow in Innovation and Global Leadership – SM Class of 2013
Adjunct Professor – Parsons the New School for Design
José Chan was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. His father had to work two jobs to support his family and between the ages of 12-18, José would help his father by mopping and sweeping the floors, collecting garbage and cleaning the windows of his building. Through his experiences with his father he built a strong work ethic that would later help him balance his school work and his job. He has consistently shown his strong work ethic by working to advance his knowledge of design, apparel, business and management through his undergraduate and graduate degrees.
José began his career at the Fashion Institute of Technology and finished his BS degree in the Textile and Apparel Management Program at Cornell University. He also pursued his MBA in Finance several years later at the Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester and was the 1st Simon School MBA exchange student to study at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. His combination of degrees in design and business has allowed him to gain broad professional experience in the luxury apparel industry. Despite the economic downturn and the volatility of the apparel industry, José has constantly reinvented himself in order to succeed and further his career. He has held positions in buying, design, marketing, merchandising, planning, production and most recently general management. In addition, he is fluent in Spanish, Italian and has studied French and Mandarin. Formerly the Director of Retail Outlets and Planning for Roberto Cavalli, José has spent 20 years in the luxury goods sector having worked at Isaac Mizrahi Couture, Loro Piana, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey and Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A.
Aside from José’s passion for the fashion industry, he also values his community including his family, alumni organizations, members of his church congregation and his extended family in México and Guatemala. He has volunteered at homeless shelters throughout the New York City area and has also tutored children from Harlem. Before entering business school, José served in the 1st Cohort of the New York City Teaching Fellows for a year, teaching bilingual mathematics to Latino and African American children in the South Bronx. His current volunteer efforts are concentrated on mentoring HSF students as well as undergraduate students at several universities such as the Fashion Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Cornell University and others. José is committed to sharing his belief in the power of higher education as he continues to give back to the communities that made an important impact on his life.
Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs
Mónica Gil is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Nielsen. In this role, she works extensively with news media, elected officials, community leaders and Nielsen’s media, entertainment and consumer businesses. Mónica also manages Nielsen’s national Hispanic/Latino Strategic Outreach and the company’s education, philanthropy, government and public affairs initiatives.
Prior to joining Nielsen, Mónica served as a senior member of Antonio Villaraigosa’s 2001 Los Angeles mayoral campaign team, and in 2005 was part of his historic and victorious mayoral campaign. She has also served as press secretary for the Speaker of California State Assembly where she conducted media outreach efforts and organized citywide awareness events. Her communications expertise includes a role as Senior Vice President for Greer, Margolis, Mitchell & Burns (GMMB), a public policy, advertising and public relations firm where she developed comprehensive media plans and grassroots coalition building for a wide range of clients. Mónica was also Director of Public Affairs and Community Outreach for Los Angeles’ Telemundo stations KVEA and KWHY, where she managed philanthropic efforts for Telemundo and served as the principle liaison for community outreach in the Los Angeles area.
Monica was named one of Hispanic Business Magazine’s “100 Influentials” and one of “The Most Powerful and Influential Latinos in Entertainment” by The Imagen Foundation in 2012. She was also recognized as one of Los Angeles’ “Women Making a Difference” by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Mónica is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She received her Masters Degree in Public Policy from the USC School of Public Administration and she serves on Girls Scouts National Board of Directors and The Getty House Foundation.
Professor of History, North Lake College
Dr. Yolanda Romero grew up in the face of discrimination at a time when Mexican Americans were not highly looked upon by society. Her family was her biggest supporter, and though they may not have had the means or knowledge to support her, they knew that education was the only way to a better life. HSF also had a role in her success by believing in her and her capabilities and providing her with the necessary financial assistance to achieve her goals.
Early on she stood out among her peers by excelling academically and giving back to the community in the face of adversity. Challenging a society that told her she could not achieve her goals, Dr. Romero earned her PhD from Texas Tech University, becoming the first Mexican American woman to earn her PhD in History from a Texas institution. Today, she is a Professor of History at North Lake College in Texas. Through her role as a professor and advisor, Dr. Romero gives back to her community on a daily basis. She places a great value in giving back to the community which demonstrates her steadfast commitment to helping others.
Teaching and advising the campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa has given her the platform to empower students, many who are from a similar background. She believes in the investment she is making in her students, knowing that education is essential to the growth and strength of our country. She sets high expectations for her students, encouraging them to not only excel academically, but also in their communities. She teaches her students that serving their communities is not what the community can do for them, but about what they can do for the community.
Dr. Romero’s own involvement in the community starts with her role at North Lake College. Due to her involvement in the community and dedication to her students, Dr. Romero has earned several awards and recognition. Students nominated her for the Visions Campaign Award, recognizing her as someone who provided exemplary service to the community. She was chosen out of 100 women nationwide. Shortly after receiving this honor, she was nominated for the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and recently became the recipient of North Lake’s first ever Woman of the Year award. These select awards show the profound respect that students, faculty and community members alike have for Dr. Romero and her commitment to higher education and the community.
Director of Equal Opportunity, United States Air Force
Cyrus Salazar grew up in rural southern New Mexico where opportunities for success did not present themselves often. He was the first member of his family to enter college which inspired his two sisters, as well as his mother, to enroll at the local community college. He worked at the local electric cooperative to save money to enter community college and pursue his educational dreams. Funding his education was another challenge. Once in college, Cyrus focused most of his attention to his studies, which left little time for work. He earned scholarships to the main campus of New Mexico State University at Las Cruces. Receiving an HSF scholarship assisted him financially and inspired him to achieve his goals and invest in his own community.
Mr. Salazar has been a leader throughout his academic career. He was a model student as he mentored others and continued to give back to high school students who were less fortunate and believed that college was not an option. He has spoken at many conferences and shared his successes from starting at a community college to ultimately earning a Master’s degree.
He currently serves as the Equal Opportunity Program Manager for the United States Air Force. In this role, he develops and administers Air Force-wide policy regarding military and civilian requirements for over 300,000 Airmen. His duties include developing and overseeing policy guidance for complaint processing, EO training, and climate assessments. Mr. Salazar also serves as an adjunct faculty to teach portions of the EEO and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) curriculum at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute and at the Ira C. Eaker School at Maxwell AFB. Lifelong learning has always been a tenet of his philosophy and he continues to seek out opportunities to learn, teach, mentor, and train others. Mr. Salazar served a twelve month tour in Baghdad as an advisor to the Iraq Ministry of Interior (MoI). In this role as an advisor to the MoI, he supported several initiatives such as the integration of Kurdistan MoI with the Iraq MoI, tracking of Sons and Daughters of Iraq, and tracked numbers of police recruits, accessions, and martyrs.
The Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation works to cultivate a community that supports Hispanic student education. We support efforts that help enlighten others to the many benefits of a college education. We believe these benefits extend not only to individuals, but whole communities.
We understand the many challenges facing Hispanic students. For many, it is the challenge of being the first in their family to attend a post-secondary school. This poses unique difficulties when dealing with the college process, including not having anyone to lean on, no one to ask for advice and no one to tell them what to expect. The Gilbert and Jacki Cisneros Foundation seeks to bridge these challenges by creating a culture where going to college is more than just a possibility—it’s a concrete expectation with the support mechanisms to make it all happen.