Chairman and Founder of the Be a Leader Foundation.
Altruista (the Humanitarian) – For illustrating the spirit of gratitude and the value of giving back.
Gary grew up the youngest of four siblings in a household full of love. Although he never knew they were from an “economically disadvantaged community” until he reached high school, he attributes his success and ability to be the first in his family to attend college because of the impact of significant mentors like Pete Garcia, Dr. Loui Olivas and L. William Seidman.
At age 13, he met Pete Garcia who became instrumental in inspiring and supporting Gary’s educational and professional development throughout his life. It was Pete who took Gary directly to Arizona State University to submit his application when the high school counselor told him to forget about college. Gary states, “I encountered affordability issues at ASU and HSF gave me a scholarship when I really needed it most.”
A long-time businessman, Gary felt the need to give back as so many had given to him and started the Be a Leader Foundation in his native Phoenix. This Foundation provides programs that help students become college bound, focused and prepared. He shares, “A significant amount of mentors pushed me, encouraged me and have always been there for me. People have invested so much in me; my success is a tribute to their investment in me. It is truly an honor to give back, not an obligation.”
Gary shared a quote from Pete Garcia, “Before you can ask someone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, you have to give them a pair of boots.” He added, “HSF gives thousands of students their first pair of boots.”
Gary is honored to have received critical funding from HSF and now supports all HSF efforts. He exudes passion for helping others and providing them the same mentorship and assistance that he was fortunate to receive.
“I am one of hundreds of people who can attribute so much of their success in pursuing their dreams to Gary and his genuine guidance and mentorship.” – Michael Trejo, mentee.
Chief, Office of Institutional Integrity
Inter-American Development Bank
Brigida Benitez grew up in a working class neighborhood with few professional role models. Her parents came to this country in search of opportunity and often worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. Neither attended college, but they instilled in her a strong work ethic and she realized at a young age that higher education was the path to the American dream.
There is no question that higher education was the pathway to her success. Brigida currently serves as Chief of the Office of Institutional Integrity of the Inter-American Development Bank, an independent office that investigates fraud and corruption in all Bank-financed activities and implements prevention and compliance activities to improve the Bank’s integrity policies. She is a nationally recognized litigator and former partner of the law firm of WilmerHale in Washington, DC, where she was the first and only Latina partner. Brigida has earned several notable accolades including “Woman of the Year” by Hispanic Business Magazine, "Latina Lawyer of the Year" by the Hispanic National Bar Association and "DC Superlawyer" by DC Magazine. She is a past President of the Hispanic Bar Association of DC and Director of the Hispanic National Bar Foundation, the DC Bar Board of Governors and Latino Justice PRLDEF. Brigida also teaches as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and the Washington College of Law at American University.
Brigida has always believed that as a successful Latina, and one who had the help of others, she has a responsibility to contribute to her community and help others fulfill their potential. During her tenure as President of the Hispanic Bar Association of DC, she helped create a free legal clinic providing services in Spanish. Over the years, she has worked with a number of community organizations, devoted a significant amount of time to pro bono legal work and mentored students and young lawyers.
In addition, as part of her practice, she represented the University of Michigan in a landmark victory for diversity in higher education before the United States Supreme Court. In part for her work on that case, she was honored by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund with its Excellence in the Legal Profession Award.
Brigida’s parents were not able to pay for her education. As such, she relied on loans, scholarships, grants and earnings from her employment to pay for college and law school. HSF played an important role by providing her a scholarship that allowed her to continue her education and achieve her goals.
Vincent Cordero is a Media Executive with record of Team & Partnership development, Brand & Audience expansion, Community service and P&L results. Cordero’s diverse experience includes Network Cable TV, Local Broadcast TV and Corporate Strategy.
Cordero joined News Corp in mid-2010 as Executive Vice President & General Manager, “FOX Sports en Espanol”.
Since then, his team: Re-launched the Network as “FOX Deportes”; Expanded the Audience to all U.S. Latinos, who are the New Face of America; Expanded the Brand to the best in all sports, serving all U.S. Latinos; Launched the “Con Garra” viewer call-to-action and Network branding campaign; Quadrupled “Made-for-U.S. Latino” News/Talk to +1,000 annual hours; Launched a more impactful program grid; and Launched a TV-Digital audience engagement bridge. As a result, FOX Deportes is the #1 U.S. Latino Sports Network in all key dayparts.
Cordero came to News Corp from Univision Communications.
Most recently, Cordero served as Vice President & General Manager of the Univision Chicago TV affiliates – a position he assumed in 2005, at the age of 33. His team created what Broadcasting & Cable called “a lifeline for Hispanic viewers.” This service was recognized with numerous awards, including 37 local Emmy nominations and the Chicago Board of Election Public Service Award. On the business side, Revenue and EBITDA grew to historic highs.
Cordero joined Univision in 1999 as an Executive Trainee, and was promoted to Vice President of Business Development and Labour Affairs in 2002.
Cordero has received several recognitions: “Next Generation Leader” (NAMIC, 2011); “Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee” (Hispanic Scholarship Fund, 2011); “Most Influential Minorities in Cable” (CableFAX, 2011); “Next Wave of Leaders” (Broadcasting & Cable, 2009); “Young Hispanic Corporate Achiever” (Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, 2008); “40 Under 40” (Crain’s Chicago Business, 2007).
Cordero earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago Law School in 1999. He received his B.A. Magna Cum Laude from UCLA in 1996, with a triple major in Philosophy, Political Science and Chicano Studies.
Director of Hispanic Initiatives, Urban Strategies
Dr. Gonzalez is the daughter of Immigrant parents. Her father came to this country seeking opportunity and understood the only vehicle for prosperity was an education. He worked in the spinach fields, on the rail road, and domestic work to ensure he could afford a life for him and his wife in the U.S. After experiencing a devastating earthquake that nearly demolished the home their father had worked so hard for they moved to Texas to start over. In Texas, Dr. Gonzalez found herself lost and disconnected in a high school that did not welcome or support a stranger.
When she first enrolled in college she quickly discovered how unprepared she was to succeed academically. This struggle along with rising cost of college ended her academic career at the onset. After a short time working, Dr. Gonzalez decided to return to school. She recognized that a degree garnered respect and dignity and it was her way of thanking her parents for their tremendous sacrifice in leaving a beloved country to afford their children hope.
As a young mother Dr. Gonzalez completed three degrees, a BA, MA and PhD, exemplifying to her own children that with will and desire all is possible. For the last 20 years Dr. Gonzalez has reached thousands of students through speaking and mentoring high school and college students from small local junior colleges to Latino students at Harvard. Alongside she has developed initiatives and models for Latino parents to ensure they understand high school and college preparation and to internalize the opportunities and outcomes of a college education.
Dr. Gonzalez advocates on educating the entire family to ensure college success of one. Her leadership to the National Alliance for Hispanic Families has resulted in many efforts to promote education.
Dr. Gonzalez has set the example of finding the way to achieve an education. She has now learned of opportunities to support students and how students should see education as an investment that will pay off in the future. HSF was a way to assist in purchasing expensive books used in her PhD preparation. In addition, Dr. Gonzalez saved a small portion to assist with her research by copying questionnaires and mailing to participants. She was very grateful and used the funds wisely.
Treasurer of the United States
Rosie Rios serves as the 43rd Treasurer of the United States. She has direct oversight over the U.S. Mint, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and Fort Knox and is a key liaison with the Federal Reserve. In addition, the Treasurer serves as a senior advisor to the Secretary in the areas of community development and public engagement. She is especially passionate about supporting Women in Finance and issues of Main Street in the economic recovery.
Prior to her confirmation as Treasurer, Rios worked at MacFarlane Partners, where she was Managing Director of Investments. Working with MacFarlane Partners’ development and global capital partners, Rios played a central role in facilitating equity transactions for large mixed-use development projects in major urban areas. In November of 2008, Rios took a leave of absence from MacFarlane Partners to serve on the Treasury/Federal Reserve Transition Team and is a graduate of Harvard University.