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“We need to speak up about social justice” says Prospanica CEO Thomas Savino

Thomas Savino is the Chief Executive Officer of Prospanica, the nationally recognized and premier nonprofit dedicated to developing Hispanic talent and growing the number of Hispanic professionals represented in the industries of America to perpetuate economic growth and corporate competitiveness.

Recently Thomas spoke to Latinas in Business CEO and President, Susana G Baumann in an interview, where they discussed how Prospanica is working to address social justice issues through its new Center for Social Justice. 

Celebrating its one-year anniversary, the Center for Social Justice was established with the mission to  “improve our ability to have critical conversations about social justice issues as a diverse and multi-faceted community. We want to encourage civil discourse and make it easier and more available.” 

Three driving forces in the creations of the Center for Social Justice

Through the Center for Social Justice, Prospanica is taking an important step toward addressing the most pressing social issues affecting the Hispanic community today. 

Before the creation of the Center, Prospanica, like many organizations, steered clear of these topics. For a long time, corporations and organizations avoided conversations about divisive topics such as social justice issues. 

However, in recent years there has been a noticeable shift, especially in corporate America. Social issues are now at the forefront of every conversation. People want to know where the corporations and companies they trust stand on these issues. This shift is one of the three main drivers that lead to the creation of the Center.

“Corporate America is far different, say from 1988 than it is today. If we look at the conversations and the statements they’re making, and the efforts they’re making, the conversation is vastly different,” said Thomas. “And the way they’re trying to open and change their culture is far more compelling today than it was, frankly, even five years ago, right, let alone in 1990. There are all sorts of experts out there, corporate CEOs of Fortune 500 companies saying we must have a just society, and here are the issues….We see this all over the place and so that’s one key thing, that corporations who are key funders to everything we do have essentially changed where they are.” 

With corporations now opening up to having these conversations, came the need for education and training in how to have these conversations. This was the second key driver in the creation of the Center. 

“I think because we’ve never spoken about it, it’s a missing component of what we speak about as Prospanica. We want to promote education, but social justice issues impact the Hispanic community and how we get educated. They impact how you know, how we graduate, where we live, all those sorts of things. So it’s important to fold it in, it’s a missing piece of what we talked about when we want to work with safe young professionals doing professional development. So that’s the second piece we’ve never really addressed,” said Thomas. 

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Lastly, the third driver was Generation Z and the events of the past year. From the pandemic to social unrest, the Black Lives Matter movement, and more, it became clear that there was a need in the community for these discussions and conversations surrounding social issues. 

Among all of this, Generation Z has been leading the way and pushing for action and impact. “What they’re saying is, you got to have an impact now. And so you got to address these things head-on,” Thomas said. “The younger people expect the corporations where they work and where they put their money to address these issues now.”  

Opening the conversation 

The Center for Social Justice was overwhelmingly well received. Still, there were some, particularly those of older generations, who questioned and challenged its purpose. For many, the issues that the Center would address were topics that older generations had been taught not to speak about. 

The first goal of the Center was born out of this reluctance to speak out. Part of the Center’s mission is to help teach and prepare members to speak about these subjects in a professional, non divisive manner. 

“We didn’t grow up learning to have these types of discussions,” said Thomas. “So this is a way of professional development, another way to teach our professionals wherever you go, you name it doesn’t matter what your politics are, you can speak about this in a professional, non-divisive manner. And then it’s a way for the organization as a whole to start researching these things and learn a lot more.” 

The Center for Social Justice combines research, dialogue, and training to educate and inform. Tackling social issues such as DACA and Immigration Reform, The Afro Latino Experience, Black Allyship, The Black Lives Matter Movement, Colorism in Latino History, and more the Center is committed to having open conversations about the issues affecting the Hispanic community today. 

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Only in their first year, the Center is still growing and building, with initiatives such as supporting the Hispanic Promise and opening scholarships up to DACA students, something they had previously never done before. Still, as a nonprofit organization, Prospanica remains cautious as they navigate political and social issues. Here is where the partnership with other organizations is key. 

“We’re still very careful with the political world. Well, one because listen, we’re not very experienced with that. And to the politicians can be tough. I’d rather go talk to my peers at Unidos U.S. and LULAC, for instance, and kind of get their take on it,” said Thomas. 

Through collaboration, dialogue, and partnership, the conversation continues as the Center works to address and educate professionals on these cultural social issues to create a better, more just, and diverse world for current and future generations. 

2021 WEES: Announcing THRIVE! Men’s panel speakers 

Latinas in Business is pleased to announce three Latino business leaders as guest speakers for our Men’s panel: “THRIVE! Enlisting Men’s Support to Grow and Expand your Network” at the 2021 Women Entrepreneur Empowerment Summit. Our 2021 WEES hybrid-event is set to take place on Thursday, June 10 from 1:30 PM – 6:30 PM EDT. 

Register Now for this must-attend event! 

 

With THRIVE! as our motto this year, the 2021 Women Entrepreneur Summit  (#2021 WEES) will center on key areas of growth to connect and empower women business owners with tools and insights that will propel them forward in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The event will feature inspiring Keynote speakers, fun networking sessions, and various panels with industry leaders and entrepreneurs.

2021 WEES: “THRIVE! Enlisting Men’s Support to Grow and Expand your Network” panel

Women entrepreneurs don’t often have the gender ally benefits that their counterparts in corporate America may be offered. Join us and our panel of gender equality advocates as they share with us why enlisting men to grow and expand your network can offer a valuable perspective. There is no one approach to break gender barrier challenges, so we’ll explore how different strategies may serve different needs and real-life examples of partnerships in which our panelists have taken part. 

We welcome our three panel speakers: Ron Gonzales, Thomas Savino, and Damian Rivera. 

 

Ron Gonzales, President and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.

Ron Gonzales is the President and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.  The Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Silicon Valley Latinos. 

Gonzales has over 40 years of technology and public policy experience.  Prior to leading the Hispanic Foundation, Gonzales was the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Presencia, LLC which provides marketing and sales consulting services. He also served as Mayor of San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley and the nation’s 10th largest city from 1999-2006. Mayor Gonzales may be best known for championing the extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to San Jose and Silicon Valley.  So much so that former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown nicknamed him “Mayor BART”. Before his election as Mayor, Gonzales worked as an executive with the Hewlett-Packard Company, in the areas of marketing, human resources, and corporate philanthropy.

He currently serves as Chair of the Silicon Valley Capital Club Board of Governors, and Board Member of KIPP Northern California Public Charter Schools, and SV@Home. 

Thomas Savino, Chief Executive Officer of Prospanica.

Thomas Savino is the Chief Executive Officer of Prospanica, the nationally recognized and premier nonprofit dedicated to developing Hispanic talent and growing the number of Hispanic professionals represented in industries of America to perpetuate economic growth and corporate competitiveness.

Thomas has an impressive history of advocating for business education and is a respected executive in the Hispanic community. As an expert consultant specializing in performance measurement analysis, knowledge management, and organizational structure, he has collaborated with corporations and national boards throughout the country.

During his time as a research analyst and internal consultant for McKinsey & Company, he specialized in the development of global initiatives, later joining TMS Consulting as managing director and also serving on the former National Society of Hispanic MBA’s national board.

Damian Rivera, CEO of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America).

Damian Rivera is the CEO of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals For America), one of the country’s largest & oldest Latinx membership associations in the country.

Prior to joining ALPFA Damian was a Managing Director with Accenture focused on the energy industry, and led their Hispanic American ERG for 6 years. He is also on the National Board of Per Scholas, a member of the Columbia Business School Young Alumni Board, a member of Angeles Investors, a Latino focused Angel Investor network. Damian has an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Rutgers University. Damian bridges the non-profit and corporate sectors bringing together management experience with authenticity, a drive to impact the lives of every person he meets and a passion for service to others.

Hear their stories of allyship and collaboration and learn from their experiences at the 2021 Women Entrepreneur Empowerment Summit, Thursday, June 10th. Register Now! 

2021 WEES

You might be interested: 2021 WEES: Announcing THRIVE! Women’s Panel Speakers