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Honoring the Maestros Among Us

Alain Milotti

For the past 10 years, honoring the Hispanic magnates among us has taken the form of the Maestro Awards, presented by Latino Leaders magazine.

With the decade anniversary being celebrated at a recent ceremony at the Scottish Rite Temple in Dallas, the award has taken on a life of its own, with similar events taking place in Los Angeles and Chicago. While the recipients come from every discipline — including business, education, civil service and entrepreneurship — they all have a lifetime of achievement to celebrate.

“[We celebrate] the success stories and accomplishments and the triumphs of many leaders that have made history and continue to make history in our community,” said Jorge Ferraez, the magazine’s publisher.

It seemed only fitting that Dallas be the location for the milestone ceremony, as it was the original home of the first Maestro Awards. Also celebrating a notable landmark was Latino Leaders, which turns 16 this year.

Recipients for the Dallas awards were as follows: Antonio R. Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) as Maestro of Leadership; Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo, vice president and founder of Casa Noble Tequila as Maestro of Entrepreneurship; Manny J. Fernandez, managing  partner of KPMG as Maestro of Professional Achievement; Carlos F. Orta, vice president of Corporate Affairs of Carnival Corporation as Maestro of Diversity Advancement; and Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Sheriff of Dallas County as Maestro of Community Service, who received a standing ovation from the over 250 attendees.

In usual fashion, the trailblazing publication took an unusual approach to handing out the honorary hardware. For Ferraez, the medals came with a brief conversation about the challenges and triumphs of each of the recipients in their respective fields. While the list of past winners is surely distinguished, they represent the changing face of Latinos in the United States. With an ever-increasing number of Hispanics entering colleges, graduate-level programs and the executive workforce, there is no shortage of trailblazers raising the profile of Latino professionals.

 “We need to ask how long it will be before our population is where it needs to be in terms of education and jobs to be equal with the [market] as a whole. We need to be ready to compete for jobs in a global marketplace,” Ferraez said.

In 2016, the Maestro Awards were celebrated in Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Recipients for the Chicago awards included Dr. Andrew Sund, president of St. Augustine College as Maestro of Community Service; Ezequiel “Zeke” Flores, CEO of Flying Concessions LLC as Maestro of Entrepreneurship; Jose R. Sanchez, president and CEO of Norwegian American Hospital as Maestro of Professional Achievement; and Neli Vazquez-Rowland, president and CEO of A Safe Haven Foundation as Maestro of Leadership. The Maestro Awards in Chicago were sponsored by Southwest Airlines, St. Augustine College and Mi Sueño Winery.

Ferraez also acted as emcee for the ceremony in Los Angeles, which was sponsored by Southwest Airlines, Mass Mutual Financial Group, Delgadillo Cellars and Mario Bazán Cellars. Award recipients included Dr. Cynthia Ann Telles, director of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute Psychosocial Clinic as Maestro of Professional Achievement; Luis Maizel, president of LM Capital Group as Maestro of Entrepreneurship; Dr. Sandra R. Hernandez, president and CEO of California Healthcare Foundation; Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as Maestro of Leadership.

Patrons were also treated to unique insight into the rise of each of these medal winners with questions pertaining to lessons learned early in their careers and how they overcame their trials throughout their long tenures. Moreover, the recipients offered a glimpse into a world where Latinos had to make their own way in the endeavors of business and education.

Opportunities come through mentorship and education, but another common trait among award recipients is persistence and effort. In many cases, “Maestros” were breaking new ground for Latinos in commerce or community service, thus inviting backlash.

As a new crop of Hispanic professionals takes the lead, only time will tell how many more will join the ranks of Maestros.




Photo By Alain Milotti

From Left to Right

Dr. Andrew Sund, president of St. Augustine College -  Maestro of Community Service

Dr. Sund assumed office on July 1, 2008. A bilingual and bicultural professional, Sund fits perfectly at St. Augustine College, the only bilingual college in the Midwest with a mission to serve the Latino community of the Chicago area.

Professionally, Sund began his career at St. Augustine College, where he developed as an academic advisor, director of Institutional Research, associate dean for Curriculum and Assessment, associate dean for Student Services, and interim dean of Academic Affairs. Additionally, Sund worked four years at Olive-Harvey College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, as assistant dean for Research and Planning and dean of Workforce and Community Education. Sund received his bachelor’s degree in History and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; his master’s degree in History from Northwestern University. He holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Policy and Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Jose R. Sanchez, president & CEO of Norwegian American Hospital - Maestro of Professional Achievement

Sanchez brings over 30 years as a health care executive to the hospital that serves more than 112,000 patients annually. Before joining Norwegian American, Sanchez was senior vice president of the Generations Northern Manhattan Health Network, one of the largest health care networks in the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp.

Sanchez is a licensed social worker, with a BA in Psychology from the City College of New York and a master’s in Social Work from Adelphi University. Under Sanchez, because cancer is prevalent in the population the hospital serves, Norwegian American has invested in growing its oncology department. Since 2015, the oncology department has grown 159 percent. Similarly, the hospital has invested in cardiology to address the prevalence of heart disease in the community, and today the cardiology department is three times the size it was in 2011.


Neli Vazquez Rowland, president & CEO of A Safe Haven Foundation -  Maestro of Leadership

Neli Vazquez-Rowland is the co-founder and president of A Safe Haven Foundation (ASHF).

Founded in 1994, ASHF is a vertically integrated ecosystem that supports social service delivery along with vibrant social business enterprises in order to create a sustainable environment that fosters positive change in the lives of homeless individuals.

Neli is a first generation American who grew up in Chicago’s Little Village community, a densely populated Latino enclave on the city’s west side, notorious for crime and violence. As a graduate of Loyola University’s School of Business, and the Minority Executive Management program at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, Neli was the first in her family of seven to graduate from college. She built a solid 13-year career as an investment banker, and rose to the level of vice president both at Bear Stearns and Oppenheimer.


Ezequiel “Zeke” Flores, CEO of Flying Concessions, LLC as Maestro of Entrepreneurship

The Chicago native is a global business leader and airport concessionaire who is founder and CEO of Flying Retail. Zeke founded Flying Retail to upgrade the travel experience and attract strong national brands and partners to Chicago airports.

Zeke began his career by parlaying his BS in Accountancy from DePaul University into careers with a Big Five accounting firm and with food industry giant Sara Lee, where he oversaw projects in 14 countries and was a lead manager for a $4.2 billion spin-off. He has been involved with over $5 billion in real estate-related and corporate business transactions. He is on the government relations committee of the International Council of Shopping Centers, as well as a member of the steering committee of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition. Zeke completed Northwestern’s Kellogg Corporate Governance Program.


Los Angeles

Photo By: Kyle Espeleta 

From Left to Right


Luis Maizel, president of LM Capital Group - Maestro of Entrepreneurship

Maizel is the co-founder and senior managing director of LM Capital Group, LLC, has been investing in the global fixed income markets since 1984. Mr. Maizel was born and raised in Mexico City. His experience includes serving as vice president of finance for Grupoventas, S.A.; faculty member at the Harvard Business School; and president of Industrial Kuick, S.A. After structuring a favorable buyout of Kuick, Maizel relocated to San Diego, California.

Mr. Maizel received an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering from The National University of Mexico (UNAM) in 1971 and Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard

Business School in 1974, where he graduated as a Baker Scholar, the school’s highest academic honor. Maizel is a member of the NAFIN Foreign Board (Mexico’s National Development Bank), Vibra Bank (the first Hispanic community bank in San Diego), and several non-profit organizations.


Dr. Cynthia Ann Telles, director of UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute Psychosocial Clinic - Maestro of Professional Achievement

Telles has been on the faculty of the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry since 1986. She is the Director of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute Spanish-speaking Psychosocial Clinic. In addition to department-wide oversight responsibilities, she manages the clinical operations of this model psychiatric clinic, as well as training and research.

For more than a decade, she has been a member of the board of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, the largest integrated health care system in the United States. She is a member of the Executive and Audit Committees and, most importantly, serves as the Chair of the Community Benefit Committee, which formulates policy and approves the allocation of approximately $2 billion in charitable contributions.

Telles has authored many publications in scientific journals and numerous presentations at national and international scientific meetings. She received a B.A. from Smith College and

a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Boston University.


Dr. Sandra R. Hernandez, president & CEO of California Healthcare Foundation - Maestro of Community Service

Dr. Sandra R. Hernandez has been president and CEO of the California Health Care Foundation since January 2014. CHCF is an independent foundation with assets of more than $700 million, headquartered in Oakland, California, and dedicated to making health care work for all Californians, especially low-income and underserved populations. Prior to joining CHCF, Sandra was CEO of The San Francisco Foundation, which she led for 16 years. She previously served as director of public health for the city and county of San Francisco.

She practiced at San Francisco General Hospital in the AIDS clinic from 1984 to 2016. She served on the External Advisory Committee at the Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences in 2016.

She is a graduate of Yale University, the Tufts School of Medicine, and the certificate program for senior executives in state and local government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy

School of Government.


Archbishop José H. Gomez, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Los Angeles - Maestro of Leadership

The Most Reverend José H. Gomez is the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Catholic community. In his ministry, Archbishop Gomez encourages people to follow Jesus Christ with joy and simplicity of life, seeking to serve God and their neighbors in their ordinary

daily activities. He has played a leading role in the Catholic Church’s efforts to promote immigration reform in his book, Immigration and the Next America: Renewing the Soul of Our Nation.

Archbishop Gomez is a native of Monterrey, Mexico, and a naturalized American citizen. Prior to becoming Archbishop of Los Angeles, he served as Archbishop of San Antonio (2005-10) and Auxiliary Bishop of Denver (2001-05).

He holds a doctorate degree in theology as well as undergraduate degrees in accounting, philosophy and theology. He speaks and writes often on issues involving the Church and American society.



Photo By: Jason Gilmore

From Left to Right



Antonio R. Flores, president & CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) - Maestro of Leadership

Flores is responsible for the overall leadership, executive management, public and community relations, policy formulation and advocacy, association governance affairs, advancement planning, financial and investment oversight, human resources policies, strategic planning, and programmatic accountability and reporting.

Prior to his position at HACU, Flores served as director of programs and services for the Michigan Higher Education Assistance Authority and the Michigan Higher Education Student Loan Authority. His statewide responsibilities included policy analysis and development,  legislative affairs, administrative leadership for programs, technical assistance and outreach services for all Michigan colleges and universities, program evaluation and research, and overall management.

Flores holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


Carlos F. Orta, vice president of Corporate Affairs of Carnival Corporation - Maestro of Diversity Advancement

Carlos F. Orta joined Carnival Corp. & PLC in March 2014 as vice president of corporate affairs. Responsibilities include leadership and oversight of state, local and international affairs as well as multicultural initiatives for Carnival Corp. around the globe.

From April 2006-February 2014, Carlos served as the president and CEO of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. During his time at HACR, revenue and corporate memberships doubled, while several new programs and initiatives were launched, including the HACR Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers Program, the

HACR CEO Roundtable, and the award-winning short documentary film series Insider Game.

Born in Havana, Cuba, his family moved to Madrid, Spain, in 1969 and settled in Miami in July 1971.

He graduated from Barry University with a BA in Liberal Studies and currently serves on the board of directors of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the South Florida Progress Foundation. He recently joined the United Way of Miami’s Toqueville Society.


Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Sheriff of Dallas County as Maestro of Community Service

Sheriff Lupe Valdez is serving her third term for the citizens of Dallas County. She became the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the county in 2005. Sheriff Valdez is the only Hispanic female sheriff in the United States and only one of four female sheriffs in Texas.

Some of the department’s accomplishments since her election include the hiring of 400 new detention service officers and the expansion of the freeway management patrol system, which covers over 78 miles of county highways; the construction of the South Tower Jail Facility, one of the largest direct supervision facilities in the country with the capacity to house 2,304 inmates; the current construction of a 300-bed medical facility within the Lew Sterrett Justice Center; and improvements to the quality of overall health care for mentally ill inmates.

Prior to her election, she gained experience in homeland security and anti-terrorism investigations. She has worked in the United States, Central America and South America.


Manny J. Fernandez, managing partner of KPMG - Maestro of Professional Achievement

Fernandez immigrated to the U.S. from Cuba with his family. His parents instilled in him and his sister the values of hard work and perseverance. They championed education and stressed the important role it would play in his future success. They also encouraged leading by example and treating everyone with respect.

Remaining true to these values has led to incredible opportunities with KPMG —working internationally in Mexico City, leading recruiting efforts nationally for three years, and joining three KPMG offices across the U.S. Throughout his 30 years with KPMG, he says the help of mentors and sponsors have truly made the difference in his growth as a person and professional.

KPMG has an incredibly strong network of Hispanic professionals, most clearly seen through our Hispanic/Latino network with 17 chapters nationwide. Fernandez holds a Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Fairleigh Dickinson University.


Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo, vice president and founder of Casa Noble Tequila as Maestro of Entrepreneurship

“Pepe” Hermosillo’s entry to the business marked the seventh generation of tequila makers, though he insisted his would be something different. The earliest written account of the Gonzales-Hermosillo family being involved in tequila was in the late 1700s, when they were producing just 22 barrels a month. Average production still numbers about 60,000 cases a year.

By comparison, Patron is the largest in the market, producing about 1.8 million cases a year. Growth by 24 percent in 2012 became 27 percent this year. And while projections make Casa

Noble the next big thing, “Pepe” has other ideas. He knows 100,000 to 150,000 are great numbers to achieve but that volume still allows producers to maintain a handcrafted quality. Today Casa Noble produces 60,000 six-bottle cases of tequila annually, a number Hermosillo would like to increase to 150,000. The distillery’s line, which includes silver, joven, reposado, añejo and extra añejo expressions, is also represented by rock guitar legend Carlos Santana, who became a partner two years ago.




Special Thank you to all of our 2016 Maestro Sponsors:




For More Maestro Coverage, visit our digital edition!

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