Thursday, April 18, 2024

Guest Blogger Series: Maria del Pilar Avila “New America Alliance: 11 Years of Advocacy”

On November 17-19, the New America Alliance (NAA), an American Latino Business Initiative, will hold its 10th Annual Latino Economic Summit for the first time in Washington, D.C.  As one of the nation’s leading Latino organizations dedicated to advancing the economic development of the American Latino community, the NAA will celebrate its 11th anniversary at the summit by continuing to address critical issues facing the American Latino business community such as access to corporate and pension fund boards, greater availability of private equity funding at major institutional investors, and investing in education and mentoring for American Latino students and entrepreneurs.

In its first year, the future of such an Alliance was uncertain.  What was certain was the need for an organization led by American Latino business leaders to build the forms of capital most crucial to the advancement of the Latino community – economic capital, political capital, human capital and the practice of philanthropy.

Since its inception, NAA has achieved successes within each of its core issues, yet a great deal of work remains.  As the nation’s economy improves, it is Latino and Latina-owned businesses that are helping drive this recovery.  By some accounts, Hispanic-owned firms approached 3 million in 2008 with business receipts of $389 billion, while our community’s purchasing power is projected to exceed $1 trillion by 2012.  Yet, in education Latinos still face disproportionately high dropout rates for high school students and the pipeline leading into higher education demands greater improvement to ensure the development of future leaders.  From a business standpoint, Latino businesses continue to lack appropriate access to capital.  As decision-makers, Latinos are still woefully underrepresented on the boards of directors of pensions funds, Fortune 1000 corporations and philanthropic foundations.

Working in issue areas that few have addressed, a key concern for the Alliance has been the lack of Latino participation in the financial services industry.  NAA faced this challenge head-on by offering strategies to increase the participation of American Latino financial services firms in the management of investments from the institutional investor community and corporate America.  NAA has also worked to increase access to private equity and venture funding, and to develop future American Latino financial executives.

Our efforts have led us to work directly with legislators to provide them the proper tools to influence and re-direct programs that control the flow of capital back into the Latino community and to ensure an inclusive financial services industry.  NAA has also reached out to corporate America to assist companies in understanding the greater market value of inclusiveness.  As the Latino population continues to grow, it makes little business sense that a company would attempt to market its product or service without executives and board members in place who could relate to the complexity of the American Latino community.

Focusing its efforts on enhancing human capital, education, and strategic philanthropy the New America Alliance Institute is founded on the principle that American Latino business leaders are uniquely capable of investing in our own community through coordinated philanthropy and public & private strategic collaboration.  In its short lifespan, the Institute has contributed over $1 million to its educational partners: the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Robert Toigo Foundation and the UCLA Hispanic International Medical Graduates Program.

For the past eleven years, NAA has been an advocate for the advancement of American Latino business and our community as a whole.  We invite you to join us at our Latino Economic Summit as we honor our leaders, celebrate our victories, examine our shortfalls and develop strategies for change.

We hope to see you there.

Maria del Pilar Avila rejoined New America Alliance (NAA) in May 2010 as Chief Executive Officer. As NAA’s Founding Executive Director from 1999-2005, Pilar applied her leadership and management skills in carrying out the vision of the NAA Board of Directors, turning the vision into a reality, and a start-up into a viable, well-established and highly respected national American Latino business initiative. She brings a deep understanding of the organization’s advocacy goals and shares the objective of leveraging and accelerating the economic, political and human capital development of the American Latino community.