Antonio Tijerino is the president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF), which focuses on education, workforce development, connectivity, innovative leadership and public awareness as well as promoting cultural pride and accomplishment. With Tijerino at the help, the HHF has built a network of 100,000 vetted Latino talent (15 to 35 year olds) and focused on the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, entrepreneurship, finance, media and other priority areas for the U.S., according to the foundation's website. HHF also works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and other non-profit organizations.
It was early on in Tijerino's career where he found his calling: service. One of his early jobs was running the Fannie Mae Foundation. Dr. Pedro Jose Greer, who was the incoming chair at the time, not only hired Tijerino, but also became a mentor to him.
"I don't really have that many (mentors), but that guy was it," Tijerino said. "He was very important to my development, my humility and my focus on service. Those were the guidelines he gave me; focus on our missions, remember leadership is servitude and always understand if you're trying to accomplish something, just focus on the accomplishment of it. Don't get caught up on who gets credit."
Tijerino took Dr. Greer's advice about not worrying about who gets credit to heart. Even though he's head of HHF, when he's asked about his leadership style, Tijerino says its to be led by people that are 20 to 30 years younger than he is. He considers the people he works with as his role models, and together they've helped HHF created programs like Code is a Second Language and launch an institute for "Dreamers" called The Dream Institute, which serves as a year-round leadership program for young professionals.
"I'm very proud of putting it in their hands and truly understanding that our role is to encourage, support and get out of their way," Tijerino said. "My 13-year-old daughter right now can reach more people than Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and Gandhi could in a lifetime combined in split second if she has access to Wi-Fi and a device. Think of the power that are youth has access to right now; all of our programs are based on leveraging that power they have right now to lead."
The HHF programs have helped thousands of kids learn how to code and connect a lot of them to WiFi to help address the equity gap in education and the workforce because Latinos are...