The Hispanic leadership of this country has evolved and advanced exponentially in the past few years. Today, the top leaders of the community have much more power and a deeper level of complexity and influence than they did just a decade ago.
Three years ago, our staff of writers, photographers and advisors took on the challenge of developing the most powerful list of Hispanic leaders, and narrowing it down to just one hundred and one names was not an easy task. There are by far many more leaders than the ones we list here, and of course, not all of the leaders we found are on the list, but all of the ones that are on it are definitely top leaders. More than just leaders, many of these individuals are heroes, because they managed to persevere and succeed against all odds, sometimes in spite of very humble beginnings, sometimes even overcoming painful departures from their home countries. For those few, the burden is even larger because they carry the responsibility to set an example for those that follow behind. Still, all of these men and women embody the most important and valuable qualities of leadership, and each is fully deserving of top recognition.
Though some may contest that leadership among Latinos is still somewhat scarce, as this list and the leaders profiled in it clearly attest, there are indeed plenty of great Latino leaders to learn from and be inspired by here in America. We are proud to present to you their stories.
What is Leadership?
Leadership has a wide variety of meanings, but for us at Latino Leaders magazine, leadership means much more. It is larger than the word itself, because for our magazine, a leader is someone who has been successful, someone that is greatly admired, someone that has enormous achievements and leads either by example or by being the first at accomplishing something. For us, real leadership requires years of development and lots of hard work.
Authentic leaders always know who they are and what others expect of them. They must feel comfortable in their own shoes, and their decision and actions cannot be driven by a need of recognition. In order to be effective, true leaders must first discover the purpose of their leadership. In addition, must be keenly aware of the direction of their moral compass and must be willing to maintain that course at all costs, despite challenges and failure.
For us, true leadership has three stages: true leaders must first achieve success for themselves. Then, they must achieve it for others, and finally, they must start giving back to the community That is the natural progression of most leadership around the world, and we are happy to report that it is a pattern that we can safely state is well alive and bountiful in the Hispanic Community today.
GENDER BREAKDOWN:  Men 82  Women 18  Families 1 WHERE THEY LIVE:  California 36  Florida 10  Illinois 6  New York 12  Texas 10  Washington, D.C. 15  Other* 12 * (CO, PA, PR, AK, NC, OK, NM, KS, CT, AZ) THEIR HISPANIC ROOTS:  Mexico 62  Cuba 17  Puerto Rico 7  USA 5  Other* 10 * (Spain, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Austria) THEIR HIGHEST LEVEL OF EDUCATION:  Secondary/High School 13  Bachelor's Degree 30  Master's Degree 26  Ph.D./M.D./J.D. 29  Other* 3 * (Primary or no education, certificates, some college, Associate Degrees) How We Picked The 101 Names
Our process starts well in advance, and it involves quite a comprehensive investigative process that is parallel to none. We start with a list of names of individuals whose names are synonym to leadership in the community, and we go from there. Unlike other lists, we recognize that some leaders are such by the sheer weight of their lifetime achievements, and that for that reason they will continue to be leaders of the community year by year no matter what. Those names, therefore, remain on the list year-to-year.
The next step is to consult with our advisory board. The board members, a group of very well informed, high-level professionals, share with us their objective opinions, as well as the names of any new candidates that they may think we should consider. Simultaneously, our staff of collaborators conducts research in order to establish additional candidates and also to determine who remains on the list and who gets added as a new member. From all of those results together, we painstakingly choose a preliminary list, from which we eventually chose the final 101 names.
Our list is always pristine, always dictated exclusively by the merits of the individuals included in it. It is also unique in that it not only includes the highest-ranking Latinos in each area of specialty, but also non-Latinos whose decisions directly influence or affect our community.
Although some of our readers have commented that we should only profile Latinos who were born in the U.S., we prefer to remain more open. We, as a magazine, choose not to shorten our horizon and only consider U.S.-born only Latinos, because many of the Latinos that are doing great things and are establishing new ways to assist and advance the community are not U.S.-born citizens. For us, leadership is simply universal. No matter where they come from or where they live and no matter where they are at, leaders are leaders. And for us, who look up to them and admire their achievements, their origin is truly irrelevant. We simply admire the talent that they've shown while achieving recognition and success.
How To Read The Profiles
DAVID AGUILAR 001
National Border Chief, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Contact: U.S. Border Patrol (202)354-100
Highest Academic Level: Graduate
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard Senior Executive Fellows
Residence: Washington, DC
Who he is:
Born in South Texas' Rio Grande valley, Aguilar served Patrol Agent in charge of three different Border Patrol Stations in Texas from 1999 to August 1996. He was first promoted to Patrol Agent in Charge of the Dallas Border Patrol Station in January 1988 and was promoted to the to the Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station in 1992. The Rio Grande City Station is one of the most active stations for narcotics interdiction along the Texas-Mexico border. He was promoted to the Brownsville Station in July 1995. The Brownsville Station was the largest Border Patrol Station in the Central Region of the INS at the time.
Why he made the list:
Why made the list: Aguilar was named Chief of the Border Patrol in May 2004, and assumed the position July 1, 2004. As the nation's highest ranking Border Patrol officer, Chief Aguilar directs the enforcement efforts of more than 12,000 Border Patrol Agents nationwide. Chief Aguilar brings to the job the knowledge and expertise gained from more than 26 years of service with the Border Patrol, along with a clear understanding of the demands of the force he is in charge of.
With such vast first-hand knowledge of the realities of illegal border crossing, expect Aguilar, on the wake of President Bush's newly signed "Secure Fence Act", to spend more time and effort developing new policies for the agency to handle the challenges that building the fence will bring along with its completion.
SERGIO AGUILAR GAXIOLA 002
Health & Science
Chairman of the Board, National Mental Health Association
Contact: NMHA (301)443-4513
Highest Academic Level: Ph.D.in Clinical-Community Psychology
Residence: Sacramento, California
Who he is:
Originally from Mexico, Aguilar-Gaxiola is the founding director of UC Davis' Center for Reducing Health Disparities, where he guides a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to addressing inequities in health access and quality of care. His practice and scholarship efforts in Latin America and in the U.S. are concerned with the epidemiology and prevention of mental illness among the Latino population. In 2003, he co-chaired the Hartman Scholars Program on depression.
Why he made the list:
In June of 2006, Aguilar-Gaxiola was named chair of the board of the National Mental Health Association (N-MHA), ehres he is expected to provide direction and leadership to the national organization and its 340 Affiliates nationwide. Since 1993, he has been the Director of the Mexican-American Prevalence and Services Survey (MAPSS) Project. In early 2006, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office honored Dr. Aguilar-Gaxiola with a Minority Health's National Minority Health Community Leader Award.
As the new head of the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness, Aguilar-Gaxiola will increase the understanding and treatment at mental illness, and to address the stigma that often detours treatment and limits recovery.
VICTOR ALFARO 003
Highest Academic Level: Graduate
New York's Fashion Institute of Technology
Residence: New York, NY
Who he is:
Born and raised in Mexico, Alfaro decided to attend the Fashion Institute of New York in the 1980's., After graduating in 1987, Alfaro worked as an apprentice designer, and by the mid-1990s, at the age of 30, he had became recognized as one of the leading designers in the United States. After starting his own fashion design business, he quickly achieved a reputation as an evening wear designer whose clothes suggest sex and power His body-clinging garments in leather and sheer fabrics are worn by many prominent women, including Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Mariah Carey and Winona Ryder
Why he made the list:
Reputedly the heir to Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass's legendary reputation, Alfaro has never sought to philosophize through his clothes, but rather, to make the wearer look beautiful. While working for American ready-to-wear designer Joseph Abboud, he acquired the technique of mixing...