HISPA Kicks Off National Hispanic Professionals Mentoring Program in New Jersey
NEW JERSEY – HISPA (Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement), a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing positive Hispanic role models for young students, held a successful launch event on Tuesday, September 16th, to spotlight the group’s national mission and its New Jersey program. The event took place at AT&T in Bedminster, New Jersey.
AT&T HACEMOS NJ members at the kick-off event in Bedminster
The kick-off marked the start of the organization’s “100 Role Models in 100 Hours” initiative, an effort designed to enlist 100 New Jersey area mentors before the close of the week. Numerous organizations and individuals pledged to join HISPA’s efforts, bringing an immediate total of 57 new role models – which translates into more than 200 school visits – and a commitment by the new participants to get almost two dozen more enrolled.
HISPA’s Role Model Bureau is a national network of role models and resources that will showcase the participants’ educational experiences, careers, and ethnic backgrounds. HISPA encourages Hispanic professionals to become active role models by visiting schools and sharing their educational and career experiences with students in an effort to inspire academic performance and achievement.
“HISPA wants to encourage Hispanic professionals to step into the classrooms to share their stories with young students with the goal of inspiring children to focus on their educational and professional dreams,” said Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse, president of HISPA, and a New Jersey resident. “We felt that it was appropriate to hold our event at the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month when there is a national focus on Hispanic accomplishments, and in New Jersey where we have an incredible pool of educated and talented Hispanics.”
HISPA invited professionals from the business and academic sectors to the event where opening remarks were made by Mayra Caceres, president of HACEMOS NJ, AT&T’s Hispanic employee resource group.
HISPA is also teaming up with existing organizations that have mentoring programs. In New Jersey, HISPA is working with Hudson County-based Save Latin America’s “Reaching Our Dreams” program. Johnny Torres, Save Latin America’s program director, spoke at the launch event where he detailed his experience working with mentors and students.
NSHMBA NJ members
Luis J. Diaz, director and Chief Diversity Officer for Gibbons P.C., and president/CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Advocacy Association (USHAA, was the moderator for a panel discussion. The panelists were Cid Wilson, former National President of the Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR), and Board Director of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR); Alicia Abella, Ph.D., AT&T Labs Executive Director, Technical Research; and Brigitte Gonzalez, president of the NJ Chapter of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA).
The following list includes organizations who have pledged to provide role models, as well as others who have joined HISPA’s efforts include Employee Resources Groups (AT&T – HACEMOS, MERCK – Merck Hispanic Organization (MHO), PSE&G – ADELANTE, CHUBB – CHUBB Hispanic and Latino Employee Network (CHLEN), Microsoft – HOLA), Professional Organizations (NSHMBA NJ Chapter, LISTA NJ and NY Chapters), USHAA, DANR, Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz, LatinosNJ.com and HISPA Board & Staff.
HISPA’s supporters include LatPro.com, which designed the organization’s website. The site includes an integrated online career center that allows HISPA members to use LatPro’s career resources, including job listings. Summit YMCA’s Latino leadership program is also another key supporter.
The event was sponsored by LISTA (Latinos in Information and Technology), NSHMBA NJ, USHAA and HACEMOS NJ.
Dr. Diaz-Claisse’s professional background includes 10 years with AT&T. She holds a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Puerto Rico, a Masters in engineering from Cornell University, a Masters in mathematics from the University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Arizona State University.
HISPA’s goals are:
• To reduce the drop-out rates by targeting middle schools students and emphasizing the importance of higher education in each role model presentation.
• To further develop strategic alliances with employee resource groups, professional organizations and alumni networks in order to select, recruit and support a pool of role models.
• To become a one-stop resource that provides access to thousands of professional Hispanic role models willing to share their motivational stories on an ongoing basis to schools and community-based educational programs.
• To support and expand existing community-based educational programs with similar goals that have an existing need for a Hispanic pool of role models.