Unidos @ Bridge Committee
Unidos @ Bridge
Unidos means “united” in Spanish. The mission of Unidos @ Bridge is to develop a collaborative network among Bridge employees across different verticals in an effort to promote the cultural diversity, professional development and career advancement of its members; thereby creating a supportive environment for the Latino/Hispanic community within Bridge and contributing to the enrichment and success of the Bridge Investment Group mission as a whole.
Hispanic Heritage Month Stories and Highlights
Maria Contreras-Sweet, born in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1955, embodies the essence of resilience and achievement. She grew up as the fifth of six siblings in a family that faced many economic hardships. In 1961, her mother moved the family to California, where she worked tirelessly at a poultry processing plant to make ends meet, and all the children pitched in by cleaning houses. Despite initially not speaking English, Maria's determination and intellect allowed her to skip a grade in third grade. That experience fueled Maria's aspiration to become a schoolteacher and led her to enroll at California State University, majoring in Public Administration and Political Science. Her journey into politics began when she worked for a local state assemblyman, focusing on education issues.
In 1995, Maria took a significant step by starting her own research consulting company specializing in Latino marketing. Her dedication to public service was recognized when, in 1999, she became the state's first Latina cabinet official, serving as the secretary of the Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency for five years. Later, she co-founded and presided over Fortius Holdings, a private equity firm that provided capital to small California businesses. In 2006, she founded ProAmerica Bank, a financial institution to assist small and mid-size businesses, primarily in the Latino community.
Maria Contreras-Sweet's remarkable journey reached new heights when, in January 2014, President Obama nominated her to lead the Small Business Administration, making her the second Hispanic in Obama's second-term Cabinet. Since April 2014, Maria has served as the 24th U.S. Small Business Administration administrator. Maria Contreras-Sweet's life story is a testament to the American dream, and her dedication to empowering small businesses and diverse communities is truly inspiring.
Juan Francisco Reyes
Juan Francisco Reyes stands out as a symbol of diversity in the complex fabric of 18th-century California. He arrived shortly after the establishment of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles (later known as Los Angeles) in 1781. As a man of mixed heritage, Reyes played a crucial role in the town's development and became its first elected mayor in 1793, serving for two distinguished years. Reyes was also the first land grantee of the Spanish Crown in the region, and he sold land to support the completion of the San Fernando Mission in 1797. His legacy includes being the first "black mayor" and "Hispanic mayor" of the town, marking his significant impact on the diverse and rich history of Los Angeles. His descendants continue to contribute to the region, and their family home, the Reyes Adobe Historical Site in Agoura Hills, California, serves as a tangible reminder of his family's enduring legacy. Juan Francisco Reyes' story reminds us of the lasting influence that Latinx individuals have had on the United States' history and culture.
Sylvia Acevedo has had an exceptional journey marked by pioneering work in technology and leadership. She was born on November 1, 1956, in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and rose above humble beginnings to achieve remarkable accomplishments. In 1980, she started her career at IBM as an engineer while studying at Stanford University. During her time at IBM, she contributed to the Solar Polar Solar Probe (SPSP) and Voyager 2 teams at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She went on to hold significant roles at renowned tech companies like Apple, Autodesk, Dell, REBA Technologies, and Tandem Ungermann-Bass. Acevedo also founded CommuniCard, based in Austin, TX, and received the Business Award from The Aguila Awards Foundation in 2005. Her commitment to education and leadership was exemplified when she joined the national board of directors for the Girl Scouts of the USA in 2009, a position she held until 2016. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Acevedo to the Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. In July 2016, Sylvia Acevedo was appointed interim CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, a role she later assumed permanently in May 2017. Under her visionary leadership, the Girl Scouts introduced over 100 badges in Outdoors and STEM, including areas such as robotics, coding, engineering, and cybersecurity. Acevedo's exceptional contributions have been recognized through numerous accolades, including being listed on Forbes' "America's Top 50 Women In Tech" in 2018, Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business" in the same year, and receiving the 2019 Hispanic Heritage Award For Leadership. In November 2020, Sylvia Acevedo joined the board of directors of Qualcomm, where she currently serves on its Governance Committee, and in 2023, she became a board member of Quark.ai, a generative AI startup. Acevedo's inspiring journey exemplifies her transformative impact as an entrepreneur, investor, business leader and rocket-scientist.
Private First Class Simon Cardenas
Private First Class Simon Cardenas exemplifies the valor and sacrifice of Mexican-American soldiers during World War II. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and was assigned to Company H of the 16th Infantry Regiment. During his service, he fought in various battlefields, including Sicily, Normandy, and Africa. Cardenas displayed exceptional heroism and bravery, which led to him receiving the Bronze Star award. On August 4th, 1943, he risked his life by delivering essential ammunition and supplies over hazardous mountain trails while under enemy fire. His unwavering dedication to his comrades and country, despite the discrimination of his time, embodies the spirit of patriotism that transcends all boundaries. Private First Class Simon Cadenas continued to display this dedication throughout his service, fighting alongside his company on Omaha Beach in Normandy, where he was killed on November 22nd, 1944. In recognition of his bravery and sacrifice, Private First Class Simon Cardenas was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star, World War II Victory Medal, and Combat Infantryman Badge on August 18th, 2023.
Scott Cardenas, Chief Technology Officer, kindly shared his grandfather's inspiring story.
Orlando luncheon with a word from Robb Chapin
North Carolina luncheon - speaker TBD
Atlanta luncheon with a word from Richard Hartley
Salt Lake luncheon with a word from Adam O'Farrell
New York luncheon with a word from Juan Agudelo
Héctor Fernández L'Hoeste (Ph.D., Stony Brook University, 1996) is professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches cultural studies. He is the author of Narrativas de representación urbana (Peter Lang, 1998) and Lalo Alcaraz: Political Cartooning in the Latino Community (University of Mississippi Press, 2017), and editor of Rockin’ Las Americas (with Deborah Pacini Hernández and Eric Zolov, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004), Redrawing the Nation (with Juan Poblete, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Cumbia! (with Pablo Vila, Duke University Press, 2013), Sports and Nationalism in Latin/o America (with Robert McKee Irwin and Juan Poblete, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Sound, Image, and National Imaginary in the Construction of Latin/o American Identities (with Pablo Vila, Lexington Books, 2018), and Digital Humanities in Latin America (with Juan Pablo Rodríguez, University of Florida Press, 2020). His articles on media and cultural theory have appeared in Hispania, Chasqui, National Identities, Objeto Visual, Revista de Estudios Colombianos, Revista Iberoamericana, Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios sobre la Historieta (Cuba), Cenizas (Mexico), and Film Quarterly, among others. In addition, he has published work in Imagination Beyond Nation (Pittsburgh, 1998), Imagining Our Americas (Duke, 2007), and Cultures of the City (Pittsburgh, 2010), among others. He is editor of two academic series: with Pablo Vila, he edits the Music, Culture, and Identity in Latin America series for Lexington Books; and with Juan Carlos Rodríguez, he publishes Reframing Media, Technology, and Culture in Latin/o America for the University of Florida Press.
In 2018, together with Robert McKee Irwin and Juan Poblete, he published the Spanish translation of Sports and Nationalism in Latin/o America, titled Deportes y nacionalismo en América Latina (Cuarto Propio). He’s also the translator of Travels to the Land of Oblivion: Modernity and Colombian Identity in the Work of Carlos Vives and La Provincia (Lexington Books, 2020). He’s currently working on a coming monograph titled Vicious Muñequitos: Memory, Nation, and Violence in Latin/x American Comics and a volume on humor and the internet in Latin/x America (with Juan Poblete).