Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
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Manassas, VA- On September 15th, 2016, business leaders from across the mid-Atlantic gathered for a luncheon featuring the opportunity to make connections and a special presentation honoring influential members of the Hispanic business community.
To kick off National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), The Prince William Chamber of Commerce, the Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (MAHCC), and the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (VAHCC) co-hosted a luncheon entitled Embracing Connections, Connecting Cultures. Featuring a selection of cuisines from Mariachi’s Tequileria & Restaurant, Todos Super Markets, Zandra’s Taqueria, Kikiriki, Wegmans-Woodbridge and Travinia Italian Kitchen, took place on the first floor of the Prince William Chamber Building at 9720 Capital Court in Manassas, Virginia. Nicole Quiroga, General Manager of the Telemundo stations in both Washington, DC and Richmond, VA, served as Master of Ceremonies.
“We believe it is extremely important to recognize the many contributions that Hispanic businesses make to their communities. We take pride in honoring those businesses and their achievements, and are pleased to be able to share in this significant event alongside the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and the Mid-Atlantic Chamber of Commerce. Hispanic Heritage Month will culminate with the state-wide VAHCC conference and gala on October 13,” said Michel Zajur, Founder & CEO of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
"The Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has a distinguished history of diversity and inclusion in Northern Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region. Our business and civic communities are honored to join the Virginia Hispanic and Prince William Chambers in celebrating the 2016 National Hispanic Heritage Month and in recognizing Hispanic business leaders who, as part of the great American demographic mosaic, are helping to drive the economic prosperity of the Commonwealth through their dynamic entrepreneurial spirit," said Jorge Ribas, President & CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
During the program, each of the three hosting Chambers presented awards to members demonstrating “strong leadership, commitment and contributions” to their respective business communities.
The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce honoree was Carlos Castro, President & CEO of Todos Super Markets:
Carlos Castro’s story as an entrepreneur and community leader has been covered by everyone from USA Today, to The Washington Post to NPR. But it is his connection with and commitment to the youth in his community that makes his vision so remarkable. A successful businessman who emigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador in 1980, Carlos has been a passionate advocate for immigrants ever since, serving as a critical bridge between the Hispanic community and greater Prince William County. “When he speaks,” someone once noted, “both sides listen… he is always respected.”
When Carlos sees an opportunity to empower children and young adults, he makes things happen. He employs students on probation, mentors boys at risk of gang participation, and provides his grocery store employees with opportunities to improve themselves, and to learn how they can take action to help others.
Carlos is currently serving or has served as a board member of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, Youth for Tomorrow, Potomac Health Foundation, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Northern Virginia Community College Education Foundation, Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Action (HOLA) and Northern Virginia Workforce Development Board among others.
The Prince William Chamber of Commerce honoree was Diana Paguaga of DeSeguros, LLC:
Born and raised in Nicaragua, Diana Paguaga came to the United States in 1987 as a Fulbright Scholar in American University’s Development Banking Program. With MBA in hand, she returned home but soon returned to Northern Virginia since the political situation in Nicaragua, at that time, was becoming more and more unsafe for her family.
Looking for affordable housing and good schools for her children, Diana, with the help of a realtor, found a home in Virginia to raise her family; at the same time finding a calling. For more than a decade, Diana has been a realtor who has aided more than 100 Hispanic families achieve the American Dream of first-time home ownership.
Diana moved from selling homes to selling security as an independent insurance agent, especially Medicare supplemental insurance. In fact, her business is often referred to as the “Medicare Ministry,” since she gained the reputation of treating her clients with the concern and care as if they were her own family.
Through her “ministry,” Diana soon discovered that many of her clients from Central America--along with women from Afghanistan who escaped with their children--could not speak English. They desperately wanted to learn the language so they could communicate with teachers, neighbors, and adapt to the day-to-day challenges of living in a different country & culture. To help, Diana learned about BEACON for Adult Literacy where she now serves on the Board, and made the needed connection for her clients.
Diana has served for the last 4 years as the Chair of the Hispanic Council for the Prince William Chamber of Commerce. She is also the Hispanic Liaison at the Northern Virginia Veterans Association; the Vice Chair of the Salvation Army Advisory Committee; and an active member of the local branch of Zonta International, which aims to improve the status of women globally and locally through service and advocacy.
In August of 2016, Diana was appointed to the Commonwealth Council on Aging by Governor Terry McAuliffe. Appointees will join McAuliffe’s Administration to focus on finding common ground with members of both parties on issues to build a new Virginia economy and create more jobs across the Commonwealth.
The Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce honoree was Aldo Bello, Chief Creative Officer and founder of Mind & Media, Inc.:
Aldo Bello is a business entrepreneur and Chief Creative Officer of Mind & Media, Inc. which is a strategic media communications company located in Alexandria. MindandMedia.com was recently recognized as the Mid-Atlantic Entrepreneur of the Year. Aldo is also a founding member of the Latino Excellence Council, co-founder of Bright Box-- an entertainment venue located in Winchester, Virginia, and co-founder of Ideas America- - a bilingual and bicultural digital video publisher. In addition to being a television producer, serial entrepreneur and businessman, he is also a beekeeper and wine enthusiast!
Aldo was born in Ames, Iowa, and is a first-generation immigrant from Santiago, Chile. As an award-winning producer, he works with federal agencies, non-profits, and broadcast entities to create programming that produces positive change in individuals and the communities in which they live.
As the Director/Producer of the documentary: “DREAM: An American Story,” Aldo won two regional Emmy’s and was awarded “Best in Festival” by the Greater Washington Immigration Film Festival in 2015.
Recently, Aldo was a member of the Stanford Latino Entrepreneur Leaders Program - a national program that helps business owners by providing access to networks, mentorship and capital to grow, create jobs, and build a stronger economy.
Aldo’s business affiliations include both the Alexandria Chamber and the Mid- Atlantic Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Skyline Indie Film Fest and the Immigration Film Fest and is a member of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers and the Leadership Council of the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Migration Studies.
Sponsors for Embracing Connections, Connecting Cultures included: Northern Virginia Community College, Manassas Campus; The Libre Initiative, BB&T and Comcast. Exhibitors include: BEACON for Adult Literacy; Novant Health UVA Health System; The Margaros Team State Farm Insurance & Financial Service; Sam’s Club and CASA CIS. Entertainment during the event was provided by LG Bands Entertainment.
For information on taking part in the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, contact Rita Willis at email@example.com or call 804-378-4099.
About the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce:
The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce strives to build bridges of cross-cultural commerce and provide the Hispanic business community-at-large with resources for economic development. The VAHCC serves the Hispanic community by advocating for continued education for Hispanic students through the Passport to Education Initiative, providing resources for legal assistance, and allowing access to the Business Innovation Center. Through its strong and trusted network, the VAHCC serves as the voice for over 30,000 Hispanic owned Virginia businesses. For more information, visit www.VAHCC.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 804-378-4099.
About the Prince William Chamber of Commerce:
The Prince William Chamber of Commerce is the strongest voice for the business community in the Washington, DC Metropolitan region. Together with our diverse membership, representing nearly 70,000 employees we work to create an environment where business and people thrive. To accomplish this, we focus our efforts in the key areas of business growth, economic development, advocacy, education and community outreach. In this way, we are building a solid foundation for the success of our business members and our community. For more information, visit our website at www.pwchamber.org or call the Prince William Chamber at 703-368-6600.
About the Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Chamber of Commerce:
The MAHCC is a forward-looking, thought-leading business organization dedicated to the socioeconomic advancement of the Hispanic community within the framework of the American experience. Created at the beginning of the 21st Century at a time of major scientific, technological and global paradigm shifts, the MAHCC mission is to speed up new business development and growth, international trade, competency in English and other languages, and cultural and STEM education. Moreover, the MAHCC seeks to accelerate, through personal responsibility and self-reliance the type of diversity and inclusion that drives discovery, innovation, technological advancement and economic primacy. For more information, please visit MAHCC.org or call 301-404-1946.