“I Am Latino in America” to explore issues that will shape the future

Broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien will visit SMU on Tuesday as part of a national tour, “I Am Latino in America,” which will bring together national and local business, civic and education leaders for a discussion.

Soledad O’Brien

By Mercedes Olivera

Most Americans don’t know that the economic recession of 2008 seriously hurt Latino employment and housing.

Or that there is a lack of Latinos in the media — a problem that has been around since the 1960s, actually. This deficit, in turn, may account for the little coverage of Latinos in news stories — an issue Latino organizations have been decrying for more than a couple of decades now.

Soledad O’Brien
Soledad O’Brien

On Tuesday, there will be one more voice added to the chorus of those bringing attention to the demographic changes going on in our country, especially during an election season.

Broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien will visit Dallas on Tuesday as part of a national tour, “I Am Latino in America,” which will bring together national and local business leaders, community advocates and educators to discuss leadership, community engagement, voting, the economy and education.

Among those joining her for the 7 p.m. discussion at Southern Methodist University’s McFarlin Memorial Auditorium will be actor Esai Morales; Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Erika Beltran, member of the State Board of Education; and Miguel A. Quiñones, of SMU’s Cox School of Business.

The discussion is designed to connect all the dots, O’Brien said last week.

Read the full column.

More About the Discussion

The distinguished panel of experts taking part in the discussion will include Miguel Quiñones, the O. Paul Corley Distinguished Chair in Organizational Behavior and chair of the Management and Organizations department at SMU Cox. Quiñones also serves as the academic director of the school’s Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI), which is co-hosting “I Am Latino in America” in Dallas, along with the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.   

The LLI focuses on leadership development to help meet the need for diverse corporate leaders in a demographically evolving country. “We chose to co-host this event because the topics are relevant, and frankly, the discussion is sorely needed at this moment in history,” said Anthony Herrera, executive director of the LLI, part of SMU Cox Executive Education. “We need to do a better job of raising awareness of leaders in America who just happen to be Latino.”

In addition to O’Brien and Quiñones, participants will include:

  • Erika Beltran Member, Texas State Board of Education (D – District 13)
  • Roberto de la Cruz, M.D. Chief Medical Officer for Parkland Health & Hospital System
  • Edwin Flores, Ph.D., J.D. Chalker, Flores, LLP, Patent Attorney Trustee, Dallas Independent School District
  • Esai Morales Award-winning Actor, Producer and Activist
  • Ruben Navarrette National Syndicated Columnist
  • Javier Palomarez President and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC)
  • Nina Vaca Owner & CEO, Pinnacle Group, Dallas 


Launched in November 2013 as part of Executive Education at the SMU Cox School of Business, the Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI) is a national center of excellence designed to help meet the nation’s growing need for corporate leaders as national demographics evolve.  The LLI grew out of research that shows a gap in talent at the country’s executive leadership level.  Located on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the LLI offers Latino leadership development programs, organization development services, new Latino-focused research and insights and community engagement activities. 

About SMU Cox

The Cox School of Business was originally established in 1920 on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and named in honor of benefactor Edwin L. Cox in 1978.  SMU Cox offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate business education programs, including the BBA, Full-Time MBA, Fast Track MBA, Professional MBA (PMBA), Executive MBA (EMBA), Master of Science in Accounting, Master of Science in Business Analytics, Master of Science in Finance, Master of Science in Management, Master of Science in Sport Management and Executive Education. The school also offers a number of unique resources and activities for students, including the Business Leadership Center (BLC), the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship, the Folsom Institute for Real Estate, the Maguire Energy Institute, the Global Leadership Program and the Associate Board Executive Mentoring Program, as well as an international alumni network with chapters world-wide.

About Soledad O’Brien

Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning Producer, journalist, documentarian, and news anchor. She is CEO of Starfish Media Group, a multi-platform media production and distribution company with live events, concert specials, award shows, non-scripted programming, and documentaries airing on CNN, Nat Geo, HBO, NBC, MSNBC, A&E networks, and Lifetime. She is the winner of multiple Emmy awards, the George Foster Peabody Award and the Alfred I. DuPont Award. Follow her on Twitter: @soledadobrien