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The 6th Annual Hispanic Heritage Gala & Awards Ceremony will take place Sept. 24. These are the 10 archetypes who will be honored. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.
The 6th Annual Hispanic Heritage Gala & Awards Ceremony will take place Sept. 24. These are the 10 archetypes who will be honored. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.

Meet the 2021 AL DÍA Archetypes: The honorees of this year’s celebration of America’s Hispanic Heritage

These 10 outstanding Hispanic individuals will be the inaugural recipients of the Ambassador Manuel Torres Award on Sept. 24.

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Each year since 2016, AL DÍA has made it a personal mission to put together the premier celebration of America’s Hispanic Heritage. 

Officially celebrated in the U.S. each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Hispanic Heritage Month is the annual timeframe in which the nation often does what AL DÍA strives to do every day — showcase and honor the outstanding Hispanic professionals who are making a positive impact. 

Beyond the typical awardees and honorees of most events, those honored at the annual Hispanic Heritage celebration presented by AL DÍA, are classified as “archetypes.” These individuals are the opposite of the stereotypical representation in which Hispanics are often portrayed. 

They are professionals who represent the true meaning of Hispanic Heritage in the United States with their contributions to our region in key areas, including health, education, public service and many more. 

In past years, five archetypes have been selected to be honored at the annual event. 

This year, that number has doubled, as 10 outstanding representations of Hispanic Heritage will be honored with the 2021 AL DÍA Archetype: Ambassador Manuel Torres Award, named after Colombia’s first ambassador.

Meet the 2021 Archetypes here:

ARCHETYPE OF PUBLIC SERVICE - Nathalie Rayes

Nathalie Rayes is the President & CEO of the Latino Victory Project. Latino Victory is a progressive organization working to grow Latino political power by increasing Latino representation at every level of government and building a base of Latino donors to support this critical work.

While she has been the President & CEO of the organization for about a year, she was one of the leaders who helped create the Latino Victory Project, and had served on its board of directors since 2018. 

Since officially joining as its leader, she played a critical role in helping Joe Biden get elected president through the Latino vote, doubled the number of progressive Latinos in the U.S. Senate from two to four, and spearheaded efforts to organize phone banks and candidate fundraisers. 

Prior to joining the Latino Victory Project, Rayes spent nearly 14 years as vice president of public affairs at Grupo Salinas. 

Rayes is originally from Venezuela, before moving to the United States at the age of nine. 

She is a graduate of Santa Monica College, earning an associate degree in sociology, before going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s in public policy with a concentration in internal relations and education from UCLA. 

ARCHETYPE OF EDUCATION - Noe Ortega

Noe Ortega is the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, having served in the role since June 2021. 

Prior to his current role, Ortega served as Deputy Secretary and Commissioner for the Office of Postsecondary Higher Education (OPHE) at the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). In that role, he led the work of the agency, focusing on closing the gaps that historically underrepresented populations and communities of color in Pennsylvania have faced in attaining postsecondary education.

He also facilitated the department’s effort to improve the diversity of Pennsylvania's educator workforce, ensuring that every student in the state had access to culturally responsive-trained educators who also had culturally relevant approaches to teaching and learning in the classroom. 

Ortega’s other prior positions included a number of roles over eight years at the University of Michigan, where he also earned his Ph.D. in higher education; a P-16 Field Specialist at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and six years as program director of a language institute in Osaka, Japan, where he trained teaching in the area of early childhood language acquisition. 

He is a graduate of St. Edward’s University, earning a bachelor’s degree in political science there, before going on to earn a master’s in educational psychology from Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi.

ARCHETYPE OF CORPORATE - Yvette Peña

Yvette Peña is the Vice President of Hispanic/Latino Audience Strategy in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at AARP.

In her role at AARP, she serves as the national voice for AARP’s engagement with Latino communities through partnerships with multicultural organizations with the purpose of driving AARP’s social impact

In addition, she is responsible for leading the strategic development of AARP’s brand campaigns through innovative messaging aimed at engaging the 50-plus age population. 

Peña has over 20 years of experience specializing in multicultural and general audience initiatives.

Prior to AARP, she became the first Director of Multicultural Marketing at Sports Authority, where she built and led the company’s U.S. Multicultural strategy. She was also previously the first Director of Multicultural Marketing at Walgreens, where she developed the company’s strategy for Shopper Marketing programs for Multicultural audiences. 

Other prior roles included Account Director at the Bravo Group, the Hispanic division of Young & Rubicam, Manager of Multicultural Marketing for Sears, Roebuck and Co., Brand Manager for Craftsman tools and Kenmore appliances. 

In addition to that, Peña is a board member, and Vice Chair of the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino.

Peña is a bilingual Afro-Latina with Dominican roots, originally from New York. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baruch College and resides in both Washington, D.C. and Chicago. 

ARCHETYPE OF NON-PROFIT - Damian Rivera

Damian Rivera is the CEO of the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA).

While he has only served in the role since Sept. 2018, Rivera has been involved with the organization for over half a decade. Under his leadership, ALPFA has continued its growth, now at 95,000+ members, 157 student chapters and 44 professional chapters nationwide. 

He is also responsible for implementing ALPFA’s platform LEAD, which stands for Leadership, Engagement, Advancement and Development. 

The platform’s purpose is to build leaders within ALPFA’s network through business mastering, professional EQ, community engagement, wealth creation, health & wellness, and entrepreneurship. 

Prior to his current role at ALPFA, Rivera spent 21 years working at Accenture in a variety of roles, more recently as managing director in Accenture’s resources utilities practice. While at Accenture, Rivera also led the company’s Hispanic American Employee Resource Group from 2011 to 2017.

Rivera is originally from Spanish Harlem, spending a majority of his life there. 

In 2018, Rivera was named a member of Latino Leaders Magazine’s Top 101 Most Influential Latinos list.

Rivera earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical and biochemical engineering from Rutgers University, before later earning an MBA from Columbia University, where he specialized in social entrepreneurship. 

In addition to his work at ALPFA, Rivera is also an investor of tech startups with a social purpose mission of growing the most promising Hispanic and Latinx ventures.

ARCHETYPE OF HEALTH - Dr. Ana Diez Roux

Dr. Ana Diez Roux, MD, PHD, MPH, is a Dana and David Dornsife Dean and Distinguished University Professor of Epidemiology at the Dornsife School of Public Health and the Director of the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative.

Originally trained as a pediatrician in her native Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dr. Diez Roux completed her public health training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. 

She is internationally known for her research on the social determinants of population health and the study of how neighborhoods affect health. Her work on neighborhood health effects has been highly influential in the policy debate on population health and its determinants.

Dr. Diez Roux has also led large National Institutes of Health (NIH) and foundation funded research and training programs in the U.S. and in collaboration with various institutions in Latin America. She is also Principal Investigator of the Wellcome Trust-funded SALURBAL (Salud Urbana en América Latina) study.

Before joining Drexel University, she served on the faculties of Columbia University and the University of Michigan, where she was Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Director of the Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health.

ARCHETYPE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP - Nina Vaca

Nina Vaca is the Founder, Chairperson and CEO of Pinnacle Group. She founded Pinnacle Group in 1996, and has served as its Chairman and CEO ever since, growing the company from a one-woman IT staffing firm into a workforce solutions powerhouse operating across North America and on four continents. 

Today, Pinnacle Group provides a full suite of workforce solutions including IT staffing, Managed Services (MSP), Payrolling and IC Compliance, and Talent Communities to industry leaders in financial services, technology, communications, utilities, and transportation. Due to its rapid and sustained growth, it has been listed among the 500/5000 list of fastest-growing companies 13 times, and in both 2015 and 2018, it was named the fastest-growing women-owned/led company by the Women Presidents’ Organization.

In addition to leading Pinnacle Group, Vaca also serves as a committed civic leader and philanthropist. She works relentlessly to expand opportunities for people of color in STEM fields and women and Hispanics in business globally. Her alma mater, Texas State University, has honored her a Distinguished Alumna and  recently created the Nina Vaca Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award, which is presented annually to an undergraduate and a graduate student who exemplify outstanding entrepreneurship. She is also a founding contributor to the university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

Vaca is originally from Quito, Ecuador, and has maintained a close philanthropic connection with the country, providing financial support to small business owners in the wake of the 2016 earthquake, building a village for earthquake survivors in 2017, and providing numerous scholarships to students for the last several years.

ARCHETYPE OF SPORTS - Alejandro Bedoya

Alejandro Bedoya is a midfielder and captain for the Philadelphia Union.

Prior to joining the Philadelphia Union, Bedoya spent nearly eight years playing soccer in Europe for Swedish club Örebro SK, Scottish clubs Rangers and Helsingborgs IF and French team FC Nantes.  

Bedoya is of Colombian descent and was born in New Jersey before his family moved him to where he was raised in Weston, Florida. He is a third-generation professional soccer player, as his father played professionally in Colombia with Millionarios and his grandfather played for Deportes Quindío.

ARCHETYPE OF PHILANTHROPY - Pedro Ramos

Pedro Ramos is the President & CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation.

Under his leadership, the Philadelphia Foundation, one of the first community foundations in the nation, has raised over $300 million, grown its assets by more than 55% and launched a number of large-scale initiatives.

These initiatives include the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the PHL COVID-19 Fund, Key to Community Centennial Initiatives, Key Skills Hub/Catchafire partnership, On the Table Philly, and the PhilaImpact Fund collaboration.

Ramos has long had a passion for affecting positive change in the Greater Philadelphia region. Prior to joining the Philadelphia Foundation, he served in a number of roles, including City Solicitor, Managing Director, Board of Education President and Chairman of the School Reform Commission in Philadelphia.

He also has experience as a non-profit executive, having served as Vice President & Chief of Staff to the President at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Ramos also practiced law for nearly two decades, where he worked as a partner in Philly-based national law firms, with a focus on tax-exempt entities, public-private initiatives and compliance. He is a graduate of Central High School, holds a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from the University of Pennsylvania, a juris doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School and an honorary doctorate from Drexel University.

ARCHETYPE OF MEDIA - Gabriel Escobar

Gabriel Escobar is Philadelphia Inquirer Editor and Senior Vice President, officially being named to the post in November 2020. He is a long-time journalist who has helped manage a drastic transformation at the newspaper. 

Since 2017, he had been the second-in-command of the newsroom before his promotion. 

This is his second stint with The Inquirer, having originally joined the paper in 2007 as metropolitan editor. He left the position in 2011 and worked a year at the Dallas Morning News on its editorial board and also taught journalism at Southern Methodist University, before returning to Philadelphia.

Prior to that, Escobar spent 16 years at the Washington Post, where he was a police reporter, an immigrant reporter and the Latin America bureau chief and correspondent, based in Argentina. He was also the Post’s City Editor for six years. 

Escobar is originally from Bogotá, Colombia, before his family moved to Queens, N.Y. when he was seven years old. He earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Queens College, City University of New York, and a master’s in journalism from the University of Maryland. 

ARCHETYPE OF PERFORMING ARTS - Ángel Corella

Ángel Corella is the Artistic Director for the Philadelphia Ballet, having been in the role since 2014. 

Corella is regarded as one of the finest dancers of his generation. His talent, passion and technique has made him a worldwide name, and has established him as one of the most recognizable in the world of dance. 

He originally joined American Ballet Theatre in 1995, and quickly rose up the ranks as principal dancer. Throughout his career, he has performed in a number of iconic roles, including Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, and the Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker.

His talents have also resulted in receiving numerous awards, such as 1st prize in the National Ballet Competition, the Prix Benois de la Danse and the National Award of Spain. 

From 2008 to 2014, Corella served as director for his own company, the Barcelona Ballet (formerly the Corella Ballet). It was the first classical ballet company established in his native country, Spain, in 20 years. 

Corella is also a passionate teacher and mentor to young professional dancers, having taught at various summer programs, as well as lead dance schools. It’s the same passion and insight he uses now in his role with the Philadelphia Ballet. Under his leadership, Philadelphia Ballet has developed a unique artistic identity that is anchored by world-class productions of all-time classics, modern masterworks, and bold contemporary ballets that exemplify the dynamic nature of the artform.

These 10 individuals will be celebrated and honored with the 2021 AL DÍA Archetype: Ambassador Manuel Torres Award later this month.

The 2021 AL DÍA Archetype Hispanic Heritage Gala & Awards Ceremony is set for Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 at the Union League of Philadelphia. To reserve your seat at the premier celebration of America's Hispanic Heritage, click here

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