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Loraine Ballard Morrill emcees the second annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event. Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick/AL DÍA News. 
Loraine Ballard Morrill emcees the second annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event. Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick/AL DÍA News. 

2021 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty: A celebration of the brightest, diverse young professionals in Philadelphia

Forty honorees under the age of 40 were showcased and highlighted for their work and positive contributions to the region during the second annual event on Aug…

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AL DÍA’s first large-scale in-person event in 20 months was a major success!

On Friday, Aug. 27, some of the brightest, most impactful and diverse young professionals in the Philadelphia region celebrated their many accomplishments during the second annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event, at the Barnes Foundation. 

As described by Loraine Ballard Morrill, news and community affairs director at iHeartMedia and the emcee of the event for the second straight year, the event was “to magnify diversity in the professional workforce and to honor the hard work and dedication of people from multicultural backgrounds.” 

The 40 honorees of this year’s event represent the new generation of business and community leaders, innovators, influencers, media professionals and artists who are making a positive difference in our region. 

With the level of commitment, dedication and passion that it often takes in order to make a positive impact, the unprecedented times resulting in the COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer as to why these honorees are so deserving of the distinction.

“Their achievements are even more meaningful and more incredible,” said Ana Hernández, news director for Telemundo 62

From health to media to art to business and more, the diversity of the individuals in the room could only be matched by the diversity in the industries in which they each worked and represented. 

During the event, four of the 10 members of the judging panel — Raquel Arredondo, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education; Greg DeShields; Executive Director of PHL Diversity, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, Nefertiri Sickout, Chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at the City of Philadelphia; and Susan Jacobson, President of Jacobson Strategic Communications & Board Chair of The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia — called out the names of the 40 honorees, in groups of 10.

Upon entering onto the stage, each honoree was handed a plaque with their name and picture to honor their positive contributions to our city, as well as their respective communities and industries.

Some of the honorees shared their thoughts on being selected as an honoree, as well as the significance of hosting this kind of event:

Other guests at the event were able to share their thoughts, as well.

With the 2020 U.S. Census reflecting the increased diversity in our nation, there has never been a more important time to embrace and showcase it in our city, while also continuing to create opportunities to ensure Philadelphia is able to prosper for many more generations to come. 

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An Inspiring Keynote Speech

The guests at the event were privileged to listen to an inspirational keynote speech from Sandra Campos, CEO of Project Verte.

A three-time CEO, two-time founder and entrepreneur, Campos’ journey, she said, has been created on the foundation her mother built. 

“I wouldn’t be the strong woman that I am, and my two daughters wouldn’t be the strong women that they are becoming, if it weren’t for that strong foundation that I had from her,” she said. 

As a first-generation Mexican-American, Campos quickly learned three key traits that are very prevalent within the Latino community: family values, hard work and entrepreneurship, and persistence. 

“That’s the essence of who we are as Latinos,” she said. 

Growing up, Campos saw the hard work, the long hours and sacrifices her parents made to provide for her and her five siblings. Both experienced a great deal of prejudice, racism and various other hardships along the way, but continued to do what was needed.

That is what drove Campos’ ambition to succeed in her own right. 

“These experiences impacted me deeply,” said Campos. “It’s the reason I decided I wanted to be a leader, so that I can make that change and not have that experience for anybody else.” 

“I didn’t want people to be treated the way my parents were.”

Campos eventually leveraged that to reach a number of milestones in her own career — particularly entering Corporate America and becoming a CEO. 

While she’s succeeded in that space, it wasn’t without her own fair share of challenges and obstacles.

She often felt she didn’t really fit in where she was in Texas, so she made the decision to move to New York City to follow her dreams in the corporate world.

As one of the few women and Latinas in that space, she didn’t really have mentors who could help guide her in her journey. 

“I didn’t have a community, I tried to find that community, but I saw that I had to figure it out on my own,” she reflected. 

“And now looking back, that probably was the best thing to happen to me,” she added. 

As she navigated through her professional path, she was able to rise up the ranks for brands, such as Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan, and become the leader she strived to become through hard work, discipline and curiosity. 

When a major life event happened — a divorce — Campos had to pivot. As a single mother raising three young children, she made the transition to entrepreneurship. 

As an entrepreneur, she created one of the original celebrity brand management companies that built brands for exclusive retailers. It was her company that launched Selena Gomez’s lifestyle collection in the teen space. 

“I credit my kids as the single reason that I focused on working with Selena Gomez,” said Campos, noting that she and her kids would watch Wizards of Waverly Place every Saturday morning.

“That journey ended up being six years long, generated more than half-a-billion-dollars in sales and created a category that was new for an accessible mass channel retailer,” she said. 

Campos noted that those six years, she learned more than she had at any other point in her professional career, as it was around that time in which the world was changing around social media and other digital means.

As her kids got older, Campos returned to the corporate world and helped run other brands, such as Juicy Couture and Bebe. 

In 2018, she earned the opportunity to be named the CEO of Diane von Furstenburg, which was paramount to her. It was Furstenberg who encouraged Campos to speak publicly, embrace her heritage,take risks and support others who don’t have the same access to opportunities and resources. 

“That’s why I’m here today,” Campos expressed. 

“That decision has helped me find my voice, my passion for helping Latinx and next generation professionals and to pursue a path that I had even considered before,” she added.

Her current role as CEO of Project Verte has created another avenue for her to continue learning, develop new skills and also help others. 

To the next generation of professionals, Campos advises them not to be afraid to take opportunities.

“When a door is open for you, do yourself and our community a favor,” she said. “Walk through it and create magic because it can happen. It is possible.”

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