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2020 (Inaugural class) and 2021 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty Honorees   AL DÍA News
2020 (Inaugural class) and 2021 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty Honorees   AL DÍA News

Why our 40 under 40 | OP-ED

Two years in the works. A reflection on our quest to find and bring to the forefront the new generation of leaders

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More than a year ago, it was Juan Lopez whom I first pitched the idea of uncovering the other 40, the very ones that although represent the majority of Philadelphia’s demographics, are ignored by mainstream media. 

To our surprise, not only did we find the forty we were looking for, but in just two years, we have discovered hundreds of young leaders who are more than capable of running this city tomorrow.

Mr. Lopez who at the time held the role of Senior Vice President of Finance Shared Services at Independence Blue Cross (IBC), has now become the number two man at IBC and interestingly enough his promotion came not long after the appointment of Gregory Deavens as the health system’s first Black President and CEO in January of 2021. 

Now we just need to replicate this model over and over so that Philadelphia’s top corporate and public service leadership reflects the rich diversity that makes up our city.

As the results of the 2020 Census begin pouring in, we learn the obvious: the U.S. became more diverse and more urban over the past decade, and the non-Hispanic white population dropped for the first time on record. 

Around the country, in Texas for instance, the Hispanic population is now nearly as large as the non-Hispanic white population. Similarly, in California, Hispanics became the largest racial or ethnic group, growing from 37.6% to 39.4% over the decade. 

These trends will only continue to become more evident. The Hispanic population grew by almost a quarter to 62.1 million residents in 2020 and accounts for almost half of the overall U.S. population growth. 

Data is our best indicator that it is now more important than ever to create real actions when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Data is our best indicator that it is now more important than ever to create real actions when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Media can help. We need to document the stories of these diverse voices, eliminate stereotypes, and focus instead on validating the exceptional work that impacts the economic growth and our workforce. Events like the 2021 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty, not only brings these individuals out of the shadows, but also brings these stories to the forefront -- where they belong.    

As we embark on writing their stories, we found most of them are undocumented -- meaning their stories have never been told and maybe it is meant to be this way so that we can be the first to document their amazing journey. 

Reflecting on these past two years, we now have 80 unique stories, our inaugural class and this year’s. My hope is that through this project, we continue to uncover more stories like that of Diana Cortes, recently becoming the first Latina to be appointed as Philadelphia’s City Solicitor or Andrés Bisonó León, Co-founder and CEO of SOS Carbon, who is fighting to ensure a sustainable tourism industry across the Atlantic Ocean from Brazil to the beaches of the Caribbean.⁣⁣⁣

My ask is for corporations and institutions to recognize this phenomenon that cannot be stopped. Read the data, recognize that the success of your business is in the hands of these individuals, and do something about it. Let’s move away from the DE&I slogan and create real paths of action for these leaders to grow.  

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