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October 6, 2021

As we continue celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to highlight a few Hispanic and Latinx workforce heroes who are making a difference in San Diego. Visit the links provided to learn more about each hero. 

We’d like to thank the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SDCHCC) for their contributions to this list! 

Josie Flores-Clark


Inspired by her time working along Cesar Chavez in her youth, Josie Flores Clark has a long history of public service. She is currently the executive assistant at the National City Housing Authority (NCHA) after more than ten years as executive assistant to National City Mayor Ron Morrison. The NCHA works to expand housing opportunities to very low, low, and moderate-income families. She is also president of the National Latina Business Women Association of San Diego and vice president of the SDCHCC

Todd Gloria 


After many years of public service, Todd Gloria was sworn in as the 37th Mayor of the City of San Diego. He is the first person-of-color and the first LGBTQ person to ever be elected the city’s mayor. A long-time supporter of workforce development in San Diego, he and the City of San Diego recently partnered with us to create a new youth workforce development system

Lorena Gonzalez  


Assemblywoman Gonzalez was elected in May of 2013 and has spent the last 8 years advocating for California’s working and middle classes. A few of her hallmark efforts include authoring the historic legislation that allows 6.5 million Californians the ability to earn paid sick leave, creating a model for the rest of the nation. She also helped make California the first state in the nation to demand overtime pay for farmworkers.

Ben Hueso  


Ben Hueso has served as California State Senator for the 40th District since 2013 and is a member of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. Some of his notable work includes initiatives regarding water quality, consumer protection, public safety and job creation. He is the chair for both the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications, and the Senate Select Committee on California-Mexico Cooperation. Before becoming a senator, he was a San Diego City councilmember and a California State Assembly member.  

Lisette Islas  


Lisette Islas is the executive vice president and chief impact officer at the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty (MAAC). In this role, Lisette focuses on increasing the visibility, reach and impacts of MAAC’s work, including organizational development and advocacy. Before her time at MAAC, she was the vice president of community engagement and programs Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. She also served as the director of learning and programs at San Diego Grantmakers 

Arnulfo Manriquez 

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Arnulfo Manriquez is currently serving as of the president and CEO of the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty (MAAC). The MAAC’s vision is to provide a place where local families in need could find the means to self-sufficiency. Arnulfo has dedicated his more than 20 year career to working directly with underserved individuals, households and communities of San Diego County by promoting self-sufficiency through housing, economic, educational and employment programs. 

Lidia S. Martinez 


Lidia S. Maritnez recently retired after 30 years of service to Southwest Airlines. Before her retirement, she was responsible for local and regional community outreach across the country and created strategic plans around regional relationship development. She continues to serve her community by being involved in a variety of organizations dedicated to empowering underrepresented communities, including serving on the board of directors for the Latino Leaders Network.  

Venus Molina   


Venus Molina is currently serving as Chief of Staff to council president Jennifer Campbell. Previously, she served as the chief of policy for council president Myrtle Cole handling budget, business and economic development for council district four. Currently she is also the president of MANA de San Diego (MANA), an organization whose goal is to empower Latinas through education, leadership development, community service and advocacy. MANA recently partnered with The Kim Center to release a regional report on the status of Latinas in the workplace

Carlos O. Turner Cortez  


As of July 2021, Carlos O. Turner Cortez is chancellor and chief executive officer of the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), the largest institution of higher education in the nation. He has a long history of serving San Diegans, including establishing a partnership with the San Diego Rescue Mission to transition homeless adults into the workforce and out of poverty. He also created the San Diego Gateway to College and Career program that offers paid internships, accelerated instruction and a clear pathway to good-paying jobs for young adults. 

Julian Parra 

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Julian Parra is currently the chair of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. (EDC). The EDC is an independently-funded economic development organization that mobilizes business, government and civic leaders around an inclusive economic development strategy. Outside of his work at the EDC he is the SVP & regional commercial banking executive with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he’s spent more than nine years of his career.  

Juan Vargas 


Born and raised in National City, Congressman Juan Vargas has a long history of public service. As a state senator, he served on the Education; Business, Professions and Economic Development committee; and Public Employment and Retirement committee. Currently representing California’s 51st Congressional District, which includes the entire U.S./Mexico Border in California, he is a member of the Committee on Financial Services. He has voted yes on several bills that have provided federal aid to small businesses impacted by COVID-19, including U.S. House Bill 6201.  

Nora Vargas 


Representing district one, County supervisor Nora Vargas has spent her first nine months in office protecting the environment, serving as Vice Chair for the Regional Task Force on Homelessness’ Continuum of Care Advisory Board and being a member of the County’s COVID-19 subcommittee. She also serves on our Policy Board, which in collaboration with the Workforce Development Board, decides on a variety of funding decisions and priorities. 

Ricardo Villa  


Ricardo Villa is the president of the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SDCHCC). SDCHCC’s goal is to create and promote a favorable business climate for emerging businesses, advance economic development, provide fair and equitable access to the marketplace for Latino companies, and support education and culture initiatives for the greater San Diego Hispanic community. 

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Pedro Villegas

During his 17-year tenure, Pedro led community relations for the San Diego Gas & Electric Company and championed philanthropic partnerships with over five hundred diverse nonprofit and community-based organizations. He is a founding board member of RISE San Diego and has served on a number of other boards, such as The San Diego Foundation and San Diego Tourism Authority.

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