In 2021, we initiated the virtual DEI in Action Series to highlight leaders of all different backgrounds that are elevating DEI awareness around the globe in their own unique ways across industries. The series was a HUGE success, garnering 700+ viewers from all over the world! We host five-yearly events to celebrate Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Pride Month, and Hispanic Heritage Month.
It’s 2022 and gender/sexuality is still a barrier for leadership representation across industries, especially for LGBTQI+ people. In this thought provoking conversation, fearless LGBTQI+ leaders share their journey of getting to the top in their respective fields and provide insight to decision-makers to help increase access, promotion and inclusivity in the workplace.
Gilberto Orozco is a 2020 graduate of the University of Michigan and serves as a Consultant, Manager of Business Strategy for Yardstick Management. Before joining Yardstick, Gilberto was involved in the entrepreneurship space — being a part of a team that founded an educational non-profit dedicated to teaching entrepreneurship to kids — for over six years and worked in a lab as a coordinator for the Institute of Social Research, where he analyzed global market trends through a multidisciplinary approach. Gilberto’s passions lie in global human development and bipartisan policies that improve the longevity of everyone.
Relay Graduate School of Education
Dr. Mayme Hostetter is the President of Relay Graduate School of Education, where she was part of the founding team in 2008. As President, Mayme is—with her teammates—focused on defining and leading Relay’s next chapter, by expanding access to outstanding, affordable preparation for a diverse group of 5000+ teachers and leaders across the country. Prior to her work at Relay, Mayme conducted reading development research at MIT, after teaching English and coaching many sports at Deerfield Academy and KIPP Academy. Mayme earned her A.B. and her Ed.M. from Harvard and her Ed.D. from Columbia.
The Harry Walker Agency
Ruben is currently part of the world’s leading professional speakers bureau–The Harry Walker Agency. There, he works to share speakers’ unique and incredibly moving stories with audiences everywhere.
More than 15 years ago, he stumbled into the professional speaking industry as a speaker manager. How does one stumble into this industry? In his case, it was by proxy. His closest and dearest friend’s story was made famous and folks reached out to her to speak. He remembers one day, early on, he turned to her and said, “Who are these people and why are people paying you to speak?” Ruben quickly learned who and why, and they worked to leverage her platform to inspire more people through speaking, writing, and other works. Over the years, Ruben traveled around the world to events of all kind with one goal in mind–to do whatever was wanted and needed to ensure a successful event. After managing a speaker, he jumped on the events services side of the industry collaborating with sponsors and host to coordinate the details of events; and most recently he connects event organizers with exceptional speakers.
Along the way, he departed from the speaking industry and threw himself into the New York tech scene. After much reading, learning, networking, and creating, Ruben found himself in the number one tech accelerator in the world–Techstars. There, he worked with a group of people to bring STEM education to kids through buildable toys. In the end, there wasn’t a product-market fit and the company closed. He still has a hand in the tech community and will forever be apart of the Techstars network.
In his personal life, Ruben builds stronger communities around the country by connecting the underserved with individuals, corporations, nonprofits, or public institutions that can help them. His strong community effots include helping to raise enough money to feed over 50,000 students around the country, raising more than $100,000 for women’s health, coordinating back-to-school drives for underserved kids in the Bronx, building playground to support children with their developmental needs, and so much more.
Ruben lives in New York; in a loving relationship with Raul Sanchez, a former Obama White House staffer who now works with children with developmental needs; he enjoys karaoke and is arguably the best uncle my nieces and nephews can have.
ALVES & CO. ATTORNEYS AT LAW
Amb. Francisco Javier Alvarez de Soto was born in Panama City, Republic of Panama in 1968, the son of Jose Luis and Maria del Carmen Alvarez de Soto. He has two brothers, José Luis and Juan Carlos Alvarez de Soto. He is single, dual citizen of Panama and Spain, and, at present, with permanent residence in Panama City, Panama.
After living in Spain, between 1978 and 1989, and for short terms in England and Switzerland, to study both English and French, he completed his Elementary and High School degrees in Madrid, Spain, and started his undergraduate studies in Madrid at the College of International Studies (CIS). In 1989, Amb. Alvarez De Soto moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, where he completed his graduate and postgraduate university studies obtaining, first, a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy and Political Analysis at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, (1991) and subsequently, his Juris Doctor degree with a specialization in International Legal Studies at Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans, LA (1994). In addition, he has completed several Executive Programs such as, Public Strategic Negotiations at Harvard University JFK School of Government (1999) in Boston, USA; Gestión Tributaria (Taxation Management) at Universidad Latina de Panamá (2006) in Panama City, Panama; Portfolio Management (2015) International Financial Markets (2016) and Private Wealth Management (2022), at Instituto de Estudios Bursátiles of the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain; and Value Investing (2019) at Columbia University in New York, USA.
His professional career has evolved between the public and private sectors. In 1994, after completing his postgraduate studies,. Amb. Alvarez De Soto started his legal practice in Panama in the fields of international business and trade law. In 1998, he left his private practice to join the Foreign Trade Council of the Presidency of the Republic, as its EU trade lawyer-Negotiator. In that capacity, he handled all trade matters and disputes having to do with the EU agricultural common market for bananas; the negotiation of the US-Panama Investment Protection Agreement; and political aspects of trade related disputes.
From 1999 until early in 2003, he served in various official positions at the Ministry of Trade and Industries and at the Foreign Ministry, as Special Trade Ambassador and Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade (1999-2001), drafting Panama’s 2000-2004 Foreign Trade Strategy, coordinating Panama’s WTO dispute challenging the EU ́s common market on bananas; and participating in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with El Salvador; Ambassador and Director General of International Economic Relations (2001-2002), coordinating the Central American Integration Agenda and the negotiations with the OECD Secretariat and at the OECD Tax Global Forum; Adjoint Presidential Commissioner for the Puebla-Panama Economic Development Plan (2002-2003), identifying and defending Panama’s economic cooperation proposals; Secretary General of Foreign Affairs (2003), coordinating the Economic and Cooperation agendas at the Foreign MInistry; and as Member of the President’s Foreign Affairs Council (2003-2004) providing political advice to the Foreign Minister in OECD and International Political Economy matters. In 2001, along with Mr. Javier Espinosa Jimenez (+2020), Amb. Alvarez De Soto founded ALVES & Co. ABOGADOS / ATTORNEYS AT LAW (2001-2022), to provide International Private Client, Business and Trade legal advice and services. It was, however, in 2003, that Amb. Alvarez De Soto resumed his private legal practice, after he resigned from public office, to accept an executive position as Legal and Regulatory Chief Officer (CLRO) and Alternate Board Member at Cable & Wireless Panama, S.A. (CWP)(2003-2009), the largest telecommunications provider in Central America. As CWP’s CLRO, he led the legal and regulatory transformation of the company, from a public entity in a monopolistic environment, to a private corporation providing multiple telecom related services in a competitive market in Panama as well as abroad.
In 2009 he was called back into public service, as Deputy Minister of International Trade Negotiations, at the Ministry of Trade (2009-2011). In that capacity, he led the Office of International Trade Negotiations, completing the negotiations of the FTA with Canada and the WTO Dispute Process against Colombia’s illegal customs measures against Panamanian exports; the implementation negotiations of the Trade Promotion Agremeent (TPA) with the United States; the negotiations of the FTA with Peru, and of a Partial Scope Trade Agreement with Trinidad and Tobago; lobbied and set the basis for the negotiations of the FTA with the EFTA countries, South Korea and Israel; incorporated Panama to the negotiations for the trade pilar of the EU-Central America Association Agreement (AdA), completing them; set the strategy and launched the negotiations for the incorporation of Panama to the Central American Economic Integration System (SIECA), drafted the new WTO compatible export incentive legislation, and prepared the WTO case against Argentine’s tax heaven list for its inconsistencies with the WTO agreements.
In September, 2011, he was appointed Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister (2011-2013) In that capacity, Francisco Alvarez De Soto coordinated the Foreign Service, the Ministry’s departments and administration. Under his leadership, Panama developed important bilateral initiatives with the United Kingdom, Japan, Russia, The Kingdom of the Netherlands, Spain, Israel or South Africa; Chaired the Ministerial Council at the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), transforming this regional forum; advanced the legal structuring of the future International Cooperation Agency of Panama; prepared the 2013 Iberoamerican Summit, and the 2015 Summit of the Americas in Panama City, and promoted Panama’s international cultural agenda, among other initiatives.
Francisco Alvarez De Soto resigned in March of 2013 to resume, again, his private practice as Managing Partner at his Law Firm, launching two subsidiary operations: consulting firm, ALVES & Co. CONSULTORIA, S.A. (2013-2015) in Panama City, serving as its Chairman of the Board, to provide services in the areas of Political Economy and Political Analysis, Legislative and Government Affairs, Trade, Commerce and Economy; and ALVES & Co. TRUST, Ltd. (2015-2022) in Belize City, serving as its Managing Director, to provide corporate and trustee services. In 2013, he was appointed by Panama to serve as an expert at the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since then. In August 2013, Mr. Alvarez De Soto was appointed Member of the Board of Directors of the Superintendency of Insurance and Reinsurance (2013-2014) and in November of the same year, he was also appointed Member of the Board of Directors of the Superintendency of the Securities Market of Panama (2013-214).
In February 2014, Francisco Alvarez De Soto was called to Cabinet as Foreign Affairs Minister of Panama serving as such till the end of the administration’s constitutional period (2014). Since 2015, when he returned to his private legal practice to date, Amb. Alvarez De Soto launched ALVES & Co. TRUST, LTD. (2015-2022), a regulated corporate and trustee services provider in Belize City, Belize, serving as its Managing Director; and a new legal practice, as a Law Partner at LAWEALTH (2022), an international private client legal services provider in Panama City. He has also served, or continues to serve, in various non-executive Board positions such as: Independent Board Member of the Board at PKB BANCA PRIVADA (PANAMA), S.A. (2015-2022), and, since 2022, at PKB WEALTH MANAGEMENT (PANAMA), S.A.), a swiss private banking services advisory based in Panama City; member of the International Advisory Board of the Spanish communication agency LLORENTE & CUENCA (LLYC) (2016-2022), and of the Advisory Board at King’s College British School of Panama (2016-2020), as well as Ambassador-at-Large (ad honorem) and member of the Foreign Relations Council of Panama’s Foreign Ministry (2019). He has also been selected to be in the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoys Candidates Pool (2021), and as coordinator of the International Affairs Council at Sea Shepherd’s Conservation Society (2022), an international environmental non-governmantl organization (NGO) focused in the fight against illegal unregulated unsupervised fishing activites around the World.
Recognitions and Awards
Throughout his career, Francisco Alvarez De Soto has been awarded and recognized with the title of Knight Commander of the Orden de Isabel La Católica, by the King of Spain (2013); the Great Cross of the Panamanian Orden Nacional Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, Orden Nacional Manuel Amador Guerrero, Orden Nacional Belisario Porras, Orden Nacional Omar Torrijos Herrera, Orden Nacional Arnulfo Arias Madrid and Orden Nacional General Jose de Fabrega (2014), respectively; and the Order of the Central American Integration System (SICA). In addition, Cable & Wireless International recognized him with the “Legal and Regulatory Excellency Award” (2007), and the Government of Israel as “A friend of Israel” (2014).
Melanie Willingham-Jaggers (they/she) is the Executive Director at GLSEN, a national non-profit that works to ensure K-12 education is safe and affirming for all students, including LGBTQ+ youth. Their vision for GLSEN’s work is rooted in the belief that education can and should be an experience that is safe, affirming and liberating – and that we can achieve that goal only when we build in racial, gender and disability justice into our education system as a key indicator of success. Before joining GLSEN in 2019 as Deputy Executive Director, Melanie served as the Program Associate Director of The Worker Institute at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. As a part of the leadership team there, Melanie worked to ensure the strategic, programmatic, and operational excellence of the Institute. From 2016-2019 Melanie served as board chair of The Audre Lorde Project, the oldest center for community organizing for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color, in the New York City area. Melanie’s work on the ALP Board was rooted in the belief that as long as there are organizations connected to our freedom movements – those organizations must be internally safe, healthy and vibrant spaces, on which movements can rely if they so choose.