Fireside Chat with Dr Lopez & Bob Nuñez

 

On May 12th, San Jose City College – Milpitas Extension and Silicon Valley Latino were honored to host another intimate and insightful Fireside Chat, this time it was conducted in an Iconoclast style. The featured guests were Dr. David Lopez and City of Milpitas Councilmember, Bob Nuñez.  Both shared various aspects of their life’s journeys in a very open and even vulnerable manner that was truly inspiring for those in attendance.

Jorge Escobar Vice President of San Jose City College welcomed the audience. He also spoke very passionately about both featured guests as he transitioned to introducing the theme of the event and the tone was set. From that point on, the Iconoclast style, Fireside Chat was underway and the dual interview began as casual conversation centered on their journeys. Both shared stories about their humble beginnings, early childhood memories that shaped their view of the world, trials and tribulations, key moments and lessons learned. Both men also shared in a very vulnerable manner how specific interactions with key people propelled them on the paths they took without necessarily knowing what lied ahead of them. Throughout the conversation, a clear theme related to the value of mentors and finding key people that believe in you prevailed.

Dr. Lopez specifically cited an instance when he wanted to move to San Francisco to live with his older sister to attend a community college as he was about to graduate from high school but how his mother interfered and strategically arranged a meeting with a family friend and attorney who was a key influence in having him be admitted to the University of New Mexico. That turned out to be a pivotal moment in his life that led him on a path toward earning his doctorate in Education and ultimately leading a career in higher education. Throughout his time in higher education, he has been passionate about helping, guiding and mentoring Latino students and paying it forward.

Council member Nuñez also shared about how he had a significant meeting early on in his career where he was asked: “what do you do here?”  That somewhat innocent question turned a pivotal moment where he learned about the power of his position, his influence and how it would impact people’s lives in a positive or negative manner. He took that lesson to heart and from that point on he was on a mission to empower the students he was responsible for as a key administrator to various school districts. He has now taken that approach to city government and looking out for his constituents.

By the end of the interview, it was very clear that both men have had and continue to have a very positive influence in our community and at an age where most people spend their time traveling, playing golf or engaged in other retiree activities, both of these gentlemen show no signs of slowing down.

We thank you both for all that you have done for our communities and continue to do. Thank you for believing in, us, our potential and the possibilities of an educated and empowered community.

At the conclusion of the program, San Jose City College and Silicon Valley Latino had the pleasure of presenting them both with the Creo En Ti Champion Award.

 

#CreoEnTi #CulturaAmbassador

 

 

Latino Leaders Fireside Chat Series Launch with Tony Quintero

 

Silicon Valley Latino and San Jose City College had the distinct pleasure of bringing together the community to become part of our inaugural Latino Leaders Fireside Chat Series featuring Tony Quintero at the new Milpitas Extension campus.

We were challenged with the task of condensing this man’s amazing accomplishments and adventures in the two hour talk. We could have gone all afternoon. Certainly those in attendance wanted more.

Tony awed and inspired the participants with his unique life story. Starting out as a humble transfer student at San Jose State University to leading The La Raza National Law Students Association, to teaching at different universities statewide.  He also became a commercial real estate all-star, the first Latino to own a chain of regional malls to now becoming a Latino industry champion. All with a focus to support and inspire Latinas/Latinos, never losing site of the rage burning inside of him. As a child, Tony witnessed first hand how our community was treated back in the 1960’s. Refusing to come to grips with the question haunting him from an early childhood experience. “Why does God let us be second class citizens?”

What attendees learned was that Tony was able to harness that independent spirit and align himself with those values early on. Tony has always worked as an independent agent.

When posed the question of why he never sought to run for office Tony, answers, “because he did not want to participate in the money in politics bureaucracy or red tape.” This has allowed him to make the kind of changes and have the impact he has had in his career.

A child of a WWII veteran and a warm, nurturing mother, growing up in Redwood City, Tony experienced poverty at a young age as his father struggled to find work in the post WWII bay area. After serving and becoming citizens after the war, many families struggled and often questioned what they were fighting for. Tony’s experience was a lot like many Latinos in that era, trying to find identity, while facing racial injustice and lack of opportunities in school and in the workplace. Even to the point, as Tony recalls, of Mexican children segregated in schools and forced to share classrooms in horse stables. Until in 1947 the case of Mendez v. Westminster in which the Federal Court ruled this type of segregation as unconstitutional. Tony knew early on that college was his path. He found refuge in books, became a book worm. Bullied more for this, Tony focused even more, and fueled by the discrimination and misunderstandings around him, fought to make a difference.

Those battles percolate in every turn of Tony’s career. Fighting for justice through earning a law degree from Cal Berkeley, starting the first EOP Program at San Jose State University and being Elected First National President of La Raza Law Students Association in 1970.

Tony’s ascent was rapid and clear. He wanted to give Latinos a voice. He wanted to organize and lead. Being the maverick that he is, Tony did not seek to align with red tape, he aligned with action.

The next chapter in Tony’s career lead to an interest in Commercial Real Estate. Seeking to breathe life into a downtown San Jose area that had become run down and stagnant. He saw the future of this high tech mecca. He’s quoted in the early 90’s as predicting a major corporation would call San Jose home within 5 years. His foresight was dead on, to say the least. He moved on to the buying and developing of shopping malls, and was instrumental in allowing small, minority owned businesses to share the stage with major retail players.

Tony’s latest endeavor is developing and producing films which portray Latinos in a more positive light. Latinos represent over 25% of box office ticket sales, yet are grossly under represented on film. With well under 4% of roles going to Latinos. Not only that, but often cultural biographies representing Latino figures are often cast to Anglos. Tony points out numerous examples. The audience nods in recognition.

Those who were fortunate enough to sit down with Tony at our fireside chat were allowed a glimpse of a compassionate and determined individual, who so eloquently reminded us that revolution, comes from within.

We are certainly grateful for allowing Tony to share his story and inspire so many.