August 2008

20 Under 40

Our first annual list of Hispanic entrepreneurs, executives, leaders and artists under 40 who are shaping the future of the U.S. and the world.

By texts by jeff zbar. selection by PODER.
Pablo Bernasconi


Gustavo Dudamel, Conductor. Age: 27

Born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Gustavo Dudamel first raised a violin to his chin at 10, and soon took to studying composition. Within five years, he was studying with Rodolfo Saglimbeni, and was named Music Director of the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra. By 1999, he was studying under José Antonio Abreu and at 17 was appointed Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela (SBYOV), an ensemble credited with transforming the lives of countless impoverished youths. Today, he is Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and in 2009 will assume the post of Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In 2007, Dudamel was awarded the Premio de la Latindad by the Union Latina organization for his outstanding contributions to Latin cultural life. Today, his work is all over YouTube, he’s been feted by the Los Angeles Lakers, and he’s credited for engaging a “high level and intensity” among SBYOV musicians who perform with discipline and precision that belies their year. It’s no wonder that before this precocious impresario’s debut with the New York Philharmonic, he was lent a baton used by legendary composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein.

R. Marcelo Claure, Chairman, President and CEO, Brightstar Corp. Age: 38

USA Today, Lista, PODER, America Economia—the organizations that have recognized R. Marcelo Claure validate his place as an upand-coming leader. A long-time telecommunications professional, Claure founded Brightstar as a customized distribution and supply chain company—admittedly “a risky undertaking, especially since I was only in my mid-20s.” Self-described as “tenacious,” in 10 years he steered Brightstar to 50 countries on six continents —and $4.8 billion in 2007 sales. The economics graduate of Bentley College participated in Harvard’s Global Leadership & Public Policy for the 21st Century program and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Claure is a committed philanthropist who in 2005 co-founded One Laptop Per Child, an effort to give low-cost laptops to children in emerging nations. He’s president of Club Bolivar, the largest soccer team in his native Bolivia—a team he hopes to make Latin America’s top club within the decade. Yet his greatest accomplishment remains his wife and children. “I have great hopes for their future.”

Markos Moulitsas Zúniga Founder, Daily Kos. Age: 36

Few may know Markos Moulitsas Zúniga by name. But many have heard of his work. In the summer of 2006, Moulitsas and his “community”—the Daily Kos political blog—helped derail the primary election of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, a man who six years prior had been the Democratic party’s nominee for vice president. Moulitsas’ brave stance has made him a political force in the country. When he shirks fear and pushes the limits, Moulitsas says he’s only following his father’s life advice. “It has translated nicely to my business efforts.” A holder of two bachelor’s degrees and a J.D. from Boston University, he has written two books. His latest effort, Taking On the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era, is due out in September, and No. 3 is currently in the works. He hopes to be “a player as ‘convergence’ marks the meshing of the Internet and broadcast television” in the next decade. The convergence of media and community will serve Moulitsas well as he continues in his quest to facilitate change. “I don’t have the power to do much, but collectively, a large group of people can move mountains,” he says of his community. “Without them, I’m nothing, and I forget that at my peril.” Expect to see this son of a Salvadoran mother and Greek father in a decade’s time with his wife and children close at hand, and more change to his name.

Cesar Conde, Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer Univision Communications Inc.
Age: 33

Cesar Conde is a graduate of Harvard University and Wharton Business School. He’s a former investment banker who has risen steadily in rank and responsibility at Univision. But little in his career has had the impact of one year spent as a White House Fellow for then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. “The lessons I took away from it help me to this day in all aspects of life.” Conde learned from his parents to treat all with respect, be willing to tackle unpopular paths or most difficult tasks, and that no job is either too big or too small—advice that’s “simple but very powerful if taken to heart.” That’s true both at Univision, and the Futuro program, a nonprofit formed by Conde and his brothers to help Hispanic high school students apply to leading colleges. “I am proud of whatever small role Futuro may have played in the success of our students.”

Emiliano Calemzuk, President, Fox Television Studios. Age: 34

Emiliano Calemzuk’s defining moment came upon his 1998 arrival at NewsCorp. He found a global media company driven by “a true and gifted visionary” (Rupert Murdoch) and a team “able to execute on his far-sighted vision faster, better, and more creatively than anybody else.” Along the way, Calemzuk has focused on his job, honed his skills, and treated others with respect. “The other 5 percent is just details,” he says. The Argentine studied business at Wharton and communications at Annenberg, and his career has taken him from the U.S. to Latin America to Europe and back—with wife, Paola, and daughter, Yael. But he knows his job could cast him in a new role at any time. “You never know when you will be called and to do what, and where,” he says.

Israel Hernandez, Assistant Secretary/Director General for the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service. Age: 38

Israel Hernandez is an entrepreneur who happens to work for the U.S. Government. In his current post, Hernandez oversees 1,700 employees in 47 states and 80 countries around the globe. His task: To assist small- and medium-sized American businesses to export product, to improve the reach and exposure of his office at the state and local level nationwide, and to protect the business interests of U.S. companies overseas. Nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2005, his bosses are the 535 members of the U.S. Congress. He’s a career government employee. Since his graduation from the University of Texas at Austin with a double major in philosophy and political science in 1992 and an M.P.A. from the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University in 1999, Hernandez has served as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Commerce, and previously was Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush and as a deputy to Senior Advisor Karl Rove during the President’s first term. Hernandez worked for both Bush-Cheney election teams, and served as a personal aide to then-Governor Bush in Texas.

Junot Diaz, Author. Age: 39

No television, telephone, indoor plumbing or luxuries of modern life defined the Dominican Republic childhood of Junot Diaz. His arrival to a New Jersey housing complex at age 6 helped shape the young man—much like the 1996 publication of Drown, his collection of coming-of-age stories set both in Santo Domingo and the U.S. and now in its 15th printing. He was 27 at its debut. His work has been about describing “clashing cultures” and has caused sensations in the literary world as well as the consumer media, including his mention in Newsweek’s “New Faces of 1996,” followed by a PEN/Malamud Award for short fiction (2002), a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers Award (2000), the Pushcart Prize, and the MIT Eugene McDermott Award (1998). He has since been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. A history major at Rutgers University, he earned a masters from Cornell University, and today teaches at MIT, a post he calls “an opportunity that comes along once in a lifetime.” An optimist, his community activism has included working with students in New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C. This from a man who when his peers are discussing their awards, he counters, “My parents were illegal...You know, only in America.”

Roberto Orci, Film, Television producer and screenwriter. Age: 35

A Mexico City native, Roberto Orci was raised in Canada and Texas, yet it was in Los Angeles that he met the person who would change his career. In his collaborations with high-school friend Alex Kurtzman (the two wrote adolescent screenplays), Orci has worked on the TV spy thriller Alias, Mission Impossible: III, The Legend of Zorro, Transformers, thriller The Island, and today finds himself writing the 11th Star Trek film. Orci attended The University of Texas at Austin. He ranks his most defining moment as meeting Kurtzman in grade school, and hopes in 10 years to teach film. Amid all his efforts, one piece of career advice holds true: “Make everyone else think everything is their idea.” Yet the key to his own success has been teamwork without subordinating to another’s will. “A possible key to success for me has been the ability to collaborate effectively without losing sight of my own instincts.” His greatest personal accomplishment: “Earning the attention of my wife, Melissa.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Actor, writer, producer. Age: 28

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work has been characterized as “free styling” with “loose cannon ebullience.” Yet his efforts are much more focused than appearances would allow. He’s a New York native of Puerto Rican descent who wrote the first incarnation of his Tony-Award winning hit Broadway musical In the Heights during his sophomore year at Wesleyan University. Since its debut, the production has earned countless nods and awards, including the Lucille Lortel Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, the Obie for Outstanding Music and Lyrics, and the Tony Award for Best Musical and Best Original Score. He’s a cofounding member of Freestyle Love Supreme, a hip-hop comedy group that tours comedy festivals worldwide. Yet he’s likely best known in wider circles for his on-screen work in The Sopranos and Sex And The City. A regular Friday meeting with director Tommy Kail—which lasted six years—has stood as a wellspring for the best career advice Miranda says he has received. “It taught me diligence.” While he sees himself “fat and happy, writing songs” in a decade, one shining achievement will follow him through his days. “Writing and starring in [In The Heights] will be the first line of my obituary, no matter what I do.”

Angelo Milli, Composer. Age: 33

This December, when Angelo Milli settles in for the premiere of Will Smith’s latest movie, Seven Pounds, he will be listening as much as watching. Milli is composing the music for the romantic drama, “the instrumental underneath, what makes you scared or happy or sad.” A Venezuelan native, Milli left for Boston at 21 to study film scoring at Berkeley School of Music. He then returned to his adopted hometown of Miami, producing emerging rock bands and hiphop artists. His first film break came with the 2005 Venezuelan hit, Secuestro Express. Three years and six films later, the call came for Seven Pounds. In the fall, he’ll head into the Barbra Streisand Recording Studio with a 60-piece orchestra. Admittedly young for his craft, Milli believes life will be no different in a decade, splitting his time between homes in Miami and Los Angeles. Scoring is “the perfect marriage. I’m in love with music and movies.” If Milli were to cite one piece of wisdom, it came from a peer: Never take small jobs. “I go after the projects I want. I’m not content with anything else.”

Carolina Herrera, Fragrance Consultant, Carolina Herrera, New York. Age: 39

Carolina Herrera has more than lived up to her mother’s reputation and stature in the fragrance business. A native of Caracas, Herrera believed early on she wanted to study medicine. Raised in British schools in Caracas and transplanted to New York at age 12, she was educated in the sciences at Vassar. Eschewing the field, she worked in filmmaking and audio/video and helped produce a Spanish documentary. In 1997 she returned to New York to help her mother launch a new perfume—212. From her youth to her current professional calling, Carolina’s life has been about breaking boundaries and exploring life’s limits. Back then, she would explore the family property. Today, she enjoys herself with her husband, two children and 10 dogs—and a life that’s full of adventure not far from her youthful experiences spent picking fruit from the family orchards. She sees life as a series of experiences, one building upon the next. “My childhood can be summed up in one word: Freedom.” So, too, can her life.

Alicia Morga, Founder and CEO, Consorte Media, Inc. Age: 36

When she first considered launching Consorte Media, Alicia Morga was struck by fear. But persistence and the intrigue of entrepreneurship mitigated her worries, and she learned early on to “trust your gut. More often than not, you have the answer. It’s just a matter of clearing the clutter to get to it.” Morga’s success with the direct market services company targeting Hispanics shouldn’t be a surprise, considering she put herself through Stanford University and Stanford Law School. With parchment in hand, her life hit overdrive. She has been an investment professional with Goldman, Sachs & Co., The Carlyle Group’s U.S. Venture Fund, and Hummer Winblad Venture Partners. She has also been a corporate attorney for Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and has held board or executive posts with such companies as Napster and Zero Gravity Internet Group Inc. “My energy level is too high to sit for very long.” Thinking back to her transition to business owner, Alicia knows there are lessons to be learned. “I’ve found that I can make money on my own and that teaches you something about yourself.”

Liliana Gil, Director of Worldwide Marketing Services Sourcing, Johnson & Johnson. Age: 31

Though a consummate executive and rising star at Johnson & Johnson, it is Gil’s outside work that provides the greatest satisfaction. Her legacy lies in creating groups such as MAHO Designs (Makers of Hope), which helps artisans in vulnerable areas of Colombia; Acento Group, which connects entrepreneurs from Colombia with marketing opportunities around the world; and HOLA, the Hispanic Organization for Leadership & Achievement, a mentoring and social responsibility arm of J&J. Her mother once said, “Que no te pase lo del coco... [don’t let yourself end up like the coconut], which rises up very quickly but drops down really fast and hard!” With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Gil is amused by questions of where she’ll be in a decade. “For me, the power to have an impact, make a difference, do my best and excel is in the ‘here and now.’ Therefore, I choose to focus all my energy and priority in the opportunities, people and places that surround me today. This in itself marks the path for a wonderful future.”

Arian Campo-Flores, Miami Bureau Chief, Newsweek magazine. Age: 37

As Newsweek magazine’s lead in the Miami market, Arian Campo-Flores is in a unique position to see this hemisphere’s news unfold—and impact the world. Yet the two defining moments of his career happened much farther away. One came as a Newsweek New York correspondent covering 9/11, where he saw firsthand the magnitude of the devastation and its impact on the city and its people. The other came as an embedded reporter during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. “Witnessing war is an intense experience,” he says. Throughout it all, Campo-Flores credits three keys for his success: working hard, treating others as potential teachers, and—as evidenced by his work in Iraq—“pushing myself past my comfort zone.” A career journalist married to a woman who both inspires and grounds him, Campo-Flores doesn’t see a dramatic change in his post in 10 years—save working on a non-fiction book. His career choice stems from advice given by his uncle, Juan Carlos, many years ago. “Pursue my passion, in my case writing,” he says, “I’d eventually sort out how to make a living off of it.”

Alondra de la Parra, Music Director & Founder of Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas. Age: 27

Her work has been called spellbinding, her performances vibrant as she leads orchestras throughout the Americas, or her own Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas. The first woman from Mexico to conduct in New York City, she has been recognized by Symphony magazine as one of six “Young Artists on the Rise,“ and was the recipient of the League of American Orchestras’ prestigious Helen M. Thompson Award for emerging directors. She has conducted Venezuela’s Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra, and collaborated with the Russian National Orchestra with Joshua Bell and Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway. All these accolades and achievements have been de la Parra’s defining moments, this “waterfall of important things,“ including being managed by IMG, and election to the board of trustees for the Latin Grammy Awards. With so much accomplished, what can the next decade hold? Personal and professional growth, inspiration as a positive societal change, and “making music with and for people who appreciate the power it has to transform lives and enlighten the spirit.” Far fetched? Hardly.

Pablo Alvarado Executive Director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network. Age: 39

To Pablo Alvarado, success in work and life is about bringing status to those beneath the strata. As the son of Salvadoran immigrants, he has lived the life of the day laborers—undocumented workers who gather on street corners looking for an honest day’s work. He has seen their plight, and was himself surrounded by squad cars summoned when neighbors in Woodland Hills, California, assumed Alvarado didn’t belong (he had been offered a job by a resident). Today, his charge is to be more to those with less. He helps provide day labor groups a forum and lends them a public voice. He has pushed to overturn ordinances prohibiting laborers from soliciting work in public places, and has helped them create alliances. “It’s difficult to oppress people who have a sense of identity and unity,” he told Time Magazine. For his efforts, Alvarado is considered the César Chávez of jornaleros (day laborers), and has been the recipient of the Next Generation Leadership Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation for entrepreneurial risk-takers, and the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World Program. Married with two children, in 2005 Alvarado (now a permanent resident) was named one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Hispanics in the U.S.

Christy Haubegger Agent, Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Age: 39

A self-professed “relentless optimist,” Haubegger is both fearless and willing to take risks to achieve success. “I’d always prefer to remember that I tried my best and failed spectacularly, than to wonder what would have happened had I dared to try.” When not working at the talent representation firm, Haubegger spends much of her time on efforts focused on the public good. Target causes: closing education and income gaps between Latinos and the general market. “In 10 years, I would be thrilled if I can reflect on the fact that I might have had at least some small positive impact not only in the media portrayal of Latinos, but also in the other remaining issues that affect our community.” Chances are, she will.

Alexis Guzman Miller Vice President at Guzman & Company. Age: 29

Alexis Guzman Miller’s curriculum vitae reads like the Pentagon meets Wall Street. An economics graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a masters degree in finance from Johns Hopkins, Lt. Miller served as a strike weapons officer responsible for Tomahawk cruise missiles aboard a guided missile destroyer during Operation Enduring Freedom. The mission remains her greatest professional accomplishment. “To go from being a student to leading a division of enlisted sailors during a time of war required an enormous shift in the way I viewed my life,” she says. From the Navy, Miller became a marketing intelligence associate for Legg Mason Capital Management before becoming a research analyst in 2007 for Guzman & Company. In a decade, she hopes to help lead and shape the future of Guzman & Company—a pursuit that follows her father’s advice. “He told me the most important thing I could do was to pursue a career in something I was passionate about.”

Mauricio J. Claver-Carone Co-Founder and Director, U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC. Age: 32

A Florida native raised in Madrid, Mauricio J. Claver-Carone is an attorney, a prominent advocate of U.S. policy against the current Cuban government, one of eight executive committee members of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee (PAC), and the Executive Director of the Cuba Democracy Public Advocacy Corp. Outspoken in print and on television, he has watched as the Cuban-American community has unified to create the largest foreign-policy political action committee in the country—and the largest, single Hispanic political contributor in U.S. history. His advocacy stems both from “the respect of fundamental human rights for the Cuban people,” and the words of 19th century abolitionist leader, William Lloyd Garrison: “With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.” His own keys to success continue to be discretion and humility, and his greatest accomplishment “is the fact that my deepest personal beliefs in freedom and democracy are at the core of my professional advocacy.”

Ana Lucia Cottone VP Series Development and Current Programming, Lifetime Television. Age: 38

As Ana Lucia Cottone awaited an interview for her first TV development position, an executive threw a baseball her way. Cottone caught it—and the job, thanks to what her boss called being “fully present” amid unfolding situations. From her start at Rysher Entertainment, Cottone has worked with NBC Universal, USA and Sci Fi, UPN, and Telemundo, and was involved with such shows as Monk, Oz, and Nash Bridges, The Strip and Lifetime’s hit drama series Army Wives. Along the way, Cottone has researched programming trends and attitudes in Spain, and served as a consultant for radio programmer Grupo Prisa Internacional. A graduate of Boston’s Emerson College, the Los Angeles resident and youth mentor admits one regret: “Not framing that baseball.”


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jeff robbins
2008-08-07 22:37:17


Remedios Diaz
2008-08-08 11:55:09

We are very proud with the accomplishments of Mauricio Claver Carone. Smart, professional, ethical, focuses on important issues. A new generation of brilliant young executives.

Ines Neuweiler
2008-08-20 11:02:41

Ana Luca Cottone grew up in Guatemala. Since our childhood until today she's always been shining and growing at her fullest capacity. Determined, strong, dedicated, loving human being. She deeply touches your spirit inspiring others with her atitude and achievements. She's throwing baseballs every day, so you can still get the opportunity to frame it! Just be aware and keep looking .. you'll get one. Proud and priviledged to have had the opportunity to get to know her, Ines (Chacha)

Eileen Gharzouzi
2008-08-20 11:31:30

I have never met a more positive and outgoing person in all my life. Lucia has the Midas touch when it comes to bringing out the best in everybody, which in turn brings out the best of her. Congratulations Ana Lu!!! We're really proud of you!!! Gords

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