Aida Alvarez, Latino Community Foundation Chair
Aida Alvarez has spent a lifetime giving back to her community and serving as a role model for Latinas at the highest levels of the U.S. business, government and civil sectors. “There is no better inspiration than observing the positive impact a person can have on others by giving of her time, her talents and her treasure,” says Alvarez. Alvarez has excelled in wearing many hats, and, true to her words, in each one she has given generously of her time, her talent, and her treasure.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed Alvarez to be the Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), making her the first Latina to serve in the U.S. Cabinet. As SBA administrator, she presided over record activity: $61.5 billion in guaranteed loans and venture capital financing over a four-year period. SBA’s lending to women tripled. Lending to minorities doubled. “In business, I have stressed the importance of inclusion and corporate social responsibility,” Alvarez says.
Alvarez started out with a career in journalism. She gained great recognition for her work, earning a Front Page award for journalistic excellence while at the New York Post. She also earned an Emmy nomination and an Associated Press award for journalistic excellence for her series on the war in El Salvador entitled, “The Morazan Diaries.” Prior to her federal service, Alvarez was a vice president in public finance at The First Boston Corp. and Bear Stearns. She was also vice president for public affairs at the NYC Health and Hospitals Corp. Before SBA, Alvarez was appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the first Director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, the financial regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. A Harvard graduate, Alvarez also holds honorary doctorates from Bethany College, Iona College, Mercy College and the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. In 2000, Alvarez was elected to serve on the Harvard Board of Overseers. She currently sits on the boards of Walmart, Union Bank and Progress Financial Corp. Previously she was on the board of PacifiCare, now part of United Health. In the nonprofit sector, Alvarez chairs the Latino Community Foundation, serves on the board of the San Francisco Symphony, and is a Commissioner for the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Alvarez says, “Whether through government, business or philanthropy, or individual acts of kindness, everyone can do his part.”