The Audacity of Kindness: Ana Gloria Rivas-Vázquez

To commemorate Hispanics in Philanthropy’s 33rd year, we honored 33 Latino leaders who inspire as our 2017 HIPGivers. Read Ana Gloria Rivas-Vázquez’s story, below. As far as Ana Gloria Rivas-Vázquez can see, generosity and kindness are all around us. The attorney, former journalist, and current development director of Catholic Relief Services views giving as a natural human imperative.
I write a blog called ‘Adventures in Kindness because I’m always looking for it, I always see it, and I’m always receiving it.
This perspective has led Rivas-Vázquez down a prolific career in philanthropy that has included positions as Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer of Hispanics in Philanthropy, Vice President of Development and External Relations at St. Thomas University, Associate Head for Advancement at Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, and Director of Development at the Dade Community Foundation (now The Miami Foundation). She also serves on the board of the Key Biscayne Community Foundation, in the Miami area, where she lives. Rivas-Vázquez’s family emigrated from Cuba right before she was born, and generosity was part of the fabric of her upbringing.  “My grandparents inspired me,” she says. “My grandmother always helped others and participated in the United Way. My grandfather was a doctor who made house calls. Both my mother and father helped others, too.” She also emphasized the distinction between giving and publicly discussing one’s philanthropy. “I think that it’s very interesting that there are always cultural idiosyncrasies with different groups. There’s no generosity gene, but I do think that cultures and groups have certain values that can define them or influence what they do,” she said. “And I think, with Latinos, we don’t generally like to talk about what we do. Giving is such a part of who we are.” Rivas-Vázquezsaid that her own philanthropy has been inspired by Hispanics in Philanthropy. “HIP’s work and my professional career are very linked,” she said. “HIP has been an example, a source of inspiration, a place where I have connected with others and learned.” At every turn, Rivas-Vázquez has been driven to give back, and to urge her fellow philanthropists to engage and contribute to the Latino community.
When fundraising works at its best, I’m presenting an opportunity to someone and helping them to do something in line with their values that fulfills them. I’m helping them… The bottom line is that there’s a demographic imperative. When you look where money comes from, the largest piece of that pie comes from individuals. Do the math: There’s a demographic imperative to engage Latinos.
Rivas-Vázquez has reached so many people in a variety of contexts through her work-and she’s not done. She’s the first to point out that there’s so much more to do in the area of giving, both for Latinos and by Latinos. “Giving is all about connection,” she adds, “and connection is so important. I think about holding hands with someone. When you’re holding onto someone’s hand, it gives you a sense of calm… It reassures you.”