1. Where are you from, where did you study, and how did you get started?
I was born in Medellín, Colombia and a San Diegan since age four. I earned my bachelor’s in Communications at the University of Notre Dame and Master’s in Sport Management at the University of San Francisco. I started with the Padres in 1999 as a part-time usher helping people find their way around Qualcomm Stadium.
2. What is it that you do?
Since 2006, I have been the Padres Manager of Latino Affairs. That means helping the Padres reach the Latino community through our community programs, charitable giving, social media and special events at Petco Park.
3. Our readers may not know your story. Can you tell us about your journey and how you have achieved success in your current position?
My journey began when I moved to the U.S. to receive prosthetics as I was born as a triple amputee. Baseball inspired me to move past my disability and pursue my passions. Growing up in San Diego, I always admired the Padres commitment to the community and I wanted to be a part of that, particularly in reaching Latinos. Fortunately, they agreed and invited me to move from the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to a full-time position in the Padres front office.
4. As an author and international speaker, tell us about your book and what inspired you to write and publish it. My three passions are my faith, sports and writing. I published my first book in 2008, Swinging for the Fences, because I felt it was important for people to know how someone can immigrate from another country, with an added dimension of challenges through a physical disability, and achieve his dreams. More important, I wanted the reader to learn how to overcome their challenges and achieve their goals. My latest book, The Finish Line, is about how I competed on a relay team for the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. I want people to constantly challenge themselves and reach heights they hadn’t imagined.
5. What is your key to success? My faith is my cornerstone; it not only comforts me but fuels me in believing I have a purpose. What has been key for me is a number of things: a supportive family, a drive to want to improve the community; a strong network of community partners; a high level of persistence; and an active sense of humor.
6. Who inspires you? There are many but I have a mom who sacrificed so much to ensure I had this opportunity, and a brother who has Down Syndrome who just lights up my life. Also, my boss at the Padres is an incredible person who for the last 15 years has taken charitable giving from an area of goodwill to one of the most fundamental aspects of how we run our organization.
7. As an accomplished man and winner of various prestigious awards, of which are you most proud? I cherish them all and feel monumentally blessed. But I’ve been humbled by awards from the Hispanic Chamber, Access to Independence, and the César E. Chávez Commemorative Committee for community service. I think the world of those organizations and to be honored by them is just incredibly generous.
8. As a passionate man, which local non-profits are closest to your heart and why? Quite fortunately, I work with quite a few through my job. I have a particular fondness for those that strive to improve the lives of youth: Barrio Logan College Institute, Reality Changers, Tariq Khamisa Foundation, Friends of Scott Foundation, MANA, Encuentros.
9. How has Southwest Airlines allowed you to achieve success? I have a lifetime of love for Southwest Airlines. When I was looking to raise funds to publish my first book, they reached out and donated tickets so that we could utilize them as a prize opportunity drawing. They recognized that the mission of this book was to educate and motivate, specifically our youth. Then when I announced I was publishing a second book, they came right back and said they wanted to support again. I was blown away at their supreme generosity, commitment to getting positive literature in the marketplace, and dedication to our youth. My dreams have come true because of Southwest Airlines.