Taking the challenge of turning the CHCC around required team development, determination and believing in making change.
By Adrian Perez (No relation)
|Alice Perez, Executive Director, CHCC|
Alice Perez is a tough person who never shies away from a challenge. Since her days as a bank executive, she has accepted positions where her skill sets were put to test as a manager and marketer. To the many who know her, Alice is seen as a go-getter and doer, taking positions that are not easy and in need of repair, and turning them around.
Alice’s experience has taught her that leadership relies heavily on building a strong team, with a shared understanding of how all the components work together, yet independently to accomplish organizational goals. But, how does her corporate executive experience translate into running the state’s largest Latino business organization, the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce?
“Historically, I give a lot to our community and when I was given an opportunity to take on the role with the local Hispanic Chamber, it was a challenge,” Alice says explaining her role as President/CEO of the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “I am passionate of that Chamber, as many of us are, and to see it fail after so many years of success, I took on the challenge. I believed in that organization and I got others to believe and plot out a vision, got a good team in place and look where the organization is today.”
The CHCC was different, however, posing a much bigger challenge because of visible Board dysfunction, dwindling local Hispanic Chamber members, and corporate sponsors questioning their continued support. In 2013 and 14, the 8th and 9th Executive Director was hired and fired, two Board Chairs resigned, and the CHCC was in an obvious tailspin. Moreover, member Chambers were not talking to each other and many the Board’s leadership election processes.
When the CHCC sent out a job announcement for the organization’s President and CEO, Alice saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to turn a very important statewide organization around.
“I firmly believed that given the opportunity, I could help turn that organization around,but it wouldn’t happen by me alone, it would have to happen as a team and having a Board working in conjunction with me,” says Alice. “Most importantly it had to be about the members, working together collaboratively towards a common mission.”
Alice has been in her position with the CHCC for 15 months and her work is far from over, but she has made major strides toward taking the organization to new heights, with the support of the Board.
“We’re slowly achieving a new level of Board sophistication, where the Board is focused more on policy and not on the day-to-day administrative functions,” adds Alice. “As a result, we’ve developed mentorship and leadership programs that add to membership value and we have more meaningful meetings where we discuss priorities and promote advocacy for our members.”
As an indicator of their growing success, Alice points out that the CHCC has become a point of contact for legislators and special interest groups seeking legislative support, which demonstrates the growing respect the organization is once again beginning to command. Earlier this year, the CHCC hosted a Governor’s Reception for Latino Appointees, where Gov. Jerry Brown spoke and introduced his appointees. In addition, during the CHCC’s annual legislative day, they had 45 appointments with legislators to advocate on behalf of small and Latino owned businesses. There are still challenges that need to be addressed including increasing the number of Latino owned business owners and the need to work collaboratively with other business and community organizations.
“There is still a need for all Latinos to unit, because only collaboratively can we make a difference,” says Alice. “The theme of our conference says it all, ‘Ignite Our Business Community for California’s Economic Success.’ This highlights the power of Latinos and how we are changing the states economic and populous make up.”
The three-day Conference, which is being held at Sheraton Hotel in downtown
Sacramento, California, begins on
August 20th and runs through the 22nd. This year, it features two unique components
that focus on the changing business climate:
Shark Tank, an opportunity for entrepreneurs to share their ideas with
potential investors; and, A Townhall discussion, where statistical data about
California’s Latino community will be presented. In addition, the annual Latina Luncheon will
have two panels of Latinas businesswomen and executives discuss opportunities
in energy and technology.
|Alic with the Mexican Consul and PG&E Rep.|
The Conference workshops and business expo are open to the public. Luncheon, reception and gala events require purchased tickets. For more information about the Conference, visit the CHCC website at www.cahcc.com.