By Roberto Carmona
Edgar Hernandez is a good friend and he shared with me the joy he gets when he visits Iowa. He has many relatives in West Liberty and Iowa City. I know he will be a resource for Iowa leaders, with his insights on leadership and economic development.
I took the opportunity to ask Edgar some questions about his experiences in Iowa, on his career and education:
What have you experienced during your visits to Iowa?
Over the years I have noticed that Iowa went from a predominantly homogenous population, to one that is now more diverse with an influx of Mexicans, Central Americans and other people of color.
The main industry in our hometown in Ignacio Allende, Durango is farming. So, it was interesting to see the corn growing in the fields, the John Deere tractors and horses in the corrals in Iowa. Iowa reminded me of Allende because of the familiar surroundings.
For the young leader in Iowa share a little bit of your Academic Journey
In my sophomore year in high school my family adjusted to our legal status under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. This was important because I always knew that I wanted to go to college, but didn’t know how I would achieve my goal if I was not a permanent resident with a valid social security number.
In my senior year of high school, I chose to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago. Majoring in Political Science and Latin-American Studies. While studying at UIC I was active in various student organizations and helped found the Mexican Students de Aztlan – it’s still active on campus.
Upon completion of my Bachelors’ degree, I obtained a Masters in Urban Planning and Policy with a concentration in Community and Economic Development also from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Now that you are professional, what is the mission of SEIU?
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is an organization that works to improve the lives of our members, their families and the communities they live in. We fight for fairness, access and equity for workers and communities that all too often have been marginalized and without a voice. SEIU engages on issues of healthcare, politics, immigration, retirement security, voting rights, racial and economic justice. Issues that important for low wage and middle-class individuals and families.
What has been your career trajectory at SEIU?
When I first started working for the Capital Stewardship Program at SEIU. I was brought on as pension fund strategist. My main responsibilities were to work with public sector pension plans trustees and staff in the Midwest on issues that were important to our members. This included investments, corporate governance and retirement security. At first it was overwhelming and I was taken back by the level of investments being made by the pension plans. I was promoted to the position of Assistant Director of the Capital Stewardship Program and that called for additional work that was in support of the union’s priorities.
Discuss your current role at SEIU
As of January, I am now the Assistant Director for the Department of Strategic Initiatives at SEIU and the co-lead on the SEIU’s Diversity and Dollars initiative that promotes opportunities for Diverse asset managers.
In addition, my work includes investor engagement with publicly traded companies on the investment risks related to the Immigration policies facing our nation. I was recently appointed to serve as a Deputy Trustee for the SEIU Master Trust pension fund that has $2.5 Billion in assets under management.
Shout out to your gente in Iowa
I want to encourage all of the kids in high school to pursue their professional goals at a university or a trade school to learn a skilled trade. For those that are eligible to vote to register as soon as possible and make your voice heard in the upcoming elections by voting. Lastly, a heartfelt hello to all my friends and family in Iowa, hope to visit soon and wishing everyone well.