VIDEO | Jorge Rivera on his Association Journey and his Heroes
We hope you’re enjoying our coverage of Hispanic Heritage Month. If you’ve missed any of the posts dedicated to this month, please find links below. Association Forum is celebrating the month by speaking with Latinx association professionals on their unique journeys to the industry. Jorge Luis Rivera is the director of membership development at the National Roofing Contractors Association. He is also a member of Association Forum’s Content Working Group (which plans this magazine!). Rivera speaks with Association Forum CEO Artesha Moore about his journey to the role he’s in today, how organizations can be more inclusive, and how his parents and his in laws have inspired him.
- A Spotify playlist from Association Forum’s Latinx Advisory Group
- Hispanic Heritage Month Resources to Immerse Yourself in LatinX Culture
- Video | Josie Hernandez on What Hispanic Heritage Month Means to Her
- Video |Henry Montoya on How Associations Can be More inclusive of Latinx Professionals
Watch the video below to find out more.
Read the Transcript
Artesha Moore: Hello. I’m Artesha Moore, President and the CEO of Association Forum and today I have Jorge Rivera with us to talk about Hispanic heritage history. Jorge, can you introduce yourself?
Jorge Luis Rivera: Sure. Thanks for having me. My name is Jorge Rivera. I am the Director of Membership for the National Roofing Contractors Association. We’re based in Rosemont and been in the Association world for about just over 20 years, and I’m happy to be here.
Artesha Moore: Thank you. Before we get started with the questions, Jorge, I’m always interested to understand folks’ journey. I stumbled into Association management, so can you tell us a little bit about what brought you to this industry?
Jorge Luis Rivera: Sure. I think I too stumbled into the Association management. I started off as a customer service rep back in 2001 with a subsidiary of the National Association of Realtors in Chicago, and as I worked there, I worked my way through school, got my bachelor’s degree and I left for a short while, but came right back about a year later and in a higher position, and then just tried to keep my professional development going and about seven years ago now, I came over here with an opportunity to grow with the National Roofing Contractor Association and just worked my way up through to director. I’m grateful for the opportunity that they’ve given me here.
Artesha Moore: Thank you for saying that because I think that it’s important for others, especially those watching the video, to understand there are so many different paths to get to the careers your dreams. So let’s talk a little bit now about what brought us here today. What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Jorge Luis Rivera: For me, I think it means just better representation for those of us who might feel underrepresented. It’s always great to see others in similar positions or just as a matter of celebrating our collective culture in a unified voice, so I think it’s a beautiful thing. In the Hispanic culture, there’s so many different cultures within it. I always enjoy just learning and I have now a chance to take part with Association Forum and these other avenues to celebrate this month, so yeah, it means a lot to me, especially now you start networking a little bit more during your career and start meeting a lot of interesting people and you just love to learn about how they got there as well.
Artesha Moore: Yeah, thank you for saying that and I think the more that I’m learning and supporting and being an ally to the community, in the Latinx community, I think one of the things that I always love is this awareness and learning, because how many diverse populations come together under this beautiful umbrella, so thank you for saying that because I do think it’s important for others to really understand how diverse this is and how many different nationalities and ethnicities you could learn about during the month and understand.
Jorge Luis Rivera: Yeah.
Artesha Moore: So as I think about our work, and you mentioned Association Forum and we’re leaning in a lot around advisory groups and supporting under welcoming environment, but I’d like to hear from you, how can the Association industry become more inclusive to the Latinx community?
Jorge Luis Rivera: Yeah, that’s a great question and something I’ve thought about over the years. In previous positions, especially when I first started getting into management positions, I started noticing that there weren’t too many people that came down in the same path that I did and I think that opening up criteria for certain positions, if you have requirements that close the pool of candidates, then that pool of candidates may become less diverse because of it. Then it may not be HR’s fault that everybody they’re receiving is not as diverse as maybe one would like, and if they’re following certain criteria.
So I think there’s an opportunity to open up and find how contributions can be made without so many of what we may think of as traditional environments. One of the things I really like about my position here is, I work with a lot of folks who came in, a lot of the VPs now worked their way through. In fact, my VP now, he started in the mail room 30 years ago. He’s not much older than I am and worked his way through, and I think that those opportunities don’t present themselves as much anymore, as there’s so many boxes that need to get checked off before you even have an opportunity to speak to someone. At least, that’s my take. But yeah, that’s how I feel.
Artesha Moore: Great. Thank you for saying that, because I think with that particular point, I too worked my way up from clerk to CEO and without the opportunity of folks who didn’t look at just baseline criteria, things like degrees, things like masters or various certifications because they don’t understand what it takes for maybe some of the avenues in your working class or below the poverty line to even get to the starting point there without help. So thank you for saying that. I think for me, part of this also is, I admire the people that are around me as well as those that can support, so that try to push you. For you, as you reflect, who do you admire and look up to? Who are your heroes?
Jorge Luis Rivera: Well, my heroes, I’ll go a little bit personal here. My parents, I know a lot of people will say that, but they’re both from Puerto Rico and they came in the sixties and my father, he supported us. My mom took care of us, obviously also supported us, and they both came, as I said, from Puerto Rico. Then I also admire my father-in-law who came from Mexico, so it’s a different, unlike Puerto Ricans who have the opportunity to come and are citizens right away, my father-in-law had to go a different route and he came in also in the sixties in worker programs and really had to work and different struggles, but even through all those struggles, and this applies to both my parents and my father-in-law, they’ve always kept a positive outlook and was able to provide for their families. They do it with open arms and open heart to try and make sure that the next generation is better off than they were.
Artesha Moore: Thank you for sharing that. That touched my spirit really and just hearing about that, and I too have heroes, again, the big names out there that inspire you, and all of those things. But then also my grandma, right? My [inaudible 00:08:02] and dad, and it is because of what they did in the day to day, same with your family and your hero, that made it possible for us to show up fully today, so thank you for sharing that.
We revisit interviews with four Black association professionals. We also want to know what Black...
Note: This article was originally published by Choose Chicago on their blog, “Chicago Like a…