No other word is used more frequently to describe Ana Rodriguez ’03, managing director of the SMU Cox Latino Leadership Initiative.
Spend a day in her office at SMU Cox School of Business, and you’ll see just how much passion fuels this Dallas native, community bridge-builder, and business executive leadership adviser to some of the nation’s largest companies.
“Ana is the right person at the right time with the drive and tenacity to make the difference we and our business partners need,” says Shane Goodwin, associate dean of executive education and graduate programs at the Cox School. “She is absolutely a force of nature.”
As the head of the Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI) – the nation’s only executive education program dedicated to the professional advancement of Latinos – Rodriguez helps students and executive-level employees from minority backgrounds transform their lives and careers. The program also helps more than 40 companies – like AT&T Communications, State Farm, and Walmart – retain and develop C-suite talent, so they don’t miss out on the market value and cultural perspective that Latino professionals bring to the workplace.
As of 2020, Latinos make up over 18% of the population, yet they represent less than 3% of executive-level positions in the United States. Rodriguez knows firsthand what it’s like to struggle to gain a foothold in the U.S.