Latina Leadership Profile: Dr. Lisette Garcia


The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) is proud to announce the Inaugural HACR Latina Empow(h)er Summit™, taking place March 2-4 in Los Angeles. This two-day leadership program will feature subject-matter experts and thought-leaders who have successfully navigated their corporate mobility while balancing career, family, culture and created the perfect work-life blend. The program will not only share insights from the related research project, but will also will provide advanced leadership development and board readiness training for Latina executives, as well as a place where these executives can come together and “recharge,” learn from each other and leading experts on how to ensure they are achieving balance in their lives and the workplace. Ahead of the launch of this new program, HACR would like to take a moment to highlight the work of one of their own incredible Latinas and what drives her work and success. First, a brief background.

Lisette Garcia Blog Banner

Lisette Garcia joined the HACR team in 2012 and is HACR’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, as well as the director of the HACR Research Institute. She holds a few degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Bachelor of Science in Labor and Industrial Relations, as well as a Master’s in Sociology, and a Doctorate in Sociology. Yes, you can call her Dr. Garcia, though Lisette will work just fine. She has served as the study director for the Women of Color Policy Network at New York University, and taught at George Mason University, Ohio State, and Montclair University.

Dr. Garcia has also received numerous accolades and awards, including the NCID Exemplary Diversity Scholar Citation for her contributions in diversity-related research, practice, and teaching. She also sits on several boards and committees, including:

  • AAUW Inclusion and Equity Committee (Chair)
  • Southern Sociological Society Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce (Chair)
  • Southern Sociological Society Executive Committee
  • American Sociological Association Minority Fellowship Program Advisory Board
  • American Sociological Association Spivack Program in Applied Social Research and Social Policy Advisory Board
  • LIDERAMOS Executive Committee

HACR asked Dr. Garcia to take a quick break from her busy schedule to share her insights on her own experience as a Latina in academia as well as the Latina experience in Corporate America. We also asked her to share what she hopes Latinas will take away from HACR’s newest program.

Alida Minkel: Before we discuss the Latina Empow(h)er Summit™, I had a few questions about you first. You joined the HACR team in 2012. Before that, you received a Doctorate in Sociology from Ohio State University and were also the study director for the Women of Color Policy Network at New York University. You also taught at Montclair State University for five years. As a Latina in academia, what are some barriers you’ve faced?

Lisette Garcia: Well, there aren’t a lot of others like me in academia, much like in Corporate America, Latina representation in academia is quite low. And the parallels between corporate America and academia don’t end there. Latinas in academia often face the same challenges to career progression as their corporate counterparts – few role models, limited career paths, lack of mentorship and sponsorship, etcetera.

AM: How has your experience in academia influenced your current work?

LG: That’s an interesting question, Alida. I think my overall life experiences and research interests have led me to HACR. I left academia in search of a place where I could have a greater impact through my work. You see, success in academia is often defined by a publish or perish mentality and I didn’t want to be governed by that rule – I wanted to work alongside partners in the diversity and inclusion space, impact change within organizations, and help individuals succeed in their careers. All of those things come together to help me chart HACR’s research course and continue to refine and develop our leadership trainings.

AM: Are there specific things you feel women and other minorities groups can do to ensure they are represented at the decision-making tables of their respective companies and industries?

LG: That’s a very broad question – I would say that it depends on where you are and what you’re comfortable with. For sure we need to continue the dialogue around diversity and inclusion in as many spaces as possible – inside our organizations and outside them, in the public sector, in education, in all facets of life because only through increased awareness and dialogue will we see change. But I think we also bear a responsibility to the next generation to be lifting as we climb so that they too can have opportunities and so that as we near the end of our professional careers there are others like us poised to step into those leadership roles. Otherwise, what good is all of the work we have done?

“For sure we need to continue the dialogue around diversity and inclusion in as many spaces as possible – inside our organizations and outside them, in the public sector, in education, in all facets of life because only through increased awareness and dialogue will we see change.”

AM: What can participants expect to get out of their experience at the Latina Empow(h)er Summit™?

LG: The Latina Empow(h)er Summit™ (LES) is the first of its kind, to my knowledge. It is the only leadership development program for Latinas which offers board readiness training which, as we know, is important to ensure that we are fueling the corporate board pipeline with Latina talent. The LES also offers a place for Latinas to build their network and expand their skill set, and a space to recharge – something that most of us don’t do often enough.

AM: What activity or session are you most excited for participants to experience?

LG: That’s a tough one since we’ve put together so many great sessions which makes it hard to pick – but I am truly looking forward to the meditation room.

AM: What do you hope that participants will take away from this experience?

LG: Some great connections, new ideas, and a fresh perspective on the shifting landscape of Corporate America. I think most importantly, however, the inspiration to drive their success further than imaginable.

Lisette Garcia has worked tirelessly to research and explore discrimination, educational, and employment issues within Corporate America. HACR thanks Dr. Garcia for all the work she’s done for the organization and for the Hispanic community as a whole.




To learn more about the HACR Latina Empow(h)er Summit™, please visit our registration page.