Name: Haydee Calderon
Hometown: Chicago, IL
CHCI Program(s)/Year: CHCI Internship Program, Summer 1998
CHCI Program Placement(s): Rep. Charles Stenholm
Current Position/Organization: Principal/Co-Founder, Dignitas
1. What motivated you to apply to the CHCI program(s), and why do you think they are important for Latino youth?
My high school mentor encouraged me to apply to the CHCI internship program because of my interest in government and my leadership experience serving Chicago’s Latino community. CHCI plays a pivotal role providing future Latino leaders access and insight to the world of government and public policy in a manner they would never be able to achieve on their own.
2. What have you been doing since you finished the CHCI program(s)?
My journey after CHCI has encompassed a rewarding career in both the public and private sector. I am currently a Principal and Co-Founder at Dignitas, a leading multi-family office, business advisory, and investment consulting firm providing a wide range of financial services to executives and entrepreneurs.
I was previously at Eastdil Secured, a real estate investment bank, where I advised institutional investors on the disposition and recapitalization of over $5.0 billion in trophy commercial real estate. I had the opportunity to work on marquee transactions including the Sears Tower, John Hancock, and Houston Galleria.
Prior to entering the private sector I served as an advisor to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s chancellor and other high-level university officials on various community relations initiatives. I’ve also served as a Media Director for a successful aldermanic candidate running for Chicago’s City Council and as the Campaign Manager for an Illinois State Representative’s re-election campaign.
I am a proud graduate of Wesleyan University with a degree in Government and Women’s Studies. In addition, I have an MBA from Harvard Business School.
3. What impact did your CHCI experience have on your career and development as a leader?
My experience at CHCI provided me with opportunities to develop my business acumen as well as strengthen my communication and networking skills. More importantly, CHCI taught me how to be a strategic thinker by providing access to senior leaders in government and business who exposed me to the complexity and dynamism of U.S. public policy.
4. How do you continue to give back to the community?
I currently serve on the Board of Directors for North Branch Works a leading economic development and workforce development organization in Chicago. In addition, I am on the Governor’s Board for the Steppenwolf Theatre Auxiliary Committee, which raises funds for arts education in Chicago’s public schools. Over the past 12 years I’ve been involved with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in various capacities including serving as a debate coach, mentor, and Leadership Advisory Committee member. In 2013, Dignitas was awarded the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s business of the year for our work advising and mentoring other Latino owned businesses.
5. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years, and what do you still want to achieve?
Today, there are over 3.1 million Hispanic owned businesses in the U.S that contribute over $468 billion to the U.S. economy. This data demonstrates that the success of Hispanic businesses is a key driver to the economic growth of the United States. Despite this growth, there are only five Hispanic owned companies in the U.S. with over $1 billion in revenue. I want to continue to be part of the growth and success of the U.S. Hispanic business community. I see my role as helping Latino entrepreneurs successfully access capital for growing their business and creating wealth creation events that can have a broader impact on the broader Latino community.
6. What advice would you give current and future CHCI participants?
CHCI provides its participants with an unparalleled personal and professional development experience. Participants are given access to government and business leaders, a high quality professional experience, and a peer group of outstanding young leaders that can serve as a launch pad for long-term career success. Participants should embrace this transformational experience by identifying their personal goals at the start of the program and seeking advice and feedback from their peers, program staff, and CHCI alums on how to achieve their goals. In addition, participants should remember that they can continue to benefit from CHCI’s program by giving back to the organization as a volunteer, donor or alumni leader.