Founder/President, El Niño Group, Ltd.
Mr. Niño serves as the President of El Niño Group of Washington, D.C., Co-founder of Care Alternative North America, LLC., and as an Advisor to Hispanic Teleservices Corporation.
Previously, Mr. Niño served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) from 1990 to 1998. He has also served as an advisor to the Small Business Advisory Board at the Federal Reserve in Chicago and as co-chairman of the Bush/Cheney Election Committee. Amongst the many boards upon which Mr. Niño sits are the Boy Scouts of America, the Guardian Angels, the Hispanic Council on International Relations, the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, the HAP Institute, and many others.
Mr. Niño has also been a Director of U.S. Starcom Inc. since October of 2005. Amongst his many honors, Mr. Niño was invited to speak at the Republican National Convention in 1992 and was appointed the Hispanic Business Advisor to former President Bush.
Founder/CEO, Enlightened, Inc.
Mr. Ford is the President and co-founder of Enlightened, Inc., named by Inc. Magazine as one of the Fastest Growing IT Companies in the U.S.
Prior to founding Enlightened, Mr. Ford worked for a small defense contractor and later became a Product Manager for one of MCI’s most successful product lines. Subsequently, Mr. Ford became the Director for the Applications Support Organization at INTELSAT, the world’s largest provider of satellite communications.
In 2005, Mr. Ford was selected by the editorial board of Inside the Minds as an author in the recently released book, Inside the Minds: CEO Best Practices, which featured top CEOs from some of the nation’s leading companies.
Mr. Ford is heavily involved in his community and was a founding member of Myth Men, a non-profit organization with the objective of destroying negative myths about young Black men, and currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of the DC Chamber of Commerce and the DC Chamber of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. Mr. Ford’s company philosophy is based on his faith, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Founder, The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
Justin Vélez-Hagan is an economic policy analyst, as well as a policy researcher at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. He is also the founder of The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, has served as an adjunct faculty member in economics, and is the author of the upcoming book The Common Sense behind Basic Economics (tentative release date of October 2015, Lexington Books).
His work has been featured in numerous national publications, including: Forbes, Fox News, Politico, The Hill, Politic365, NBC, and The Huffington Post, as well as newspapers and various academic publications around the country and in Puerto Rico. He has also been a requested guest on the Fox Business Network, Voice of America, Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeera English, HuffPost Live, NPR Radio, SiriusXM, and Fusion.
His unique knowledge of the economic conditions of Puerto Rico have led to numerous interview requests from journalists and talk show hosts around the country, along with guest lecture requests from universities both on the mainland and in Puerto Rico.
Previously, Vélez-Hagan worked as an international developer of assisted living facilities. He also founded D.C. Concrete Technologies, which was a frequent guest on HGTV’s Curb Appeal, NBC’s House Smarts, and was featured in several national and local magazines and newspapers.
Vélez-Hagan serves on the boards of several national organizations such as the National Military Family Association’s Technology Advisory Board, The Latino Coalition’s National Advisory Board, and the Multicultural Media, Telecom, and Internet Council‘s Telecommunications and Internet Policy Task Force. Recently, he was appointed to serve on Maryland’s GOMA Small Business Advisory Council.
Vélez-Hagan received his MBA from Arizona State University and is pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. He is also a combat veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Louis Pagan (in memoriam)
Co-Founder/Managing Partner, Hispánicize
Mr. Pagan was the co-founder and Managing Partner of Hispánicize, a B2B devoted to providing Latino bloggers, brands, and agencies with the Hispanic social media resources and insights they need to succeed.
A recognized thought leader in Latino social media and pioneer of the Latino blogosphere who co-founded the non-profit Latinos in Social Media (LATISM, #LATISM), the largest organization for Latinos engaged in social media dedicated to advancing the social, civic, and economic status of the Latino community, Mr. Pagan frequently spoke about the evolution and influence of Hispanics online. Most recently he was an invited guest on Fox News as well as featured in several national magazines for his expertise.
A recipient of the Latinos in Science and Technology Association (LISTA) Rising Star Award, Mr. Pagan was named by Latino Leaders Magazine to its annual “Ones to Watch” list.
Louis Pagan died in February of 2013. He leaves behind two lovely daughters, a wife, and a family at NPRChamber that will never forget him. R.I.P. Louis.
VP, Public Relations firm in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Berrocal serves as the Vice President of Public Policy and Hispanic Affairs for a strategic consulting and regulatory firm in Washington, D.C. Before joining her current organization, her public policy background included working with the Pennsylvania State Senate and national research and advocacy groups such as the National Puerto Rican Coalition and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council.
Ms. Berrocal has authored several publications in her field, including her book: The Cuban Democracy Act: An Overview of the Act and its Implications for Democracy. She also contributes to several national publications and is the Chairwoman of a nonprofit coalition of minority entrepreneurs, local elected officials, and community leaders.
Ms. Berrocal holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from The George Washington University, Trachtenburg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and a B.A. from Temple University.
Omar Y. Reyes Martínez
Founder/CEO, Business Links Consultants, Inc.
Mr. Reyes is the CEO and founder of Business Links Consultants, Inc., an international-business consulting firm based in Puerto Rico.
In this capacity he has been able to apply his extensive business development skills to various fields, helping hundreds of clients from numerous niche markets become more competitive, thus generating jobs and improving the lives and economic conditions of Puerto Ricans.
He also serves as a Professor at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico and the National University College Online (NUCO), where he created the Business & Technology Department’s Permits & Regulation course, which is focused on establishing new businesses in Puerto Rico and abroad.
In his career he has generated close ties to the community and to various organizations such as the National Society of Hispanic MBAs, serving as the Corporate Relations VP, the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, SBA, SME and the Inter American Center for Enterprise and Human Rights of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, among others.
Mr. Reyes has completed his PhD coursework in Entrepreneurial and Managerial Development with a Concentration in International and Inter-regional Business at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, and is working on his dissertation. He also holds a Master’s Degree in International Business.
Justin Vélez-Hagan, PhD (ABD), MBA
National Executive Director
Justin founded The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce as a means for filling a void in services catered to helping budding entrepreneurs. Within a very short time, The NPRChamber has quickly become the fastest growing and largest Puerto Rican organization in the United States, as well as one of the fastest growing Hispanic organizations, and has established Local Leadership Councils (LLCs) in New York City, Charlotte, NC, San Juan, PR, and Washington, D.C., with more expected to open soon. Justin also works as a professor, writer, and researcher and previously developed senior care facilities internationally. Previously, Justin founded D.C. Concrete Technologies, which became known as the dominant producer and service provider of new concrete technologies in the Southeastern U.S. and select international locations. D.C. Concrete Technologies was a frequent guest on HGTV’s Curb Appeal, NBC’s House Smarts, and in several national and local magazines and newspapers. A true believer in the necessity of entrepreneurship as a means for supporting a strong economy, Justin has volunteered to teach entrepreneurship and economics with Junior Achievement, has been requested as a guest lecturer at several universities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, co-authored Blueprint for Universal Economic Inclusion, and is the author of the forthcoming book The Common Sense behind Basic Economics (Lexington Books, 2015). Justin has studied Commercial Law at Cardozo Law School and the University of Barcelona, Entrepreneurship at The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Business, International Business at the University of Puerto Rico, completed his MBA at Arizona State University, and is working on his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Justin is also a combat veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Jacklyn Ríos, JD, LLM
National Director of Legal Affairs
As the National Director of Legal Affairs, Jackie works to ensure that The NPRChamber is aware of policy issues that are important to entrepreneurs and Hispanics and provides advice and analyses on how best to advocate for those policies that affect The NPRChamber’s mission. In that role Jackie has established relationships with legislators both on a national and local level, advised them on issues of concern, and has developed strategies to support our mutual efforts. She also provides legal advice on administrative and compliance issues related to The NPRChamber. Jackie also currently works as an associate in an international law firm with areas of expertise in Maritime and International Commercial Law. Prior to joining her current firm, she worked as a consultant advising legislators and federal agencies on proposed legislations’ impact on international trade. Jackie received her JD from Fordham University and an LLM from NYU.
Verónica Colón-Rosario, MA
National Director of Development and Political Affairs
Verónica joined The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in February 2011, inspired by its mission and driven by an interest in working for an organization that helps minorities in the United States. As the National Director for Development and Political Affairs, Verónica facilitates the growth of the organization at the national level by supporting the development of Local Leadership Chapters. She also maintains organizational outreach to government officials and organizations whose interests match those of The NPRChamber. She currently works for Telefónica International USA, in Washington, D.C., and dedicates her time at Telefónica to studying the relationship between telecommunications, development, and democracy. Veronica completed a B.A. in Psychology at the University of Puerto Rico and, due to her exemplary academic achievements, she was subsequently awarded a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While at NIH, she developed a passion for supporting the Hispanic community in the United States, compelling her to study Latin American Studies, resulting in a Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University’s prestigious School of Foreign Service. A fond believer in continued education, Verónica recently completed a certificate in International Business Development from Georgetown University.
Marshall Kirby, MID
Policy Analyst, Contributing Writer
As a Policy Analyst for The NPRChamber, Marshall has dedicated his time to researching and analyzing policies that are most relevant to the mission of our organization, which include, but are not limited to: minority economic policy, small business policy, foreign policy, immigration policy, and U.S. fiscal policy. Although already proven as an expert in international policy analysis, Marshall has developed a wide-ranging expertise on both domestic and foreign economic policy matters. Marshall has written dozens of policy pieces for The NPRChamber and is a regular contributor to The Minority Business and Economic Report, The NPRChamber’s online publication dedicated to educating its readers on subjects related to business and economics that affect minority populations. Prior to joining The NPRChamber, Marshall worked as an Issue Analyst for Americans for Informed Democracy as well as at the Center for U.S. Global Engagement, and within his county’s local government. Marshall received a Master of International Development degree from the University of Pittsburgh, his BA from Mount Saint Mary’s in Political Science, and has also studied at the American Institute of Foreign Study in Dublin, Ireland.
Edward Cruz, MBA
Edward joined The NPRChamber with the intent of analyzing and providing research analyses in the areas of small business development and corporate tax policy. In order to contribute best to The NPRChamber, Edward devotes his time to maintaining awareness of legislative proposals that affect the U.S. economy and provides analysis and feedback to our partner organizations as well as to members of Congress. Through his current position as a Research Analyst at Babson College, his research and opinions have been published in numerous business journals, including the Boston Business Journal and the Harvard Business Review, and he is quickly becoming well-known as an expert in his field. Edward received his undergraduate degree with a concentration in Economics from Harvard University and his MBA from Babson College, the nation’s #1 graduate school for entrepreneurship.
Octavio del Valle
National Director of Entrepreneurial Programs
As the National Director of Entrepreneurial Programs, Octavio has helped to establish and implement programs that allow The NPRChamber to better serve its members and constituency with valuable services that promote new venture and entrepreneurial development and education. Most recently, Octavio was responsible for creating partnerships with Acción, one of the largest and most successful microlenders in the world today, as well as with LegalZoom, the nation’s fastest growing provider of online small business legal services. In addition, Octavio is responsible for addressing the needs of our members who have questions regarding starting a small business, marketing a business, and complying with local rules and regulations. Octavio also runs several online websites and, through his expertise, has helped to setup and run The Minority Business and Economic Report, The NPRChamber’s online publication. Octavio received a BS in Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez, and is working on his MBA at the University of Florida.