Chief Financial Officer at Jorge Luis Lopez Law Firm Marile Lopez clearly remembers the moment that she understood the meaning of philanthropy.
"It wasn’t until my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer that I truly knew what giving back was,” said Lopez. “That’s really when I opened my eyes because it was close to home. To many of us, that’s how it happens.”
Lopez was speaking to an audience at a panel discussion on “The Power of Maximizing Hispanic Philanthropy,” held by the FIU Foundation Office of Inclusive Philanthropy (FOIP) at the end of 2021. Moderated by Vice President of Development and Innovation Philanthropy George Corton, team lead of Hispanic Initiatives at the FIU Foundation Office of Inclusive Philanthropy, the panel included Lopez and three other notable South Florida philanthropists: Managing Member and Co-founder of Juniper Capital Partners Alex Krys; Founder and CEO of Morales Capital Angel Morales; and Founder, CEO and President of Sapoznik Insurance Rachel A. Sapoznik.
More than just a broad discussion about philanthropy, the panel dove deep into topics like the culture of philanthropy in the Hispanic community, the philanthropic decision-making process and the importance of educating the community on philanthropy.
“It’s a disadvantage when Hispanics give money anonymously because we’re not teaching,” Sapoznik said. “We need to help other people understand that when we give, you need to show that. We’re teaching how other generations can continue to give.”
In addition, the group also considered how philanthropy is thought of differently in the Hispanic community.
“We come from really ‘philanthropic,’ really generous communities. That might not be what is generally considered philanthropic," Morales said. "Too often, the headlines are about people who have lots of money and give a small percentage of it.”
This discussion was the latest event in a series that FOIP – a team of diverse development officers at FIU focused on philanthropic investment in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives – has hosted to examine philanthropy’s role in different communities, but the first to specifically focus on Hispanic philanthropy.
As the largest Hispanic-serving institution in the country, FIU is uniquely positioned to examine philanthropy through this cultural lens. Currently ranked No. 1 in the nation for awarding bachelor’s and master’s degrees to Hispanic students, the university bears the Seal of Excelencia from Excelencia in Education and has educated many leaders in the Hispanic community and beyond.
“This is our work at FIU, and it’s our story to tell,” Corton said.
The conversation also served as the impetus for a larger study that will be led by FIU’s Jorge M. Pérez Metropolitan Center, which will look at the topic of Hispanic philanthropy. The findings of that study are planned to be released in late 2022.
View the full recording of the event below.