Building a Community to Support and Advance Hispanics in Government Relations

The Hispanic Lobbyists Association (HLA), a 501 (c)(6) nonprofit, was founded over 10 years ago to provide mentoring opportunities for Hispanic professionals seeking to pursue a government relations career, to educate our membership on the latest best practices, to encourage the highest ethical standards in our profession, and to provide networking opportunities with policymakers and industry leaders. In addition, we strongly believe in the importance of diversifying the profession so that it reflects the changing face of America.

 Our membership consists of talented advocates whose expertise and knowledge make for a more informed policy making process. HLA members work in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors; serve as community relations, external affairs, government relations, policy, and public affairs advocates; and are experts in a broad range of issues, including cybersecurity, education, energy, healthcare, media, tax, technology, and telecommunications.

 Our 2019 Board is representative of our diverse membership. This year in particular, was historic: HLA members elected for the first time an all-female Executive Committee—President, Liz Lopez, YWCA USA; Vice-President, Anais Carmona, T-Mobile; Treasurer, Rosemary Garza, Univision; and Secretary, Zuraya Tapia-Hadley, Facebook; as well as nine At-Large Board members—Lucia Alonzo, Ferox Strategies; Manny Bonilla, American Society of Anesthesiologists; Susie Feliz, National Urban League; Omar Franco, Becker & Poliakoff; Noe Garcia, Signal Group DC; Rich Lopez, GM; Chuck Rocha, Solidarity Strategies; Susan Santana, AT&T; and Patricia Tamez, Shell.

 The HLA Board kicked off 2019 by launching an ambitious agenda to support our membership and provide them with the tools they need to advance their careers. Building on the work by HLA founders and past Board members, we plan to expand our mentorship program, coordinate more professional development events, and host several networking opportunities, including the Avanza Awards.

 A few years ago, HLA established a successful mentorship program in collaboration with the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association (CHSA). Many of our members are former Hill staffers and can offer valuable insight about how they moved up the ranks on the Hill and transitioned to the private and/or nonprofit sector. This year, we are expanding the mentorship program to include members in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Susie Feliz and Patricia Tamez lead our mentorship program.

 Professional development events are an important part of our agenda since our membership is made up of new and seasoned government relations professionals. Throughout the year, we will invite experts to brief our members on a range of topics, including lobbying compliance, best practices, and policy trends. This work is led by Manny Bonilla.

 As a membership organization, one of the benefits we offer is hosting networking opportunities for our members. Omar Franco and Rich Lopez have expanded these opportunities to include events with congressional staff, policymakers, industry leaders, and government relations organizations.

HLA first hosted the Avanza Awards in 2014, and this year’s Avanza Awards will be on May 22nd. HLA will recognize policymakers who have demonstrated leadership in promoting diversity among their staff; advocates in the nonprofit sector who have advanced public policy priorities and led efforts toward civic, social, and economic empowerment; and government affairs professionals who have paved the way for diversity across our profession and promoted the important role of Hispanic professionals in the industry. This year, the Avanza Awards are co-chaired by Anais Carmona and Rich Lopez.

HLA has built a strong community that keeps growing in strength and influence thanks to our members and supporters. We offer our members a trusted network they can leverage to find a job, enhance their advocacy skills, and explore business opportunities. We hope that you consider joining HLA and attend one of our upcoming events! To learn more about HLA, please visit

Liz Lopez is president of the Hispanic Lobbyists Association (HLA).