Congratulations to our 2019 honorees!
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2019 YHPAA Legacy Leaders

Manny Flores is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Austin- based Latinworks, now known as Third Ear, an award winning advertising agency specializing in cultural branding.


After spending nearly two decades at Anheuser-Busch as Vice-President of Marketing Development where he spearheaded breakthrough marketing programs, Manny specializes in brand development and segment-marketing expertise. Third Ear boasts a roster of blue chip clients including; Target, Americas Best, Mars, Visit Austin and the Texas Lottery among others. Under his leadership, the agency has been named Agency of the Year by Ad Age three times and recognized as one of the top ten agencies in the country as noted by the Ad Age “A” list.  They’ve also been named small agency of the year by AD Week and one of FORBES “most influential agencies”.  Additionally, they have been awarded 10 Cannes Lion awards and have won many national and global accolades for their work.  The agency remains the most awarded agency in their class.


In 2013 Manny was appointed to the Texas Department of Public Safety Commission by Governor Rick Perry.  He serves the State of Texas as DPS Commissioner and travels across Texas on state business.  He is an advisory board member of Helping Hand Home for Children and United Way of Greater Austin.  He is also past co-chair of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce “Celebrando Austin” event and past member of the St. Michael’s Academy Board of Trustees.


President & CEO of LatinWorks

Manny Flores

A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Rosa came to Texas when her father was hired as a Bracero to work the farm fields of Uvalde. She attended the University in the 1970’s when minority enrollment was less than 4,000 students, and received her degree in three years, graduating Cum Laude.

Rosa has worked for over 30 years in economic development and is certified in development finance by the National Development Council of New York. She began her career at AMEDC (Austin Minority Economic Development Corporation), followed by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and served 10 years with the Lower Colorado River Authority community and economic development team. Working at the LCRA, she co-founded the nonprofit economic development firm Business & Community Lenders of Texas, where she has served as CEO since 1997. 

Rosa has expanded the scope and size of BCL of Texas from offering only one business loan product in central Texas, to a statewide CDFI (Community Development Finance Institution) whose diverse product mix now includes; business, consumer, mortgage and community facility loans.  

Rosa has grown the BCL of Texas assets 42-fold to over $25 Million. She currently serves as president of BCL’s wholly owned affiliates, Texas Community Builders, and health-focused social enterprise corporation Salud de Paloma, as well as general manager of the newly formed Texas Community Partners, LLC.

Alumna of the firstwomen's leadershipdevelopment program in the United States, Leadership Texas, Rosa completed Harvard University, Executive Management, Achieving Excellence. She serves on national boards and advisory councils and recently self-certifiedBCLas the most loan product diverse, statewide Latina led CDFI in Texas.

CEO, BCL of Texas

Rosa Ríos Valdez

Past Legacy Honorees

2014 Andy Martinez; 2015 Mike Martinez; 2016 Paul Saldana

2017 Nora Comstock; 2018 Ernesto Nieto & Gloria de Leon

2019 YHPAA Young Distinguished leaders

Tony Aguilar​

Founder & CEO of Chipper

Tony Aguilar is founder & CEO of Chipper, the first payments and rewards app that allows borrowers to chip away their student debt through everyday transactions. He is also co-founder and former CEO of Student Loan Genius, where he invented the student loan benefit, a perk allowing companies to contribute to employees' student debt.
As a first generation high school graduate who grew up in a small West-Texas town, Tony knew he’d have to finance every penny of his out-of-state college tuition. But, what he didn’t know when he walked into the financial aid office to sign his name on the dotted line was that we he would carry more than $100,000 in student loan debt off the graduation stage.
This eye-opening, but all-too-common situation led Tony into a decade-long career in financial services, where he worked as a financial advisor, founding both Amiti Advising, a millennial-focused financial planning company, Campus Slice, a tuition crowdfunding platform, Student Loan Genius, and now Chipper.

Featured in the Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Money Magazine, and on CNN, Tony’s commitment to helping young professionals get ahead and live a life free from debt is the common thread in all of his work. President Obama invited him to the White House to share his story and the impact he is having with Student Loan Genius. He also serves on the board of Mission Capital and is a member on the Forbes Financial Council.
When Tony is not working on one of his ventures, he is either spending time with his four-year old daughter, running around Town Lake, guest lecturing at the University of Texas and Concordia University on entrepreneurship and personal finance, serving as Chairman of Concordia University’s Emerging Leaders Advisory Board, or mentoring fellow social entrepreneurs and startups.

Victoria and Sofia Avila 

Sofia and Victoria.jpg

Founders & Owners of Mandarin Lab Design

Following their passion for design, sisters Sofia and Victoria Avila founded the luxury floral design firm, Mandarin Design Lab in 2006. Their Mexican roots and extensive travels have influenced their highly adaptable design aesthetic. They are noted for their work with a diverse range of prestigious clients; from the House of Givenchy, Tiffany & Co., Lexus, McLaren Racing Team, W Hotels, and Fairmont Austin; to Governor and Mrs. Perry, with whom they collaborated on their last two Governor’s Innaugural receptions. They have also had the opportunity to create special designs for celebrities such as Martha Stewart, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and former First Lady, Michelle Obama.


Mandarin’s work has been spotlighted in various publications, such as Hispanic Executive, La Revista Mujer, People Magazine, Standard Magazine, Style Me Pretty, Destination Weddings, Austin Woman, Influential, to name a few.

Committed to serving the community, Mandarin Design Lab is proud to have supported many organizations over the years, such as Ballet Austin, Mexic-Arte Museum, Latinitas, St. Louise House, Boys & Girls Clubs, Houston Grand Opera, Blanton Museum of Art, Texas Cultural Trust, LBJ Library, Texas Book Festival, Zach Theatre, Emancipet, among many others.

Always evolving to meet market needs, Mandarin Design Lab is now a high-end interior plantscape services and holiday decor company for commercial properties. They now only take on a limited number of select high-end events. Today, they have a 15,200 sq. ft. production studio, where they have also launched a division specializing in the fabrication of decorative objects such as vases, chandeliers, and specialty props for large-scale events.

Rubén Cantú

UT Austin & Founder of Core Media Strategies and Level Up Institute

Rubén Cantú is a first-generation college graduate raised in East Austin as a son of immigrants. He holds a B.S. in Radio-TV-Film from the Moody College of Communications and an M.S. in Technology Commercialization from the McCombs School of Business, both from The University of Texas at Austin. He currently serves as the Director of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Austin.


Ruben has founded various startups and as a social entrepreneur, his ambitions are focused on establishing a platform through media and entrepreneurship that allows society to reflect on its condition and spur progressive change.  CORE Media Strategies, founded in 2009, is a socially conscious marketing consultancy. He is also the founder of, 2012, a national platform for social innovation, action tank, an accelerator which is part of the Social Good Summit where he serves as a global connector and Director of Business Development. LevelUp Institute, launched in 2016, is a career accelerator for first-generation college students. These students are from historically low income and marginalized backgrounds and are taught entrepreneurial startup skills through product management by industry experts. This is used as a pathway to entering the world of tech startups. This co-ed experiential accelerator teaches students how to create wealth and bring products into the market.


Ruben graduated from Leadership Austin’s Essential class of ‘14. He was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year for Austin Under 40 in 2015. He also was nominated for Changemaker of the Year in 2016 by the Austin Young Chamber. Ruben was recognized as the 2018 Glen Baumgart Award for Visionary and Community Engagement at the UT Tower Awards. As an international bilingual speaker and trainer on startups and social innovation, he is helping shift the focus to triple bottom line economics. When not working, he focuses on being a bridge between the local community and international issues that break barriers and foster peace and prosperity. He also is an avid music lover and Jeopardy enthusiast.

Glimmer Austin & Founder of Farandula Texas

Salwa Yordi

Salwa Yordi, is a Venezuelan immigrant with Middle-Eastern descent, who moved to the United States at the age of 15.  Not knowing the English language, Salwa’s journey began at CE Ellison High School in Killeen, TX. Salwa had moved with her single-mother and sister and had to help support the family.  Her first job was a mix of cashier and cleaning attendant at a car wash, while completing high school. She graduated with honors from her high school and decided to pursue a major in Communications from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).


Salwa moved to Austin, TX where she opened her own business, Farandula Texas, as one of the first Spanish-speaking entertainment reporters in 2013. Salwa has covered nationwide awards such as the Latin Grammy Awards, People en Español, Latin Billboards amongst others. She was able to build a reputation of her own in Austin, which opened new opportunities. Both El Mundo Newspaper and Telemundo Austin recruited her to cover local entertainment and events. She is one of the voices of El Mundo Newspaper radio show on Thursdays and the happy entertainment face of Telemundo Austin Friday nights.


Salwa learned at an early age an important lesson, to always give back to the community and help others because she remembers those who helped her throughout her journey in the US. In 2015 Salwa saw an opportunity to work as Executive Assistant and later promoted to Programs Manager at A Glimmer of Hope Austin Foundation – a family funded foundation that empowers the Austin community.  

Past Young Distinguished Leader Honorees

2014 Karen Siles & Gerardo Castillo; 2015 Vanessa Fuentes & Chris Rios

2016 Bianca Garcia & Dr. Joey Alamo; 2017 Leticia Mendoza & Celso Baez

2018 Lizzie Velasquez & Greg Casar