During National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15, the culture and contributions of the Latino community are honored. Currently, 60 million people in the U.S. identify as Hispanic or Latino, representing 18% of the population—growing in size, influence and spending power. Even so, Hispanics lag in filling corporate leadership roles, which is the reason that SMU Cox launched the Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI) in 2013—the first Executive Education program in the United States focused exclusively on identifying and cultivating today’s and tomorrow’s Latino business leaders.

(L to R) John Starkweather, Associate Vice President Advertising, AT&T, Lisbeth Ceballos, Principal/CEO, LC Leadership, Kris Flores, Director – National Wireline Center, AT&T and Franco Castellani, Director- International Compliance & Head of Compliance Analytics- LATAM, AT&T

The SMU Cox LLI hosted the first reunion for graduates of its Executive Education programs this summer at the AT&T Global Headquarters in downtown Dallas. The reception represented its first live, in-person event in over two years. The gathering served as a reunion and networking opportunity for top Latino talent and graduates of the Corporate Executive Development Program (CEDP) and Rising Latino Leaders. These award-winning, culturally immersive programs were developed by SMU Cox School of Business in collaboration with a number of Fortune 500 companies to address the lack of Latino representation among corporate executive labels. Research shows that although Hispanic managers reach mid-level management positions faster than their peers, Hispanics are slower to climb to higher levels within their companies. In the nine years since its founding, over 80 percent of LLI’s CEDP graduates have experienced leadership advancement in their careers, many within the first two years of completing the program.

The reception gathered over 60 attendees and featured remarks by SMU Cox Associate Dean of Executive Education and Graduate Programs Shane Goodwin, and AT&T SVP and Chief Diversity Officer Corey Anthony. They issued a call to action and challenged attendees to consider how they could individually and collectively work to increase the representation of Latinos in leadership positions.

With over 800 graduates worldwide, the SMU Cox LLI plans to host annual gatherings to recognize top Latino talent.


LLI Presents Inaugural Adelante Award

During the reception, Associate Dean Goodwin and LLI Executive Director Ana Rodriguez presented AT&T Assistant Vice President Deborah Goldschmied with the inaugural “Adelante” Award for her years of service on the Corporate Advisory Board and her commitment to the professional advancement of Latinos. As a visionary leader, Goldschmied dedicates her life to helping Latino leaders realize their potential and the potential presented by rapidly changing demographics. She serves as assistant vice president- HR business partner at AT&T and works within the multiple AT&T organizations to access, nurture, and grow a multi-cultural talent pipeline.

“The SMU Cox LLI was honored to present Deborah with its inaugural Adelante award in recognition of her longtime support of its mission to recruit, retain, and develop top Latino talent,” said Rodriguez.  “Under her dynamic leadership and guidance, AT&T has increased its annual participation in the LLI’s leadership development programs from one leader in 2010 to over two-hundred-and-fifty participants in 2022.”  

(L to R) Ana Rodriguez, Executive Director, Latino Leadership Initiative, SMU Cox School of Business, Deborah Goldschmied, Assistant Vice President- HR Business Partner, AT&T and Shane Goodwin, Associate Dean, Graduate Programs & Executive Education, SMU Cox School of Business

The Adelante award celebrates the dedication of SMU Cox LLI corporate partners and their internal champions behind the scenes who invest in Latino talent to foster a more inclusive work environment. Corporate Champions like Goldschmied work to identify and prepare talent for these unique leadership development experiences. AT&T’s methods to select and prepare program participants—and their management—represents best practice and assures that AT&T will benefit directly from the experience.