UTRGV legacy alumnus Palomarez presented with AACSB’s Influential Leaders Award

Javier Palomarez, president & CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, was in Edinburg on Wednesday to deliver a keynote speech during the RGV Millennials Summit at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. Palomarez graduated from UT Pan American, an UTRGV legacy institution.(UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

By Gail Fagan 

EDINBURG, TEXAS – MARCH 23, 2016 – Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., and a 1986 graduate in finance from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley's legacy institution UT Pan American, was recognized March 23 as one of the first 100 AACSB Influential Leaders.

AACSB is the global accrediting body and membership association for business schools. UTRGV’s College of Business and Entrepreneurship nominated Palomarez to be recognized among the graduates from the 755 business schools, including UTRGV, in 51 countries and territories that have earned AACSB accreditation.

Palomarez was in Edinburg on Wednesday to serve as keynote speaker at a summit of the RGV Millennials, where he accepted the award. RGV Millennials is a youth-led initiative promoting awareness about key public policies and social challenges – including the economy, jobs, education and civic engagement – that have an impact on the area’s young adults.

“I am humbled to receive this recognition and I pledge to continue to do my part in supporting the next generation of leaders,” a tearful Palomarez said. “How could I have dreamt, growing up as I did – as a former high school dropout, learning English as a second language and graduating from an amazing little school – to be recognized like this?”

According to AACSB officials, Palomarez's work exemplifies the innovative mindset and meaningful contributions to society that UTRGV graduates display around the world and every day – whether they operate within large corporations, small businesses or the nonprofit sector.

During his keynote, he advised millennials that obtaining an education and networking were key to becoming successful in business and life.

“Remember, education is the most powerful tool to change the trajectory of your life and the opportunities for your community,” he said. “You have the power to defy expectations and prove to the world that today’s millennials are tomorrow’s greatest, greatest generation. Believe me, I know this, that your background is not indicative of your future.”

Palomarez – one of the nation's pre-eminent multicultural sales and marketing executives – is a sought-after spokesperson, thought-leader and strategist on issues affecting America's consumers, particularly those in the Hispanic community.

His opinions and points of view have been sought by major TV networks and have appeared in leading publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Time and USA Today, among others.

As the USHCC leader, Palomarez has engaged in innovative and entrepreneurial thinking to reach his goals of strengthening the chamber’s programs, improving its member satisfaction and renewing its focus on the needs of small and minority-owned businesses, which have doubled in the past decade. 

He dedicates much of the national chamber’s work to promoting, assisting and weighing in on potential legislation or government action on behalf of the 4.1 million Hispanic-owned businesses that contribute more than $661 billion annually to the U.S. economy.

“It is my honor to recognize Javier Palomarez for his contributions as an Influential Leader, and to thank UTRGV for its dedication in providing a business education environment based on engagement, innovation and impact,” Thomas R. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of AACSB International, said in a release announcing the award.

Palomarez, a South Texas native, was raised by his mother in a single-parent household. The youngest of 10 children, he spent his formative years as a migrant farmworker. His mother died when he was a teenager. A high school dropout, he obtained a GED and worked his way through then UT Pan American. 

He began his career at Allstate Insurance Corporation, where he worked to initiate the industry’s first fully-integrated, nationwide marketing, sales and service campaign. He later had tenures at Sprint Inc. and Bank of America, where he was senior vice president of multicultural marketing.

“The school, the faculty, believed in all of us,” Palomarez said. “They supported us, they kept us going.  They were a source of inspiration and example. Going to that school at that time really opened my eyes to what was possible.”

The 100 Influential Leaders selected came from more than 20 industry sectors across 20 countries. The organization’s selection of 100 celebrates its centennial anniversary, said Dr. Mark Kroll, dean of the UTRGV College of College of Business and Entrepreneurship.   

“This award to Javier shows the quality of the students coming from the Valley for years now,” Kroll said. “And UTRGV is proud to advance that tradition of excellence.”


Founded in 1916, AACSB is an association of more than 1,450 educational institutions, businesses and other organizations in 90 countries and territories. AACSB’s mission is to advance quality management education worldwide through accreditation, thought leadership and value-added services. As the premier accreditation body for institutions offering undergraduate, master’s and doctorate degrees in business and accounting, AACSB offers a wide array of services to the management education industry. 

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications
Jennifer.McGehee@UTRGV.edu UTRGV Director of Public Relations