Founder of HLFF
Hernan Lopez is the Co-Founder & Chairperson of Danvas, a new VC-backed startup that will bring NFTs and digital art into the real world. Previously, Hernan was the Founder and CEO of Wondery.
Hernan Lopez, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, is the founder of the Hernan Lopez Family Foundation (HLFF). The vision and mission of HLFF is to advance the fight against systemic bias and racism while empowering people from historically marginalized communities to overcome barriers and break through professional ceilings. Professionals from under-represented communities have much to offer the world. Their rich diversity of backgrounds and experiences can enable organizations of all kinds to achieve new heights. Yet, far too often, talented, hard-working, and well-intentioned individuals hit a ceiling that prevents them from pursuing leadership positions. It is the purpose of the HLFF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, to make a genuine contribution towards leveling the playing field by empowering these underrepresented professionals to successfully pursue executive-level positions within corporate America.
The Foundation is the passion project of Hernan Lopez, an entrepreneur, media executive and proud board member of The Latino Donor Collaborative. Lopez is an openly gay professional and an immigrant from Argentina. Because of his identity and background, Lopez has witnessed discrimination and stigma for much of his life. He understands the nuanced challenges that people from diverse backgrounds face, both in their professional and in their personal lives.
Professionals from historically marginalized communities often have trouble being perceived as strong contenders for leadership positions. They may face obstacles when trying to raise funds to start a new business; they may be turned down for adoption; they are passed over for promotion despite being fully qualified; they may lack a professional network when coming to the U.S. from another country—in short, they encounter barriers at every turn. These professional and personal ceilings are real, but certainly not insurmountable, and the HLFF exists to help break these ceilings.
The Foundation’s purpose is to empower all marginalized individuals, including people of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds, immigrants, and those in the LGBTQ+ community. With greater diversity in leadership comes greater success for all. Hernan Lopez was able to break through his professional and personal ceilings thanks to the training, mentorship, and support of caring individuals who encouraged him to never give up, and who provided invaluable guidance on achieving his dreams. With the Hernan Lopez Family Foundation, he is paying it forward by creating new opportunities for others.
The HLFF takes a two-pronged approach to achieve its aims. The first is by addressing the “demand side.” The demand side refers to corporations and other organizations—all of those individuals and entities who hire and promote employees and executives, as well as those who invest in businesses. Hirers and investors must be shown the clear advantages that organizations have when they acknowledge and embrace the importance of diversity in leadership, as well as throughout all levels of the organization. Businesses and society as a whole are stronger through diversity because diversity creates opportunities for learning, growth, and the sharing of a wide range of perspectives and worldviews.
The second prong of The Foundation’s two-pronged approach is to nurture diversity from within the “supply side.” The supply side refers to all individuals from marginalized communities who are hitting those aforementioned ceilings—those who have been passed over for promotion, those who have been told “No” so many times that they are on the verge of giving up. The HLFF is here to encourage these individuals to never give up because they all have something of value to offer. Through professional networking opportunities, mentorship, grants, and training programs, the HLFF empowers professionals, and in doing so, the HLFF is helping to drive the future of industry.
The Hernan Lopez Family Foundation recognizes that its goals are shared by other organizations that are advancing diversity initiatives. The Foundation is pleased to partner with likeminded organizations to maximize its impact along the journey toward meaningful change. One of its close partners is GLAAD—an organization that has worked tirelessly for more than three decades to stamp out systemic bias against those in the LGBTQ+ community. As the most visible LGBTQ+ organization, GLAAD’s work inspires and uplifts while spreading a message of solidarity.
Hernan Lopez is proud to have served on the Board of Directors of GLAAD for four years. As an immigrant from Argentina who struggled to overcome language barriers and systemic bias against native Spanish speakers, Lopez is particularly supportive of GLAAD’s initiative to increase the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in Spanish language media. To date, GLAAD is the only such organization with a program dedicated to this objective. GLAAD’s efforts and their partnerships with global brands fuel the creation of inclusive work environments, and help countless LGBTQ+ people feel seen and better navigate their professional and personal lives.
The Foundation is also a proud partner of The Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC). The LDC is dedicated to reshape the perception of Latinos as valuable members of American society. The LDC’s regularly published reports on the positive impact of Latinos on America’s entrepreneurial and economic engines are significant resources that cement the meaningful benefits of diversity throughout all levels of organizations. Together, the LDC and the HLFF are working not only to stamp out systemic biases, but also to promote forward-looking progress among marginalized populations.
Moving forward, the HLFF plans to partner with additional organizations that work toward enhancing the experiences of those in the supply side. Organizations that offer training, networking, and professional development tools to talented individuals from historically underrepresented groups will prove to be invaluable partners in our mission to work toward a more inclusive business climate. Supply side individuals can benefit from candid advice that is all too often not available, such as how to lead, how to present, and how to be heard. There is a significant gap between the need for these resources and their availability, but the HLFF views this as an opportunity, and it will bridge that gap by forging partnerships with forward-thinking organizations.
In corporate America, 2020 served as a turning point. Diversity, inclusion, and equity rose to the forefront, but unfortunately, far too many companies still pay only lip service to these values. Much work remains to be done to stamp out racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. The HLFF is firmly committed to uprooting systemic bias and providing opportunities to every human being, regardless of ethnicity, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Foundation and its partners look forward to a brighter, more equitable and inclusive future.
The founder of the HLFF, Hernan Lopez, is the Co-Founder and Chairperson of Danvas, and a founding member of The Podcast Academy. He is proud to serve on the board of The Latino Donor Collaborative. Previously, Lopez was Founder and CEO of Wondery, a podcast publisher, and President and CEO of Fox International Channels. Lopez holds an MBA from the University of Miami. He currently lives in Los Angeles.