5 Questions with Joelle Martinez and Harry Hollines of the Latino Leadership Institute

Oct 20, 2022

Joelle Martinez, President & CEO of the Latino Leadership Institute (LLI), is a nationally recognized executive, strategist, speaker, and facilitator. A visionary leader, Joelle dedicates her life to helping cross-sector leaders realize their individual potential as well as the economic and social opportunities presented by an increasingly diverse U.S. populace. Prior to the LLI, Joelle spent more than 15 years building winning communications, business development, and public affairs strategies in both the private and public sectors. Joelle is a subject matter expert in Neuroleadership, Latino identity, civic engagement, workplace diversity and inclusion, and demographic shifts.

Harry Hollines, Chief Strategic Officer, is responsible for the LLI’s corporate development, business development, and national partnerships. He also oversees the organization’s legal, administrative, and financial functions. Harry brings extensive experience in corporate and business development, entrepreneurship, and business law to his role. Harry has mentored start-up and early-stage companies through accelerators and incubators like Galvanize, Techstars, Rockies Venture Club, and Rocky Mountain MicroFinance Institute.

01. What is the elevator pitch for the Latino Leadership Institute?

The LLI unlocks the full economic and social potential of Latinos by preparing, connecting, and elevating Latino leaders and entrepreneurs to successfully build power, drive change, and generate wealth.

02. How does the LLI create a more diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem?

The LLI is bringing the full economic potential of diversity to bear in Colorado by promoting inclusion and equity through various science-based, results-driven programs that blend context, research, leadership development, and Alumni support. The Denver metro area has 149,705 businesses and only 4.1% are Latino owned, despite this demographic representing nearly 22% of the population. This equity gap is difficult to overcome when the challenge of finding the resources to succeed is magnified by historical barriers to access. The Latino Entrepreneurial Access Program (LEAP) is a neuroscience-based program that provides entrepreneurial leadership training and practical knowledge needed to grow a business built on a foundation of collaboration, culture, and a community of support. Only 3% of Latinos are accepted into traditional accelerator programs primarily focused on the start-up community. LEAP is different. It is designed and built with access to culturally relevant expertise, tools, and resources to accelerate profitable revenue growth, workforce expansion, and to realize the full economic potential of growth-stage Latino and BIPOC-owned businesses.

LEAP goes beyond the conventional accelerator model, incorporating a paid advisory board whose members will both augment the program’s technical, social, and financial tools and personally mentor the program participants. The program also provides access to culturally relevant networks that enable participants to cultivate relationships and build social capital that will help them identify available resources and propel their businesses to growth and expansion. The Latino Entrepreneurial Access Program is built on a strong foundation of inclusive leadership development and provides a community of support to reinforce equity and inclusion. 

03. How will support from the Techstars Foundation and the Techstars network further the mission of the LLI?

The LLI was founded to create greater diversity, inclusion, and equity in our companies and our communities. The LLI continues to work toward this mission through Latino Entrepreneurial Access Program (LEAP), advancing Latino entrepreneurs from high potential to high growth by promoting the size, scale, and reach of their businesses. Support from the Techstars Foundation will help strengthen and diversify Colorado’s small business engine by supporting the entrepreneurs that will power our state’s economy. 

04. How did you come to do this work and why is it important to you personally?

As the population in Colorado continues to change dramatically, the LLI has worked to advance Latinos to positions of influence and power to address the opportunity and wealth gap through cross-sector leadership development and the activation of a national Latino professional network. Today, nearly 70 percent of Colorado’s population is non-Hispanic white. By 2040, the white population will decline to 55 percent. Over the next 20 years, the Latino population will increase from a current share of 21 percent of the population (1.1 million Latinos) to 33 percent. 1 in 4 Coloradans will be Latino by the end of this decade. With these statistics in mind, we saw a great opportunity to address the significant inequities and opportunity gaps that limit the full potential of Latino and BIPOC entrepreneurs in this state. 

05. Tell us the story of an entrepreneur you are proud to have supported.

The LLI has been offering entrepreneurship classes for over 8 years with great success. As part of our leadership training program, the LLI had a segment on entrepreneurship and access to financial capital. Even prior to launching a Latino entrepreneur business accelerator in 2022, LLI supported 26 Latino-owned businesses through LLI’s leadership training program that predates the launch of the accelerator program. One of the many Latino business owners that graduated from LLI and continue to be supported by LLI is Jose Beteta, a Fellow in Cohort 2 of the leadership training program. Jose pitched his vision for a Latino brewery during the program. The LLI paired him with mentors who could support him during the early stages of his business development plan. Jose also leveraged the LLI network when raising funds during his friends and family round. Six years later, Jose Beteta is a successful business owner growing Raices Brewery year after year.

Latino Leadership Institute is a participant in the Accelerate Equity program of the Techstars Foundation in 2022.

Donate now and advance equity through entrepreneurship with the Techstars Foundation.