SER NATIONAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO ROLANDO ESPARZA, FORMER SER PRESIDENT, UPON HIS PASSING
Nation’s Service-Employment-Redevelopment Network Honors Community Trailblazer, Visionary, and Lifelong Advocate
Irving, TX – SER National today issued the following statement on the passing of a beloved, respected friend and community champion, Rolando Esparza.
He was born in San Antonio, TX, on May 22, 1940, to Miquel and Virtudes Esparza. He received a BA in Economics at the University of Texas, Austin, and then began a 5-year career in the Air Force. Esparza served in the Vietnam War and earned the rank of Captain before being honorably discharged in 1969. Once Esparza returned to San Antonio, he worked as a stockbroker and financial advisor. He then became the director for SER Jobs for Progress and moved up to SER National and earned the title of Congressional Liason in Washington D.C. After his departure from SER National, he served as a presidential appointee at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Rolando leaves in God’s loving care his devoted wife, Jane Jackson Esparza; an older brother, Mike Esparza; his children, Cynthia Crockett (Mark) and Roland Gabriel Esparza (Susan), from a previous marriage to Alma Morales Riojas; his grandchildren, Zachary Crockett (Chelsea), Nicolas Crockett, Liliana Esparza, Shelley Stevenson and Emily Stevenson; two great-grandchildren, Charlotte, and Lucas Crockett; and five great-nieces and nephews
SER NATIONAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE LATE LULAC CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY, LUIS ROBERTO VERA, JR.
Nation’s Service-Employment-Redevelopment Network Honors His Lifetime of Championing America’s Constitutional Guarantees for Millions of Latinos
Ignacio Salazar, SER National Chief Executive Officer, issued the following statement upon the passing of Luis Roberto Vera, Jr., National General Counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). On Sunday, the respected civil rights leader died at his home in San Antonio, Texas, after a long illness. He was 65.
Vera blazed a historic path throughout his nearly 30-year legal career. He created social justice coalitions that catapulted state and federal lawsuits on behalf of Latinos into the national headlines. These legal actions ranged from education, voting rights, housing, and sanctuary cities to redistricting and immigration policies. He grew up and remained in San Antonio, Texas, where he served the Latino community. Vera earned his undergraduate and a graduate degree in political science from St. Mary’s University and a law degree from the Western New England University School of Law.
“SER NATIONAL and Latinos across our country and Puerto Rico have lost a great voice and defender of our freedoms, privileges, and rights assured to every man, woman, and child. His life was an example of accepting our duties and responsibilities on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves. Luis showed a passionate conviction for upholding the spirit and the letter of the law. He fought with relentless devotion to his community, especially immigrants fleeing inhumane conditions in the countries where they lived. Luis worked tirelessly on behalf of those who arrived at our borders, believing America is still a place that welcomes the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
Several of his cases reached the United States Supreme Court, an affirmation that the young lawyer from the working-class neighborhoods of Texas was impacting the very foundation of our nation’s legal framework. Although reluctant to be in the spotlight, he accepted two very distinct honors to recognize his lifetime of service to the Latino community. He received the 2017 Ohtli Award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Mexican Government upon a Latino leader. Also, he was awarded the Presidential Medal in 2019 by the League of United Latin American Citizens. His most recent actions centered on challenging changes in election laws passed by the Republican-led Texas legislature and signed by Governor Greg Abbott. Vera continued working daily on these cases up until very recently. We shall miss his passion, selflessness, and devotion to service to others. To his wife Rose and the Vera family, we send our deepest and heartfelt condolences. May Luis rest in peace.”
Nation’s Service-Employment-Redevelopment Network Is Grateful for Their Service and Sacrifice to Protect Our Country’s Freedoms
Irving, TX – SER NATIONAL is observing Veterans Day with a call to all Americans to pause and thank the nation’s brave servicemen and women who have served in our country’s armed forces. We offer a simple, heartfelt thank you and the promise we will always honor their courage and spirit.
“SER NATIONAL marks this day with a deep sense of respect for its significance,” says Ignacio Salazar, President and CEO. “Think about the many veterans that served in World War II and the Korean conflict. Add to that those who fought in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan, to name the larger declared wars. America is thankful for these servicemembers because many are still paying the price for their service to our country. We now have to honor our promise made to veterans and their families,” adds Salazar.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates 19 million veterans live in the United States, representing fewer than 1-in-10 of all Americans. The trend showed a decline of veterans to civilians from 18% in 1980 to 7% in 2018. While the overall number may be smaller, 78% of all veterans served during wartime and 22% during peacetime. The diversity of veterans will change, with Latinos projected to nearly double in the next quarter-century.
As importantly, Veterans Day is an opportunity to see how former service members are faring in our communities and how we can help. The latest data reflect that younger veterans are more successful at gaining employment in the civilian sector than older veterans, who may be suffering from multiple barriers to obtain employment. This reality adds another factor to why the homeless veteran’s population grows, with 1.4 million at risk of being without shelter across our nation.
“SER National recognizes we have a duty to train, hire and do business with veteran-owned firms wherever possible,” says Salazar. “We have 57-years’ experience in workforce training and development, and that includes veterans who are seeking to further their skills so they can pursue their education, earn certification in a new trade or profession, and many want to go into business. Each of us can undertake the task of seeking ways to make veterans feel welcome and help them reintegrate into their civilian lives once again. It is our privilege and our responsibility to make every day the right time to honor our veterans through action,” adds Salazar.
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About SER Jobs for Progress National, Inc. – “Cultivating America’s Greatest Resource: People”
The SER Network of Affiliates serves over 1,000,000 people annually. SER sites operate throughout the country, in 24 states and 200 locations. The SER Network provides a variety of comprehensive programs, including housing, youth services, GED classes, English language acquisition, early childhood education, older Americans training, women entrepreneurship, Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM), assistance for military Veterans, operations of workforce centers nationally, plus assisting and placing thousands of qualified men and women in unsubsidized employment.
SER NATIONAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO COLIN POWELL, AN ENDURING AMERICAN LEADER
Nation’s Service-Employment-Redevelopment Network Notes His Rise from Poverty to Pinnacle of Military and Diplomatic Service
Irving, TX – Ignacio Salazar, SER National Chief Executive Officer, today issued the following statement in acknowledgment of the passing of General Colin Powell. He was 84. The former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff served multiple presidential administrations and made a lasting impact on U.S. foreign policy.
“Our country has lost a modern historical figure whose legacy will endure for generations. His life is an example of service to country through the most challenging times, yet always with uncompromising integrity. General Powell placed himself squarely at the forefront of accountability in every decision he ever made and understood the weightiness of leadership. He was first, foremost, and always a soldier. His character and demeanor reflected that he understood his every action and word would be an inspiration to some and scrutinized by others.
There are many firsts historians will record about General Powell. He was the first Black national security adviser, first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and first Black U.S. secretary of state. However, the other, perhaps lesser-known part of his life is his determination, work ethic, and perseverance lifted him to the summits of power. His path was not carved out or laid out in front of him. Instead, he was the son of immigrants who joined the R.O.T.C. at 21 after growing up in the South Bronx and going to City College of New York. He joined the Army soon after it was desegregated and served two tours in Vietnam. From there, he would go on to a 35-year military career.
This was the cornerstone of every post he accepted and every mission he carried out; he earned distinction through quiet, selfless service. Twice, he was bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor for service to our country. May every American salute this loyal soldier as he is laid to rest and remember him for his courage to lead, and in so doing, showing others the way forward.”
SER NATIONAL AND LATINO LEADERS PAY TRIBUTE TO PEDRO VIERA, FORMER SER PRESIDENT, UPON HIS PASSING
Nation’s Service-Employment-Redevelopment Network Honors Community Trailblazer, Visionary, and Lifelong Advocate
Irving, TX – SER National today issued the following statement on the passing of a beloved, respected friend and community champion, 68-year-old Pedro Luis Viera Marrero. The former SER National President from 1988 to 1996 was working in Guayaquil, Ecuador, when doctors say he suffered a fatal heart attack on October 9, 2021. His primary home was Coppell, Texas, where he lived with his wife and family.
“We are heartbroken over the sudden loss of a dear, wonderful friend and colleague,” says Ignacio Salazar, SER National Chief Executive Officer. “On behalf of the entire SER National family and SER Network of Affiliates across the country and Puerto Rico, I wish to send our deepest condolences to Pedro’s wife Tia, his children, and the extended Viera family. Our community has lost a tireless defender and a man who exemplified the belief that we can each serve the disadvantaged in need through selfless actions. Pedro’s greatness was his humility and his infinite faith in the goodness of others. May he now rest in peace and receive the reward of a life well-lived,” said Salazar.
Pedro formalized a record number of new corporate and private foundation partnerships, which led to a more robust Amigos de SER during his tenure as SER National President. He also increased the number of state and federal grants procured and implemented national initiatives, marketing, and fundraising campaigns. His leadership generated millions of dollars on behalf of the SER Network of Affiliates for their work in the areas of affordable housing, urban renewal, family education, and literacy, and job training/job bank services for talent recruitment.
“I knew Pedro for the last 32 years, and during those years, he never ceased to impress me with his work ethic and innovative ideas,” said Joe Campos, former SER National’s Vice-President of Corporate Relations. “He took SER National to another level in the areas of job training and corporate development. To put it lightly, you just had to be around him to know what kind of person Pedro was,” added Campos.
Pedro experienced success in a storied career that provided him opportunities to design, oversee and implement businesses, projects, and programs in the private, government, and non-profit sectors at both the local and national levels.A true visionary, Pedro highly valued business ventures that are focused, accountability-driven, solution-oriented, and legacy building. Some of his past jobs include positions at the Department of Education, Puerto Rico; SER-Jobs for Progress, Inc., Milwaukee; SER-Jobs for Progress National, Inc., Dallas; Pan American Financial, Inc., San Juan; International Construction Solutions Development, Inc., San Juan; Liberty Circle Energy, Inc., San Juan; Institucion Educativa NETS USA, Irving; National Society of Hispanic MBA, Irving; Latino Consulting Services, Inc., Lewisville; and most recently, Universal Coin International (UCoin ), Inc., Guayaquil, Ecuador.
“God gifted Pedro Viera with the talent of always coming up with innovative problem-solving ideas no matter what the industry was,” said Juan Constantino, former SER National’s Vice-President of Operations. “Anytime Pedro was in the room, we knew that out-of-the-box thinking and looking beyond the usual answers was the way to go, and he freely shared his talents to make the outcome better. That’s the sign of a successful leader,” added Constantino.
Whether in his professional or personal life, his motto was constantly to impact others’ lives positively. He pursued this belief with generosity, compassion, servant leadership, and commitment to solving problems. Those who knew Pedro shared that he welcomed and included people from all walks of life. Although he achieved great acclaim and success, Pedro never forgot his humble beginnings or lost sight of the core values of his upbringing. “No te preocupes, yo me encargo” was his typical response to anybody in need. Pedro was just as comfortable occupying a seat at a banquet table with wealthy clients as he was at home sharing a sandwich with the company driver or security guard. He was never too proud to sweep floors or stack chairs, completing whatever needed doing after an event.
He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 30, 1953, to Pedro Luis Viera Correa and Ana Delia Marrero Villalobos. He received a BA in Economics/Statistics at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, and a Master’s in Urban and Economic Planning from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. In addition, Pedro pursued post-graduate studies in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
Pedro is preceded in death by his father, Pedro Luis Viera Correa. He leaves in God’s loving care his devoted wife of 27 years, Tia Viera; his previous wife, Olga Pallan; his two children, Michelle Viera Keleny (Eric Keleny) and Wesley Viera Lava; his mother, Ana Delia Marrero Villalobos; his brother, Luis Alberto Viera Marrero; his three grandchildren, Ohani Keleny, Ari Keleny, and Valentina Keleny; his aunt, Carmen Marrero Villalobos; his cousin, William Candelario (Maria Garcia); his cousin, Alma Yadira Navarro Viera; his two nephews and niece, Jorge Alberto Viera Aviles, Liza Yanice Viera Aviles, and Chris Alberto Viera de la Cruz; as well as other extended family members.
Pedro’s burial will be in Puerto Rico, his native, beloved home, La Isla del Encanto. Remember Pedro, not with sadness but for his warmth, charm, and ardent desire to make people feel accepted and included.