Mario Acosta-Velez is on Point Foundation's Board of Directors and works as the Director of State Government Affairs for Verizon Mid –Atlantic Region. Mario also manages Verizon’s foundation giving, corporate social responsibility, community involvement and government affairs initiatives in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. This year, Mario serves as Chair of Point Foundation’s Leadership Conferences Subcommittee. The 2018 National Leadership Conference will be held at Disney’s Coronado Spring Resorts in Orlando, FL on July 26-29.
How did you first hear about Point, and what about its mission inspired you to become more involved?
I learned about Point Foundation for the first time about nine years ago through one of the Cornerstone Society events in Washington, DC. I saw an ad promoting the event and immediately started to research the organization to learn about the programs. When I read Point Foundation's mission, I realized that this was a special organization committed to not only providing support to LGBT students through scholarships, but also committed to developing the next generation of LGBT leaders.
Based on what you’ve learned throughout your career, what advice would you give our Point Scholars as they continue to work toward their goals and inspire change?
My professional advice to Point Scholars is two-fold: a) as you build a strong academic foundation, identify your unique passion about a social and/or professional cause and work towards making a positive contribution to improving the quality of life for our communities; b) cultivate and contribute to a positive network of support among scholars and mentors, and follow through on your commitments.
It’s often said that Point Scholars are going to be our future leaders. Who are some of the individuals you have looked up to in your life?
Many individuals have had a positive influence in my life. Personally, my parents, who taught me the values of perseverance, commitment, forgiveness, and love. Professionally, several LGBT and Latino leaders who have worked tirelessly towards creating a more inclusive society. In particular, Sonia Gutierrez, an extraordinary leader who founded and built the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School in DC; and Selisse Berry who founded Out and Equal, one of the most inspiring leaders in the LGBT community.
Point is so much more than just a scholarship. How do you explain to people the uniqueness of what Point Foundation offers its scholars?
When I talk to friends and potential supporters about Point Foundation, I always start by saying that Point Foundation is helping to save the lives of many LGBT students by creating a better future for them and, as a result, our communities.
Point Foundation’s National Leadership Conference (NLC) gathers our scholars for a three-day program of intensive training in areas such as leadership, LGBTQ history, career planning, community service and current events. How can experiences like NLC enrich our Point Scholars’ education?
I have attended two NLCs, in Boston and in DC. I have seen first hand how the NLC creates a safe space for Point Scholars to explore and positively challenge assumptions about leadership and community service, and to build skills that will help to position them for success in their careers. The NLC fully complements the educational development of Scholars and, above all, allows them to grow as leaders.
Read more about Mario Acosta-Velez and the rest of Point’s Board of Directors here.