Pictured (from left) Olga Castaneda, Paolo Urizar, Ernesto Valdivia, Liz Lopez, Tony Ortiz, Will Hernandez, Xiaowei Hargrove, and Nazya Nawaz.

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, William Blair’s ONE Alliance hosted a Q&A session with Antonio “Tony” Ortiz, President of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. Founded by the Jesuits in 1996, Cristo Rey pioneered the Corporate Work Study Program model for inner-city education that has since inspired a national network of 38 schools serving traditionally under-resourced communities across the United States.

After an introduction from William Blair’s President & CEO Brent Gledhill, ONE Alliance members Paolo Urizar and Liz Lopez moderated a conversation with Tony that discussed his personal story and William Blair's historical relationship with Cristo Rey. They also showcased how William Blair has helped students develop high-level social and professional skills.

Tony emphasized how one simple interaction can change the trajectory of someone’s future, and how language and culture are critical components of a well-rounded education. He highlighted how Cristo Rey is helping to break the cycle of poverty while teaching young adults the importance of hard work.

Event attendees (from left) Liz Lopez, moderator; Tony Ortiz, guest speaker; and Paolo Urizar, moderator.

Over the years, William Blair has hosted several Cristo Rey students in departments across the firm, and some interns are now full-time employees. Sandra Silva, a current William Blair employee in the finance department and former Cristo Rey student, said Cristo Rey encouraged her to work hard and believe in herself. 

One former intern (and current college student), Manny Rosales, described his experience at William Blair as “making it so much easier, not only to study accountancy but to look at corporate America as a whole and think, ‘I can do this. This is where I want to be for the rest of my life.’”

Cristo Rey is nationally recognized for its groundbreaking model for urban education. As a testament to the success of its programming, the Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have invested close to $30 million toward replicating this educational model around the United States.