Former President and CEO of FOCUS, Inc.
Casto Maldonado–López was born in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico in 1933 and migrated to the United States at the age of eleven. He was a graduate of Boston University with a bachelor’s in economics. He then attended the Inter–American University in Puerto Rico, where he helped establish the Center for Social Justice. His private sector experience included working for Glickman Corporation in their real estate department, as well as working as one of the highest ranking executives in Newark’s Prudential Insurance Company for 19 years. His community service began when he became heavily involved in organizing Latino communities in various cities. In 1974, Mr. Maldonado–López joined FOCUS, a community based organization providing education, food, and job training assistance to the Latino population in Newark. He later became the president and C.E.O. of FOCUS through his service to the organization. Mr. Maldonado–López also served on the City Council of Newark, New Jersey. In April 2019, he passed away in Rincón, Puerto Rico at the age of 86.
Prepared by Elizabeth Parker, Associate Archivist.
Hear Casto Maldonado–López discuss how a professor motivated him to become an effective leader:
“In terms of helping [me succeed], when I went to Boston University there was a professor, Lawrence J. Bernstein, I was taking some law courses and… we [had to] do an essay and I’ve never forgotten this. I would tell [this story] entirely, tell it to kids, I always tell [it to] them… So, it was an Easter recess and I had to submit [an] essay before the recess. And I took it to him and he said, “Look at it,” and he said, “Casto,” you know… the exact words [that he said], I have never forgotten [them]: “Take this piece of shit and redo it.” He was the one who said, who told me… “If you want to help people, you have to prepare yourself to be able to help them. Good intentions by themselves [are] not going to do it. And if you have to be, if you’re gonna lead them, then… they [need] to have some reason for following you.” Anyway, so I did it, I took the paper and I… because I was more interested in going away… he says, “Nope. This is no good. Take this shit and redo it.”… To make a long story short, I went back and forth, and [my] entire Easter recess [was] spent rewriting an essay. I’m not bragging, but I write better than most Americans today, and I had to attribute that to him.”
Text edited for clarity. For a full verbatim transcript of the quote, please see p. 31-32 of the complete interview transcript.
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