Latino professional organization brings 40th annual convention to Las Vegas

Veterans, students can attend career fair for free

One of the oldest and largest Latino professional organizations in the country will have its 40th annual national convention over four days at Caesars Palace, and in addition to networking events and workshops, the final day of the event will feature a free career fair for veterans.

An estimated 3,000 professionals and students are expected to attend the ALPFA national convention, which started Sunday and runs through Wednesday with some private organization meetings Thursday.

ALPFA stands for Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting, but a little over a year ago, the group started identifying itself only by the acronym because it found more and more of its members came from outside the finance and accounting industries. Today, the organization focuses on supporting Latino business leaders from all areas.

ALPFA began in 1972 in Los Angeles. Now it is a nationwide organization with 19,000 members.

For the first time, ALPFA is inviting military veterans to attend its career fair and university expo from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday. Admission for veterans is free. There will also be a panel discussion, “Military to Corporate — Tips for a Successful Transition,” from 9 to 10:15 a.m. Panelists include Marine Corps veteran Orley Jose Pacheco, who works for and is ALPFA’s veterans task force chair; Marine veteran Fenton Reese, CEO and founder of Veterans in Pursuit of Prosperity; Navy veteran Will Rodriguez, president of the Association of Naval Service Officers; and Army veteran Lisa Rosser, founder of

“Veterans have a lot of skills that make them great business leaders and valuable employees,” said Manny Espinoza, ALPFA’s CEO. “We also talked with our corporate partners who have their own veterans initiatives. We wanted to provide better access for our corporate partners and put talented veterans in front of them. Also, it is the right thing to do. They have served our country, are talented and have good leadership skills.”

Veterans can register online or on site before the event for a day pass by showing their military identification. Veterans also are being offered free membership as part of ALPFA’s veterans initiative kicked off in March.

Registration fees for the convention range from $175 for a student member to $1,300 for a professional nonmember. The price to attend the career fair and university expo is $75. Students with a résumé can attend the career fair for free.

Approximately 100 companies — representing the retail, banking, technology, pharmaceutical, financial services and professional services industries — are expected to attend.

“I’m not going to say we’ve been immune to the recession, but we actually increased our attendance in 2009 in Boston,” Espinoza said in regards to the dueling forces of searching for work while saving money in a down economy. “That doesn’t mean companies weren’t shrinking, but we were increasing the number of corporate partners that wanted to attend and had some of our largest conventions.”

Other marquee events include the Women of ALPFA Luncheon, from noon to 2 p.m. Monday, where the organization will hand out its first Latina Excellence Award, and the ALPFA Awards Gala, from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday.

In between, there will be workshops for students and professionals, a 5-kilometer “inspiration run” Wednesday morning, a convention talent competition with cash prizes Monday evening and a product pavilion Tuesday with dozens of companies offering demonstrations and samples. Many prizes, including a Mercedes-Benz, will be awarded during the convention in addition to $100,000 in student scholarships.

“We think of ALPFA as a family,” Espinoza said. “This is a chance for people to come together from all across the country. You want all of the business attributes, great keynote speakers, great panels and seminars, but we also want to make sure they have fun while at the convention. The membership loves it. They come and have fun, and they’re also continuing their education.”

The convention has been in Las Vegas previously, but this is its first visit in a decade. Espinoza said the 2011 convention in Anaheim generated at least $2 million in revenue for the city.

The Las Vegas chapter of ALPFA is one of the “small to medium” ones with 75 members, and Espinoza said AFLPA hoped the convention would help boost membership locally.

The convention is slated to return to Caesars Palace in 2021.