Created in early 2006 by an initiative of Dr. Michael V. Reagen, at the time President and CEO of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, along with media personality Mayela Rosales, the Council of Hispanic Business Professionals -CHBP- worked originally as an informal group under the Chamber’s umbrella, aimed to support its diversity and Hispanic market-oriented initiatives. Led initially by Mayela Rosales, later the Council transitioned to a collective leadership by her, Luis Bernal, and Maria Ramos.
In October 1st, 2008, during Luis Bernal’s Presidency, the Council was legally incorporated as a non- profit organization aimed to bridge the gap between Hispanics/Latinos and the community at large. Despite becoming an autonomous entity, CHBP has remained closely related to the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce until today, and therefore, it has never identified itself as a Hispanic Chamber.
Supported by a significant number of Hispanic/Latino business owners, and professionals residing in Collier County who over the years have joined CHBP as friends, members, committee members, or directors, between 2007 and 2013, the Council has being oriented by the following Presidents
2007-2008: Luis A. Bernal, International Economic Development Consultant.
2009-2010: Maria Ramos, HR & Health Management Specialist
2011: Maria Botana, Banker
2012-2013: Andrew I. Solis Esq, Attorney at Law.
Throughout the years, CHBP or “The Hispanic Council”, as it is often called, has been dynamically involved in local public policy and community affairs by participating in bodies or initiatives such as:
- Collier County Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board
- Collier County School District, Strategic Planning, and Education Board Subcommittees
- Collier County Supervisor of Elections
- Hispanic Institute at Hodges University
- Hodges University Diversity Festival
- Drug Free Collier
- Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, Chamber’s Alliance
- Council of International Visitors in Collier County CIVIC
- Leadership Collier Foundation of Collier County
- The Partnership for Collier’s Economic Future
- Safe & Healthy Children Coalition of Collier County
Even though it is a non-partisan organization, The Hispanic Council has supported, whenever requested, in helping those running for office to spread their campaigning words, while making sure they are aware of the Hispanic community’s dimension and significance in Collier County, and also that candidates have a message for them. Moreover, CHBP membership has volunteered a number of times as poll workers on elections day.
No surprisingly CHBP’s activities have been regularly featured in the media, through statements, interviews, and articles published by the Naples Daily News, D’Latinos Magazine, Business Currents, Vista Semanal, as well as various radio, and TV shows.
But not only CHBP has aimed to public and community affairs, it also has been an active promoter of social and business networking among Hispanic and Non-Hispanic professionals, organizing business forums, educational, and cultural events such as “Expressions”, a 2006 art show featuring four Latin American artists, an event for which the Council partnered with then called International College.
With today’s Hodges University, the Council has a history of fruitful collaboration, as CHBP members helped it in creating its Diversity Festival in 2006, as well as its Hispanic Institute in 2007.
CHBP decided years ago that instead of undertaking public-benefit initiatives on its own, it better would join what others are doing well for the good of our community, by fundraising for them; particularly for those programs targeting Hispanics, as they constitute about a quarter of Collier County’s population.
With that consideration in mind CHBP established its “Mother-daughter” Fashion Show, as well as its Annual Gala. The show is aimed to celebrate women and families, while raising funds to help young Hispanics to participate in programs of the Leadership Foundation of Collier County; whereas with the Annual Gala, the Council not only celebrates the Hispanic Heritage Month, a national tradition, but also it raises funds for a local charity it has chosen every year.
So far, with the generous support of local business, large and small, CHBP has gathered thousands of dollars for the following charities:
- Eden Autism Services of Florida (2010)
- “School on Wheels of Guadalupe Social Services/Catholic Charities (2011)
- Boys and Girls Club of Collier County (2012)
- Safe and Healthy Children Coalition of Collier County (2013)
- Youth Leadership Collier (2010-2013)
Although usually quiet, CHBP’s efforts have not run unnoticed, and that is why in September the 24th, 2013 to celebrate its 5th anniversary and in order to recognize its positive trajectory in Collier, the Board of County Commissioners presented the Council with a public Proclamation.
In these five years of formal existence and those two before, just like our community and economy, CHBP has seen highs and lows, instants of glory and moments of crisis; which is quite normal, particularly for an organization ran exclusively by volunteers. Nonetheless thanks to the great people of Collier County, the Council has persevered and will keep pursuing its mission, which is: “To promote Hispanic Business and Professionals, and their ongoing efforts to building a prosperous community for everyone, by working in the areas of business, entrepreneurship, education and culture”