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November 29, 2021

Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlights

September 15 to October 15 is celebrated nationwide as National Hispanic Heritage Month, and it honors the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and LatinX Americans who find their heritage rooted in Latin American countries. We are excited to celebrate Hispanic and Latin heritage this month with a series of spotlights of MGO professionals to learn their heritage, experiences, and journeys.

Roberto Valdez, Senior Associate

Hispanic Heritage Month R Valdez 2

  1. What is your Hispanic/LatinX cultural background?

I was born in San Diego, California but raised in Tijuana, Mexico, where I lived for 18 years until I decided to move back and go to school here. Growing up in a border city, traveling between the two countries was a regular thing. Most of my weekends were spent visiting family, going shopping, and doing activities in the U.S.

  1. How do you think your culture has shaped you into who you are today?

Growing up in Latin America’s most northern city, I did feel like the culture I grew up with was not totally Mexican. Because of how far Tijuana is from the rest of the country (or at least the “center” of Mexico), and how much influence “American life” had on the daily activities of the city, it always felt like we were “outsiders” when compared to the rest of Mexico.

I remember growing up celebrating Halloween more than Dia de los Muertos and celebrating Thanksgiving even though it’s not a holiday in Mexico – stuff like that. Of course, I was taught about Mexican holidays in school and at home, but I did feel like growing up in Tijuana was a very Americanized process.

I suppose I was lucky to grow up experiencing two cultures, two ways of life. It made me more accepting of other cultures and traditions, because that is what I’ve been doing all my life.

  1. What particular challenges have you dealt with or overcome because of your background?

I have been lucky enough not to have dealt with any challenges due to my background, primarily because I grew up in Mexico. Secondly, because now, I live in southern California, an area with a very heavy Hispanic influence.

  1. What do you love most about your heritage? Why?

I love how deep the culture is. There are so many traditions, festivals, and ways of life depending on where in Mexico your family comes from. It feels like every state – or at least every region – of Mexico has a very defined identity.

Ralph Rosales, Help Desk Supervisor

Ralph Rosales Hispanic Heritage Month

Our next spotlight showcases Ralph Rosales, a help desk supervisor based out of our Century City office. Read more to learn about the challenges he faced growing up in Downtown LA, the importance of family in his culture, and how he found himself working in IT at MGO.

  1. What is your Hispanic/LatinX cultural background?

I am Mexican American.

  1. How do you think your culture has shaped you into who you are today?

I feel like my culture causes you to grow up very quickly. Men especially are expected to be self-sufficient and the sole provider of a household, and while times have obviously changed (girl power—all for it!), that mentality can stick with you. Especially having your elders in your ear telling you to be the change your grandparents came here for. This engrains a work ethic stereotype many Latinos have. We don’t want to leave unfinished work for tomorrow. We may pull an all-nighter, but we are dedicated to getting the task done.

  1. What particular challenges have you dealt with or overcome because of your background?

I had to start working at the young age of 16—learning to balance high school and a part-time job as well as adhere to the GPA standards to be able to obtain a work permit from my school district. While my other friends were living the typical LA teenage lifestyle, I worked to support myself and help my family since they had legally adopted 3 of my nieces, so our family had grown significantly. (This is very common in Hispanic families). I grew up in the heart of Downtown LA before the Staples Center, LA Live, Microsoft Theater, and the other glamorous buildings were there—so it was full of lower- and middle-class populations still found in some areas there today. Because it was gang-infested, my parents applied for a school permit in the Montebello school district so I could attend Schurr High School, which was a few towns away from DTLA. I had to travel to Montebello and back every day for high school. I don’t think those challenges are as common as they were when I was growing up.

  1. What do you love most about your heritage? Why?

I love the food—everyone loves Mexican food! —and the food trends that we come up with. I also love the fact that so many of us are humble and accommodating to those in need, as well as the strong emphasis we put on family. As much as we fight with them, we don’t stay mad very long and quickly make up over food and drinks. We could go years without seeing our cousins, but when we finally do reunite, act like we just saw each other yesterday, and that bond is special.

  1. What is your fondest memory growing up?

Running to the Staples Center after every Laker championship they won in the 2000s. Our parents couldn’t stop us; it was madness in the community. Truly insane how crazy the energy was!

Sometimes, our paths lead us to where we are because of a single opportunity that we happen to stumble upon. Other times, it takes hard work, diligence, and perseverance. Sometimes—it’s a little bit of both.

  1. What have you experienced throughout your career? Do you think your ethnicity has played a hand in the acquisition of opportunities, or lack thereof?

I think I fall into the “little bit of both” category. When I first started at MGO, I was on a 6-month contract. I didn’t expect to be here this long. It really is because of one person at MGO that I am still here today. But this young, bald 21-year-old Latino kid once upon a time struck up a conversation about technology with who I now know today as Kent Lamb. After our conversation, I wanted to know what it would take to be a part of the IT team. I asked him for a shot to prove myself for a spot on his team. He granted me my only opportunity in IT with the contingencies that I had to get IT certificates within his deadlines.

When Ken Goldman handed me the offer letter to transfer to IT, he said, “Ralph, if you don’t make it here, you won’t have your spot over here, so make it work!” Scariest motivational speech of my life—but everyone wanted to see me succeed.

  1. Tell us about your journey to MGO.

I was on a 6-month contract volunteering at the Montebello fire department through a program and interning at the emergency room at Beverly Hospital in Montebello as an EMT when I started with MGO. I hadn’t been sponsored to continue in the programs, so I had to decide if I wanted to keep trying to make it into the fire academy or take the amazing opportunity Kent and MGO were offering me. Now I’ve been here for several years and am enrolled at Cal State University Long Beach to graduate from the Cybersecurity program in March 2022. I hope to help lead the department with educational suggestions on data, security, and technology implementations and inspire our IT staff to continue to serve quality technical and customer-oriented service.

  1. What are you most passionate about in your field? What types of clients do you most like to help?

I like being that comforting individual in the IT department you can trust to resolve your issues especially during your busy season—your busy season is my busy season! I also love to mentor, teach, and show off new technology I must master before introducing it to the firm. I enjoy any opportunity to practice public speaking too—some might say I am Type Atypical for an IT professional!

Lucia Valenzuela, Director, R&D Tax Services

Lucia Valenzuela Hispanic Heritage Month

Our next spotlight showcases Lucia Valenzuela, a R&D Tax Services director based out of our Century City office. Read more to learn about what her culture taught her about the importance of opportunity and the advice she’d give to other Hispanic or LatinX employees at the firm.

  1. What is your Hispanic/LatinX cultural background?

My mother immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala in her early 20s. My family roots are rich in culture, influenced by the Mayan civilization that inhabited the Americas over 4,000 years ago. My father is Italian.

  1. If you had to give advice to other Hispanic or LatinX employees at the firm, what would you tell them?

Embrace your diversity and support programs such as DEI that do the same. Network, take risks, and most importantly, advocate for yourself.

Sometimes, our paths lead us to where we are because of a single opportunity that we happen to stumble upon. Other times, it takes hard work, diligence, and perseverance. Sometimes—it’s a little of both. What have you experienced throughout your career? Do you think your ethnicity has played a hand in the acquisition of opportunities, or lack thereof?

I’m not sure if my ethnicity has played a hand in opportunity or lack thereof, but I am 100% sure that my ethnicity and culture has played a huge role on how I approach and value every opportunity.

The Hispanic/LatinX population accounts for almost 20% of the U.S. population/workforce but still, these individuals occupy roughly 2%-4% of executive level positions. The gap between the labor force and executive representation is wider among Hispanics than any other group. This historical lack of opportunity has created a unique culture within the Hispanic community; from a very young age, we are taught that each opportunity is immensely valuable and should be seized and not wasted.

No matter your ethnic background, I believe in seizing every opportunity and challenge like it’s your last. Little by little, you’ll pull ahead of those who don’t share this cultural and fundamental belief system; you’ll advance well beyond those who can afford to take opportunities for granted.

  1. Tell us about your journey to MGO.

A tax attorney by background and a former big-four professional, I joined MGO in January 2021 with the Hall & Company merger.

MGO has been my home away from home since day one because our company values closely align with my personal ones: build something, straight talk, ideas rule, help first, and go beyond.

  1. What are you most passionate about in your field? What types of clients do you most like to help?

I have the best job at MGO! I get the privilege of helping our clients strengthen their companies by advising them on available federal and state tax credits and incentives. These last couple of years have been particularly rewarding because our tax saving strategies have helped many of our clients retain their talent and stay in business through the pandemic.

I enjoy working with clients who share our views on diversity and are hard at work within their own organizations to ensure representation at all levels.

Roxana Jimenez, Senior Associate

Roxana Jimenez Hispanic Heritage Month

Our next spotlight showcases Roxana Jimenez, a senior associate based out of our Long Island office. Read more to learn about the challenges she faced growing up, the clients she enjoys helping most, and how her culture shaped her into who she is today.

  1. What is your Hispanic/LatinX cultural background?

I am Salvadorian.

  1. How do you think your culture has shaped you into who you are today?

I grew up with my grandmother, who always made us take a step further into what we were doing. This mentality helped me learn English in six months, and it has helped me in my professional career—I always try to go beyond what is expected of me.

  1. What particular challenges have you dealt with or overcome because of your background?

I feel that a lot of people associate Latinos with negative things, and sometimes we get judged by our “cover.” In other words, we Latinos must always take an extra step to prove who we are and how much we can achieve.

  1. What do you love most about your heritage? Why?

Latinos are hardworking. I feel that a lot of us have sacrificed so many things that we are not scared to take an extra step to achieve something.

  1. What is your fondest memory growing up?

A memory that has scarred me the most is when I left El Salvador to meet my parents in the U.S.

If you had to give advice to other Hispanic or LatinX employees at the firm, what would you tell them?

We can achieve anything we want—we are capable.

Sometimes, our paths lead us to where we are because of a single opportunity that we happen to stumble upon. Other times, it takes hard work, diligence, and perseverance. Sometimes—it’s a little of both. What have you experienced throughout your career? Do you think your ethnicity has played a hand in the acquisition of opportunities, or lack thereof?

For me, I had to work hard to get to where I am, and I still try to give my best every day at work. Ethnicity did play a big part in getting my foot in the door when I applied for internships.

  1. Tell us about your journey to MGO.

I started with Schwartz and Company, and I have grown so much thanks to the people I work with. Now that we are MGO, I have been exposed to so many amazing and intelligent people.

  1. What are you most passionate about in your field? What types of clients do you most like to help?

I love working in the tax department and helping people who can’t afford to have their returns prepared. If I can help them by doing that or giving the IRS a call, I do it. That always feels great.