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Interviewing Women of Impact: Eva Pagán Hill, Co-Founder of HAPBWA & Founder of HAPBWA Foundation

Eva Pagan Hill Founder of HAPBWA - Foundation for Hispanic American professional & businesswomen in Orlando, FL

1. Can you tell us about your journey and what inspired you to found the HAPBWA Association and Foundation?

I was invited to join the group that was in the process of founding the Asociación de Mujeres Hispanoamricanas Profesionales y de Negocios by Nede Emara, a dear childhood friend. I count that invitation as one of the major blessings in my life. Throughout the 26 years that have passed since that invitation, I have met and continue to meet and develop professional and personal friendships with amazing women.

The reason that moved me to found the HAPBWA Foundation during my tenure as president of the Association was to further expand the education and mentorship component of the Association. Becoming a 501c3 enabled us to secure sponsorships for events geared to enhance opportunities for professional and personal growth not only for the Association members but also to other women and youth in the community.

2. What are the key goals and objectives of the organization?

The key goals and objectives of the HAPBWA Foundation are clearly presented in the mission statement: “To promote leadership, personal growth, and professional development for youth, women, and underserved populations. This mission is achieved through mentorship, education, and community outreach.

3. What are some of the major challenges you've faced in running the organization in the past, and how did you overcome them?

The major challenge faced by both the Association and the HAPBWA Foundation has been being able to come together and finding a connection as we overcome the differences caused by coming to the USA from different countries of origin where with a variety of customs and traditions; different generations as well as different business and professional backgrounds. In spite of all this, we have managed to find similarities and enrich each other’s

lives as we work together.

4. How has your work with HAPBWA impacted the lives of the people and communities you serve?

From its inception, HAPBWA’s founders, past presidents, and boards have always has been committed to helping both the members and the community. The HAPBWA Foundation was founded by women who have been a part of this organization since its beginnings and some of them have also served as past presidents or board members demonstrating their commitment to serve the organization. It has been this commitment that has ensured the existence of the Association for 26 years and the Foundation for 13 years.

5. Can you talk about some of the most memorable projects or initiatives that the organization has undertaken?

We were able to develop strong partnerships with the Hispanic Chamber of Metro Orlando, the City of Orlando HOLA office, and Orange County Mayors Teresa Jacobs and Jerry Demmings. We also partnered with the Working Together Trabajando Juntos in coordinating joint events.

6. How does HAPBWA collaborate with other organizations or individuals to achieve its goals?

Some examples of community organizations that have received the benefits of the HAPBWA/HAPBWA Foundation’s commitment to service have included:

  • Hope Community Center in Apopka receiving Thanksgiving baskets for the families of farmworkers in need and participation as table captains in their fundraising events for 8 years.

  • Feed and Fortify receiving our help in feeding homeless families as well as donation of coats and blankets during the winter months.

  • Nueva Vida Project, a program that the Center for Drug Free Living, Inc. for treatment of Hispanic addicts received a Christmas meal and gifts for 3 years.

  • Osceola Pregnancy Center, received clothing and supplies for both mothers and babies for 2 years.

  • The boards coordinated mental health assistance for victims of Hurricanes Irma and María in Central Florida provided by 2 members of the Association.

7. How do you see the organization evolving and growing in the coming years?

I visualize that, as has been the trajectory of the organization, it will continue to learn from experience and remain open to adapt to the changes of time. However, at this time, the board has decided to return to our roots of community service as well as education and mentoring. It is also important that we never stop learning and developing new and creative ways of marketing and securing support for our endeavor to follow the HAPBWA Foundation's mission.

8. Can you share any advice or lessons learned for individuals or organizations looking to start a philanthropic initiative?

It is essential that any person attempting to start a philanthropic initiative to educate themselves on the laws that regulate these organizations and if possible consult a corporate lawyer that has experience working with this type of initiative.

9. How do you measure success for the organization and its impact?

I measure the success of the HAPBWA/HAPBWA Foundation in having women that have been with the organization from the beginning being instrumental in ensuring longevity as well as openness to continue learning and adapting to the present times.

10. What is the most fulfilling part of your work with HAPBWA for you personally? What do you wish for the new Foundation President, Deisamar de Soto?

Personally, the most fulfilling part of being a part of HAPBWA / HAPBWA Foundation since the beginning has been the satisfaction of having been able to serve the organization with integrity and commitment. But most of all, I cherish the opportunity that I have had to develop long-lasting friendships with women whom I respect and have grown to love dearly. I pray that the new president of the HAPBWA Foundation is able to feel the level of satisfaction that I feel and that she may count on the support that I have received from these amazing women.

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