The passion for community service and finding solutions to improve people's quality of life, whether through housing opportunities, creation or promoting businesses, education or health, is something that is in David Adame's DNA. For this and many reasons, the 2021 Los D-backs Pete A. García Hispanic Leadership Award goes to Adame, the president and CEO of Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc.
David shared his story as he related how his strong desire to empower the community and his love for baseball was born.
"No matter where you come from, you can make your own way and have great success, just don't forget where you come from and empower others," said Adame upon learning that he was the winner. “I am so honored and humbled by this award; Pete Garcia was my mentor and an important part of my life. This is very emotional.
“When I was a young boy, I lived very close to the CPLC offices in South Phoenix. My elementary school was Lowell School. I remember my dad and my uncle would watch the Dodgers, it was the only team we followed and then Fernadnomania started," he said. “I remember in my Little League in Central City, we were the only team without a sponsor, so we played [in] Levi’s and Converse All Stars. My dad worked at Bashas, and when I was in the eighth grade, they moved him to a store in North Phoenix on 32nd Street. When I played in the Little League there, I finally had a jersey and uniform."
Upon arriving at ASU thanks to a music scholarship, he concentrated on academics studying finance and music, but his love of baseball had another rebirth while the Sun Devils had lots of success and had great players like Barry Bonds, Mike Devereaux and Oddibe McDowel.
So much was his love for the game that he was among the first fans who were season-ticket holders, and he was at the very first game at then Bank One Ballpark.
"I was very excited about the idea of having a Major League team in Phoenix, and I was at the D-backs' first game at home against the Rockies with my friends," Adame said.
During his professional career, Adame was invited by his friend Mary Rose Wilcox, a former award recipient, to participate in the first group of the D-backs Ambassadors (“The D-backs Ambassadors Club”) of which he was a member for four years. He loved the opportunity to help ensure the D-backs serve the Hispanic community and provide baseball opportunities for underprivileged boys and girls and something he did not have as a kid -- uniforms. In addition, Adame's love of baseball has a lot to do with his Latino origin, since he indicated that it is the only sport in the United States in which so many Latin American countries are represented.
Adame shared that the first time he realized he wanted to help his community was at Arizona State University as member and chair of the ASU Hispanic Business Student Association.
"I realized that I had to focus on helping the community become successful in business," he said.
In his last year at ASU, Adame began working at CPLC, where he said Pete García was an important mentor.
"He taught me how to work in the area of community development and he truly led by example," Adame said.
What does Adame say about the challenges of the pandemic?
“My vision since I arrived at CPLC was to continue to empower communities, regardless of the situation in the country or the world," he said. "Stay on the right track and focus on becoming a completely financially self-sustaining organization. I asked CPLC leadership to set us up for success with this concept in mind. Sometimes I was very demanding, but we achieved something incredible."
Under Adame's leadership, CPLC has realized significant growth and expansion and in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, California, Texas and impact in Mexico. CPLC’s most current finding of “lives impacted” is over 2 million and counting. This is a historic and unprecedented growth of over 1,000% from 2012 to FY '20-21. This fiscal year CPLC saw a growth of 224%, from 628,407 lives impacted in 2019 to 2,036,100 lives impacted today. In the social and educational area, CPLC spearheads successful Migrant Head Start programs, as well as service projects for unaccompanied migrant youth. During the pandemic, there was a focus on training the workforce for the changing needs of the economy due to the pandemic and working from home for such a long time. CPLC also applied and was able to disburse funds for rental assistance for tenants and continues to invest and develop workforce and low-income housing.
The Business Loans and Business Support division opened the first Women’s Business Center supported by the US Small Business Administration, this is significant empowerment of women in business. CPLC also provided grants that helped save businesses that were in danger of closing. In fact, Adame made a significant effort to save businesses as he positioned CPLC to be a leader in the protection of wages through the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). Thanks to CPLC’s ability to provide direct support, they were able to close on nearly 500,000 PPP loans for businesses throughout the United States. CPLC provided more loans than JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America combined this equated to over $7.6 billion dollars. As a result, small businesses had the opportunity to access funds and save their businesses.
In the health services sector, Adame pressured his team to work with other organizations to mitigate the challenges of the pandemic. This led CPLC to partner with universities, private health organizations, and government to provide testing and vaccinations to thousands of Arizonans during this critical time. Adame also protected his more than 1,500 employees, with the commitment that not a single person would be laid off from work during the pandemic.
“I feel very blessed that I was surrounded by so many dedicated passionate colleagues that made it possible to make a difference during one of the most difficult periods in history,” he said.
What is the Los D-backs Hispanic Leadership Recognition?
In 2007, the Arizona Diamondbacks initiated an initiative to thank and recognize exemplary Hispanic leaders. The first award was given to Pete A. Garcia, a great man who empowered entire communities with his leadership, he was president of Chicanos Por La Causa for 27 years and his love and dedication to the youth of Arizona led him to found the Victoria Foundation, who has been supporting young people and their university studies for eleven years with counseling and scholarships. For their great and countless contributions to the community, in 2017, the D-backs renamed this great award to Pete A. Garcia The D-backs Hispanic Leadership Award. Since the Arizona Diamondbacks awarded the first award in 2007, important and outstanding women and men have received this prized recognition:
2021 David Adame, Chicanos Por La Causa
2020 Rosemary Ybarra-Hernandez, Aguila Leadership Institute
2019 Cecilia Rosales, University of Arizona
2018 Jose Cardenas, Arizona State University
2017 Elisa de la Vara, Arizona Community Foundation
2016 Terri Cruz, Chicanos For The Cause
2015 Tommy Espinoza, La Raza Fund Development
2014 Ed Pastor, Retired Congressman
2013 Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, Maricopa Community Colleges
2012 Paul Luna, Helios Education Foundation
2011 Mary Rose Wilcox, Maricopa Country BOS
2010 Luis Ibarra, Friendly House
2009 Dr. Loui Olivas, Arizona State University
2008 Armando Flores, Arizona Public Service
2007 Pete García, CPLC / Victoria Foundation