A Community of Opportunity

Being connected to her roots is especially important for Gloria Schoch. “Growing up one generation away from an immigrant experience was definitely special for me,” she says.

First Data’s Gloria Schoch relishes serving communities on both sides of the border

Gloria Schoch’s family history may not have predetermined her career path, but it certainly stacked the deck in favor of serving the public. A self-described “product of the JFK era,” Schoch’s father was a part of the Peace Corps at the time he met her mother in Colombia. After they married, his commitment to public service continued, taking him and his new family to various destinations across the United States. His new extended Latino family joined them, too—around 30 in all—which helped make every new location feel like home for young Gloria. “Even though we moved often, the one constant was family,” Schoch recalls. “Growing up one generation away from an immigrant experience was special for me.”

And it ultimately impacted the course of her career, landing her the director of public affairs for First Data Corporation—but it took a little time in doing so. First came a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Colorado, a program that attracted Schoch because of the nonprofit concentration within it. “But the more public policy classes I took, the more I realized how important public affairs is to our daily lives,” she says. “Every day we live and breathe the decisions made by policy makers.”

FAVORITES_GloriaSchoch042_1
Having a close-knit family means Schoch has a wealth of knowledge to draw upon. From her Colombian mother she learned “what it is to be Latina” and from her father “that no problem is too big to tackle with hard work and collaboration.”

 

It was during her schooling that one of Schoch’s instructors helped her land a position at Denver-based Western Union, a First Data subsidiary at the time. As the job called on her to establish relationships with both national and international community-based organizations, Schoch soon found herself working with the 4+1 Program and the Business Information Clearinghouse—the former being a job creation program in Mexico, the latter, an online resource for immigrant and minority entrepreneurs. The power of public/private partnerships was clear to Schoch by then. “I was working closely with immigrants who were committed to bettering the lives of those living back home,” she recalls, “and I felt deeply connected to it on account of my mom’s family, and the need to better their own lives.”

The connections continued with Hometown Associations, grassroots organizations of immigrants in the US that raise money for scholarships, businesses, and infrastructure in their respective home communities in Mexico. With Western Union’s partnership, Hometown Associations have been able to receive matching donations from both Western Union and the Mexican government at a staggering pace. “Through that experience I learned the valuable intersection of the public/private sector, and how working collaboratively can bring about powerful and positive results,” Schoch says.

Thinking Out Loud

Trading Words With

GLORIA SCHOCH

SUCCESS
Achieving your goals without compromising your values.

INTEGRITY
You can’t live and lead without it. It’s listening to your heart and doing the right thing regardless of the circumstances.

COMMUNITY
It’s a commitment to serving our community. For Latinos to succeed, we must pay it forward and support each other.

LATINA
Having a deep appreciation of your background and the importance of family.

After accepting an offer from First Data to help build its Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the company, Schoch found herself involved in programs built around grant-making, sponsorships, and disaster relief—countless opportunities to serve the underserved, thanks to First Data’s worldwide reach. Then, a few years later, her graduate work came into play as she took on additional roles with First Data. Her work now calls for abundant lobbying across the country during the legislative season, while overseeing the corporate social responsibility program the remainder of the year. Given that First Data is a global payment-solutions leader, serving more than six million merchant locations, thousands of card issuers and millions of consumers worldwide—keeping on top of everything is no small feat. “We’ve experienced great transformation in the payments industry over the past couple of years with the convergence of offline, online and mobile payments she notes. “First Data is leading the way in Universal Commerce so we must constantly innovate to stay relevant in a competitive market.”

And beyond all that is Schoch’s desire to stay connected with her heritage, which she does on a regular basis by way of an informal group of Latinas that meet for coffee every Friday. “We inspire one another with our accomplishments and stories of strength and challenge each other in order to reach our full potential,” she explains. “And we’re always sharing job and career opportunities with each other, staying informed on issues affecting the Latino community and learning how we can get more involved.”

Her parents are now retired and living down in Florida, but their spirit and inspiration is never out of Schoch’s reach as she continues down her unique public/private sector career path. “My mother taught me what it is to be Latina—embracing our culture, remembering where you come from, and striving for the American dream,” she says. “And I’ve learned from my father that no problem is too big to tackle with hard work and collaboration.”