The Vehicle for Positive Impact

Joe Avila oversees the national Hispanic community outreach for the Ford Motor Company Fund

As community outreach manager of the Ford Motor Company Fund, Joe Ávila devises strategies for the business of giving back

Can you give me an overview of the Ford Motor Company Fund?
It is a philanthropic corporate foundation and separate entity. We rely 100 percent on donations from Ford Motor Company. The fund has been around for more than 60 years and carries out the vision that Henry Ford started a long time ago: to support initiatives and institutions that improve opportunities for those who live in the communities where Ford Motor Company operates.

What does being community outreach manager entail?
I oversee the national Hispanic community outreach and key markets that we call “Operation Better World Markets,” which is the community investment strategy we developed for Texas, Southern Florida, Southern California, and Puerto Rico. As a Latino, I am very proud to be part of this philanthropic corporation that authentically cares about its community investment programs and strategies.

How do you create your strategies and initiatives?  
I first ask myself what each community needs. I then draw up a strategy as a response to those needs. I then consider if the initiatives to carry out that strategy align with the goals and values of our organization.

What social values do the strategies add to the community?
We are in the business of developing a brighter future. Improving education is very important in the Latino community, Ford, and the country as a whole. Educational programs open doors to opportunities for the future leaders of our country, company, and workforce. Every time I develop a strategy, I try to connect all the dots.

What do you most enjoy about your job?
I feel so lucky to have a job that aligns with my personal drive and passion to develop programs, strategies, and initiatives that improve and strengthen our communities.

When did you find your passion for this line of work?
I am a Venezuelan-American, and after getting my political science degree, I decided to go to business school at the University of Denver. Early in my education I realized that driving a positive impact in our community was a priority for me.

What is your career advice for the next generation of leaders?
Find your purpose. Have a clear vision, and stick to it.

What is your favorite Henry Ford quote?
“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business,” and “Whether you think you can, or cannot, you are right.”

What are your goals for the next five years?
I want to grow within Ford but also facilitate the bridge that brings together the social and business value between the US Hispanic market and Latin America.