Tommy Espinoza is a prominent architect of Latino community and business development policy and programs, with over 45 years of experience that span the breadth of the public, private sector, and nonprofit spectrum. A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Mr. Espinoza has dedicated his career to helping Latino families and individuals live in peace and with dignity through educational opportunity and community/business development.
Tommy spent his early days organizing youth groups in Phoenix’s low-income neighborhoods, helping young Latinos escape the self-defeating treadmill of poverty and crime through educational programs. He went on to work with Latino families in their efforts to gain access to affordable housing in the then-fledgling organization Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC). Eleven years later, serving as President and CEO, Mr. Espinoza transformed CPLC from a small but determined grassroots group with an annual budget of $200,000 into one of the country’s most dynamic forces for Latino empowerment and economic well-being. By the time Mr. Espinoza left in 1983, CPLC had an annual operating budget of $10 million and assets of $15 million and was offering comprehensive community and business development services in Arizona’s four major cities. During his tenure at CPLC, Mr. Espinoza was also selected by the White House to advise President Jimmy Carter as a member of the Mexican American Advisory Council.
Currently, Tommy Espinoza is the President CEO and Co-founder of Raza Development Fund (RDF), the largest Latino Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) for the past twenty years in the U.S., with nearly $500 million in total assets under management. In 1998, Mr. Espinoza pioneered a faith-based approach to community development, establishing Partnership of Hope (POH) and the Hope Fund now RDF. Under Mr. Espinoza’s leadership, RDF has provided capital to Latino-serving organizations nationwide. These organizations have received technical assistance and loans which have leveraged over $5 billion in private capital for education, affordable housing, and healthcare projects serving low-income families and individuals.
In subsequent years, Mr. Espinoza assumed the leadership of four different Southwestern firms specializing in community/business/real estate development; asset management; affordable housing growth and access; and consultation services to business, public-sector, and nonprofit groups in the U.S. and Mexico.
Mr. Espinoza currently serves on the Catholic University of America Board of Visitors for the School of Arts and Sciences, LISC National Board of Directors, the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders National Board, and the Greater Phoenix Leadership Board of Directors. Tommy’s various leadership positions include President of the Arizona State Board of Education (1986) and he has received numerous recognitions and awards including the SRE Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (Mexico) Reconocimiento OHTLI, the highest honor given to a person out of Mexico for distinguished work serving the Mexican community (2005), Valley Leadership Man of the Year Award (2014), Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legacy Award (2019), and The Tia Foundation Luminaria Award (2020).