Community Spotlight – Liliam Lopez, Armando Trabanco, Alexander Noda
Liliam “Lily” Lopez is a perfect example of the importance of connection and investment in the Hispanic community. For nearly 30 years, Lily has been devoted to the community in South Florida via the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, focusing on resources, providing opportunities, and supporting others.
Lily arrived in America after fleeing Cuba at the tender age of three. “As a young child, we were very low income. Our parents lost everything in Cuba. In the U.S., my father had to start doing dishes and eventually was able to open a business.”
Growing up in Miami, which is approximately 70% Hispanic, bolstered Lily’s pride in her Cuban roots and language. “Music, food, and traditions unite people and make one feel good — proud — about their heritage. When I see young people that have a Hispanic last name and don’t speak Spanish, I always tell them, ‘You have to learn Spanish!,’”she said.
Lily attended Miami Dade College and graduated from St. Thomas University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. She served as the executive director of the Spanish American League Against Discrimination before founding the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 1994.
“The South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SFLHCC) was founded with the mission to promote the continued growth and development of the Hispanic business community and serve as a resource center and forum to advocate for Hispanic-owned businesses. The organization has dedicated professionals and business owners who have come together to advance the commercial and civic interests and financial education of the ever-growing Hispanic community of South Florida,” Lily explains.
Because of SFLHCC, Lily crossed paths with Synovus Regional Retail Sales Manager Armando Trabanco. “I met Lily back in 2000,” Armando remembers, “after she started the South Florida Hispanic Chamber on South Beach. It was up and coming at the time.”
Through their years-long partnership, Lily and Armando have built something with the Chamber that the next generation of Miami's bankers and community leaders want to engage with, including Alexander Noda, retail market manager for Synovus. “The Chamber is good for people of all ages because it fills a basic human need - the need for connection. It is important for networking and growing your name and brand as an active member of our community,” Noda shares.
When it comes to her work with the Chamber, Lily is focused on minority communities in her area, providing all the support she can.
“The Chamber has members from all ethnicities. Although we are a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, people who are not Hispanic are more than welcome. We have open doors for anybody who wants to join,” she continues, stating that “the benefits of being a member of the Hispanic Chamber are many, and the possibilities of doing business are limitless.”
As a Hispanic Chamber, Lopez maintains the importance of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Their signature event, Viva Miami, starts with an exhibit area for businesses to showcase their product or service, followed by a lunch conference. The Chamber also presents the Sunshine Awards, honoring companies that embrace diversity, and the Hispanic Leadership Awards.
The winner does not need to be Hispanic, Lily adds, but rather someone who has helped and mentored Hispanic community members.
In addition to Viva Miami, the Chamber leverages the Hispanic Women’s Society Network, which plans several events centered around wellness. “We felt, as a Chamber, that we needed to create awareness about leading a healthy lifestyle.” With their program, Healthier Kids for our Future, the Chamber connects nutritionists, chefs, and instructors with families four times a year, teaching them the importance of healthy eating habits.
When celebrating diversity and opportunity, Lily emphasizes the importance of hiring and advancing Hispanics in the workforce: “It is important for companies to embrace diversity and hire qualified minorities. Hire qualified Hispanics and then promote them to the positions they deserve, instead of relying on national searches for a top position, especially in a city like Miami.”
Through their work with the SFLHCC, Lily, Armando and Alexander confirm that connection, community, and execution are keys to success.
According to Armando, the best memories come from serving. “Giving and serving truly has been the highlight of my association with the Chamber. As a financial organization, we have the responsibility to serve the community. We add value to these neighborhoods by educating and engaging with local business owners to help them succeed.”
Lily agrees. “Every December, we are the sole provider of 950 toys to four schools attended by financially disadvantaged children. Synovus has always been a great partner of that program annually, and we are thankful for that.” She’s honored to share those memories with members of the Synovus team, like Armando. “He is one of the best individuals and bankers I have had the pleasure to meet. I met him almost 25 years ago, and we have worked together all these years. He was chairman of our board, and he is a true leader. I am extremely privileged to call him a friend.”
For Alexander, it’s easy to find inspiration in Lily’s commitment to excellence. From her, he’s learned that ”resiliency and execution are critical to success.”
Given her results, Lily’s execution skills are clearly second to none.
*Special thanks to Liliam “Lily” Lopez and the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for their participation. Learn more about the SFLHCC: https://sflhcc.com