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Aaron, Capital One associate, sits in his home office at his laptop holding a mug

Translating Community Pride into a Thriving Career

Community was a key element in Aarón's childhood.

As immigrants from Sonora, Mexico, Aarón and his mother quickly realized the importance of community as they settled into their new life in Tucson, Arizona. Navigating a new home country took some getting used to, especially in the early years, but friendly welcomes from inclusive neighbors, accessible after-school programs and even the once-in-a-while ride home from other parents when his mom was at work helped make their transition that much easier.

The support surrounding Aarón growing up inspired him to pursue a career where he puts his passion for equity and community development into action. After a decade of policy and nonprofit work, Aarón joined Capital One in 2016, where he is now a racial equity lead for Community Impact & Investment. He builds community partnerships, deploys philanthropic giving and supports diversity, inclusion and belonging initiatives.

“I consider myself lucky because the values I hold closest—kindness, humility, fairness and creativity—have supported a career built around being in service to others,” he said. “My experience at Capital One is no different. It has provided me with even more opportunities to maximize the reach and impact of my work at a greater scale.”

Capital One associate Aaron stands against a colorful wall and looks off, wearing a red shirt

Photo by Evgeniya Zhilyaeva

Creating community partnerships

Aarón considers himself a social impact engineer.

“Similar to the traditional approaches of engineering, true social impact work requires thoughtful design, an informed data-first approach, measurement and overall ingenuity to solve for and meet the most pressing needs of communities,” he said. “My intent is to always think about how we can be a part of something transformational.”

He brought this innovative mindset with him to his first job here, building our community impact strategy for Capital One Cafés. Aarón worked with colleagues in Retail Bank to develop and implement hyperlocal strategies designed to meet the needs of the communities surrounding 40-plus Cafés.

Aarón helped form a national signature partnership between Capital One and Dress for Success, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence. The two organizations launched a multi-market program in which our Café ambassadors deliver critical financial education to the women served by the nonprofit.

“Our role is to listen, inquire with curiosity, identify synergies and then find ways to bring resources that support those opportunities,” Aarón said. “That starts by having open and honest conversations with partners around both the needs of the communities they serve and the needs of the organization to properly deliver on their mission.”

Building equity

In 2021, Aarón joined the Racial Equity & Social Justice team within Community Impact & Investment, which mobilizes Capital One resources to advance social justice issues, dismantle systemic racism and close the racial wealth gap, specifically within the Black and Hispanic communities.

The work we lead and the investments we make are attached to efforts that envision an equitable society of thriving communities where race and ethnicity are no longer determinants of negative life outcomes,” Aarón said. “Our work galvanizes the energy and passion of our associates to deliver on our core value of doing the right thing.”

Aarón refers to much of the Racial Equity & Social Justice team’s work as “Excellence Enrichment”. They support Black and Latino-led organizations—that are already doing the hard work in the field—by providing them with funding, pro bono and technical support to help augment their excellence.

One partnership with Prosperity Now, an organization working to build an economy free from structural racism, supports Black and Hispanic executives from nonprofits. The executives learn how to accelerate their advocacy, fundraising and overall leadership efforts through one-on-one assistance and additional unrestricted funding to allocate how they see fit.

“The work I’m now engaged in at Capital One will be one of the greatest defining moments of my professional record,” Aarón said. “The practice I am currently building has helped me become even more intentional about how I intend to dedicate the remainder of my life’s work.”

A collage of an image of Capital One associate Aaron, with a quote from him that says, “I’m able to exercise my personal and cultural passion for community in the work I lead at Capital One every single day.” All in front of a dark blue Capital One background

Showing up as yourself

Aarón has a mantra he routinely shares with his colleagues and mentees: “Lead with your special.”

He’s learned to embrace the differentiating qualities—his Hispanic, immigrant and queer identities—to enrich the rooms he’s in. He channels that pride into leading the Greater Washington, D.C. chapter of HOLA, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for Hispanic associates and allies, and being a member of Out Front, our BRG for LGBTQ+ associates and allies.

“I know that I am driving value because I have a lived experience that is uniquely mine,” Aarón said. “We all experience the world through different lenses shaped by our individual experiences. Once we learn how to bring those lenses into perfect focus, we can begin leading with our special more intentionally.”

As a leader and member of HOLA, Aarón has participated in the Hispanic Leadership Development Program, a six-month course in which associates engage in leadership training, networking, one-on-one mentoring and gathering critical career insights from executives. He also nurtures a culture of belonging for Hispanic associates looking for connection and community. He mentors and helps them in building careers that embrace their passions and identities.

“Part of my experience as a bi-cultural, biliterate, multinational person has been this constant negotiation of values that can coexist at the same time if held thoughtfully,” Aarón said. “I’m able to exercise my personal and cultural passion for community in the work I lead at Capital One every single day.”