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2013 Alma Awards Associate Producer Ron Estrada

The inside scoop on the best one ever!

By Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez, Herald de Paris
Published on LatinoLA: September 23, 2013


2013 Alma Awards Associate Producer Ron Estrada


Actress and activist Eva Longoria will return once again as co-host of the 2013 NCLR ALMA Awards. This year she is being joined by actor and television personality Mario Lopez.

Robert Rodriguez, Rosario Dawson, and Carlos Santana are going to receive special tributes and Tony Plana and Wilmer Valderrama are also among the honorees. Jessica Alba, Alexa Vega, Gina Rodriguez, Rico Rodriguez, the cast of Devious Maids and more will be on hand to present.

The one hour prime time special is scheduled to air live on MSNBC Friday, Sept. 27 at 10:00 ET/7:00 PT.

The awards show will also include complementary programming on MSNBC, mun2, and on digital platforms including mun2.tv and Telemundo.com.

Herald De Paris Deputy Managing Editor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez had a unique opportunity to speak with this year's Alma Awards associate producer, Ron Estrada.

Ron is vice president of the executive cabinet for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest Hispanic advocacy and civil rights organization in the nation, based in Washington, DC.

He oversees NCLR's Integrated Marketing and Events group (IME) and is responsible for advancing the institution's mission by communicating NCLR's "story" to broad, diverse audiences and generating unrestricted funds for the organization. Under his leadership, IME is responsible for the development, production, and execution of the NCLR Capital Awards, NCLR Annual Conference, and NCLR National Latino Family Expo. He also oversees the Resource Development, Information Technology, NCLR Website, Quality Control, Graphics and Publications teams.

In addition, Ron is an associate producer for the NCLR ALMA Awards, and his department manages various aspects of the show including advertisers, sponsors, media, marketing, and event logistics.

AC: Where did you grow up and describe your family? What factors in life encourage you to become involved with the Hispanic community?

RE: I was born and raised in San Diego, California. My family background is Mexican-American and I was fortunate to be raised with a cultural balance. Meals would consist of menudo and tortillas one day while other days we would have hot dogs with mac 'n cheese. I would sing mariachi at family gatherings and attend Kool and the Gang concerts with my friends. My mom, dad, and brothers now live throughout the US. My wife, two boys, and I reside in Northern Virginia.

My involvement in the Hispanic community started at home. Activism and civic engagement became second nature - I grew up seeing my dad lead the charge on a number of issues. He dedicated his life's work to reaching Latino communities. It was a natural for me to be involved and grow my career in a way that also uplifts our community as well as this great nation.

AC: What was college like? What was your goal upon graduation?

RE: Because I had a decent track career in high school, I was recruited by many colleges including Oklahoma, USD, and West Point. I choose Redlands primarily because I wanted to stay close to home at the time and decided to major in education. I was the first in my family to graduate from college - it wasn't expected, it was a leap I took to broaden my horizons. It was an eye-opening and challenging experience that helped me expand my knowledge and perceptions of people and society.

Upon graduation I had a goal to make a difference and change negative stereotypes of Latinos. When you're 18 and going into college - even when you're 21 or 22 and graduating - you don't always know how to create change. Every experience during my college years helped me to shape that goal. It also helps when you surround yourself with like-minded individuals who help you to remain positive.

AC: Was there a time when you realized that discrimination against Latinos is real and personal, then decided to do something about it?

RE: I've experienced discrimination all my life. I think we fight back by setting good examples. By educating and empowering our community we demonstrate that racism and stereotypes are nothing more than the expression of the ignorance and fear of others. This is why I remain active in the community by volunteering and participating on various boards and committees promoting the positive advancement of Hispanic Americans.

The work we do at NCLR does this through our network of nearly 300 affiliate organizations. Through the national partnerships we've developed with other civil rights organizations, we are in a position to promote understanding, cultural exchange, and community empowerment.

AC: Tell us about your work as a VP corporate marketing manager. How has new media changed the way things are marketed over the last few years?

RE: After accepting a sales/marketing position with Anheuser-Busch in Los Angeles, I decided early on in my career to learn and master the art of sponsorships and marketing. I saw an immediate need to provide a bridge between corporate ROI (Return On Investment) and the need for community advancement regarding the US Latino community.

While living in Austin in the early 90's, I was around the dot com craze, digital technology was ubiquitous in my life at that time, and I was exposed to technology through osmosis. New media has given us the outlets to reach broader audiences and to message instantaneously. We can deliver more information, more quickly, to a larger pool of recipients. We can regularly reinvent our messaging to make sure we are accurately getting information to the intended user and that we are doing so while remaining current and fresh. New media also allows our communication to be very interactive by creating the opportunity to better engage viewers, readers, and listeners.

AC: Tell us about your work as the VP of marketing for the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. What were some of the high points from that experience?

RE: The Chamber was my door opener to my DC experience and the reason I packed up my family and left Texas. I was hired to generate revenue and increase branding for their nationally syndicated television show, Hispanics Today. My previous success in media sponsorships and media syndication allowed me an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the program. It also sparked the attention of my friend and now colleague, Delia de la Vara, NCLR vice president, who eventually recruited me to join her on the NCLR ALMA Awards team.

AC: When did you come over to NCLR? What are your responsibilities?

RE: I've been at NCLR for just under six years. I am responsible for the institution's branding and marketing, as well as the development, production, and execution of the NCLR Capital Awards, NCLR Annual Conference, and NCLR National Latino Family Expo. I also oversee the Resource Development team, NCLR Website, Quality Control, and Graphics and Publications teams. I should add I am privileged to work alongside one of the brightest group of Latino professionals in the country.

AC: What portals and media platforms are you using to get the 'story' of NCLR out to diverse audiences? What is the story? What are the biggest challenges in getting the word out?

RE: The story is that Latino talent is abundant. We are present behind the scenes, in front of the camera and on the airwaves, but we need to continue to see Hispanic Americans in leading roles delivering accurate portrayals of our community. We ask the public to tune-in, to support programming that features Latino talent, and to engage in constructive dialogue throughout the nation to propel this mission.

We deliver this message in large part through our digital outlets and in partnership with a number of media properties that work with us to maximize viewer engagement. The NCLR ALMA Awards will be available through a cadre of media outlets including complementary programming on MSNBC, mun2 and on digital platforms including mun2.tv and Telemundo.com.

AC: Tell us about the 2013 ALMA Awards. What is your job as an associate producer? What does the task entail for you this year?

RE: My duties as an AP include many things. My top priority is revenue generation. I work with a team of professionals that create unique and innovative sponsor packages that deliver the appropriate ROI for our sponsors. We would not be able to deliver a program without the support of those select companies that step up and provide financial support. In addition, my department manages various aspects of the show including advertisers, sponsors, media, marketing, and event logistics.

AC: What is your relationship with MSNBC and how did you convince them to broadcast live? Isn't this the first time this sort of thing has been done? What about Muni2?

RE: We are fortunate to have a true mutually-beneficial partnership with the Comcast and NBCU family. There are some solid individuals representing the networks that have truly made an impact and are champions for the community, I wish I could name them all here but there are too many to list. Viewers of this year's NCLR ALMA Awards will be able to catch four on-air hours of related programming in addition to online content that includes celebrity interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

MSNBC is where the action begins! This year's honorees include:

The 2013 NCLR ALMA Awards Anthony Quinn Award for Industry Excellence: ROBERT RODRIGUEZ

The 2013 NCLR ALMA Award for Outstanding Commitment to Cause and Community: CARLOS SANTANA

The 2013 NCLR ALMA Award for Outstanding Commitment to Cause and Community: ROSARIO DAWSON

AC: The ALMAs are expensive to produce. How difficult is it to attract sponsors? How much of it is good business for them and how much is community service when they invest?

RE: Sponsors see the value in investing in the Latino community and in putting their brands in front of the fastest growing demographic in this nation. It is great visibility for those companies to be associated with the only prime time, English language television special celebrating the contributions of Latinos in the entertainment industry.

We are constantly looking for new partners who are willing to engage us for the "right" reasons - a long term commitment toward embracing diversity. Regarding the ROI, each sponsor measures it differently. The fact that close to 90% of our sponsors are previous supporters validates the value of partnering with NCLR and the mission of the ALMA Awards.

AC: How difficult is it to make things happen in Hollywood? Isn't putting on a show like this a logistical nightmare?

RE: I am privileged to oversee a very talented team in-house that has mastered putting on these types of events with the signature NCLR touch. The same team that develops the ALMA Awards also works on our Annual Conference and our Capital Awards, which take place in different cities. So the setting is not a challenge for us. It's about the dynamics of a strong team that has the passion for our work in their hearts and is dedicated to making all of our events truly successful. It is also a huge plus having Janet Murguia as our President and CEO.

AC: I was honored to be at the show last year and will be there again this year. What are some of the changes? Any surprises?

RE: The 2013 NCLR ALMA Awards on MSNBC will be live for the first time since its inception in 1995. Also new this year, this special will be produced by Latino-led Big Vida Entertainment along with executive producers Eva Longoria and Janet Murgu?¡a. The four hours of on-air programming I previously mentioned include:

Friday, September 27 at 10:00 p.m. ET on MSNBC: NCLR "2013 ALMA Awards" live broadcast of a one-hour special showcasing the spirit and accomplishments of some of the most prolific Latinos in the entertainment industry, spanning music, television, film.

Friday, September 27 at 11:00 p.m. ET on MSNBC: Live broadcast of a one-hour news discussion of issues affecting the Latino community. MSNBC's Alex Wagner will host the conversation with topics to include the rise in the Latino electorate, immigration reform, education, and Latino images in the media.

Saturday, September 28 at 4:00 p.m. ET on mun2: "mun2 News Special Hecho en America" is a one-hour news special that delves deeply into the personal success stories of its subjects ÔÇô Latinos who are changing politics, culture and business in the U.S.

Saturday, October 5 at 4 p.m.EST/2 p.m. CST: "2013 NCLR Alma Awards All-Access special" is a one-hour special focusing on the performers, presenters, hosts, honorees and excitement on both the red carpet and at the Alma Awards.

Additionally, Telemundo.com will be covering the 2013 ALMA awards from Los Angeles with exclusive coverage of the red carpet and behind-the-scenes interviews of all the action at this year's event. Viewers will be talking about the show's first five minutes - that I guarantee! There's much more but you'll have to tune-in to see.

AC: In a perfect world, what would be the ultimate and absolute best outcome for NCLR with the awards of 2013?

RE: Maximizing viewership so that more of the American public can experience this important celebration of Latino talent. Viewers will find this program to be educational, informative, thought-provoking and inspirational.

AC: What can community and civic groups do to support the broadcast?

RE: Tune in on Friday, September 27 at 7 eastern/10 pacific on MSNBC or set their digital video recorders to record the program. Engage by participating in the regular discussions we feature on almaawards.com and support Latinos in American entertainment. Be sure to follow the show on Twitter at @almaawards.

AC: How can people learn more about the NCLR and support its mission?

RE: Visit www.nclr.org, follow us on social media @NCLR or @ALMAawards and attend our annual conference taking place in L.A. next year, July 19-22.

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