After 20 years in corporate banking, and serving as the unofficial Hispanic Liaison, Cool saw a huge gap in connecting two worlds – she launched Cool & Associates, a management consulting firm to bridge the mainstream world to the Hispanic market in the United States. Cool & Associates specializes in an integrated model providing solutions including marketing, communications and training.
Cool blended her operational experience with her nonprofit activities to drive engagement and growth, with expertise in commercial banking, lending, financial analysis and sales management, working with Wells Fargo and Bank of America, along with leading and operating the state-wide Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Cool has presented internationally at conferences addressing topics such as Diverse Segment Marketing, Minority/WBE, Entrepreneurship, Women in Business and Leadership. She is a columnist for Huffington Post, The Daily Record and Mundo Latino.
Cool has received a number of awards including the Baltimore Sun’s 25 Women to Watch in 2016, Top 100 MBE, Daily Record’s MD Top 100 Women-Circle of Excellence and the US Hispanic Chamber Ultimate Latina Award. First Lady Michelle Obama recognized Cool for her commitment to youth mentoring. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan appointed Cool to serve on the state-wide Governor’s Workforce Investment Board.
Cool is the founder of the Latino Innovators Pitch, an innovative program to showcase and empower Latino entrepreneurs to scale and grow their businesses profitably and sustainably. In 2016, she also co-founded the Alliance for Hispanic Commercial Contractors to bridge the gap and foster economic development through education, access and procurements. Cool founded the Facebook Groups Yo Quiero Trabajo and Emprendedores Exitosos, where she curates content, resources and opportunities for Latino jobseekers and entrepreneurs.
Cool holds a BS from Kutztown University in Business Administration, and a Masters degree in Finance from Loyola University of MD. A native of Dominican Republic, she is the Past Board Chairman of the MD Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of Martin O’Malley’s gubernatorial transition steering committee focusing on MBE and Small Business. Cool currently serves on the boards of Open Society Institute-Baltimore, Life Lens and is a proud member of the Hispanic Leaders Association, Latino Providers Network, Latinas Think Big and SHIFT.
Living northwest of Baltimore, Maryland, she is married to Mr. Cool and is happily overwhelmed by her 15-year-old fashionista black-belt diva and 13-year-old athletic jokester.
How did you get connected to OSI-Baltimore?
I am involved in many things in the community that are enjoyable but time-consuming. So I’ve learned to be very judicious and to say, “No, thank you,” to some opportunities. That’s why, when I first was approached about OSI-Baltimore, my initial reaction was “No, thanks.” But based on feedback and research—I met with some amazing board members who are wildly successful “rock stars”—I wanted to learn more. And I thought, “There’s nobody representing a hugely growing segment of the population: Hispanics.” When I really got a broader understanding of all the things OSI-Baltimore does in the community, I thought, “Here’s an opportunity for us to improve and fix things.” It’s phenomenal to have all these brilliant social thinkers together strategizing and I get to participate, and add input and feedback. Very exciting!
What do you see as the biggest challenge to the city of Baltimore ?
The assimilation of a very large population of marginalized people. Baltimore is composed of many people of different backgrounds who are unconnected, disconnected. We need to find a way to engage them and fold them into our daily living and society, whether they are Hispanic or African American. There is huge value to strengthening our city, educating our youngsters and providing them tools to ensure they become productive members of our city.
How does this city compare to other places you’ve lived—and what lessons do you bring here from elsewhere?
Outside of the Dominican Republic, I have lived in New York City and Philadelphia, and the biggest difference is the small town feel of Baltimore. I love that we have all the perks of a large city, including culture, entertainment, diversity and variety, yet the sprawling and quaint feel of a village. One opportunity I see for Baltimore is the need to accept more diversity, whether that’s socioeconomic or racial. Baltimore stands to gain a lot by welcoming the talent and treasures of its population.
How do you think OSI-Baltimore will change with the growth of the Hispanic population in the city?
I think OSI responds to matters that are most visible, most pressing. As data becomes more readily available, it’ll start swaying the need for change. The numbers will change; the focus will change. Already, there’s a huge Salvadorian population here. You’re seeing more folks from Guatemala and Mexico. These first generation kids are growing up in Baltimore, some without resources or direction, and get discouraged by the lack of opportunities. And unfortunately, gangs are a very active part of city life, recruiting these youngsters. OSI has a huge opportunity to reduce the number of cases of youth crime by impacting change, whether through the Community Fellows or funding more agencies that provide services to Hispanics. We need to dedicate attention and resources to creating alternatives. I’m the poster child for what can happen when you get an education and an opportunity. I’m proud to be on the board and to be a conduit to the Hispanic population.
What skills and talents are you bringing to the board?
I’m so glad you asked that question! Banking and finance expertise, procurement and certification knowledge, and being a working Latina mother. I also bring a grass-roots perspective. Many people have held the door open for me and helped me when they did not have to; because of the opportunities that I’ve had, I feel the need to give back. I am driven by the idea of improvement. I’m a social thinker and a changer. I’m passionate about providing solutions and being effective to provide sustainable improvement.
What can your fellow board members expect from you?
Passion, enthusiasm, curiosity. I believe I bring a different perspective, a grass-roots perspective, seeing firsthand the power of education and community strength. I want to improve the world for my kids and my community, so I will ask questions and share the feedback, stories, and experiences of my life in hopes of driving change and improvement.