Hispanic Heritage Month: Mayra Pineda's quest for equity

Longtime New Orleans leader fights for Hispanic business owners statewide


As part of Project Community - Hispanic Heritage Month, we are highlighting community leaders celebrating their heritage and history, including an New Orleans resident who has made Louisiana home over the decades, while fighting for equitable opportunities for Hispanic business owners.

"Trabajemos juntos para una mejor comunidad — Let's all work together for a better community," Mayra Pineda said.

As the president and CEO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana, Mayra Pineda has worked tirelessly to build a favorable business environment for Hispanic owners throughout the state.

"It's been wonderful to see the community grow, but as you know the Hispanic culture and Heritage is very deeply engrained in Louisiana. From the founding times, you know just recently we celebrated a tricentennial and you saw the King and Queen of Spain visit Louisiana for that reason," Pineda said.

mayra pineda guides the hispanic chamber of commerce of louisiana
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana
Mayra Pineda and Governor John Bel Edwards

Born and raised in Honduras, Pineda has spent the past 40 years in New Orleans, with a focus on bridging the gap.

"Definitely there's more to be done," Pineda said. "We want to see more of that in the corporate area and in local elected officials. Just representation across the board because the contributions are large."

And that search for equity continues here in 2021.

"Mayra, with your experiences over the past four decades, how could you describe some of the challenges along with the successes that we've seen in that regard?"

"Always very proud of my heritage, and I've seen it embraced," Pineda said. "And that's one of the successes. Everywhere you see how Hispanic entrepreneurship is thriving and growing, you see how the food has influenced many of our local chefs. You walk into many fine dining establishments and find you know cuisine that probably wasn't there 30 or 40 years ago. But the challenges are one that we are definitely focused in, and that's building an equitable community. I think COVID has taught us great lessons in that respect."

mayra pineda guides the hispanic chamber of commerce of louisiana
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana
Mayra Pineda

"And Mayra with your great career, so many special moments in terms of fighting for that progress and that equity. What are some of the instances that you really take pride in?"

"As Consul General of Honduras, my job was to represent Honduras here before the authorities, before businesses and try to promote the country here in Louisiana and also serve the Honduran nationals with their documentation needs and other issues," Pineda said. "We did festivals, worked very closely with authorities and businesses locally to create wonderful activities including bringing the president of Honduras several times."

"Another proud moment was owning Subway franchises for 25 years," Pineda said. "So that kinda prepared me for the role that I have now. I was the small-business owner myself. I know firsthand how hard small-business owners work and all the challenges that they face."

"Even though things have changed for the better, there is much more work to be done," Pineda said.

Pineda and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana will also host their annual gala and fundraiser Oct. 15 at the Hyatt Regency.

Watch the video above for the full story.