Executive Search Firm Placement: Leonardo Lobato, Executive Director for La Luz

Katelyn Willoughby

Katelyn is fired up about communication, marketing, business development, and working with diverse leaders in the North Bay to help them carry out their missions.

We are pleased to announce the placement of Leonardo Lobato as the new Executive Director of La Luz. He began in August and looks forward to addressing the needs of the people that La Luz serves. 

Leonardo Lobato is a bilingual and bicultural executive director and general manager with demonstrated ability in establishing a shared vision for organizations, leading the development and execution of strategic plans, overseeing operations, and building long-term, meaningful relationships. He is driven by his long-held deep motivation to have a significant, positive impact in the Latinx community.

To contribute to the fulfillment of his motivation of community care, Leonardo conceptualized, developed, launched, and currently leads the International Center for Reciprocal Training (ICRT), an organization that supports Latinx higher education students in their transition from study to work through international training. He leveraged his 20+ years of experience in IAESTE Mexico, an organization that exchanges students for technical experience in 80+ countries worldwide.

Leonardo also used the knowledge and skills he acquired while earning a Master’s degree in Education at Stanford University. ICRT’s program has been thoroughly reviewed and the organization granted the designation of J-1 Visa Sponsor by the US Department of State.   Leonardo’s management philosophy centers all actions and programs on addressing the needs of the people that organizations serve. He has applied this principle in mission-driven organizations, new ventures, and Fortune 500 companies.

As an illustrative example, at ICRT, Leonardo formulated the overall business plan, communications strategy, and organization structure centered on the needs of Latinx students. He has also worked closely with IAESTE’s top management to develop and refine programs to attain the organization’s social impact objectives. For Leonardo, developing a shared vision and a subsequent strategic plan is key to increasing the impact of organizations’ programs, services, and products.

For example, as International Business Director for Latin America at Johnson & Johnson, Leonardo led in developing a vision and creating a comprehensive strategy for the region, maintaining responsiveness to changing customer needs. He worked closely with staff, colleagues, and leaders across Latin America for this purpose and provided assessment and analytics on the performance against objectives, incorporating learnings into future recommendations and plans.

Leonardo is experienced in administering and growing organizations. As an example, as VP/General Manager of Mexico and the Caribbean at Coors Brewing Company he was responsible for the operations and financial management of the region, partnering with internal and external stakeholders to formulate and execute strategic and operating plans that ensured the region’s sustainability and growth. He built and led multicultural, multidisciplinary teams to increase the impact of existing initiatives, ensure the success of new initiatives, and enhance and expand relationships in the region.

Leonardo’s experience also includes co-founding Green Ox Pallet Technology, a new ecological venture that designs, manufactures, and distributes corrugated pallets for the sustainable transportation of products worldwide. Leonardo also worked at Western Union as VP of US Domestic Money Transfer, where he led the commercial efforts of the Hispanic, African American, and general market segments. Leonardo immigrated to the US from Mexico, where he was born and raised. In his free time, he enjoys trail jogging, mountain biking, hiking in Redwood forests, meditation, and reading historical novels.

Leonardo considers La Luz an invaluable resource to the families and individuals of the Sonoma Valley Latinx community. Two values of La Luz especially resonate with him. In his own words: “It is my perception that La Luz seeks to fulfill its mission of strengthening the community by placing its families and their needs at the center of the services it provides and taking a holistic approach in responding to those needs. This approach resonates not only with my cultural heritage that places great importance on the family but also with my experience in education. I believe that for children and young adults of low-income families to attain an education that leads to good jobs and access to the middle class, their families require support in all aspects of their daily life, including health, housing, family finances, job training, and community connection.

The second value is the importance placed by La Luz in bolstering the Latinx community’s cultural heritage as a crucial bond between families and individuals and as a source of pride, empathy, union, and passion for the community and its members. From my experience in education and business, I believe that a strong bond with our community, embracing our Latinx cultural heritage, and our bilingual competencies are invaluable assets for Latinxs in all endeavors, including work. Multicultural and multilingual workers, technicians, professionals, and leaders thrive in an interconnected world, and they are increasingly valued and sought after by companies and organizations.” 

Please join us in welcoming Leonardo Lobato!


Many thanks to Susan and her team for working with us constructively at all times, even through hiccups like switching up our search committee head on her midstream. The background work and advice Susan offered was instrumental to a successful outcome.

– CEO Search for Greater Farallones Association, Jeff Loomans – Board President

We had a great experience working with Susan and CVNL. She took the time to get to know our agency, and the specific program we were hiring for. We knew we had a challenging position to hire for, and I felt reassured that she would stick with us through the full process, and the way she handled the details and logistics was a huge relief. The communication with the CVNL team was easy and consistent. I trusted Susan’s expertise about candidates and the search process, and we ultimately found someone we are very happy with. We would absolutely use CVNL again, and would recommend them for any agency who is searching.

– School Principal Search for Edgewood Center for Children and Families (NPS), Justine Underhill – Chief Program Officer