Mission to Empower
By Lorenzo Almanza
The progress of technology and increase of Latino presence within the business sector is all due in part to Omar Duque, President of the Hispanic Information Technology Executive (HITEC). Duque has played a huge part in leading the communities of Chicago through entrepreneurship and innovation.
Before joining HITEC as president, Duque was the president and CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC). “At IHCC the focus was very much entrepreneurship,” Duque said. “Now at HITEC, we get to really focus on the employment side, and how we are helping to build the pipeline of the next generation of Latino Tech talent.”
While working at IHCC, Duque helped form the Latinx Tech Incubator. A partnership between IHCC and 1871, brought this tech incubator for Latinos to life. The Latinx Tech Incubator gives Latinos access to resources, tools, technical support, and networks. The collaboration between IHCC and 1871 supports the efforts to address diversity and inclusion challenges. Ever since its formation, the Latinx Tech Incubator has aided 50 Latino startups.
Education: Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
Loves: His family, Running, Cooking
Duque also is a founder of the Latinx Founders Collective organization, a group focused on innovating towards the future through Latino founders by 2020. The mission of Latinx Founders Collective is, “to essentially go to other major cities and identify high potentially major founders to begin to build a national community of national tech founders.”
“It became very clear to me there was alignment between HITEC’s mission and my personal mission, which is to empower my community,” Duque said. With just two months as president of HITEC, Duque, a Chicago native, has a precise strategy, a passionate drive, and the indispensable expertise needed in order to lead HITEC.
“I went to Northwestern University and studied journalism because that’s what I thought I wanted to do,” Duque said. For a couple of years, the former journalist worked at the Albuquerque Tribune, one of the last afternoon daily newspaper in the country. His journey in the journalism world shifted as he soon found a new calling.
“I ended up coming up back to Chicago and got involved in local Latino organizations from very early on,” Duque said.
After deciding to return home, Duque began getting involved through networking and non-profit organizations. He began “working also with some local elected officials, doing some writing, some local communications work, speech writing and did a little work in government.”
For Duque, there would be no place like home as he knew his calling was within the community he grew up in. “For me, it just made a lot of sense to get involved in non-profit organizations and really dedicate my life’s work to this community,” Duque said.
“I have always been passionate about working to empower the Latino community,” Duque said.