- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2005

Ismael Ortiz, AARP’s director of Hispanic membership, wants to raise awareness and expand the national organization, which offers services and support to Americans 50 and older.

Mr. Ortiz, 49, has held the position since January, and has found it a challenge to reach out to the rapidly growing Hispanic community.

“These are heavy times for the AARP,” Mr. Ortiz said. “One of my biggest visions is I want to be able to increase outreach to the Hispanic community and make sure that their AARP experience is one of value.”

AARP has 671,000 Hispanic households, or 1.2 million people, in its membership. Mr. Ortiz wants to increase that number to 1.5 million.

“We want to build parity with what the outside looks like,” he said.

AARP already conducts several outreach activities in the Hispanic community, including bilingual publications. One magazine, the bimonthly AARP Segunda Juventud, is published in Spanish and English.

Mr. Ortiz’s career before joining AARP was focused on establishing relationships with Hispanic business and community leaders.

Most recently, he was principal of Ortiz & Associates, a marketing company that helped businesses reach out to specific populations, including Hispanics and blacks. The company worked with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and National Hispanic Corporate Council on several projects. Mr. Ortiz said the experience prepared him well for dealing with top-level executives.

Before starting Ortiz & Associates, Mr. Ortiz was senior vice president and director of government relations for MBNA America Bank. In those roles, he developed and implemented marketing, advertising and government relations programs.

Mr. Ortiz served in the Marine Corps for 28 years. He served as director of marketing and advertising for its recruiting command, devising ways to boost the number of minority officers.

Mr. Ortiz’s experience will help him tackle the diversity issues that AARP is facing, said Thomas Nelson, chief operating officer.

“He’s got a demonstrated ability to really understand what is on the minds of folks both at the community level and at the national level,” Mr. Nelson said.

Mr. Ortiz and his wife, Patricia, live in Oxford, Pa, with their family. They have nine children, including four who were adopted when Mr. Ortiz was a teacher at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Andrew Johnson

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