TRACY HERNANDEZ: Exemplifying Collaborative Leadership
As they say it’s never too late, similarly it’s never too early to start as well. Tracy Hernandez aptly exempliﬁes this statement. Tracy is the Founding Chief Executive Oﬃcer of the Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed). But, this is not how it all started.
Left No Stones Unturned
A native of Twin Falls, Idaho, Tracy began her career while still in high school at the Times- News. She had drawn her inspiration from her parents. Her dad was an entrepreneur and a college instructor, and her mom was a nurse and a civic- and community-active woman. They both were leaders and believed in giving back to the community. Tracy’s dad always taught her that she should be trained into diverse career paths, so that in case the economy fell out of one side or the other, she could pivot quickly with training to another way of earning a living. This made Tracy, at a young age in high school, take classes and pursue career in advertising and journalism and architecture.
While being on the high school newspaper, she secured a job at her local daily newspaper, the Times-News. She started at the very bottom in the job that was available in the advertising department and was involved in photography and designing ad layout. This became a life-changing career path for Tracy as she realized that she loved the newspaper business. She loved the immediacy of every single night going to press with a brand new product that was created from scratch. Thereon, she proceeded to take on every possible job she could do in the newspaper business. She applied for job openings that came up, whether she was qualiﬁed or not to expand her knowledge and expertise that she could learn quickly while she ﬁnished her high school. She went to college in the same town, College of Southern Idaho to study architecture. At the same time, she was getting promoted at the newspaper, doing several diﬀerent jobs that gave her creative, technical, sales and people leadership skills. When she came to that crossroad to pivot– to transfer to university to ﬁnish a degree in architecture, she got oﬀered a management job at the newspaper. In this crossroad of choosing one path, she chose the newspaper path.
Achieving Glorious Milestones
Being a very young woman in the newspaper business was unique and dynamic for Tracy. She kept on applying skills to learn, to train, to observe, to implement, to be relentless, to pursue excellence and achieve goals no matter what it took. She even became a manager and ad director at a very young age for a group of business newspapers that published in Salt Lake, Phoenix, and San Francisco. At the age of 23, she was running a newspaper company at St. Louis. At the ripe old age of 26, she became the ﬁrst CEO of 5 diﬀerent newspapers and earned a president’s role in suburban Philadelphia. Later on, she along with her team took one private, closed corporation to a public entity.
In 2003, Tracy served as the ﬁrst female publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News in the paper’s nearly 100-year history. As a 20-year veteran of the newspaper business, she has held chief executive positions in a variety of major markets across the country, including over a decade with the Journal Register Company of Trenton, New Jersey, where she served as Publisher and CEO of four award-winning newspapers in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. She also formerly owned and operated a group of newspapers and websites in Walla Walla, Washington.
An Industry Veteran
Currently, she founded and is running a Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed LA) and the ﬁrst franchise style expansion unit, the Central Valley Business Federation (BizFed CV). It is a nonproﬁt, massive grassroots alliance of 200 top business networks that counts among its more than 450,000 employers from a diverse demographic, industry sector, and geographic array of small and large companies with over 4 million employees in Southern California.
The bold action, timely intelligence sharing, and massive power in numbers is changing the way business owners get civically active. Getting those who naturally compete with one another for market share, brand, customers and income does not come easily. It’s through diligent grassroots empowerment through the organizing of existing chambers of commerce, trade groups, ethnic business associations, and business improvement districts that creates a force multiplier eﬀect. In turn the voice of business tis strengthened to intersect with government at every level to advance a shared agenda critical for economic vitality.
BizFed works to advocate for positive public policy, legislation, manageable regulations, taxes and fees, and foster business owner civic and community engagement so our economy thrives for all. To round out it’s opportunity for impact she also founded a charitable arm, BizFed Institute and political action arm, BizFed PAC. All aspects of knowledge gathering from disparate partners with a loud voice to break through the clutter, combined with supporting candidates with jobs creation as their focus, the policy and law making world is transformed.
In addition, Tracy is also serving as the President of IMPOWER Group, Inc., a business advisory company specializing in startups or strategic transition utilizing unlikely partnerships to achieve greater impact. Along with being an entrepreneur, she also wears the hats of a mother and a wife.
Giving back to the Community
Tracy is consistently striving to make a diﬀerence in her family, her community, and the economy. To bring a change, she deals with the job creators and the government elected oﬃcials that have tremendous amount of impact on how our economy works. Her alliance is working on providing more jobs, so that people can excel, and support their own families, and their communities can thrive. It works a lot in antipoverty and equity engagement so that it can lift all those that are homeless and poor. In a nutshell, she will always look to make a diﬀerence on a big scale.
According to Tracy, every businesswoman should have determination, creativity, a quick learning approach, ability to articulate their vision clearly, and should inspire those around to achieve the plan. Secondly, every businesswoman needs to be competitive and understand the conditions around them and then have skills to create ideas, to lead people, and to achieve goals.
On overcoming roadblocks, she advises that “Whatever the roadblocks are, whatever the negative voices are, just don’t give them too much credence. Don’t worry about it. Just go on. Keep doing what you know is the right thing to get done.”