Samuel Ulloa and the Rising Farmworker Dream Fund

Photo courtesy of zirconicusso /

Photo courtesy of zirconicusso /

by Teresa Caseras

Some people are born natural leaders and others are born into a life that drives and inspires them to be leaders. Samuel Ulloa’s life experience is a beautiful story to tell and an inspiring one to read. I invite you to be inspired by some of the light he’s shed on his very own life experiences and how they’ve molded him to be the admirable leader he is today.

1.How has your childhood experience impacted you in what you are doing today?

Despite the life threating risks, at the age of seven crossed the border in search of better opportunities.  I grew up in the Sacramento valley working long hours in the agriculture fields alongside my father at a young age.   I am thankful for the experience because it enabled me to develop a strong work ethic, perseverance to succeed and it also opened my eyes to the incredible “un-tapped” talent that exists in this community.  I was inspired to empower this community and thus Co-Founded the Rising Farmworker Dream Fund and dedicated my life to building socially responsible organizations that focus on helping the underserved communities.

2.What are the most challenging aspects of heading a consulting company in Silicon Valley?

I love Silicon Valley. I believe that Silicon Valley is the best place on earth to start a company. That said, despite this, the most challenging aspect of heading/building a startup in Silicon Valley is still raising capital.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

3.What are your greatest professional accomplishments?

I have been very fortunate and feel blessed to have had several great opportunities along the way. Some of the accomplishments I feel most proud of are the following: (1) Co-Founder & COO of the The Rising Farmworker Dream Fund (RFDF), a venture philanthropy firm that aims to transform the lives of farm workers using the power and resources of business. –Motivated students to get into top MBA programs and facilitated well over 600 investments in students, the vast majority of which were Latina Students (2) World Wide Supply Demand Product Manager for Apple Corp. Played a key leadership role in bringing the MacBook pro to market and running the supply demand operations worldwide. (3) Progreso Financiero – Played a key leadership role in building the company from a one store operation to a multi-state 70+ retail store operation, which currently provides jobs to 500+ and has helped hundreds of thousands of customers get access to affordable responsible credit.

4.What inspired you to start a non– profit – Rising Farmworker Dream Fund?

My life experiences and core values. I have been very fortunate in my career and feel a deep commitment to give back to the community…

5.Do you have a success story to share with our readers of a Latina farmworker that your program helped?

There are many success stories of students, which RFDF has supported namely.

  • Maria Carrillo-Rodriguez, which comes from Dinuba, CA and is currently a sophomore at California State University, Fresno. She has gained recognition for her leadership in Fresno State’s College Assistance Migrant Program, her academic achievement of having a 4.0GPA during her freshman year and her work with Migrant Student Alliance at Fresno State. Maria plans to become a nurse and help her community by taking care of the health and well-being of others.
  • Janel Orzco: Growing up, Janel Orozco’s father worked tirelessly in the Salinas, CA lettuce fields. Her family supported her educational goals to help her graduate from the University of Southern California with a B.S. in Business Administration. Since her time at USC, Janel has been involved in countless clubs and organizations committed to healthcare and helping others. Working at a management-consulting firm that focused on healthcare and hospitals, Janel developed her dream of improving healthcare through business. Currently, she is a first-year MBA student at the University of California, Berkeley. From her work as a community board member for underserved families in East LA to her volunteer work, Janel is a true testament to finding a passion and pursuing it with all she has.

6. Who is your inspiration? Or who is your role model?

My parents, especially my mother who in addition to being a full time mother, was a working mother who on a typical day would work 12 hour days and come home to take care of family of 7 kids. For Inspiration, I regularly reflect back to the bold courageous decision my parents made when they collectively made the decision to leave all of their personal belongings, friends, extended family and comfort zone to venture into the United States in search of better opportunities for their children even if it meant putting themselves and their children in harm’s way. I am thankful that thy possessed the courage to make such a bold decision that positioned to embrace life changing opportunities. I realize that I have an obligation to do something incredibly audacious to give back and make the world a better place.

7. Do you have any lessons your mom taught you that you found made a difference in your career or community?

My mother instilled an optimist mentality in me and taught me that despite the hardships one encounters in life one should always find the positive side of things especially when it comes to people and acknowledge the fact that people are inherently good and want to achieve great things in life. Her teachings have helped me become a more effective leader who lives every day with a deep sense of purpose and has a bias for serving others.

8. Any advice you’d like to give to Latino’s who are interested in starting their own company or non-profit?

Dream big, have the courage to follow your passion and be persistent with your execution… Above all inspire a sense of purpose in others to collectively achieve audacious goals.

9. You’ve been described as tenacious and inspirational – what motivates you most?

Deep sense of commitment to make the most of the opportunities I was blessed with, give back to the Latino community in particular and make this world a better place in general. This motivation stems back to my life experiences as a kid who risked everything to come to this great country of opportunity.

10. Being very busy, what do you find most enjoyable to your spare time?

Spending quality time with my wife, Oriana and my three little ones (Emma Isabel, Alina Marie & Julian).

11. What do you think are the greatest issues facing the Latino community?

Lack of mentorship… I believe that one can achieve whatever she/he sets their heart and mind to. That said, I am also a firm believer that one often aspires to be only that which one is exposed to and thus the crucial importance of effective mentoring. Unfortunately many Latinos grow up in environments where they are not exposed to role models/mentors that can broaden our views/perspectives of all the beautiful things one can accomplish in a lifetime.

Lack of access to affordable financial services. ~24MM Latinos are under banked and lack access to mainstream financial services. As an example many Latinos lack access to affordable credit, which is essential to building assets such as such as purchasing a car, home or starting a business and ultimately building wealth here in the United States.

12. Have you mentored a Latina? If so, please tell us what tips you’ve provided. If not, would you be interested in doing such?

I encourage them to dream big and not allow stereotypes to limit their success. As an example, through my years of mentoring I have encountered several cases where parents were afraid to let their daughters move far away from home to attend a great university. I have encouraged them to have an open honest dialogue with their parents and in some cases; I have personally spoke with their parents as well. I encourage them to shadow (spend a day at work) with as many successful Latinos(as) in a variety of professions to get inspired, discover their passion and create a plan to achieve their career goals. ♦

Teresa Caseras had a passion for Journalism since she was a young woman, which guided her to the most appropriate fit in earning her B.S. degree in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing from San Jose State University. As her career progressed, Teresa found a quick enthusiasm for the field of Marketing. Over the last 13 years, she’s provided her expertise in Marketing and Public Relations to various industries from Healthcare to the Banking industry. As a daughter of a foster child Teresa found a special interest to help those who were not as fortunate as she had in guiding her to continue with her education and career goals. On her off time Teresa volunteers as a mentor to college students to encourage and motivate them in pursing their own goals. She is currently seeking opportunities to serve on a non-profit board that fits her passion to be a mentor to less fortunate children.