Varsovia Fernandez was originally confirmed by the Senate on Dec. 10, 2013 to serve on the PA Human Relations Commission. She was re-confirmed for a full five-year term on Oct. 14, 2014.
She has been with the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, or GPHCC, since March 2006, and currently serves as president and CEO. During her tenure, she has implemented innovative strategies and programs, helping the chamber achieve record levels of membership, revenues and member-driven activities. Under her leadership, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 27th annual convention brought over 4,000 people to the Philadelphia region with an overall economic impact of $4.5 million in hospitality and tourism.
Fernandez launched GPHCC’s Professional Mentoring Network and Scholarship Fund, a workforce development and diversity initiative to help Hispanic professionals connect with executives and Hispanic youth in order to increase Latino participation in corporate management and improve graduation rates for Latino high school students.
She has made minority business education in the Greater Philadelphia area a priority, and has worked to increase minority business contracts and certifications among Hispanic businesses in the region. Through a partnership with an established micro-lender, she instituted a character-based micro-lending fund for small businesses, helping secure SBA and corporate funding to support it.
Fernandez has been a proponent of Latin American trade and has co-hosted three trade missions to Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Panama and Peru, in partnership with the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia. Most importantly, under her leadership, GPHCC has created a voice for Hispanic business in the region by developing a programmatic strategy that helps build on the small business, professional and corporate Hispanic markets. Under her leadership, the GPHCC received the 2011 U. S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Medium Chamber of the Year.
Prior to GPHCC, Fernandez worked with Congreso de Latinos Unidos, serving as vice president of external affairs from 2003 to 2006. While at Congreso, she succeeded in maximizing government and corporate relations as an advocate for the Latino community. She established strong relationships with legislators and government agencies, working alongside other national and state organizations to encourage the introduction of the Workforce Investment Act, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, domestic violence, and immigration legislation on the federal level, and domestic violence and utility protection legislation, and the minimum wage increase in Pennsylvania.
Fernandez co-founded the first bilingual job center in Pennsylvania and founded Latino Business on the Hill in support of Latino businesses across Pennsylvania.
She is a strategic thinker and has over fifteen years of senior management expertise across industries including not-for-profit, information technology, venture capital, commercial lending and eCommerce. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and possesses excellent networking and communication skills, and experience in human resources management, accounting, finance, sales, marketing and relationship management.
Fernandez is actively committed to philanthropic work in the community. She serves on various boards and commissions, including Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission, Philadelphia Youth Network Council for College and Career Success, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Privatization and Innovation, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity Advisory Board and the board of the Community College of Philadelphia Foundation. Most recently, she served as chair of the Community College of Philadelphia Board of Trustees, Philadelphia Zoning Code Commission and treasurer of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperative Authority.
She has received numerous awards in recognition of her work, including the Pennsylvania Hispanic Bar Association Outstanding Community Service, Liberty Bell from the City of Philadelphia, U.S.H.C.C. Executive of the Year, Pennsylvania Latino Mover & Shaker and Leadership Philadelphia Connector.
She is a graduate of Rosemont College and lives in Ardmore, Montgomery County.
Fernandez' term will expire Oct. 14, 2019.