People rarely get the opportunity to mesh their love for their heritage with a passion for their career, but when the opportunity does arise the results are often very rewarding. Houston-based First Officer Michael Cerrato-Yeomans and four other airline pilots recently took it into their hands to do just that. They came together to provide a platform for Latino pilots to celebrate their culture while nurturing their careers – launching the Latino Pilot Association (LPA).
Hispanic and Latino pilots currently account for 5 percent of airline transportation pilots, more than any other minority group, but those types of numbers can still lead to a lack of unity in the workplace. LPA was organized in an effort to address the workplace issues that directly affect minority groups like Hispanics and to help enhance networks where they can further develop individual careers within the aviation industry.
“As a pilot of Latin descent I have personally seen the disparities within the airline industry when it comes to welcoming those of other cultures,” said Michael Cerrato-Yeomans, Houston pilot recruiter. “Discrimination within the workplace can definitely lead to lower morale and discourage people from actually becoming interested in pursuing a career in aviation.”
Not only is Michael the co-founder of LPA, but he is also a member of ExpressJet’s Houston Recruiting Team where he spends business hours supporting the company’s hiring efforts. However, Michael spends much of his free time working with the LPA team to ensure they are uniting and mentoring association members.
“I, along with my four LPA co-founders, wanted to be able to show other minorities that they are welcome in the airline industry and that they will be taken in to a close-knit group that understands their struggles,” he continued. “I am happy to know that I work for a company that values diversity and encourages others like me to proudly embrace who they are in the workplace.”
Michael’s passion for LPA is contagious and has definitely spread to other members of the Houston recruitment team, as many of them now actively support and forward the mission of the organization even though they are not official members.
Participation in the Latino Pilot Association provides members with several rewarding benefits, including:
Professional Development & Mentorship: Members have the opportunity to volunteer and mentor other LPA members. A program entitled REACH is currently being developed to help educate, guide and further mentor many of the LPA members who are high school and college students.
Education Resources: Members receive educational resources that help acclimate them to the aviation industry and provide steps for achieving fruitful careers.
Career Growth: LPA members are encouraged to network with other members in effort to forge long-term personal and professional relationships, which may lead to future career growth opportunities.
Cerrato-Yeomans and his colleagues followed their passion by starting LPA, and they encourage others to start or join their own organization that addresses their unique heritage or beliefs. “Determine why you want to start your association, what benefits you can provide to members and how you can help others through the organization you are trying to start,” said Michael.
“Believe in yourself, your cause, and your core values. When you truly believe in what your association stands for, others who believe will follow and everything will fall into place,” he explained. “With that being said, your hard work will be needed to start the association. Just like a for profit organization, you will need to have many teams – Legal, Marketing, IT, Recruitment, Outreach, among others – and finding those who can help you will be the key to your success.”
The Latino Pilots Association is open to anyone with an interest in aviation. The organization believes that everyone has the ability to give back and they welcome all pilots who want to be a part of forwarding that goal. For more information you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.latinopilot.org.