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Exploring Life & Business with Cristofer Pereyra of Tepeyac Leadership

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cristofer Pereyra.

Cristofer, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I am the CEO of Tepeyac Leadership, Inc. (TLI), a non-profit organization dedicated to civic leadership development for lay Catholic professionals. Through its signature program TLI, the organization provides a catalyst development experience that equips professionals to become virtuous leaders, influencing the culture and serving the common good.

I am a native of Peru, where I lived until the age of 15. I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Arizona State University and a Master of Business Administration from Grand Canyon University.

My professional career started in media, in the year 1999 when I worked for Univision Communications. For five years, I was a television news reporter for Univision’s Phoenix station, KTVW Channel 33. I then left media to go into business for myself. I successfully ran a real estate brokerage and insurance firm for 14 years.

In 2014, I was asked by Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix to head the Hispanic Mission Office. And in 2018, still at the Diocese of Phoenix, executing Bishop Olmsted’s vision, I developed a civic leadership development program called Tepeyac Leadership Initiative.

The unique approach of the program, the early fruit from its graduates, and a love for the Church, created in me a desire to share TLI with the rest of the country. Consequently, with Bishop Olmsted’s blessing, I left my post at the Diocese of Phoenix to focus solely on his work for the newly created Catholic nonprofit organization, Tepeyac Leadership, Inc.

I have traveled extensively through Latin America and I am a consultant to many organizations on how to best engage the Hispanic community, understanding its history, values, hopes, and challenges. For 6 years, I was a radio show-host for En Familia radio, a Spanish Catholic radio station focused on family values, faith, and community.

Through my work at Tepeyac Leadership, God has given me a mission to transform lives, building up the community and the Church by investing in tomorrow’s lay Catholic leaders.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Our hardest struggle so far, and simultaneously, the best opportunity we have encountered was the pandemic.

We started Tepeyac Leadership Initiative (TLI) in 2018. When Covid-19 really hit the world in the Spring of 2020, TLI was already in expansion mode. But we were initially an in-person experience. Like many other institutions, we suddenly faced the prospect of shutting down completely or going virtual.

The pandemic also caused us to lose a major source of funding. I felt I was put in this sink or swim situation. I am grateful to say that I swam. And although I can’t say all of our problems have (or ever will be) resolved, we are a stronger organization today, thanks to the transformation the world went through during the pandemic.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Tepeyac Leadership, Inc.?
We are a non-profit and faith-based organization, and we do only one thing: we form leaders. The type of leadership we prepare our program participants for is civic leadership.

We are unique within the Catholic world and live comfortably at the intersection of professional development and spiritual growth. Our goal is to form principled, ethical, and virtuous leaders for every area of secular life. We believe that the source of many of the problems we see today in our communities and around the world is the lack of true leadership.

Leadership accomplishes great things by bringing out the greatness in others. It is not selfish; it puts the dignity of the human person at the center of everything we do. Leadership is rolling up our sleeves to serve others.

We recently published a book, which is an organic development of the work we’ve been doing for the past six years. It’s called Catholic Leadership for Civil Society. It encapsulates well the message and the mission of our organization. We are still celebrating its recent publishing.

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
Risks are good.

They are also opportunities to be seized, but they must be calculated risks, never blind risks. I would say that every major threshold we’ve reached came because of taking risks. Many did not believe in what we were doing. Many did not understand it. We took a risk when launching an organization with a new offering.

We had to convince our audience that what we had to offer, our leadership program, was valuable. We had to explain to them why it would improve their lives. It took a long time for that message to sink in. Little by little now, people know about us. They understand our mission, its importance, and timeliness. This has increased support for what we do.

I know we’ll continue to take risks. It’s the only way to grow, but these will always be prayerfully discerned and calculated smart risks, never blind risks.

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