For Miguel Guadalupe ’94, leaving his comfortable job in finance and technology for the nonprofit sector was, in retrospect, the natural path.
Miguel, who lives in North Bergen, NJ, with his wife, Maria Sanata—a reporter for CNN in Español—and their two daughters, Gabriella (11) and Veronica (six), started his journey as a boy from the South Bronx. He came to Calhoun through Prep for Prep, and went on to graduate from Wesleyan University before embarking on a 20-year career in the corporate world. Now he is the director of donor relations at the Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC), a leading nonprofit that provides services to homeless and vulnerable New Yorkers.
Miguel describes himself as having had low self-confidence as an adolescent—but, he says, “Calhoun totally changed that. The community accepted me for the person that I was, and celebrated that difference—which allowed me to tap into what I was comfortable doing.”
Surrounded by a supportive community, Miguel discovered a passion for both theater and forensics. He performed in every single Upper School play, beginning freshman year and continuing to his senior thesis, when he mounted John Leguizamo’s Mambo Mouth. In forensics, he and classmate Gregg Licht ’94 teamed up for duo interpretation, winning the state competition and going to nationals. In addition, Miguel was elected student government president at Calhoun, and at Wesleyan, he was voted vice president of student government in his freshman year—the first time at the school that an underclassman had ever been elected to that position.
At Wesleyan, Miguel studied government and Latin American studies. Meanwhile, he continued to perform onstage, and began a Latino dance troupe with his soon-to-be wife. Life took hold after graduation. Miguel had internships on Wall Street every summer during college, which snowballed into an offer of a full-time job. He spent nine years on Wall Street, working in marketing, operations and sales, mostly at Merrill Lynch. Next, he worked for seven years at the technology market research company Gartner.
But corporate life was beginning to lose its appeal. Miguel started an LLC, thinking he might focus on consulting and freelance writing. He became a blogger and began a novel. Then Hurricane Maria hit, and Miguel’s energies went into overdrive, fundraising and organizing relief efforts for Puerto Rico. His work soon caught the eye of the folks at BRC, who wanted a passionate person to help with their fundraising.
“The community accepted me for the person that I was, and celebrated that difference—which allowed me to tap into what I was comfortable doing.”
In his current role, Miguel is thrilled to be working with a wide range of individuals and organizations to inspire them to make change, whether through volunteerism, fundraising or advocacy. It’s a transition that Calhoun prepared him well for. “I learned the skills of mobilizing and talking to people at Calhoun,” he reflects.
Miguel also helps coordinate the BRC Impact Scholars program, which partners with schools throughout the city for days of service learning. As part of this project, Miguel returned to his alma mater, meeting with students in the Upper School Hunger and Homelessness class to introduce them to BRC’s mission. Students were eager to make a difference—and for Miguel, this response came as no surprise. “There’s some grittiness to wanting to help the homeless and the unsheltered,” he says. “But Calhouners are prepared for that. They like to roll up their sleeves, no matter how uncomfortable [the situation].”
It’s hard to predict where Miguel will land next, but his path has shown that passion drives his every turn. Through the multiple transitions in his career, Miguel’s leadership stems from his voice and determination to make change around him.