Carmen Hanson Rivera

Carmen Hanson Rivera

Since graduating in 1970 from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) with a degree in Spanish, Carmen Hansen Rivera has proven herself to be a progressive leader with a mission-critical approach in assisting diverse populations to achieve personal, educational and professional success. In short, Rivera set out from SMWC to change the world and never looked back.

Rivera worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Chicago, Ill. During her six years with the agency, she served as a public health advisor with the U.S. Public Health Service, training and dissemination specialist for the U.S. Office of Education, program manager for the Appalachian Regional Commission and as program coordinator for Title XX. In this role, she administered a $60 million social policy and welfare budget for Wisconsin. She served on the National Assessment Team as the regional chairperson, assessing the impact of social services to the Hispanic population in the U.S.

In 1982, she founded Carmen Inc., a marketing group targeted to Hispanic clients. In this role, she worked with organizations to develop marketing strategies and collateral materials to launch new products, technologies and private/ civic initiatives. For the past 35 years, she used her strengths to help businesses reach the Hispanic community. Her skills were sought out by St. Vincent Hospital to research and implement a strategic plan to create a model that would enable the formation of a multi-cultural department within the hospital system. This model was successfully launched in 2000. She was selected by the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership as a consultant to investigate federal immigration and welfare reform laws and define immigrants’ loan eligibility. She has created bilingual public relations campaigns for the Indiana Humanities Council and worked hand-in-hand with the Indiana Small Business Development Corporation to provide marketing assistance to minority-owned businesses throughout Indiana. She and her husband also own Geoffrey Bjork Inc., a graphic design firm. 

One of the highlights of her career was serving as producer and host of HOLA USA, a nationally syndicated, bilingual television program addressing cultural affairs. The program ran for seven years and featured guests included then Governor George W. Bush, Oscar De La Renta and Los Lobos. 

Along with letters of commendation from President Jimmy Carter and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Rivera has been recognized for her outstanding accomplishments time and again, including: 

  • The 1993 Outstanding Minority Business Person of the Year, Coalition for Minority Business Development 
  • The 1994 Business Woman of the Year, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 
  • The 1997 Hispanic American Service Award 
  • Indianapolis Influential Woman 
  • The Star of Indy, Catholic Social Services and 
  • 2000 Community Service Achievement Award, Archdioceses of Indianapolis. 

She has a servant’s heart which is evident in all of her volunteer work. She was nominated by Senator Richard Lugar to serve on the U.S. Senate Task Force on Hispanic Affairs. She’s been a board member for the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation, The Urban League, United Way of Central Indiana, Marion County Mental Health Association, the Indianapolis Economic Development Corporation and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Additional leadership roles include president of the Indianapolis Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and board chair for the Indianapolis Department of Waterworks.