Journeys That Inspire
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Elisia Flores, CEO
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
This second-generation CEO is awed by the company’s impact on future owner-operators, many of whom are immigrants or come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are creating wealth and a legacy of their own. “It’s my dad’s story 100 times,” says Flores.
Ivan Flores, CEO & Founder
Long Beach, California
This self-taught, up-and-coming entrepreneur and creator of the “world-famous buffalo fries” is a mentor to future franchisees. “It’s a neat experience to watch them invest their time and resources and grow alongside you,” says Flores. He looks for leaders who share his values of hard work, customer service and quality, and tells them to “never stop dreaming.”
Austina Smith, Chef
Grand Living at Bridgewater
Since winning NRAEF’s Faces of Diversity award in 2020, Smith has felt empowered to have deeper conversations about race with residents at her senior living community, as well as at her sons’ school. “I can tell a story through food, which brings people together and builds trust,” she says.
Raveen Arora, Founder
This 2017 NRAEF Faces of Diversity honoree with “a business mind and a servant heart” was born in a refugee camp in India and grew up in poverty. Having achieved phenomenal success as a business consultant and small restaurant owner, Arora’s devoted to enriching the lives of the less fortunate.