Today, Manuel “Manny” A. Rosales is the CEO of a global IT firm and has had a long career helping small businesses expand into foreign markets. He has served in several leadership positions, including as vice president of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, commissioner to California’s Small Business Development Board, and assistant administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of International Trade. A lifelong Republican, he was recruited to work as deputy director of coalitions for the RNC to expand the party’s presence across the country in many ethnic and professional communities.
Rosales has always shown great potential, but he has also had to navigate his dual identity as a native Nicaraguan who grew up in America. When Rosales was in fourth grade, his teacher was so impressed by his outgoing personality and leadership skills that she declared, “Manny, you’re going to be the next president of Nicaragua!” Since Rosales had been in the United States for many years, he was puzzled by the compliment. “Why wouldn’t I be the president of the United States?” he wondered.
I was born in Nicaragua, but I was made in America.
Even though he has worked for several organizations that promote Hispanic businesses, Rosales has always considered himself an American first. “I was born in Nicaragua, but I was made in America,” he says.
At 72, Rosales is one of the country’s “One Hundred Most Influential Hispanics” according to Hispanic Business Magazine. But in advocating for his own ethnic community, he sees a wider reach. “I believed it was a way to help all small businesses and make life better for everyone,” he says. For this reason, he wants to see immigration reform that welcomes the contributions of motivated foreign workers, making it easier for legal newcomers to get a foothold in American economic and civic life. He also supports better border security. “We’re all immigrants. I thank my mom and dad for bringing me to America, where we were able to accomplish so much,” says Rosales. “This is the land of pure opportunity, no matter who you are and where you come from.”