Celebrating National Hispanic American Heritage Month: A Q&A with Seven Transportation Leaders

A spotlight on Latinx experiences in the railroad industry

NHAHM MAIN

Seven railroad leaders share how they are making a mark on the industry and their perspectives on the importance of National Hispanic American Heritage Month

National Hispanic American Heritage Month begins on September 15 each year. That date bears significance, as it marks the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The 30-day period that follows includes two other independence days: Mexico on September 16 and Chile on September 18. It is also inclusive of Día de la Raza (“Day of the Race”), which recognizes and honors the people, traditions, and cultures that were destroyed as a result of European colonization and serves a counterpoint to Columbus Day.

What began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week expanded in 1988 to become National Hispanic American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Spain. In honor of this important month, seven Latinx leaders share how they are making a mark on the industry and their perspectives on the importance of National Hispanic American Heritage Month.

Mario Tiscareno, Senior Consultant, Shipment Quality

NHAHM Mario Tiscareno

Mario Tiscareno, Senior Consultant, Shipment Quality

Mario is part of Union Pacific’s Shipment Quality team, serving as the subject matter expert in loading and securement of all commodities and car types for customers in New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. His top priority is helping ensure customers receive quality and safe transportation of their products.

Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of in your railroad career?

A: “Having served in the U.S. Marine Corps, I have a love for our country that is beyond measure, and now I am honored to continue my service here at Union Pacific as we Build America. I am proud to be a part of our Shipment Quality Team that demands quality in how we Build America.

“One of my major accomplishments utilized my strict attention to detail when looking at the securement of finished autos interchanging to Union Pacific. Under my field lead, our team took swift action to increase our Interchange Inspectors’ documentation of securement at interchange. In doing so we have seen a shift that has proven successful in raising industry wide awareness of securement safety risks on our trains throughout our system and could lead to damaged customer product, thus our work is focused on providing the top industry customer experience.”

Q: Which Latinx leaders in the transportation and logistics industry do you admire?

A: “The Hispanic culture has a strong presence in the Latin American transportation industry, yet our presence in American transportation does not immediately stand out. At Union Pacific, we do. I have the honor of working for and with leaders like Daniel Torres, Susana Lizcano Gonzalez, Daniela Zarza, and Marco Villarreal, just to name a few who have taken their place as great leaders in our industry. In each of them I have seen selfless leadership, hard work and endurance.”


Q: Why is National Hispanic American Heritage Month important to you?

A: “Hispanic American Heritage month is important to me because it is a chance to honor and reflect upon examples of successful Hispanics. It is also a time to remember the struggles and learn from them so that we may not repeat them.”

Q: Is there anything you’d like to share about your own heritage or being a part of the Latinx community or Union Pacific’s Latin Employee Network?

A: “I grew up in a time when friends and family were all different, but the same. It was the differences that brought us together and closer. As a result, I take pride in being different from the rest. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at Union Pacific foster an environment where we can come together with all our differences. We can share this message with those who may not fully understand that it is our uniqueness that should bring us together, just like pieces of a puzzle that are all different but together make works of art.”

Susana Lizcano Gonzalez, Director, Corporate Audit

NHAHM Susana LG

Susana Lizcano Gonzalez, Director, Corporate Audit

Susana leads the Corporate Audit Special Investigations team. In this role she performs investigations, conflict of interest reviews, and third-party audits, while supporting and endorsing quality assurance for Union Pacific, its Board of Directors and audit committee.

Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of in your railroad career?

A: “I have made a mark in the transportation industry by being able to transfer skills and knowledge between the Operating, Marketing and Finance departments at Union Pacific. One of the accomplishments I am proudest of was becoming the first woman and Latinx leading the Association of American Railroads Damage Prevention Committee, which is composed of representatives of all Class I Railroads. In this role, I was able to lead the revision of loading rules and provide a new perspective on how to increase standard and programmatic work to improve our response time for customers. I am also proud of receiving the first Great Minds in STEM Pioneer Award for the railroad industry, joining recipients from Fortune 100 companies like General Motors and Microsoft, government officials and even NASA!”

Q: Which Latinx leaders in the transportation and logistics industry do you admire?

A: “I admire all our Latinx workforce and appreciate the leaders of Union Pacific’s Latino Employee Network (LEN) in Omaha and the field. I admire their strong desire to connect, their loyalty to their teams and company, their unmatched creativity, as well as their relentless efforts to be or find their authentic selves.”

Q: Why is National Hispanic American Heritage Month important to you?

A: “Hispanic Heritage month is important to me because we get the opportunity to share who we are and have a window to not only celebrate our roots but also who we have become as we or our previous generations blended in the U.S. It is also an opportunity to revisit where we are headed individually and as a community.”

Q: Is there anything you’d like to share about your own heritage or being a part of the Latinx community or Union Pacific’s Latin Employee Network?

A: “I am a proud Colombian, first generation in the U.S. Being Latinx is a treasure I try to share in any interaction I have, from our strong desire to connect to exemplifying our hard-working spirit. I invite everyone to join LEN or other Latinx groups and enjoy the opportunity to grow through a sense of Familia, community, and belonging. It has been a pleasure to be LEN’s President since mid-2021.”

Enrique Garcia, Senior Manager, Operations

NHAHM Enrique Garcia

Enrique Garcia, Senior Manager, Operations 

Enrique is the Senior Manager of Operations for the Carrier Services team at Loup, Union Pacific’s logistics subsidiary. Enrique leads a team of individuals focused on providing logistics support to the railroad intermodal operations in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Marion and others. Providing quality service to customers like UPS and FedEx who leverage intermodal shipping is a part of Enrique’s daily responsibilities.

Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of in your railroad career?

A: “I always fill with pride when I see a Union Pacific employee I hired or helped grow as a professional having a successful career. Positively impacting a colleague’s life by mentoring, guiding and supporting them is what means success to me.”

Q: Which Latinx leaders in the transportation and logistics industry do you admire?

A: “I don’t have a Latinx leader I admire per se, but I have been fortunate enough to work at locations with a high Hispanic population and I have been able to see how caring the Hispanic community is, from daily interactions, caring about their safety or sharing snacks in a locomotive. It is impressive how Hispanics carry the feeling of family far beyond their homes.”

Q: Why is National Hispanic American Heritage Month important to you?

A: “Hispanic Heritage Month is our opportunity to showcase who we are, our roots and our culture. We always speak proudly of who we are and where we came from, but Hispanic Heritage Month helps us to say it loudly. Hispanic Heritage celebrations also have helped me learn about other Hispanic cultures; there are so many countries with so many idiosyncrasies so it is great to see how they all come together during these celebrations.”

Q: Is there anything you’d like to share about your own heritage or being a part of the Latinx community or Union Pacific’s Latin Employee Network?

A: “LEN is not only an avenue to connect with others, but it is also the perfect place to learn more about the Hispanic culture. I encourage my coworkers to participate in LEN regardless their ethnicity. LEN reconnected me with my culture. I really enjoy being part of LEN.”

Paulina Martinez Del Rio, Administrative Assistant, Mexico Team

NHAHM Paulina Martinez Del Rio

Paulina Martinez Del Rio, Administrative Assistant, Mexico Team

As the Administrative Assistant for Union Pacific’s Mexico-based Marketing and Sales Team, Paulina serves as a liaison between all players in the group and helps the team as a problem solver and motivator.

Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of in your railroad career?

A: “I have helped the team continue to strengthen our business in Mexico and, proudly, this has resulted in maintaining UP de Mexico as a leader in the industry as well as the revitalization and growth of Mexico and its communities.”

Q: Which Latinx leaders in the transportation and logistics industry do you admire?

A: “I admire the entire Mexican team I work with. This group of both Latinx and U.S. folks has learned to stick, grow and work together for the binational communities.”

Q: Why is National Hispanic American Heritage Month important to you?

A: “National American Heritage Month reminds us of where we come from and how far we’ve all come. It gives us a sense of belonging.”

Q: Is there anything you’d like to share about your own heritage or being a part of the Latinx community or Union Pacific’s Latin Employee Network?

A: “I was born in Mexico, and I come from the union of different heritages, but I am proud to say that it has been Mexico and its people that have helped me become the woman and professional I am today.”

Scott Castillo, Locomotive Engineer

NHAHM Scott Castillo

Scott Castillo, Locomotive Engineer

For almost 25 years, Scott has served as a locomotive engineer for Union Pacific. He is also the current President of the Latino Employee Network (LEN) for Union Pacific’s Great Plains Service Unit.

Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of in your railroad career?

A: “In my nearly 28-year railroad career, along with my time as an engineer, I have had the opportunity to hold positions in Human Resources, Terminal Management and Operating Practices, to name a few. This allowed me to meet influential people in the transportation industry as well as leave my own mark.

“One of my more crowning accomplishments was the ability to be part of a pilot safety that was started on the North Platte Service Unit back in 2006. The program was called C3RS or Confidential Close Call Reporting System. It was a congressionally funded safety program that allowed Union Pacific employees of the North Platte Service Unit to report safety and rule violations in confidence without the fear of punishment, as long as the data was truthful and complete.

“A group of both labor and service unit management reviewed the reported safety infractions to get to the root cause of unsafe events. Ultimately, the team implemented changes that benefited the greater good of Union Pacific employees and the industry as a whole. Even though the pilot program ran its course, a number of safety related practices were changed that live on to this day.”

Q: Which Latinx leaders in the transportation and logistics industry do you admire?

A: “When it comes to Latino leaders in both the railroad and transportation industry, I have been fortunate to meet and work with people who have left a lasting impression on me and taught me what it is to lead in such a dynamic and technological changing industry.

“In the railroad industry, one of the very first people I met as a new employee back in 1995 stands out the most. His name is Dave Martinez, and I was assigned to him at the time when he was working in North Platte as a Terminal Manager. Dave was somebody I was comfortable reaching out to with even the silliest of questions as I was starting my railroad career. He is still currently working for UP and now spends his time in Crew Management. Our paths have crossed a few times since he left North Platte, but he is still a friend to this day.

“As for the transportation industry, I had the opportunity to listen to and eventually meet former Transportation Secretary Federico Peña while attending a LEN conference in Denver. During his time as Secretary of Transportation, he built relationships in the transportation industry worldwide. He was instrumental in starting discussions about innovative technologies, which is exactly what is needed in the ever-changing technological railroad industry.”

Q: Why is National Hispanic American Heritage Month important to you?

A: “This question is an easy one to answer. It is a month in which we can celebrate and recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans in both diversity and achievement in the United States.”

Q: Is there anything you’d like to share about your own heritage or being a part of the Latinx community or Union Pacific’s Latin Employee Network?

A: “As a third generation Hispanic/Mexican American, I was raised and taught that we are no longer just expected to work the least skilled labor jobs. We can now be found in the executive board room, working management positions, and graduating from the top law schools. With employee resource groups like LEN, there will always be a sounding board for people who want to prosper.”

Lupe Koch, Occupational Health Nurse

NHAHM Lupe Koch

Lupe Koch, Occupational Health Nurse

As a Registered Nurse and Certified Occupational Health Nurse, Lupe serves as an advocate and resource for employees and provides guidance them guidance on a broad variety health and safety issues.

Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of in your railroad career?

A: “My greatest accomplishment during my nearly 20-year career at Union Pacific has been and continues to be the honor of utilizing my nursing skills, knowledge and commitment to my calling as a nurse. I have the opportunity for continuous growth and the privilege to share what I have learned with all new nurses.

“The most rewarding part of my role is the appreciation expressed by employees for my service and availability to them. I am proud to be a nurse and part of the professional the American public ranks as the most honest and ethical professionals. Honesty and ethics are imperative to my role, and I take it very seriously.

“I am also proud to have started the Dallas/Fort Worth LEAD chapter (Union Pacific’s women’s initiative and Employee Resource Group) and received a Golden Spike Award from Daniel Torres, who is now the Senior Vice President of Operations.”

Q: Which Latinx leaders in the transportation and logistics industry do you admire?

A: “I greatly admired my dad, who was a maintenance of way (MOW) laborer for the railroad, my father-in-law who is an engineer, and my husband who started out as a conductor at Union Pacific and now serves as Director of Planning & Operations.

“I admire them for their work ethics, their constant commitment to safety and productivity, their respect for all co-workers and their pride in a job well done. They were all raised in a different country but take the same ownership of their responsibilities and service to their U.S.-based employer and co-workers.”

Q: Why is National Hispanic American Heritage Month important to you?

A: “I find the history behind it interesting and fun; most of all I am amazed that it is embraced by most everyone.”

Q: Is there anything you’d like to share about your own heritage or being a part of the Latinx community or Union Pacific’s Latin Employee Network?

A: “I grew up in a little West Texas town of less than 900 people, so I did not grow up hearing about my heritage (possibly because I was born and raised in Texas and my parents were both orphans). I hear my great-great grandparents lived in the areas of Texas that at one time were part of Mexico. We didn’t celebrate the usual Mexican Heritage months back then. I do remember speaking Spanish at home but was not allowed to speak Spanish at school. If a Spanish word slipped out, I’d get hit on the hand with a ruler. I also remember having to attend first and second grade in what was called the ‘Latin American class’ before advancing to the next first and second grade general classes.”

Jaime Martinez, Superintendent of Train Operations

NHAHM Jaime Martinez

Jaime Martinez, Superintendent of Train Operations

As Superintendent of Train Operations, Jaime is responsible for leading a safe and efficient transportation plan that provides Union Pacific customers with world class service. He also applies Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) principles across his territory to ensure consistent, reliable service.

Q: What accomplishments are you most proud of in your railroad career?

A: “One of my proudest accomplishments was being part of the team that planned and executed President George H.W. Bush’s funeral train from Spring to Bryan-College Station, Texas, in December 2018 when I was serving as the Director of Transportation Services for the Gulf Coast Service Unit. Every Union Pacific employee involved was truly honored to be part of the historic event. There was a strong sense of unity and pride displayed across our territory, as many people lined up to pay their final respects as President George H. W. Bush’s funeral train passed through their community. A little over three and a half years later, I still get questions about that event any time someone finds out I work for Union Pacific.”

Q: Which Latinx leaders in the transportation and logistics industry do you admire?

A: “I admire David Garza, President and CEO of Heron International. David graduated high school and started his own transportation and logistics business 23 years ago. During the pandemic, he expanded to also become a metal building component distributor to stay competitive in today’s volatile market.”

Q: Why is National Hispanic American Heritage Month important to you?

A: “NHAH is important to me because it provides a platform for us to celebrate and recognize the contributions and achievements of Hispanic Americans who have inspired others to achieve success. NHAH Month is a time to celebrate not just music, food and culture, but to give importance to ethnicity, background and heritage. I truly believe that a diverse workforce provides a more productive workplace.”

Q: Is there anything you’d like to share about your own heritage or being a part of the Latinx community or Union Pacific’s Latin Employee Network?

A: “In 2017, the Houston Service Unit LEN Chapter won ERG of the year by supporting our local communities with fan drives, blanket giveaways and generous school supply donations. It was very gratifying to serve as President of our local chapter and be given the opportunity to give back to the community after dealing with Hurricane Harvey.”

The Importance of Diversity

Original | Debra Schrampfer, AVP and Chief Diversity Officer

Debra Schrampfer, Chief Diversity Officer

It’s important to honor Latinx cultures and celebrate the contributions of Hispanic Americans both now and throughout history. Chief Diversity Officer Debra Schrampfer notes how the Latinx community has been an integral part of railroad history.

“In the rail industry, we simply cannot look at our history without acknowledging the impact the Latinx workforce had on shaping our railroads,” she said. “Beginning in 1884, Latinos began working for Union Pacific and its constituent railroads. In 1909, nine western railroads listed 17% of their workforce as Mexican. Starting in World War II, the United States signed 4.6 million contracts for Mexicans to work in the U.S. ag and rail industries.”

In addition to celebrating Hispanic American Heritage Month, Union Pacific is also committed to promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in order to create an environment where people can be their best, both personally and professionally.

“The Latinx community is threaded into the very fabric of our existence, both then and now. They bring expertise, creative solutions, strong leadership and great work ethic,” Schrampfer said. “Personally, I value this community’s skills and prioritization of building robust teams. We know when employees feel like they are part of a work family this delivers superior results.”

Learn More

Learn More

To learn more about National Hispanic American Heritage Month, visit https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/. For information about shipping freight by rail, answer a few questions and an expert will be in touch.

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