Women Entrepreneurship 2020: Lourdes Zapata, President and Chief Executive Officer, South Bronx Overall Development Corporation (SoBRO)

Women Entrepreneurship 2020

Lourdes Zapata, President and Chief Executive Officer, South Bronx Overall Development Corporation (SoBRO)

Lourdes Zapata 

Lourdes Zapata joined SoBRO in August of 2019 as its President and Chief Executive Officer – becoming the first woman and first Latina to lead this South Bronx economic development nonprofit corporation. 

First established in 1972 to reverse the flight of businesses and jobs from the South Bronx, SoBRO has since evolved into a multifaceted organization addressing all aspects of community and economic development: assisting businesses to get started and grow, training residents according to the needs of employers, offering opportunities for youth to learn and develop, and creating affordable housing and commercial space that reverses blight in the community. Since its founding, SoBRO has served more than 20,000 students, helped to create and retain more than 40,000 jobs for area residents, and created the climate for hundreds of million dollars of capital investment into the South Bronx. 

Prior to joining SoBRO, Zapata was appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo as Chief Diversity Officer for the State of New York, where she supported the Governor’s programs and initiatives to increase diversity within the State workforce and engaged in policy and program development to increase the participation of women and people of color in all areas of State government. 

She also served the State as Executive Vice President of the Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development at Empire State Development (ESD). Her responsibilities included the development and oversight of statewide MWBE procurement policy as required by Article 15A of the Executive Law – reflective of New York State Governor Cuomo’s priority to promote equality of economic opportunities for Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBEs) and to eliminate barriers to their participation in obtaining State contracts. She oversaw the Division’s certification, compliance and business development activities, and worked with State Commissioners and the Legislature on matters affecting the MWBE community. 

Her public service also extends to her earlier tenure as Community Development Director for the City of Newburgh in Orange County, NY. 

Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, Zapata received her Master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University and a Bachelor’s degree from Hood College in Frederick, MD.