Skip to content

Investments Operation Manager Claudia Garibay Kaya reflects on Hispanic Heritage Month

The Irvine Foundation is fortunate to have talented staff with diverse backgrounds and life experiences, and we want to introduce some of our colleagues to you. We spoke with Claudia Garibay Kaya, Irvine’s Investment Operations Manager, about Hispanic Heritage Month, her family’s experience as immigrants and farmworkers, and Irvine’s role in advancing equity. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about yourself.  

I live in San Francisco and am a proud immigrant from Michoacán, Mexico. My family immigrated from Mexico to work in the Salinas region’s agricultural fields, where I grew up. The people of Michoacán are known as hardworking and humble individuals. Those same values of hard work and humility were instilled in my upbringing and exhibited in their work harvesting lettuce, cauliflower, and artichokes for over five decades. 

How did you get into philanthropy? 

Philanthropy was not a path I had considered possible  for someone with a passion for finance. As the first person in my family to attend college, I believed the best opportunities existed solely within traditional banking. 

My career began as a Sr. Portfolio Management Associate, where I worked on five money market funds on a trading desk. Despite enjoying the fast-paced environment and gaining insights into investment management, I felt disconnected from the shareholders. I wanted a better understanding of the link between them and the performance of our funds. Most importantly, I yearned to make a more substantial impact on the most overlooked communities through my work. 

The Irvine Foundation offered a chance to serve others while still advancing my career in investment operations. In my role, I feel a strong connection to the Foundation’s grantmaking, its stakeholders, and our ongoing efforts to support the working people of California. 

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? 

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to reflect on the many contributions that Latino/as have made to this country. Our country’s strength has been enriched by the contributions of laborers like my family. It’s also a time for me to reflect on my family’s journey of sacrifices and courage to come to this country seeking a better life. My hope is that my sons, as first-generation Americans, will have more opportunities to pursue their dreams and effect transformative change in their communities. I want them to reflect on my journey with pride and feel the motivation to strive for more. 

What is Irvine’s role in advancing equity? 

The Foundation holds the power to advance equity through its continued support of creating employment opportunities for the most overlooked communities in California. We must partner to develop jobs that provide fair wages and professional development opportunities. These pathways contribute to the financial advancement and broader economic engagement of these communities, an essential step towards justice.

Irvine also has a role in helping prevent injustices that impact the communities we serve. Through this commitment, we can help remove the barriers obstructing the advancement of our grantee partners and, in turn, navigate resolutely toward our goal of advancing equity on this collective journey.