Leading with Legacy: A Q&A with José Velez-Silva, Comcast’s VP of Multicultural Strategy, Operations & Community Engagement

The executive shares his experiences, pivotal career moments, and his vision for the future of the industry

José Velez-Silva is a prominent figure in the world of multicultural brand marketing. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, José is the youngest of four children in a family deeply rooted in leadership across various sectors. With a lineage that includes a mayor, a Secretary of the Treasury, and a founder of WAPA-TV, José’s interest in leadership was sparked early on by his family’s legacy of public service and professional excellence. José has cultivated a leadership style that emphasizes humility and collective success. 

Velez-Silva was inspired to lead at an early age by his family


Velez-Silva: I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and went to the University of Puerto Rico.  I am the youngest of a family of four children, three sisters and me. My Puerto Rican heritage and Hispanic culture at large are huge sources of pride for me. I am inspired by the storytelling power of Hispanic media, and I love that it gives us the power to create and control our own narratives for ourselves.

My interest in leadership, however, came directly innate to me from my family heritage of leaders that ranged from the military, the public and private sectors. This was the result of the strong importance both my father and mother’s families put in the education of all family members.  A family of great public servants, from my Great Grandfather being Mayor of Cabo Rojo Puerto Rico to my uncle who served as the Sub Secretary of the Health Department in the island, to my youngest uncle who served in Vietnam and was San Juan’s Senator for many years, to my older sister Xenia Velez-Silva who served as Secretary of the Treasury for Puerto Rico and as a very successful lawyer, to my mother who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and rose to a leadership role for a major pharmaceutical in the island. But also from my mom’s beloved godfather, Jose Ramon Quinones, who was the founder of WAPA-TV in Puerto Rico, which brought stories, education and entertainment into Puerto Rican homes on a large scale.

My personal leadership style has always been informed by one piece of my grandmother’s advice:  “José, en la vida siempre se como las estrellas que iluminan pero no encandilan”, or “José, in life, always be like the stars that guide you but don’t blind you.” My aim, as a leader, is to put ego aside and simply inspire others to do their best work all geared towards a common goal.


Velez-Silva: When I came into this industry, it was an uphill battle just to get companies to advertise in Spanish.  People thought there was no way to measure ROI in Spanish-language media. “Hispanic marketing” was oversimplified to just mean translating ads and press releases for Spanish-language media. 

Back when I was on the agency side, we ran an ad in Spanish-language media for a new Oral Care toothbrush, and my client asked, “Why is this only in Spanish?” So, Colgate ran the ad in English for the general market, which broke the “rule” of Hispanic ads being only in Spanish.

I realized multicultural marketing was not just for specific groups in dedicated media, but for the total market.

Today, that client is one of my colleagues at Comcast and great mentor Steve White.

The overall approach to this has evolved significantly over the past decade – thank goodness!  Now, we see an ever-changing variety of media options that Hispanics engage with, in both English and Spanish. 

Marina Filippelli, president of ORCÍ, the Rafael Eli Pioneer in Hispanic TV award in the Agency Category; José Vélez-Silva, Comcast IMC Multicultural Brand Marketing VP, the Executive Marketing Leadership award; and Juanjo Durán, Head of Entertainment and Multicultural at Google, with the Hispanic Television Award for Executive Leadership in Content Programming


Velez-Silva: I jump-started my career with a hard-won college internship at Young & Rubicam. The intern spots were all full, but I persisted and was able to score a coveted slot. The agency offered me a job before I even graduated. From there, Foote, Cone & Belding called me to oversee the Colgate-Palmolive account in Puerto Rico, and then to come to New York to lead U.S. Hispanic marketing.


Velez-Silva: Latinos are pacesetters in culture and technology. We Hispanics over-index on streaming because we want to see content outside of traditional networks. That’s not just because we’re under-represented on network shows, but also because brands overlook and undervalue Hispanics in English–especially when attempting to reach younger, bicultural, bilingual Hispanics. Reaching this segment will prove even more crucial to advertising success in the years to come.

For example, for our newest advertising campaign, we are currently working with World Champion and U.S. Olympic Hopeful in Breaking, Victor Montalvo. While Victor was born in the U.S., his family has origins in Mexico, and he has a strong Hispanic cultural heritage. We believe he will appeal to and inspire second- and third-generation bicultural Hispanics with his story of strength, resilience, tenacity and joy. It’s a story familiar to so many Hispanic Americans.

This example shows how important it is in Hispanic marketing to be culturally attuned, which involves several factors. One is country of origin, which is not just Mexico, but at least 20 countries. A decade ago, about 70 percent of U.S. Hispanics had Mexican heritage. Now, it’s 61 percent. Pew Research says Venezuelans are the fastest-growing U.S. Hispanic group, up more than 75 percent since 2010.  

Then, there’s the generational factor. The strongest growth now is coming from second- and third-generation Latinos, like Victor. Acculturation is important too. Depending on where you live, you may not need to adopt the behavior and tastes of the general market. There are areas in Houston and Miami, for example, where Latinos are the general market and the market drivers. 

And, finally, lifestyle matters. To take sports as an example, some people still think that to reach Hispanics, you just need to talk about soccer. But Latino tastes are broadening, and Hispanic viewership is growing for American sports leagues including the NFL, MLB, NBA and NASCAR. 

Jose Pablo Rodriguez of GALLEGOS United agency and Comcast’s Jose Velez-Silva at the Hispanic TV Summit. (Image credit: Mark Reinertson)


Velez-Silva: In the industry, we are witnessing several notable trends that are shaping the landscape and influencing our Hispanic marketing strategies. One prominent trend is the increasing importance of cultural relevance and authenticity in our marketing efforts. As Hispanic consumers become more discerning and demand representation that reflects their unique and varied identities and experiences, it’s imperative that brands be earnest in their efforts to connect to them, so that messaging resonates in an authentic way. 

Another significant trend is the growing influence of digital and social media platforms in reaching Hispanic audiences. With the rise of digital connectivity and the prevalence of social media usage among Hispanic consumers, we’re seeing a shift towards more targeted and personalized digital marketing strategies. This includes leveraging data analytics and AI-driven insights to deliver relevant content and experiences across various digital touchpoints.

Additionally, the rise of multiculturalism and diversity in mainstream media and entertainment is shaping how brands approach Hispanic marketing. As Hispanic culture continues to influence mainstream trends and conversations, there’s opportunity for brands to embrace inclusivity and celebrate diversity in their marketing efforts. This involves showcasing authentic and diverse portrayals of Hispanic lifestyles, traditions, and values while also acknowledging the intersectionality of identities within the Hispanic community. 

Overall, these trends underscore the importance of cultural understanding and authenticity, digital innovation, and inclusivity in Hispanic marketing strategies. By keeping their finger on the pulse of these evolving trends and adapting our approaches accordingly, brands can effectively engage and establish meaningful connections with a wide range of Hispanic consumers.


Velez-Silva: That’s simple. I keep myself motivated by endeavoring to make my family, friends and loved ones proud of me. I approach everything with this mindset. If I’ve achieved this, at the end of the day, then I feel I’ve reached my full potential. 


Velez-Silva: The possibility of making a positive change in the way people see a brand or organization. I also want to ensure that the project or venture benefits multicultural communities and puts diverse audiences at the center of its initiatives.

Velez-Silva speaking at the Hispanic Television Summit


Velez-Silva: For most of my time at Comcast, I’ve served as the Vice President of Integrated Multicultural Brand Marketing for Comcast Cable and have been responsible for leading the company’s efforts to drive brand consideration and increase market share across multicultural audiences.   In addition to maintaining and managing multiple multicultural advertising agency relationships, as well as all aspects of multicultural advertising campaigns, from strategy and ideation to and production and execution of creative for TV, digital, print, radio, OOH, retail, social media and more. I’m now moving into a new role as the Vice President of Multicultural Strategy, Operations & Community Engagement. More to come on that! 

In my new role as VP, Multicultural Strategy, Operations & Community Engagement, I’m looking forward to refocusing and rebranding the multicultural efforts for the company. Ideally, I’d love for it to serve as the blueprint that other companies use to evolve their business models to prioritize diverse audiences in their marketing strategies. 


 Velez-Silva: Respect those who came before you. Many people new to multicultural marketing act as if it is a product of the new millennium.  

I am a firm believer that to know where you’re going, you must remember where you’ve been.

Also, simply belonging to a cultural group doesn’t make you a marketer.

Second, don’t approach the Hispanic market like it is a monolith. This is one of the biggest mistakes some marketers make in their approach.  Recent U.S. Census data underscores what many of us already believed: the growing U.S. Hispanic community can’t be understood as a homogenous single demographic, but rather as a community of sub-segments that comprise a diverse cultural tableau. 

Many companies who aim to engage this community effectively, and the ones poised for the most success, understand that one size does not fit all. Instead, it’s all about understanding, appreciating, and communicating nuance, creating choice, maintaining authenticity, and engaging in good faith.

José Velez-Silva

VP of Multicultural Strategy, Operations & Community Engagement | Comcast

San Juan, PR


University of Puerto Rico

First Job
Tour guide in Old San Juan at the age of 14

Philanthropy & Causes
Philadelphia Fight, Red Cross, Philabundance, HRC, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Daisy Exposito, Sara Sunshine, John Gallegos, Steve Crooney, Merge Jackson, Eileen Diskin, Carmen Sepúlveda



Philadelphia, PA