Latinos Doing Their Thing Presents…
Johnny was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1967; a first generation son to native Boricua parents. His mother never allowed him to waste my time on anything other than using his brain. She was his first inspiration to do better. For a time, he lived in the ‘jects, on food stamps (Wilfredo) and government queso. She said, “If you ever want to get out of this, make something of yourself.” To this day he’ll buy a block of Velveeta cheese to remember (and never forgetting) where he started. That’s his first advise, never forget. It will keep your grounded and compassionate towards our peeps who are still struggling.
In October 1990, he graduated from Lee County Correctional Academy in Fort Myers, Florida near the top of his class.
In 1993, he became a licensed Emergency Medical Technician. Soon after, he volunteered as an EMT/Firefighter for Bayshore Fire Department on his off time.
Rivera also became a First Responder trainer for Charlotte CI. Soon after, he joined the Fort Myers JayCees and was nominated and confirmed as a board member.
He also trained with the Cape Coral Police Department and became a Bilingual Victim Advocate, often serving as a translator for Latinos who did not speak English. During this time, he developed a program that helped victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. He presented it to the Cape Coral City Counsel and funding was approved unanimously. This program still exists today.
His third and last tour was at Broward Correctional Institution, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
This also was a maximum security prison. However, it was a female facility. It is especially known for it’s death row housing unit. Being known as a “Charlotte Boy”, he was immediately placed as the officer in charge of this housing unit. One of his charges was the first female serial killer, the very insane Arleen Wournos.
Art by Johnny Rivera
After retiring from corrections in 1996, he returned to university at 31 (after passing the entrance exam, being the first person in Keiser University’s history to ace the exam)changing his major to Computer Graphics and Design. He graduated with honors (3.67 GPA). In 1998, he attended a Microsoft school in Union City, New Jersey and became a Network Engineer.
Since 1998, he’s worked for a diverse group of clients, including Fortune 500 companies such as General Motors, Cole Managed Vision and CB Richard Ellis, retail giants such as Lens Crafters and scientific entities such as PPG and Noveon International. He has owned three consulting companies and a web design studio, ThinkRivera Technologies.
In 2004, he started The Latino Edge, an online blog dedicated to helping Latinos become business people through inspiring personal change and business savvy. He also writes for seven global syndications; with articles appearing in several countries.
In 2009, he became the segment producer for variety radio talk show, “Off the Kuf with Tom Sumner”, often interviewing successful Latinos on the show.
He always says, “If this broke-down kid from New York made it, so can you”. His game is not for fame and fortune. He could care less for acclaim. He believes that if we are to inspire change in our Latino brethren, young and old, we have to be the example for them to follow. That’s the bottom line. Everything else is anathema.
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