Interview by Derek Grosso
Name: Carlos Mendez
Profession: Program Manager at ECDI
Education: Bachelor of Science in Bio-medical Engineering
Community Involvement: CYP Club member and event coordinator
Personal Quote: “We need people driven by purpose, passion, and persistence, not position or job title”
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram
Give us a snapshot of your career path:
I served as the Green Energy Data Manager at Antioch College, managing the college’s greenhouse gas inventory and performing energy consumption analysis to highlight areas for potential improvement. I gained crucial analytical skills in this role, and this opportunity ignited my passion for data-driven solutions and sustainability.
In January 2022, I joined the National Center for Urban Solutions as a Construction Program Manager. My responsibilities expanded to include connecting socially and economically disadvantaged construction companies to large-scale projects and managing a significant $600,000 grant for the development of a pre-apprenticeship Construction program.
Since July 2022, I have been serving as the MCRC Program Manager at the Economic Community Development Institution. In this capacity, I support emerging minority-owned commercial construction firms, manage program budgets, coordinate training and workshops for entrepreneurs, and work closely with the Advisory Board to identify areas of growth within the program and for our clients.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
A strong urge to build community and to foster its growth. Whether it’s helping someone register their business, helping an entrepreneur land a contract, or simply connecting a person to a local resource. This all contributes to my passion for community and economic development.
My most important job is being a husband and father to my two kids age 7 and 9 who have been an incredible blessing in my life. We really enjoy traveling together and have visited more than 35 national parks over the years.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
Listen actively to those around you. Seek conversations with people who draw your interest. Listen intently and ask genuine questions. There is lots to learn and a great source of knowledge can come from those around you.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
My biggest way to unwind is playing basketball, and, most recently, playing pickleball and volleyball (a Columbus staple). When I’m not being physically active, I can unwind by reading or playing chess.
What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
Upper Cup on Parsons is a fantastic place for good coffee and good conversation. A gem in the city that makes you feel like you’re in a small town.
I also love going to East Market. I’m in awe of how they were able to convert the space into one of the best markets Columbus has to offer.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
As a kid, I wanted to work in restaurants. My family has been in the restaurant business for 3 decades. I loved being able to get to know the customers and see everything that goes into running a restaurant.
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
I recently got into the Serial podcast, and I also love listening to This American Life and the Morning Brew.
For books, I’m currently reading Leading Without Authority by Keith Ferazzi, which highlights that traditional hierarchies are becoming less relevant and effective and anyone can lead regardless of their position in an organization.
I am also reading The Color of Wealth, which explores the racial wealth divide and the historical and political roots behind it.
What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
It means a great deal to be recognized in a city I plan to stay in for a long time, but I see it mainly as an opportunity to get to know other Young Professionals who are also doing great work and impacting the community.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
The pulse of Columbus, to me, is the bouncing of ideas and information among its residents. Across different industries, races, religions, gender, age, education, etc. this leads to a vibrant, diverse, and innovative city that is Columbus. This is a big proponent as to why Columbus is one of the fastest growing cities in the US.
The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2023 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Ohio Dominican University and Quantum Health for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2023” »