From New York to Puerto Rico and back, Javier Lamoso’s Fordham ties are binding
For many alumni Fordham is where they became interested in one subject or another and discovered a specific career path, but for Javier Lamoso it was where he discovered something more. fundamental: a passion for lifelong learning and the desire to conquer your next big project. From becoming a lawyer, managing a venture capital fund, or starting a hydroponic farming operation, his adult life has been about embracing change and taking on new challenges. And thanks to Fordham, he says, he’s still up for it.
“Fordham made me appreciate and pursue continuous learning,” he said. “That’s probably why I did so many different things, and changed every five years, not because I didn’t like what I was doing. [but because I wondered,] ‘Now what else can we learn? What new thing can we do? Lasting experience is this passion to learn, to keep learning.
Taking inspiration from ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’
Born in the Bronx not far from Fordham, Lamoso moved with his family to their native Puerto Rico when he was a toddler. Although the 1986 Fordham College at Rose Hill graduate “remembers nothing of New York when he was a child”, the city attracted him to college.
“It was clear to me and my parents that Frank Sinatra was right: if you can do it, you can do it anywhere,” he said, referring to the singer’s 1979 New York hit, “Theme from New York, New York.”
Continuing the Catholic education he received in Puerto Rico, Lamoso enrolled at Fordham to study political science and economics. He had a grand plan to take what is now called a gap year, traveling around Spain with his friends, before eventually returning to New York to attend law school.
It didn’t quite work out, and he went from “having it all figured out” to dealing with a year “with nowhere to go, no school applied or anything.” As he has done many times since, Lamoso hatched a new plan: He landed an internship at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, a city-based law firm, thanks to his education, fluency in Spanish and his relationship with Fordham, the hiring partner. was another Fordham graduate.
Create opportunities, new business ventures on the island
After the internship, Lamoso returned to Puerto Rico to study law at the University of Puerto Rico, earning a JD in 1990. He has demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit throughout his career since: he practiced law, managed a venture capital fund, and launched various communications ventures. .
In 2017, as he contemplated his next career step, his mother was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. This caused him to reflect not only on his own health and journey, but also on the prospects health of Puerto Rico as a whole.
“My friend at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center was head of the colorectal division and he asked me to send him pictures of my mother’s refrigerator and her pantry,” Lamoso said. “He threw it back at me with circles and said, ‘That’s the reason. That is why.'”
His friend had circled all the packaged, processed and microwaveable foods his mother had eaten, having stopped cooking fresh, homemade meals after Lamoso’s father died 15 years earlier.
Lamoso became pescatarian and began examining the island’s food landscape: Over 80% of Puerto Rico’s food is imported, he says, including more than 95% of his greens. Thinking of his grandfather and great-grandfather, who were coffee farmers, he decided to go back to his family roots. He launched Explora Greensa 60,000 square foot hydroponic farm in Isabela, about two hours from San Juan.
As she began to take off and Lamoso prepared to open a new greenhouse, Hurricane Maria hit, delaying her expansion plans for a few months, but underscoring the need for greater self-sufficiency and a system strongest local food on the island.
Improving access to fresh food
Five years later, the Lamoso farm is operational. Explore Greens produces Dutch leafy lettuce from the head lettuce and romaine family, which it distributes to more than 80 supermarkets on the island.
“I saw we had a food security issue, and it became incredibly obvious after Hurricane Maria,” he said. “As for greens, we import over 1,200 containers – just in one food item, one of the supermarket line items.” He shared his hope that his company can help reduce that number. “If I can substitute imports for at least 20 containers a year, I will be happy.”
Today, Lamoso has his hands in all facets of farming. Contrary to the romantic idea his lawyer friends and many others have of running a farm, Lamoso said he does everything from bookkeeping and marketing to waking up at 4 a.m. to help harvest and pack greens – because “the farm doesn’t take care of itself.
Foster Fordham Links
Amid all of his entrepreneurial ventures, one thing has remained constant: Lamoso has a deep connection to Fordham and is committed to helping more Puerto Rican students find housing at Jesuit University in New York.
As a long-time member of Puerto Rico Alumni ChapterLamoso said he was working closely with Joseph M. McShane, SJ, outgoing president of Fordham, to expose Island students to the University.
Lamoso also did his part. He “started making calls” to potential students and even met them and encouraged them to apply to Fordham. As the rumor spread that he was “the Fordham family,” he said he took it upon himself to interview and recommend even more students, with the help of his own children, who would pass the word among their friends, their friends’ siblings, and their loved ones. , classmates and others.
As Fordham welcomes its new president, Tania Tetlow, JD, next month, Lamoso said he hopes the university can keep the momentum going in Puerto Rico.
“I actually feel very optimistic: I think our new president can do it, can convey that ‘excitement,’ he said.
Fordham Five (Plus One)
What excites you the most?
Learning experiences. I hate stagnation.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
At Fordham I learned that the best advice actually comes from the dead, I mean books. Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher, keeps “ordering” me not to suffer in my imagination. Over the years I have improved in this area, but I still have work to do.
What is your favorite place in New York? In the world?
McSorley is in the East Village. There is something about a beer house that has survived so long, especially the fashions and tastes of younger generations in these fast-fashion times.
In the world, I must say Laos because of the innocence kept by its people despite what the rest of the world made them endure.
Name a book that has had a lasting influence on you.
Well, I’m an avid reader, so you’re going to have to allow me to mention more than one book.
The art of loving by Erich Fromm: A copy was given to me during Senior Week at Fordham by a retired Jesuit who had taught at Colegio San Ignacio in San Juan and loved Puerto Rico.
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky The Karamazov brothers. My three colleagues from [internship at the law firm] were so smart they gave me a headache. They got me into Dostoyevsky. I must be one of the few people who misses taking the metro for an hour in the morning to be able to read Russian literature.
Man’s quest for meaning by Viktor Frankl actually helped me to take business risks and have the courage to accept the changes that allowed me to learn and grow.
Who is the Fordham graduate or professor you most admire?
Father McShane, whom I met after his first year as president. My two children are also big fans of him, as they have known him since they were in kindergarten. Father McShane guided Fordham through such difficult times and through so many challenges in the first part of the 21st century, such as declining government funding and aid, higher running costs, increased competition for students, faculty recruitment and retention, a transformation to digital learning, and of course a pandemic. And he did it with an ace fighter pilot finesse that made it so easy.
How are you optimistic?
Now I believe my children will live their adult lives in a democracy. I was afraid of the opposite until not so long ago. I’m also optimistic for Fordham, and in the long run, I’m even optimistic for climate change.