Alfonso Vidal is a local business leader and Latino advocate who continues to drive his influence and leadership now at a state level.
Alfonso Vidal arrived in Evansville in 1997 from Caracas, Venezuela, having to leave the country after being kidnapped by Colombian guerrillas FARC. Vidal never imagined that one day the circumstances of this event would force him to leave his family, friends and the happy life that he had. After a year in Evansville, he married his longtime girlfriend, Daniela, a Chemical Engineer whom he met while attending college in Venezuela. Later he completed his engineering degree at the University of Evansville (UE) and she an MBA at the University of Southern Indiana (USI). Together, they have three Hoosier-born children: Alfonso Enrique 20, Isabella 18 and Martin Eduardo 13. After graduating from UE, Vidal finished a Master’s Degree in Industrial Management from USI.
After arriving in Evansville, the situation in Venezuela deteriorated rapidly with the election of Hugo Chavez and the introduction of Chavez’s brand of socialism. Early in the transition of government and foreseeing the Venezuelan current economic, political and societal disaster, Alfonso and Daniela decided to stay in Evansville long term. They decided to build a new life, family, and friends while becoming vested in this community they now call home, just like their ancestors had done in Venezuela.
After working for 11 years for Omni Plastics, in 2013 Alfonso decided to follow his strong entrepreneurial drive and dedicate full time to his own business. Vidal Plastics LLC is a custom compounder of engineered resins that produce plastic raw materials for the injection molding industry. The business is minority-owned and ISO 9001 certified, allowing the company to supply the automotive industry. This decision was tough and the road has not been easy, however, he is grateful for all the opportunities that have been presented to him, as an educational program for advance management at Kellogg School of Management.
The business continues to grow, as this year he has installed a second compounding production line. The first production line was started after a recycling grant by the state of Indiana was awarded to purchase the equipment. In addition, his wife, Daniela, has joined him in the business strengthening the management team’s background.
Alfonso and Daniela are no strangers to working together. In 2002 they were both founding members of HOLA, a group created to assist the growing Latino population in Evansville. The HOLA group organizes a Latino food and music festival at Bosse Field each year and is attended by well over 8,000 people. The couple is also very involved in the Catholic Church, working together to start the Cursillo movement in Spanish, now in its 3rd year.
In addition, during his 23 years in this community, Alfonso has dedicated a significant amount of his time and energy to providing community leadership through his involvement in a number of boards. Most notably as chair of Growth Alliance, where he oversaw the creation of a new strategic plan, improved revenue and overall financial bottom line, hiring of new President, Ellen Horan, and the expansion of the Board of Directors with key community partners. He was also part of the Southwest Chamber of Commerce Board for over 11 years, the Leadership Evansville Board, Mayor’s Weinzapfel Education Roundtable and Latino Advisory Board, among others. This leadership and involvement led him to receive an honorary degree from Ivy Tech for Community Outreach and a Jefferson Award. In addition, he is starting this year as a new board member to the State Chamber of Commerce.
His ability to provide bold leadership and initiative did not go unnoticed at the State level. In 2007 he was appointed by Governor Mitch Daniels to the Indiana Commission for Latino and Hispanic Affairs (ICHLA), which he then chaired. He also joined the Board for the Indiana Latino Institute in 2010, and still currently serving and the Indiana Latino Expo in 2011, where he became President of the Board.
In 2011 Governor Mike Pence appointed Alfonso to the Indiana Minority & Women’s Business Enterprises Commission, where he continues to serve. Vidal and others in the commission are leading an effort to enhance the understanding and purchasing policies of the higher education institutions. Many opportunities were identified to improve the sourcing prospects and participation of minority and women-owned businesses within these institutions.
In 2016, he was asked to be part of Governor-Elect Holcomb’s Transition team, as co-chair of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles agency review. And in 2017, Alfonso was appointed as Commissioner for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.
In addition, Alfonso has been very involved in the Republican party, both at the local and state level. In 2014 and 2018, he was part of the state party platform committee, where he introduced language in support of immigration reform that would be a source of economic growth for the state. In 2016 he was an alternate delegate at the Republican National Convention, where the Trump-Pence ticket was nominated.
Alfonso’s leadership over these last 23 years has blazed trails for Latinos in Southern Indiana and now the state. From creating the first bridges between the Latino community and the existing organizations in Evansville to now pushing forth new statewide initiatives. An example of these initiatives is the program Padres Estrellas through the Indiana Higher Ed Commission. This program is designed to utilize 5 organizations across the state to locally reach Latino/Hispanic families. These organizations would use their local networks to coach these families in the scholarships available for their children that are not being used at the moment. This example of bringing together current available statewide resources with the new Latino families has been Alfonso’s philosophy for the past 22 years.
Together with his wife Daniela, Alfonso continues to enhance the Hoosier society. Earlier this year, as part of the Latino Chamber Alliance, they are helping facilitate a process to align legislative agenda issues among Latino chambers and organizations across the state. A combined agenda is expected to be presented to legislators later this year. He has a passion for bringing people together to enhance the state that welcomed him and his family almost 23 years ago and gave him a place to call home.