Inspirational Series

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World Leaders Forum Inspirational Series

Featuring Edward James Olmos

Hosted by Entrepreneur Jacqueline Ruiz

The World Leaders Forum Inspirational Series featuring actor, director, and producer Edward James Olmos was held Monday, August 22, at Judson University in Elgin.

More than 400 attendees came to Judson’s Herrick Chapel to hear Olmos speak. Olmos is best known for his roles as Lieutenant Martin “Marty” Castillo in “Miami Vice” (1984–1989) and has appeared in countless movie and TV roles during his 50-year career. He spoke about the value of the arts, the power of diligence in practicing your craft daily, the importance of teachers and community.

With humor and grace, Olmos related how early in his life, he believed that he would have a career in baseball because of his success with the game. But then Olmos shifted his focus when he discovered rock and roll in 1960 and worked diligently to become a rock musician where he was successful and worked the Sunset Strip in LA. Then he attended East LA Community College and discovered his passion for acting. Olmos said the key to his success in each pursuit was practicing his craft seven days a week.

“I disciplined myself to do the things I loved to do even when I didn’t feel like doing the things I loved to do,” Olmos said as he encouraged the audience to work hard at their passion to become great.

As he described his groundbreaking work in the film industry, Olmos recounted his early roles in “Zoot Suit,” “Blade Runner,” “Miami Vice” and “Battlestar Galactica,” where he created unique and iconic characters. Nominated for a Tony award and three Emmy awards, Olmos received an Emmy for his work in “Miami Vice,” and two Golden Globe Awards for “Miami Vice” and “The Burning Season.” Olmos said he was the first and only Mexican-American who has won a Golden Globe award.

“We must do better,” he said noting that the Latino population faces many discriminatory challenges despite being a dominating population in the United States. He encouraged the audience to work to see and experience the beauty of other cultures and to rise above stereotypes.

This Inspiration Series was hosted for the first time by Jacqueline Ruiz, an entrepreneur, author and Latina pilot. She asked Olmos where he finds inspiration. He responded that he is inspired by his work as a director and producer to create new opportunities for other Latino artists and filmmakers to tell their stories through film.

Rick Najera, an award-winning screenwriter, sketch comedian and author, also joined the conversation. Najera was the lynchpin to connecting Olmos with Ruiz and coming to speak at the Inspiration Series. Olmos is godfather to Najera’s daughters and the two friends are close enough that they are like family. In fact, just seven days ago, Olmos was with Najera when he was in the hospital having brain surgery.

The three guests talked about the importance of telling your story, honoring the people you love and finding ways to include all people, Mexican and white people, to help build an America where eventually prejudice will fall away “because we are looking at people.”

Najera was presented with a Communion Champion award for igniting the flame of inspiration. Mark Vargas ’04, chair of the World Leaders Forum Board, presented Olmos with an antique Elgin watch. Proceeds from this event will fund leadership, entrepreneurship, diversity, and RISE program scholarships for students at Judson University. A special VIP event was held 5:30 p.m. at another location on campus.

WLFinspiration 2022

About The Event

Ticket Info

General admission tickets are just $25. VIP tickets are also available for $500, and include premier seating at the event and a meet-and-greet reception and photo opportunity with the panelists following the event. We would love to have you join us.

About The Speaker

Edward James Olmos

Edward James Olmos is a Mexican-American actor, director, producer, and activist. He is best known for his roles as Lieutenant Martin “Marty” Castillo in “Miami Vice” (1984–1989), actor in and director of “American Me” (1992), William Adama in the re-imagined “Battlestar Galactica” (2004–2009), teacher Jaime Escalante in “Stand and Deliver” (1988), and Detective Gaff in “Blade Runner” (1982) and its sequel “Blade Runner 2049” (2017). In 2018, he played the father of two members of an outlaw motorcycle club in the FX series “Mayans MC.”

For his work in “Miami Vice,” Olmos won the 1985 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film. For his performance in “Stand and Deliver,” Olmos was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

He is also known for his roles as patriarch Abraham Quintanilla in the film “Selena,” narrator El Pachuco in both the stage and film versions of “Zoot Suit,” and the voice of Chicharrón in “Coco.”

Over the course of his career, Olmos has been a pioneer for more diversified roles and images of Hispanics in the U.S. media. His notable direction, production, and starring roles for films, made-for-TV movies, and TV shows include “Wolfen,” “Triumph of the Spirit,” “Talent for the Game,” “American Me,” “The Burning Season,” “My Family/Mi Familia,” “Caught,” “12 Angry Men,” “The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca,” “Walkout,” “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit,” “American Family,” and “Dexter.”

Actor, Director and Producer 

About The Host

Jacqueline Ruiz

Jacqueline Ruiz

Jacqueline Camacho Ruiz is a social entrepreneur who has created an enterprise of inspiration. Her keen sense of service coupled with the vision to bring good to the world has led her to create two successful award-winning companies, establish two nonprofit organizations, publish 24 books, create over 10 products, and hold dozens of events around the world in just the past decade. She is often referred to as a “dream catcher” as her strategies have supported thousands of women, authors, and young ladies to live a life of significance. Ruiz’s quest to be a servant leader extends to every area of her life. She has shared her inspiration in four continents and aligned with some of the most powerful brands to elevate others. Being a cancer survivor sparked a sense of urgency to serve and transcend. Ruiz is one of the few Latina sports airplane pilots in the United States. Jacqueline believes that “taking off is optional, landing on your dreams is mandatory.”

Social Entrepreneur

About The Panelists

Rick Najera

Rick Najera

Rick Najera is an award-winning screenwriter, actor, director, producer, sketch comedian, author, playwright, coach and national speaker with an expansive portfolio of credits in all forms of entertainment. He has received numerous industry awards for his work. From starring in films with Sidney Poitier, George Clooney and most recently Mario Lopez, to writing sketch comedy for Jim Carrey and Jamie Foxx, Najera is best known for starring on Broadway in his award-winning, self-penned stageplay, Latinologues, directed by comedy legend Cheech Marin. Najera is only one of three Latinos to ever write and star in their own play on Broadway. For the last six years, he has traveled the country with his multimedia platform Latino Thought Makers which exposes the most important issues affecting the Latino community. It is currently housed at Morton College.

Actor, Director and Screenwriter

Become a Sponsor

Help Ignite and Inspire Tomorrow’s Leaders

Becoming a Sponsor

An Inspirational Series Sponsorship offers you, your company, church or foundation the opportunity to serve as a partner for this premier event. Proceeds from this event will fund leadership, entrepreneurship, diversity, and RISE program scholarships for students at Judson University.


Opportunities for business and community sponsors include event tickets, a meet-and-greet reception, photograph with the panelists, special commemorative gift, company recognition and premier seating. You can also choose to sponsor Judson students to attend the event free of charge. To learn more, please see the sponsorship flyer below or contact us.

Inspirational Series Sponsor Chart

Contact Us


Staff Headshot
Julie Schmidt
Dir. of WLF and Special Events

Past Inspirational Speakers

Jim Munroe


Author and
Cancer Survivor

Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton

1984 Gold Olympic
Medal Winner

Nick Vojicic

Nick Vujicic