Thursday, December 8, 2022
When most people hear the name Carlos Santana, they think of the rock legend, or, if they’re sports fans, the first baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While they might not think of the Carlos Santana from Glen Head right away, his neighbors, and members of the North Shore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, agree that there is no one else they’d rather have in their community.
The Hispanic chamber was so impressed with Santana’s engagement in the community and willingness to give his time helping others that they nominated him for the Businessperson of the Year Award, which was presented at the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce Breakfast and Awards Ceremony at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury on Oct. 28. Although he was not one of the three winners, he said he still felt the nomination itself was an extraordinary honor.
“I’m honored that they thought of me as a person that is trying to effect positive change,” Santana said. “I’m really humbled that they thought of me for the award.”
Born in Puerto Rico, where his mother raised him, Santana came to the United States as a senior at Minisink Valley High School in upstate Slate Hill. A basketball star, he attended Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, where, in addition to playing for the school’s team as small forward for four years, he also earned a degree in computer engineering.
After playing international basketball professionally for several years in the Dominican Republic, Spain and Puerto Rico, Santana met his future wife, Lisa Karcic, a fellow basketball star who played on the Croatian Olympic women’s team in 2016. The couple bought a home in Glen Head in 2018, married the following year, and in 2021 welcomed twin daughters, Mia and Francesca.
Santana is a mortgage lender and loan officer for Embrace Home Loans’ Melville branch. He said he got into the industry to make a positive impact in his community by helping people purchase their own homes.
“I’m a dad first — that’s my number one job — and the thing I’m most proud of is balancing life between being a dad and a husband and working to help my community,” Santana said. “The main reason I became a loan officer and lender is to educate and to help people to qualify for their first home, and really to qualify for the dream of owning their own home.”
Since Spanish is his first language, he said, he frequently works with Latino customers and residents of the North Shore. This was what initially connected him with the Hispanic chamber, as Connie Pinilla, the organization’s vice president and legal counsel, explained.
According to Pinilla, an attorney specializing in real estate, she and the other board members of the chamber were impressed with Santana’s work with prospective homeowners — both Latino and non-Latino — in the community. He leads workshops, volunteers as a mentor at the local Boys and Girls Club and also coaches basketball, all while juggling work and family life.
“He shared our same mission to educate and bring information to the Hispanic sector, to help them get their first home or get them to invest in real estate …,” Pinilla said. “Carlos has an impeccable reputation, he carries himself well and he’s really just a great representative of the community.”
So it was no surprise that Hispanic chamber nominated Santana for Businessperson of the Year. Gaitley Stevenson-Matthews, a chamber board member, emphasized that although the group had a lot of amazing community members and leaders to choose from, Santana always stood out.
“He finds time to give back to the community, and is truly a leader,” Stevenson-Matthews said. “His success and hard work bode well not just for his family, but serve as a beacon to others who are looking to make a better place for themselves and their families.”
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Thursday, December 8, 2022