Fernando Paiz first came to Zamorano at the invitation of Trustee George Gardner for a conference about the Maya with National Geographic Editor Wilbur (Bill) Garrett. The visit kicked off with a campus tour.
“I was so impressed with what I saw: the happy faces of the students, the strict discipline and successful implementation of the concept of learning by doing, that before anyone asked for it, I volunteered to donate a scholarship,” Fernando reports. “And that was the beginning of it all…I had fallen in love with Zamorano!”
Since then, an entire generation of Zamorano students have benefited from Fernando’s scholarship support, as well as his mentorship and professional introductions post-graduation.
Fernando brought deep experience in business, building and land management, and retail operations to his work as a member of Zamorano’s Board of Trustees. He served as Chairman of the Human Resources Committee, and as a member of the Building and Grounds and Audit Committees. During his tenure, he provided leadership in building construction and renovation, land acquisitions and sales, and enhancement of campus retail operations.
Both during his trusteeship and as a Trustee Emeritus, Fernando continues to be an enthusiastic and effective advocate for Zamorano. Through an invitational campus tour and a gala dinner in their home, Fernando and Anabella Paiz have introduced dozens of Guatemalan community leaders to Zamorano. Fernando’s personal outreach to business and foundation leaders has led to the creation of new investment in Zamorano and new advocates for the university and its students. His faithful participation in Zamorano fundraisers and events – through both personal support and shared networks – continues to build the Zamorano community in Guatemala and beyond.
Prior to embarking on his prolific professional career, Fernando received his BS in Industrial Engineering from Northeastern University and an MBA degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart Central America. His family was a founding shareholder in Wal-Mart Central America, and operated the largest supermarket chain in Central America for more than 80 years. He is also founder of several other businesses in the U.S., Central America and South America.
Fernando’s civic work reflects his passion for art and culture. Currently, he serves as Chairman of La Ruta Maya, the only non-profit organization in Central America that promotes the repatriation of archaeological objects to their country of origin. He is founder and Chairman of the Museo Maya de América Foundation, a non-profit organization established to promote the construction of a museum to accommodate private collections belonging to the cultural heritage of the nation.
In addition, he serves or has served as Chair and board member of the Fundación Paiz para la Educación y la Cultura (Paiz Foundation for Education and Culture); the Bienal de Arte Paiz; the Fundación Patrimonio Cultural y Natural Maya (Maya Cultural and Natural Heritage – PACUNAM) that protects Maya sites; and the Heineman Foundation in Charlotte, NC, responsible for the largest donations of medical equipment ever made to the public hospitals of Belize and Guatemala.
Fernando has received numerous awards for his civic and philanthropic contributions. To name a few, in 2010, the French government honored him with the Order of “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres” in recognition of his efforts to protect the Maya heritage of Guatemala. In 2014, National Geographic honored him as one of a distinguished group of “Culture Heroes” whose vision and effort had a global impact on promoting the conservation of the archaeological heritage of humanity. In 2018, the Private Business Council of Nicaragua (COSEP) named him “Entrepreneur of the Year.”
Fernando lives in Guatemala, and has been happily married to Anabella Schloesser for 46 years. Fernando and Anabella have five children and eleven grandchildren, all living in the USA and the source of their greatest pride and happiness.
Asked what else he would like to share about his Zamorano experience, Fernando said, “There is nothing else but to say that Zamorano can count on me whenever they want. The love affair has never ended.”