Born in 1925, Joseph Unanue was the son of Goya Foods founder Prudencio Unanue, a Spanish emigrant who spent time in Puerto Rico before settling in the United States. Unanue served as president and CEO of Goya from his father’s death in 1976 until 2004 and is credited with taking the brand from regional to global, expanding the product line to over a thousand offerings and growing sales a hundred times over. His friends and family remember him as a role model for the Latino community, as a business leader, but even more as a philanthropist.
Joseph and his wife, Carmen Ana, founded the Joseph A. Unanue Institute for Latin American Studies at Seton Hall University, a Catholic Univserity in South Orange, New Jersey. The couple also gave significantly to El Museo del Barrio in New York City, where Carmen Ana sits on the board of directors. Joseph has been recognized many times by the community for his service, including being named Man of the Year twice by The National Conference for Christians and Jews. He was also presented with the Key to the City in Boston, and given the National Hispanic Achievement Award by Hispanic Magazine. Unanue was also a World War II veteran, and was awarded a Bronze Star for heroic service. Family members say he was proud of his service to his country.
Goya Foods continues the legacy through Unanue’s nephew Bob, and continuous charitable gifts. After Hurricane Sandy, Goya donated more than 300,000 pounds of food to displaced victims. The donation was part of a Goya Gives Campaign, an initiative the company created to commemorate its 75th anniversary. The campaign aims to not only donate food to those in need, but encourage others to give as well. The Sandy donation was a continuation of disaster relief donations that Goya has given to in the past after Katrina, Haiti and others.