DELAWARE, Ohio – When Andres Duarte sought to join the Beta Theta Pi fraternity as an Ohio Wesleyan University freshman, his soon-to-be brothers jokingly dubbed him the “most outstanding goof-off.” Nearly six decades later, Duarte has proved them wrong over and over again – most recently in 2016 when Queen Elizabeth the Second proclaimed him an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Duarte, managing director of the Caracas, Venezuela-based Duarte Vivas & Associates, C.A., will share his story with Ohio Wesleyan’s Class of 2017 on Saturday, May 13, when he delivers the keynote address at the university’s 173rd commencement ceremony.
Class President Lee LeBoeuf said she looks forward to hearing more about Duarte’s inspiring journey, including his roles as an international businessman, leader in the Venezuelan community, supporter of higher education, and, of course, Most Excellent British Empire officer.
“Since graduating in 1965, Andres has helped bring over 100 Venezuelan students to Ohio Wesleyan,” said LeBoeuf, a psychology major and biology minor from Dayton, Ohio. “I am very excited to hear what he will share with the Class of 2017 at commencement because of his diverse background in business and international affairs. I think his ongoing dedication to his country and the university will be inspiring to our class as we leave OWU to impact other communities.”
After graduation, LeBoeuf plans to teach elementary school in Cleveland for two years through the Teach for America program and then attend graduate school.
During his time at Ohio Wesleyan, Duarte majored in geology and economics. He went on to earn his Master of Science degree in geology from the University of Oklahoma on a Shell Oil Co. fellowship. After two years in Oklahoma, Duarte enrolled in 1968 at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University for a one-year, non-degree program. In 2009, he earned his Master of Arts degree in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
He created Duarte Vivas & Associates (DVA) in 1977, with the company’s initial offerings in the areas of commodity brokerage and trading, representation of foreign companies, and consulting services.
More than 30 years later, DVA has become a reference point for entrepreneurial activity in the region. According to its mission, the company’s diverse activities all are linked by production of the same commodity: ideas. In 2009, together with Ohio Wesleyan graduate Gustavo Vollmer, Class of 1996, Duarte jointly created Luzar Trading Co. with offices in Bogota, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Panama, and Miami. He currently is working on the development of a chemical products company, Quimainca, C.A., in Venezuela and Colombia with Ohio Wesleyan graduate and chemistry major Juan Sykora, Class of 1966.
“The DVA Group likes to think of itself as an idea incubator,” the company states. “Additionally, the firm prides itself in providing the creative problem-solving and diligent execution necessary to bring these ideas to fruition. Through the combination of these two business pillars and sound local intelligence, the DVA and Luzar groups seek to be an engine of regional growth, providing a bridge between South America and the global marketplace.”
In addition to his business ties, Duarte’s ties to his country and community run strong and deep.
He is a member of the board of directors for Banco Venezolano de Credito subsidiaries (Vencred, S.A.) and The Venezuelan Petroleum Chamber; past president of the British Chamber of Commerce, Venezuela; director of the British School in Caracas; a founding member and director of NGO Transparency International, Caracas Chapter; and a board member of the Thomas Greg, C.A., group of companies in Bogota, Colombia, Sao Paulo Brazil, Monterrey, Mexico and Anxian, China.
Duarte was named Consul General in Venezuela of the Philippine Republic in 1991, a position he still holds with two assistants in his office. He was a member of the editorial board for “El Universal” Newspaper in Caracas, until the newspaper was taken over by government sympathizers.
Duarte’s ties to Ohio Wesleyan run equally strong and deep.
He served as an at-large member of the OWU Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2005 and became a life trustee in 2006. As a trustee, he currently serves on the board’s marketing committee and facilities subcommittee.
Duarte also is a member of the Ohio Wesleyan Alumni Advisory Board for the university’s Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship, and he was awarded an OWU Distinguished Achievement Citation in 2015. The citation recognizes Duarte’s professional achievements and dedication to the field of business including his role as “an adventurous, skillful, and adaptable business developer.”
On the lighter and athletic side of his background, Duarte finished the New York Marathon six times in the 1980s.
Ohio Wesleyan’s 2017 commencement ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. May 13. Weather permitting, the event will be held outdoors on the lawn in front of Merrick Hall, 65 S. Sandusky St., Delaware. The complete ceremony, including remarks from Duarte and LeBoeuf, will be streamed live and archived online at www.owu.edu/stream. Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s 2017 commencement at www.owu.edu/commencement.
Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers nearly 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at www.owu.edu.