Celebrating Software Engineer Oscar Garcia During National Hispanic Heritage Month


When Oscar Garcia was growing up in Tijuana, Mexico, his parents encouraged his interest in computers. Living on the border of Mexico and the United States gave Garcia a unique perspective of experiencing two melding cultures. Today, Garcia is a software engineer at Luna. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Garcia shared how he was inspired to join the STEM field of computer programming and how his heritage has shaped his career, personal life, and leadership philosophy.

Oscar Garcia developed his love of video games into a career as a software engineer.

What do you do at Luna?
I’m a software engineer. I work with the backend team to do everything on the backend of the Luna application. I work primarily with a lot of business logic, but more into why it’s happening behind the scenes. This October will mark one year for me at Luna.

Tell me about how you grew up.
I’m from Tijuana, Mexico. I was born and raised in Tijuana and have been living here for the past 27 years. Living on the border gave me the opportunity to get to know San Diego and experience both cultures. I had the unique advantage of seeing both worlds. I was very interested in pop culture and technology, including television, movies and video games.

My parents worked all day. So, as a kid, I spent a lot of time with my grandma. My parents worked hard to provide me with an education, and I was very grateful. I remember my father buying our first computer with Windows XP. That was when I started to get interested in computing. I took a computing lab in school, and my passion for computers just grew from there. Video games were a big factor in my decision to take the software development major since it was the spark that got me interested in how software was made. When I got to high school, I entered the world of programming with very simple console applications. Looking at colleges in Mexico, I looked for software development programs and decided on Cesun University. I graduated as a software engineer in 2017.

What aspects of your Hispanic heritage do you think have impacted your work at Luna?
Fellowship. Growing up here on the U.S.–Mexico border, you can see how fellowship is such an important part of the community. It’s one of the core values I’m proud of. At Luna, I want to build a team and work with my team toward a common goal. In this case, it’s building complete software at the highest standards.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you personally?
Hispanic Heritage Month is a representation of what we value as a community; that we are part of a connected group and have an important role to play together. I’m proud of my heritage and where I grew up. For me, these four weeks are a reminder and chance to tell the world that as a group, we can do amazing things. We have done amazing things.

Growing up here on the U.S.–Mexico border, you can see how fellowship is such an important part of the community. It’s one of the core values I’m proud of. At Luna, I want to build a team and work with my team toward a common goal.”

Garcia says his mother is who has inspired him to be a better person and continue despite challenges.

Was there a particular person who inspired you growing up?
My mom. She’s the person who always inspired me to be a better person. She taught me to stay humble, and that no matter how hard things get, keep pushing. Those lessons she taught me got me to where I am today as a software developer.

Is there anyone in your field who served as a mentor in your field?
I had a professor at university who inspired me to continue to pursue programming. He also kept pushing me to continue to create new goals for myself, to step out of the box, and to approach new jobs or new technologies. Looking back, I can see that I was hesitant or unsure of myself, and he kept pushing me to be more confident and try new things. I admired the knowledge he had of software development, and I looked up to him as someone I wanted to emulate. I strive to be that person who wants to mentor people and share their knowledge with others in the field.

What advice would you give to a young professional in the STEM field?
Keep working hard. Keep innovating. Don’t doubt yourself, and don’t be afraid of failing. It’s where you will learn the most. Another important piece of advice is always to keep an open mind—that’s where the greatest ideas come from. When you have an open mind, you start seeing things in different ways.


About Luna

Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data—health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more—for research.

Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.

By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.


Feature Spotlight: Member Accounts

Making what’s important to you easier to find

We’ve made some changes to your member account. Now it’s easier for you to find your studies and see information from your communities and registries.

Member Dashboard

View tasks like “Contribute Data” ready for you to complete

Access studies you’ve joined. You can also access your studies by clicking on the “My Studies” tab

Find additional resources and information on conditions or diseases of interest to you using Disease InfoSearch

Review all the data you’ve shared and patient portal connections you’ve made by clicking on the “My Data” tab at the top of the dashboard

Access your notifications, settings, and logout from the side menu under the colored avatar in the top right of the dashboard

Community/Registry Pages

Your communities and registries each now have their own page devoted to their content. So you can easily find everything related to them all in one place.

View all the studies your community has available

Access special permissions you’ve granted your community organizers

Community/registry-specific messages on the community pages so you can see just the messages from your community or registry

Log in today to see what’s new on your dashboard

Coming Soon: More improvements to your member account are headed your way

A formal messaging center where you can more easily read all your notifications and important messages from study coordinators and community organizers

What’s Staying the Same

Luna remains focused on providing a regulatory compliant platform where you can feel good knowing your data is secure and confidential.

Log in today to see what’s new on your dashboard


About Luna

Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data — health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more – for research.

Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.

By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.

Celebrating Joe Beery, National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021


His father had been a talented self-taught engineer who was a machinist building aircraft engines at General Electric. All the while, their family wasn’t detached from practicality. In addition to his job as a machinist, Joe and his father repaired cars, bakery equipment, and meat processing equipment. They lived in New Mexico and spent summers on the farm in Colorado. Joe reflects often on that childhood of necessity, the fixes, and curious tinkering, as his backbone for facing down challenges and overcoming problems through well-thought solutions. 

Joe Beery, CEO at Luna

In college, Joe studied business computer systems and programming at the University of New Mexico, where he advanced his interests in systems integration and software performance optimization, which channeled his talents from farm fields and on to fields in technology.  

This concoction of tech-savvy problem solving led to Joe’s early rise from manufacturing to software development for Motorola, before leading the Company’s semiconductor products division Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) teams. From there, he shifted to the tech aspects of the airline industry, serving as Chief Information Officer for America West Airlines and then US Airways over a 10-year period.  

Amid these successes, Joe and his wife Retta faced tenuous adversity in 1996, realizing their newborn twins — Noah and Alexis — suffered from persistent tremors, seizures, and a mysteriously debilitating loss of body control. Doctors, unable to trace back to the cause, initially diagnosed Noah and Alexis with cerebral palsy.  

The exhibited symptoms, though, didn’t fit this diagnosis, as Joe and Retta continued to see their children spiral in dissipation. Desperate but determined, Joe and Retta retooled. Equipped with an outlook for facing down challenges and solving complex problems, Retta poured herself into research, sought research studies for Noah and Alexis to participate in. Ceaselessly, for years on end, until they landed on solutions.

Technology, problem-solving, and perseverance coalesced in 2008 when Joe took his career into biotechnology, at Invitrogen, the biotech company that became Life Technologies and was later acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific.  

Their family now existed in the realm of science and solutions, and Retta sought to have Noah and Alexis’s DNA samples sent to Baylor College of Medicine for sequencing analysis. There, answers began coming back. Noah and Alexis had genetic mutations affecting the synthesis of dopamine and serotonin, far afield from initial diagnoses of cerebral palsy. Doctors accordingly modified their treatment to include adding the serotonin precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) to their treatment. Noah and Alexis quickly rebounded and thrived.   

The perseverance of parents unafraid to face down problems, teamed with evolving opportunities in health discovery and advancing technology, helped Joe and his family to live strong, healthy lives.  

Now, as Luna’s Chief Executive Officer, Joe is scaling its platform to further unite people, communities, and researchers to accelerate health discoveries. “It took 15 years to get a definitive diagnosis to treat their rare genetic disorder, “Joe said. “Today with Luna, we would have found that in 15 months.”  

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Joe shares more with us about his life and career journey, and how he became a prominent health tech executive spearheading health initiatives for the greater good.  

Hi, Joe.  Thanks for taking the time to  share more about your life and career journey.  Can you share more about your life growing up as young Joe?   

My mom’s maiden name is Velasquez. She grew up in southern Colorado and did not speak English until she went into high school. My dad grew up in Elkhart, Indiana. They met when he was stationed at the Army base in Colorado Springs. I was the first grandchild within both families and blessed to have both cultures influence my life growing up. I spent my summers on the farm with the Velasquez family, which included my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. The winters were spent in Albuquerque, New Mexico while I was in school. I was fully emerged in the Hispanic culture. 

Diversity is not about your looks or your ability to speak a language but how you think and your life experiences.”

When did your interest in tech start? What inspired you to eventually take this career path?  

My father did not go to college. In fact, I got my high school diploma before he did. Despite that, he is one of the most gifted engineers I have ever met. He eventually worked for most of his career at GE building aircraft engines. From a very early age, I learned to repair equipment and was interested in how machines work. We did many side jobs together. When I went to college, I was driven to be an industrial engineer. In my early days at the University of New Mexico, I found that I was more interested in the computer side of the engineering discipline. I would write programs for my fellow students, and they would do my calculus homework. This was the point in time that I realized that I was going to pursue a career in information technology.   

How has your heritage shaped your career today? What aspects of your heritage do you think have impacted the culture of your workplace?    

Overall, I think that my heritage has shaped me in two very specific ways. The first is my work ethic. Coming from a mixed family and from a minority group, I learned the value of working hard, working long hours, and going above and beyond to earn what you make.  The second is my perspective on diversity and what it means. I do not have the features or the last name, but I am at my core Hispanic. This makes for very interesting conversations in the workplace when someone finds out I am Hispanic and then asks if I speak Spanish. Diversity is not about your looks or your ability to speak a language but how you think and your life experiences.  

Well said.  Let’s talk more about your role as CEO of  Luna. What excites you most about your leadership role at Luna, personally and professionally?     

Luna is a super exciting company. We have all the elements that make for life-changing moments for individuals and researchers who use Luna, investors, and employees. We have a great product, incredible team members, and most importantly, we change the quality of life of people. I have had a wonderful career for over 30 years, and I want my legacy to be about what we do at Luna.   

Inclusion is recognizing the value of everyone’s lived experience and creating an environment that not just respects that but leverages that for the good of the individual and the team. ”

What do diversity and inclusion mean to you? 

 Diversity to me is about lived experiences and what lens an individual can use to solve a problem. It is connected to all aspects of an individual.  Inclusion is recognizing the value of everyone’s lived experience and creating an environment that not just respects that but leverages that for the good of the individual and the team. 

What one piece of advice would you give to others passionate about becoming leaders in technology? 

Technology is one of the most available careers. We can work and grow in technology regardless of where we live, how much education we have, and what our desire is to do. My advice is to use all these aspects to focus on the element that excites you and to use your heritage as a motivator and lever to expand in the field.   

Finally, what would you like your legacy to be?     

I want my legacy to be a combination of three things. First, is my faith and family. My greatest accomplishment is my relationship with my wife and my children.  Second, is my ability to be humble but courageous and always put the customer, employees, and the company first. Finally, I want to be known for working for companies and producing products that impacted people’s lives. 


About Luna

Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data—health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more—for research.

Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.

By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.


Celebrating Javier Salazar, National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021


From a young age, Javier Salazar has been fascinated by finding solutions to complex problems, and more so, by how those solutions impact lives.  

Javier gained an interest in accounting at 17 years old, after taking college courses his senior year of high school. This early aspiration led Javier to take his first bookkeeping job by the time he was 20 years old. And within two years of that job in this field, he started his own bookkeeping company. “What I found most interesting about the marriage between finance and technology,” he said, “is understanding the client’s needs and figuring out the right system to implement. Understanding their business model and what their goals have been major deciding factors in what systems and processes we use.” 

Since those early days as a budding bookkeeper, Javier Salazar has gone on to become the Managing Director and CFO at TGG, a leading provider of outsourced accounting and business advisory services for small to mid-sized businesses. There he supports companies like Luna build financial strategies, raise capital, and attract investors. Javier attributes Luna’s mission and culture to selling him on joining its team. 

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we caught up with Javier to learn more about his life story, career journey, and how he became a successful leader in fintech. 

Hi Javier. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Can you share a little about your life growing up as a young Javier? 

Growing up in Los Angeles, California with my sister and four brothers wasn’t always easy. There were a lot of fights in our full house, but there were also a lot of great memories. Both of my parents were hard workers. My father worked at Kaiser Permanente as a Warehouse Supervisor during the week and bought and flipped houses on the weekends. My mother immigrated from Mexico and pick strawberries in the field that eventually became the land on which the house she currently lives stands. 

I fondly remember my dad taking us on fishing trips every first Sunday of the month. Sitting there waiting to catch a fish taught me a lot about patience. I was fortunate enough to pass on this tradition to my 3-year-old son for the first time this summer. We taught him how to hook the bait and cast the line. He didn’t catch anything, but we all still had a great time.    

Integrity and teamwork are the two biggest factors of what I drive home with my team. We take pride in our work and ensure we deliver quality service. Most importantly, we work as a team.”

What a great skill to pass on to your son. Certainly, these will be some of his fondest memories, too. Can you share more about your career at TGG? How has your career evolved here? 

TGG has provided me with so many opportunities to change people’s lives. As Consulting CFO and Managing Director of a team of thirty-four, I’ve helped people sell their companies, complete data migrations, clean up their financials, and create policies and procedures to create efficiencies in their accounting department. I couldn’t ask for more opportunities within a company. 

How has your heritage shaped your career? What aspects of your heritage do you think have impacted the culture of your company? 

My parents have been great role models. They instilled a strong work ethic in me. As a result, I was motivated to be the first in my family to get a master’s degree and eventually apply my learnings to my career.  

Integrity and teamwork are the two biggest factors of what I drive home with my team. We take pride in our work and ensure we deliver quality service. Most importantly, we work as a team. TGG’s model for every client is a team of four, including a Staff Accountant, Accounting Manager, Controller, and CFO. We all have our assigned responsibilities, and it takes all of us to produce quality work. 

Integrity and teamwork are great characteristics to have for solving problems. That’s why Luna is thrilled to be working with you. What excites you most about working with Luna? 

I am so honored to be working with a company that is making such a huge impact in the world. The company’s mission and culture are beyond amazing!  

Embrace who you are and focus on your career. Don’t try to fit the mold of something that you’re not. Find the mold that fits you.”

What one piece of advice would you give to Latinos passionate about a career in finance and technology (fintech)?  

Growing up as a Hispanic American, I have been faced with many challenges throughout my career. At times, it felt like I was judged by the color of my skin, and I changed my habits to fit in. It wasn’t until I embraced my background and became more comfortable with who I am and where I came from that I started to feel accepted. My advice would be to embrace who you are and focus on your career. Don’t try to fit the mold of something that you’re not. Find the mold that fits you.

Well said, great advice. Recently, you’ve adopted your baby Noah through the Safe Surrender Program. That story, in itself, is beyond moving. How has that life experience impacted your life? 

Noah has been a true blessing to us. He is one of our two adopted children through the foster system. Adopting two children has taught my husband and me about compassion, patience, and unconditional love. Fostering a child is not easy, but we advocate for anyone with room in their home and heart to do so.  

Two adopted children? What an incredible path you’ve chosen. In conclusion, what do you want your legacy to be? 

That I made difference in people’s lives for the better. One of my favorite quotes is from Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”


About TGG

TGG is a leading provider of outsourced accounting and business advisory services for small to mid-sized businesses across industries. The TGG team delivers quality financial services, systems and insights that help small businesses thrive and, in so doing, serves a critical role in helping clients meet the day-to-day challenges of doing business. TGG Accounting has offices in San Diego and Boulder, Colorado. For more information, visit www.tgg-accounting.com.

About Luna

Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data – health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more – for research.

Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.

By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.


Maritza Diaz, CEO and Co-founder, ITJuana

Celebrating Maritza Diaz, National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021


The household culture of encouraging education was the catalyst for Maritza Diaz’s success in STEM. She grew up in Ecuador with three siblings, with a father who encouraged education. “It will drive your future,” he’d say. But Maritza – without a role model in STEM, nor even a computer — hadn’t anticipated becoming a software engineer, never mind an influential tech executive who is now transforming the international digital workforce.

Maritza Diaz, CEO and Co-founder, ITJuana

Today, Maritza is the CEO and co-founder of ITJuana, a San Diego-based company creating an innovation economy in Tijuana, Mexico by partnering with California businesses to develop world-class software engineering centers in Tijuana. Through cross-border collaboration, ITJuana is helping Luna and other San Diego companies expand their software teams and create centers of excellence.

With more than 25 years of experience in IT and software engineering, and with deep knowledge of tech innovation, Maritza is a member of the Forbes Technology Council, sits on the board of directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco representing San Diego, and was named San Diego’s Business Journal’s 2021 CEO of the Year Rising Star.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we caught up with Maritza for her to share more about her life story, career journey, and how she became a world-class tech leader.

Hi Maritza. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Can you share a little about your life growing up as a young Maritza?

When I think about my life growing up, I can’t help but think of family and true happiness. I grew up in Ecuador; the third child of a very humble family. We didn’t really have a lot of material possessions but certainly, all of that was exponentially compensated for by the love and family support we had at home. My parents had to work very hard to ensure all their four kids had access to education. My dad would always tell me to go get an education because that will be the most precious possession I could ever have for my future — something he didn’t have access to when he grew up. I was really good at math and problem solving in general, growing up. So, I made the decision to pursue a computer science degree at the last minute during college course registration. Sometimes what you don’t plan are the things that work out for the best.

All my siblings and I eventually became engineers and hopefully made my parents very proud.

My parents had to work very hard to ensure all their four kids had access to education. My dad would always tell me to go get an education because that will be the most precious possession I could ever have for my future — something he didn’t have access to when he grew up.”

That’s impressive. I’m sure you made your parents proud. Even more so, that you’ve created what is considered to be one of the finest software organizations in the industry. Let’s talk about the inception of ITJuana. What compelled you to create such an innovative company?

ITJuana is all about generating new jobs for people who are hungry for new opportunities and who are very capable of delivering high value. Digital talent is in extremely high demand across the globe. All companies are now seeing digitalization as a core part of their business rather than a nice-to-have. This new reality has put a lot of pressure on digital talent attraction. ITJuana is solving the digital talent access problem for companies in the US by opening a new source of high-quality talent available in Latin America in a complementary time zone and at a fraction of the cost.

Luna is thrilled to be partnering with you for many reasons, especially your ability to find highly experienced team members who will help Luna continue to scale and expand its platform. What excites you most about working with Luna?

Your mission and products. The fact that Luna is touching people’s lives in a positive way is very attractive to me. Because of many years spent in the Biotech and Medical Device industries, I realize that I want to work on products with a mission, products that are impacting people’s lives, products that will transcend and become a legacy that we can be proud of.

Besides the product and the mission, I feel very connected with your values and priorities. The sense of building communities and bringing a diverse team together are some examples of the values that we share and that I am personally very passionate about. I truly believe we are uniquely positioned to achieve great results together.

In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, what aspects of your heritage do you think have impacted the culture of your company?

I am a firm believer that one needs to know where they come from in order to understand what they want to become. Being a Latina in the US has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. I’ve seen firsthand the lack of representation of Latinas not only in the C-level suite but also in tech. Not having a role model in tech when I was growing up certainly limited my way of thinking and it took me many years to finally realize that I can do whatever I put my heart and mind to. I learned this on my own, but I wish it wouldn’t have taken me this long to get to where I am.

One of my goals with ITJuana is to empower the Latinx community to dream big, to believe they can achieve impossible goals. Through ITJuana, I am hoping to accelerate this process of achievement by providing opportunities for young talent, including students and graduates, to start a meaningful career very early and to have access to mentors and role models that they can lean on to achieve their career aspirations and work on meaningful products.

To all Latinxs out there — be smart, be thoughtful, be purposeful and join a career in tech today so that you can have an awesome future tomorrow.”

What one piece of advice would you give to others passionate about a career in a STEM field?

STEM, and particularly tech, is the future. COVID accelerated the need for companies to become digital and that generated tremendous opportunities and what I call, “jobs of the future.” Jobs that will solve very difficult problems through software, jobs that will be impacting people’s lives, and jobs that will generate economic growth in our region.

To all Latinxs out there — be smart, be thoughtful, be purposeful and join a career in tech today so that you can have an awesome future tomorrow.

Such great advice from such a prominent, influential leader. Lastly, what do you want your legacy to be?

I want to be remembered as someone who touched many people’s lives for the better.

“Remember where you came from,” was something my mother always told me growing up, too, and not only did it provide guidance towards finding my purpose, but it was also a reminder of the many lessons that came before me. Your story, especially your life growing up as young Maritza, was especially resounding and I appreciate you taking the time to share it with us in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Thank you.


About ITJuana

ITJuana is devoted to serving fast-growing, high-value market sectors that contribute to the growth of the Cali Baja region. With a nearshore model, working with the highest quality software engineers, data scientists, and creative designers from across Mexico and Latin America, ITjuana enables companies to create world-class software engineering centers of excellence in Tijuana, MX. For more information visit www.itjuana.com

About Luna

Luna’s suite of tools and services connects communities with researchers to accelerate health discoveries. With participation from more than 180 countries and communities advancing causes including disease-specific, public health, environmental, and emerging interests, Luna empowers these collectives to gather a wide range of data – health records, lived experience, disease history, genomics, and more – for research.

Luna gives academia and industry everything they need from engagement with study participants to data analysis across multiple modalities using a common data model. The platform is compliant with clinical regulatory requirements and international consumer data privacy laws.

By providing privacy-protected individuals a way to continually engage, Luna transforms the traditional patient-disconnected database into a dynamic, longitudinal discovery environment where researchers, industry, and community leaders can leverage a range of tools to surface insights and trends, study disease natural history and biomarkers, and enroll in clinical studies and trials.