DAHIANA DUARTE PENA

VP and Product Development Manager
Eastern Bank

Heritage: Uruguayan

By: Frank Morris Lopez

 

Awards & Recognitions:

  • Eastern Bankshares Inc., CEO and Chairman’s Award

  • Eastern Bankshares Inc., Five-time Above and Beyond Award winner

  • 2021 Amplify Latinx Amplifier

 

Dahiana Duarte Pena has seen what financial technology can do for the Latino community.

Born and raised in Massachusetts to Uruguayan immigrants, Duarte Pena grew up in a tight-knit Uruguayan community in Fitchburg. Her parents spent much of their careers in the U.S. working in plastics factories. Her father works as a supervisor on a production line; her mom now cares for Duarte Pena’s sister who lives with special needs, and helps her make and sell bracelets.

But financially, the family has spent most of their lives just getting by, Duarte Pena said.

“Growing up, I had a lot of self doubt and a lot of guilt just from going to a top school and wanting to get a job in finance,” she said. “No one in my family had done those things. Initially, I felt I was leaving my family behind, but instead I was giving my family opportunity.”

Her parents had left Uruguay for economic reasons. So during her undergrad years, Duarte Pena made sure to study abroad in her parents’ home country. That helped build her confidence. “I was always intimidated by studying finance, but studying it at home made it more friendly to me,” she said.

She ended up getting her bachelor’s, summa cum laude, from Tufts University, where she majored in economics and international relations, before her career path would eventually lead her to Eastern Bank. After her first two years there, she was promoted to vice president and product development manager of fintech at Eastern Labs, the bank’s digital innovation hub.

“The best part about it was telling my dad. He cried,” she said.

Giving back is something Duarte Pena strongly believes in. At Eastern, she is the co-chair of the Latinos in Action employee network group, and also serves on Eastern’s DEI Steering Committee and leads the company’s Corporate Recognition Committee.

Outside of work, she serves as a board member of Invest in Girls, which teaches financial literacy to young girls; and at One Bead, which introduces entrepreneurship skills in communities of color.

Meanwhile, she’s working on her master’s of business administration from Boston University.

“My parents didn’t have a lot of economic opportunity, and I stand on their shoulders in a lot of ways,” she said. “I’m just honored to have had opportunities — and honored to be able to honor them while paying it forward to our people.”