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Latino Trailblazer

José Feliciano

  • Gender: Male
  • University: Princeton University
  • Undergraduate Degree: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • University: Stanford University
  • Graduate Degree: MBA
  • Hometown: Puerto Rico
  • Organization: Clearlake Capital Group
  • Position Title: Co-Founder and Managing Partner

José was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and according to Latino Leaders Magazine, was raised in a middle-class family, where his parents “always put their children first” and stressed the importance of education. Although he was strong in math and science, he explained that his applying to Princeton University was a sort of happy accident; he did so because a friend had. 

Accidental or not, he was admitted and graduated from Princeton with High Honors and a BS in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Although he had aimed for a career in aerospace, on leaving Princeton, he was drawn to the financial sector, and ended up landing a job at Goldman-Sachs. The die was cast, and three years later he entered Stanford Business School, where he earned an MBA.

Even so, his path to the world of private equity investment, where he is today, was not direct. After business school, he joined a dot com startup, where he held various leadership roles, including CFO and COO. But despite the company having attracted significant investment capital, it ultimately went bankrupt. José told Latino Leaders, “It was one of the most painful personal and professional experiences that I ever had.’”

Fortunately, he found his way to private equity, joining Tennenbaum Capital Partners, an alternative investment management firm, where he quickly rose to become a partner. Five years later, he launched his own investment firm, Clearlake Capital, where he has been, ever since. Clearlake is focused on private equity, buying software, industrial, and consumer products companies. According to Forbes, Clearlake oversees $43 billion, and “has scored some of the industry's best returns.”

José appears on the Forbes 400 list of “Wealthiest Americans” and is on the magazine’s billionaires list, with the designation, “Source of Wealth…private equity, Self Made.”

In 2014, José and his wife co-founded the SUPERCHARGED Initiative, a philanthropic grantmaking and impact investment organization. The Initiative invests in both nonprofits and for-profit ventures that are compatible with its goal to make a lasting impact across four key priorities: Education, Entrepreneurship, Equal Opportunity and Empowerment.

He also serves on the boards of directors of the Robert Toigo Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering the career advancement and increased leadership of underrepresented talent, and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a foundation that works to support individuals, alliances, and organizations dedicated to improving human rights around the world.

In July 2021, José was honored with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights 2021 Ripple of Hope Award. Previous recipients include Barack Obama, Colin Kaepernick, and Dolores Huerta, among others.

According to Latino Leaders, José “has long promoted the idea that investment prowess does not have a color, or gender, or ethnicity. He strongly believes that Latino-led investment firms are every bit as capable of producing incredible returns for their investors as any others out in the investment management industry—if only they are allowed the opportunity to tap into institutional capital. ‘There are challenges ahead, but our community has never shied away from hard work.’”