With local elections right around the corner, if you’re like most Dallasites, you want the best of the best to represent us and our beloved city. This is no easy task. It takes someone who is not only accomplished and experienced, but also someone who is committed to bettering our community.
By: Janet Villareal It’s not every day I get to meet such an accomplished woman, so naturally, I was a bit nervous on my way to dinner with Miss Amanda Arizola, Program Manager for Financial Stability at Catholic Charities. Within minutes of our meeting, I realized she was armed with not only her very impressive accomplishments, but also an out of this world personality that just puts you at ease. It’s no wonder Ms. Arizola has dedicated her life in service of others: It’s second nature to her. Indeed, Arizola has spent most of her professional career trying to help out her community in one way or another. By the time she graduated from UT Austin, she had served as a Legislative Aide to Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), and was an active member of Kappa Delta Chi, a Latina Service Sorority. Since then, not only has she earned a double Masters in Business Administration and Health Business Management, she currently serves as Vice Chair of Marketing for Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, is a board member of the Hispanic Wellness Coalition, served as the President of MANA of North Texas, is on the Community Advisory Board for KERA/KXT, and most recently, she was the Program Director for CHIMES (Consumer Health Insurance Market Place and Enrollment Services). These are only a few of the organizations she’s been involved with; there really is nothing this woman can’t do! Most of us aspire to somehow make a difference in this world, but Miss Arizola is set on making her wish come true. Find out what motivates to do her part in bettering our society, particularly for the Hispanic Community when it comes to healthcare and empowering Latinas. Infórmate DFW: First tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you like to do on your leisure time? Amanda Arizola: I was raised by a single mother, I have 2 brothers who were more like father figures to me, and 1 sister I am very close to. I’m the baby of the family. When I’m not working, I love to read and write. Las Comadres is a reading club I am part of and I read mostly short stories and books written by Latino authors. Most of the writing I do is academic or if I’m working on a research paper, and I do some creative writing for myself. IDFW: I noticed some of these organizations you’re associated with promote Health Care. What sparked your involvement in health initiatives? AA: It started before I graduated high school when I realized my sick mother just could not get proper healthcare. She didn’t really have consistent help anywhere, whether she was seeing a doctor in private practice or a clinic. I wanted to help others be able to navigate through the system. IDFW: You are currently the Program Manager for Financial Stability at Catholic Charities. What kind of services does your department provide? AA: We assist people and families in crisis by helping out with utilities, rent, and food. We also provide support with credit repair, debt repayment and financial management. IDFW: What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment or proudest moment thus far? AA: I’m really proud of my MBA, Masters in Health Systems. Also proud of the organizations I associate myself with such as the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, MANA of North Texas, and Las Comadres, my reading club. IDFW: Do you have a mentor/rode model? AA: Anyone who has taken an interest in me has been a mentor, anyone who has allowed me to pick their brain has been a role model for me. IDFW: What direction do you plan on taking your career in the next 5 years? AA: I would like to be doing something at the Federal or International Level, and pursue my passion by becoming more involved in philanthropy and community service. I want to make our world better place. IDFW: Any words of wisdom for the future generation of Latinas? AA: Remember your culture, where you came from! Don’t be afraid! If it feels right, trust your instincts. Vote!! We all have a lot to say and a right to be heard.
By: Janet Villarreal At first glance, Jaime Resendez seems like your typical attorney: clean cut, suited up, and walking with this air of confidence about him. Others find him a bit shy and mysterious, but one thing we can all agree on is this: there’s definitely more to him than meets the eye. A child of immigrants from Mexico, Resendez grew up in Pleasant Grove, a community not unlike the ones most Latinos in DFW grew up in. It was the year 2000, Resendez was fresh out of high school, and though he wasn’t sure what which career path to take, he knew the importance of getting a college education. “I didn’t know anyone with a college education, but I remember every successful person I’d see on TV had a degree, and they weren’t broke. Since my parents didn’t have the money for college, the only option I had was to join the military. So at 17, before 9/11, I enlisted in the U.S. Army.” This decision led him to where he is today, a successful attorney pursuing a position on the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees. Infórmate DFW: What was your experience like in the military, how do you believe it has influenced your life? Jaime Resendez: Being in Baghdad, Iraq, where we did a lot of convoys and drove around in areas where people were being shot at and killed on a daily basis, was a life altering experience for me. At 23, it gave me totally different perspective in life. When I came back from my deployment, as I was sitting in my air conditioned classroom feeling very fortunate, I thought to myself, “All I have to do is study and read books. I don’t have to be intelligent or smart, I just have to work hard and put forth the effort.” IDFW: Is this when you realized you wanted to be an attorney? Resendez: Actually, initially I wanted to be a firefighter, I figured it would be exciting, the pay wasn’t bad, the hours were cool, and I would be saving lives, but then I got interested in Kinesiology. After Eastfield, I enrolled at UNT Dallas, where I kept hearing all this talk about ‘law school’ this, and ‘graduate school’ that. I was in my mid-twenties and at that point I still didn’t know how an attorney became an attorney. I started doing research and after a while, three more years in school didn’t seem so bad. I could see myself as a lawyer from Pleasant Grove, where a lot of people don’t graduate high school, much less graduate from college. So, I took the LSAT, and did well enough to enroll at UT. IDFW: So what do you think about practicing law so far? Resendez: Law School was brutal, maybe one of the worst experiences in my life. I’m glad I went through it, but it was an overwhelming amount of work. Being at UT turned out to be a whole different experience than what I expected, I learned a lot about society, I was culture-shocked. I realized it’s no coincidence that kids from economically disadvantaged households and communities don’t make it to Law Schools at UT. The people I encountered came from families where the parents were doctors and judges, went to private school and graduated from Yale and Harvard. So, they weren’t there necessarily because they were smarter than me, but mainly because we didn’t have the same opportunities. Now that I’m here, it’s a great feeling walking into a courthouse and I love what I do. It’s challenging, every situation is different and I especially enjoy juvenile cases, with kids that are going through a rough time in their lives. IDFW: Is this why you’re running for the DISD Board of Trustees? Resendez: Well, think about this: close to 90% of kids in DISD qualify for free or reduced school lunches, which means they come from economically disadvantaged homes, kind of like me. I want to see our kids be successful. Their success is directly correlated to the success of our city, our state and our country. We need to have a work force that’s ready to take on these 21st century jobs and stay competitive with the world. These kids are our future, we need to educate them. IDFW: What will you be bringing to the table as a trustee? Resendez: My perspective and my background. I’m not an expert in anything, but I can’t think of one person with the same perspective as me. Coming from where I come from, going through what I went through with the war, UT Law, and now as an attorney. I also advocate for others on a daily basis, which is something I plan on doing as a trustee, advocate for children and education. Regarding our future generations, Resendez suggests parents instill the importance of reading at an early age. “Reading is related to education and success, it’s the reason why I’m running as trustee. Knowledge is Power, no matter what you pursue in life. This is what most successful people have in common; they read a lot! I feel that strongly about it. Reading is the key to success.” Without a doubt, Mr. Resendez would have a bright future in politics, should he ever decide to pursue one. Resendez, however, insists he’s just taking it one day at a time. “If I am elected, I want to completely commit myself to serve as a trustee,” states Resendez. “If I feel comfortable in that position and that’s where I will make the biggest difference, I will stay there as long as I can.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Nowadays, most of us are just happy to have a job that provides and puts a roof over our head. If we are fortunate, some of us may have a high school diploma, a college degree and even a career we are happily settled in. For others, like Jorge Baldor, having “made it” is just not enough. For him, it’s always been about giving back and helping others find success and reach the American Dream. Born in Havana, Cuba, Jorge Baldor moved to Dallas, TX with his family at the age of six. In his teenage years, Baldor was involved in social justice projects and worked on several local, statewide, and national campaigns. While in high school, he was on the Mayor’s Advisory Council under Dallas Mayor Wes Wise. He then attended Southern Methodist University, where he graduated with honors with a BA in History; eventually co-founding ResidentCheck, a leading national tenant background screening service where he serves as President. Baldor enjoys traveling and is an advocate of educational and social causes, locally and internationally. He’s been a supporter of programs like the International Education Program of The World Affairs Council, President Vicente Fox’s “Presidente Por Un Día” program in Guanajuato, Mexico, and President Vinicio Cerezo’s Education Foundation in Guatemala. In 2011, the Innocence Project recognized him in their Donor Highlights. Jorge currently serves as Vice-Chairman on the Board of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Ft. Worth. In November of 2014, Dan Patrick was elected lieutenant governor of Texas on a platform to repeal HB 1403, a bill giving all Texas high school graduates the right to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities regardless of legal status. Baldor believed the law was being unfairly targeted as a result of concern with the Central American children flooding the Texas border at the time. That’s when he founded www.KeepHB1403.com to bring public awareness at efforts to end in-state tuition for Texas DREAMers in the state legislature. KeepHB1403.com became a strategic initiative under the Latino CLD. Starting the Latino CLD and funding it was a natural next step for Baldor as the need to establish a center for a new generation of Latino leadership has become even more important over time. “In the past, Latino’s have been seeking a place at the table. Now, we must seek a place at the head of the table,” says Baldor. His vision is that the new generation of Latino leaders will adopt a “Why not me?” attitude, and his personal story of accomplishment can be the expected, rather than the exception. Thanks to his efforts and others like him, we believe success will be the norm within our Latino youth in the very near future.
A Latina in the Construction World By: Janet Villarreal As a woman and Latina, nothing excites me more than to be around accomplished women that I can relate to and look up to. Having great role models is especially crucial for those young women that are just getting their careers started. Pat Rodriguez-Gorman is an excellent example of a powerful and successful Latina that has positively influenced others and continues to pay it forward. If you are involved in the construction field, there is a good chance you have heard of her and her company, The Rodriguez Group. For those who haven’t been so lucky; well, let’s just say you are in for a treat! Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Pat knew early on what her career aspirations were. Her father, a Latino who owned a construction company, allowed her to work for him in the summers, getting her interested in becoming a contractor, and working in that field. Keep reading to find how more about Pat’s life, her work, how she balanced family and career, and what her company is all about. Infórmate DFW: How have you been able to combine family and your career/business? Pat Rodriguez-Gorman: When my kids were young, my parents were still alive, so my kids stayed with them and spent a lot of time with them, which I think it was good because they got to have a very strong relationship with their grandparents and I thought that was important […] I had to rely on my parents a lot to help me keep up with it all. It’s good to have someone you trust. IDFW: What has been your greatest accomplishment? PRG: My biggest accomplishment is my kids. They are good people. They’re a great example for anybody. IDFW: What has been the greatest challenge you have faced in your career, as a woman AND Latina? PRG: I think I would say it’s not accepting other people’s opinions of what I should do, because if you would have left it up to the men, you would be taking notes and answer the phone. You had to come up with your own plan. In the construction field being a female was hard enough, but being a Latina was something that you had to work twice as much. IDFW: Share with us your experience at Dallas ISD. PRG: It was pretty intense when I worked for the district, as the only woman that worked in the facilities area that I did, […] they needed someone to put the bond program together, they told me to do it and I had no idea how to do it. But it was very exciting to work with different people; engineers, architects, real estate people and the district. We had to determine the needs of each school, what type of school was needed and how much money was needed. There was a lot of convincing to do. It was hard but fun, you had to love construction and I love construction. IDFW: How was it being the first chairwoman of the Hispanic Contractors Association? PRG: That was challenging but very exciting and fun. The hood of the contractors’ trucks was where they did their office work, it sounds crazy but that’s how it was. Then you also saw a lot of their wives being involved too. You could see a little contractor getting a job, doing it well, growing their company. That was very exciting, getting contracts, getting into the big leagues. I got to be part of that. IDFW: Tell us about The Rodriguez Group. PRG: The Rodriguez Group does a couple of things. We’re mainly a construction company but we also do Real Estate because I’m also a Real Estate agent. Now Rodriguez Group owns some property so they have to manage the property. It’s not a huge operation but it’s a separate piece of work in management. We’ve also done some small renovations ourselves. I have someone who works for me, Eddie Jasso, he works on-site through the DISD Bond program. He works with small contractors, either that had already been identified for the project or he goes out and recruits contractors for work. IDFW: What do you most enjoy about your position as the vice-chairman of the Board of Managers at Parkland Hospital? PRG: I have enjoyed very much working with the leadership of Parkland.[…] The biggest role to work the facility of the $1.3 billion dollar hospital has been to work with everybody to the big construction people to the smallest. It’s been a big challenge to try to meet everybody’s needs. I just help in how it’s carried out, what we need to do […] We [the board] just won the Texas Healthcare Trustees STAR Award for the leadership in Parkland. IDFW: Any words of encouragement for young Latinos that may want to get involved in the construction field? PRG: Go for it! Don’t be afraid. Put your foot out there and go for it. Always ask successful people, they will help you. Get involved with associations like the Regional Hispanic Contractors Association. Without a doubt, Pat Rodriguez-Gorman is very accomplished and successful, but there is another reason why she is well-regarded and respected among her peers: that she’s so humble despite all her achievements. She also has the admiration of the many women she has mentored and led along the way. Pat has some advice for those following in her footsteps: “I’m not a big talker, but I guess to never give up and always give back. Always help other people.”