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iSuperwoman- How Dallas’ “it” girl does it all

A superwoman, defined by MacmillanDictionary.com, is “a woman who is very successful in her job, is involved in many activities, and also usually looks after a home and family.”In Dallas, Veronica Torres is the epitome of this humankind.

By day, the Austin native of Mexican and Portuguese descent is the director of diversity marketing for the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, where her success largely depends on  community involvement and work with multicultural chambers of commerce. By night, Torres, 34, is a networking guru known by countless aspiring and established professionals looking to expand their connections; she attends five to eight networking activities per week, many times hosting the events herself.

“I am so in love with Dallas, you’d think I was born here!” Torres told Infórmate DFW. “I love the can-do attitude, its sophistication, the big everything. I get so inspired conducting city tours and driving around town. People who work, live and play here are all rock stars.”

Torres joined DCVB more than 11 years ago as the diversity convention sales manager, traveling nationwide to present Dallas to meeting-industry insiders and lure business home. A certified tourism ambassador promoting Big D for a living, she is in the know about local plans and developments much in advance of the general public and enjoys being “futuristic and the go-to person” for city information.

The proud Dallasite has been instrumental in building strong local partnerships in the Latino, Asian, black, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender markets. Torres’ diverse community ties additionally include six board seats, two advisory-board positions and more than a dozen other volunteer roles in nonprofit organizations serving children, women and businesses. With the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce alone, her accolades include recent appointment to its board of directors, past chair of young professionals group YP214 and the 2008 Emerging Leader Award.

“I love my community and love meeting and connecting people,” Torres said. “I get a lot of energy from expanding my network and supporting the communities that I need support from. As Latinos, we need to help each other lead, do business and give back.”

This powerhouse Latina walks the talk. One of her newest projects is iMeetLatino, a “live, LinkedIn-type-of networker” she launched in response to numerous requests to connect more Latinos with her extensive contact list and vice versa.

Amid all this and being the family pillar to her 20-year-old, college-student daughter, Torres still managed to execute a life event last September ¾ her wedding to long-time beau and Rock Star Fit Camp owner Ade Hazley ¾ and look stunning in a shoulder-baring, floor-grazing Richard Solodky gown custom designed to accentuate her Yoga-toned, hourglass physique.

Torres remembers being single and asking God for a superman who could keep up with her energy ¾ Hazley’s had a Superman tattoo on his right arm since before he met his match! Read on for more on the Latina superwoman and where she gets the power to do it all.

Infórmate DFW: What role does DCVB play in our city?

Veronica Torres: DCVB is an independent, not-for-profit organization that promotes Dallas as a business and pleasure destination. Our mission is to market Dallas as the ideal convention and visitor destination to the regional, national and international marketplace and favorably impact its economy through meetings and tourism.

IDFW: What are DCVB’s major initiatives and how is the Latino community reflected in these?

VT: In 2012, we are focusing on four major targets: First, bring larger, citywide conventions to bring back our big business: hospitality; Second, rebrand Dallas. It’s time to tell people about everything that is happening in a fantastic way. We’ll introduce the new Dallas soon; Third, put on a really great show in August for the ASAE (The Center for Association Leadership) convention ¾ it’s like the Super Bowl of conventions! Attendees are key association executives who bring other conventions; Last, but not least, continue participating and hosting events to showcase our diversity. One will be a huge, international effort that’ll bring people from Latin and South American countries.

IDFW: How did you get to a position where you represent Dallas for a living?

VT: I got my degree in hospitality from Johnson & Wales University in South Carolina, a top culinary and hospitality school. After college, I started as a banquet manager for Bristol Hotel Group in Dallas. Most CVBs recruit staff from the hotel industry, since it’s part of the business. I attended a DCVB meeting and was asked to head diversity convention sales. So, here I am.

IDFW: What is the most challenging part of your job?

VT: The business politics get crazy. We work in a glass house; everyone is watching and holding us accountable. Everywhere I go, I’m asked what’s new, how much business we’ve booked and what’s next. I’ll be out and about, and I get an earful from people, plus a note to follow up and respond to them. I love it, but sometimes it’s overwhelming. DCVB’s job is to keep city lights on at night. I take that seriously and sometimes personal. It’s really consuming.

IDFW: What are your goals with DCVB going forward?

VT: DCVB has allowed me to grow as a professional and an advocate for Dallas. I hope to continue feeling inspired and hungry for business. I want to be a part of our new branding and live and breathe Dallas culture. My goals are to get locals on board and excited about the city and have them invite friends, family and business partners to visit.

IDFW: What advice do you have for Hispanic youth who want a career in community relations?

VT: My advice is to find a mentor ASAP and start getting involved through volunteerism in everything you’re interested in. Surround yourself with people you want to be like. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and collaboration. Stay hungry and roll up your sleeves.

IDFW: What challenges do you see Latina professionals facing beyond college, and what advice do you have for them?

VT: Most challenges lie within our own communities; we don’t have enough allies. I see most of us work in silos. We need to learn how to work together and play our strengths ¾ it’s OK to collaborate. I love to be around sophisticated, beautiful and, most importantly, smart Latinas; instead of being intimidated, it motivates me to work with them and help. It makes me proud to see us on top! Most companies don’t have Latinas in middle or executive management. We need to put ourselves there. Apply for those positions and never get comfortable. Always learn and ask for help. And stay classy!

IDFW: One can’t help but wonder where you get your energy and how you manage to stay in such great shape amid your busy schedule. What’s your magical formula?

VT: That’s funny. I [have] a lot of energy and had to learn to manage it. As a young mom, I had to learn how to stay active and focused in high school and college. I get my motivation from prayer and meditation. Yoga gives my mind some rest. It’s turned into a love and a connection to others, and I just happen to get a workout from it but get more from the energy and light. Your body follows your thought; I have to tell myself everyday that I’m going to be productive. I recently started boxing once a week too because I think Latinas should know a little bit about everything to be dangerous. I like to focus on being a great person inside and out ¾ this attracts like people and minds.

IDFW: What can Dallas expect from Veronica next?

VT: I’m investing time and energy in getting Dallas healthy. I have a burning desire to get involved in programming, volunteering and advocating for Latinas’ health and wellness. Mayor Mike Rawlings has an interest in getting Dallas to be among the nation’s healthiest cities. I want to help. I know Dallas can do it!

Editor’s note: At press time, Torres had a month into her new blog at http://healthylatinas.wordpress.com.

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