If you opened your own business, what would it be? 

If I opened my own business, it would be a non-profit for immigrants and refugees that helps them connect with other immigrants and refugees like them. When I was employed as a care coordinator, I would meet so many families who felt isolated in their struggles. A Guatemalan mother I worked with had a first-born child who was born with club foot. She had never heard of club foot before her child was born, and didn’t know any other mothers experiencing something similar. But I did because I had worked with Salvadoran mother whose first-born child was born with club foot. Because of privacy laws, I could not connect these women directly. What I would love to do is create a platform for women and their families to come together and meet organically. I want to create an opportunity for these families to find companionship and solidarity.

 

What advice would you give your younger self? 

Life will interrupt your plans, but that does not mean you failed. You can be the ripest, juiciest peach on the tree, and there will still be people who don’t like peaches.

 

Exceptional Skills- 

Giving others the benefit of the doubt, Being innovative in my approach to solutions, Developing relationships, and Eloquence.

What makes you feel fulfilled? 

Seeing the fruits of my labor. When I’m able to step back and look at something, knowing, “I did that. This happened because of me.” It could be seeing my daughter finally start reading, having a clean kitchen, or receiving a donation on behalf of my non-profit. I feel good knowing I created positive, forward movement.

 

When asked to describe yourself, what’s the first word that pops into your mind? 

Compassionate

 

Favorite Book

There are so many good ones, but the one that keeps coming back is the Harry Potter series. Not only are the story and characters compelling, but the series encompasses my later childhood. My mother (a teacher) and I would stay up until sometimes 2 or 3 in the morning because we simply could not put the book down. I also find that my experience is shared with many other people my age. My husband and his friends went to the midnight releases of some of the books. He and I squabbled over who would read the series to our older daughter. Never since Harry Potter have I been so enraptured in a book or series, and it holds a special place in my heart.

 

What makes your heart race? 

My marriage. My husband and I started dating a month after we met, and that has been twelve years ago. We have shared the darkest and the brightest times together, we have grown a lot, and we are strong. My husband can get under my skin more than any other human, but he is also the one who makes me laugh when I’m ready to cry. After all this time, I am so humbled that he has chosen to stay by my side and love me. Louis de Bernieres says it best, “Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree, and not two.”

 

Organization or cause near to your heart- 

An organization would be Dental Connections – the non-profit I work for goes above and beyond to make sure our patients have what they need to be successful. We work with our patients to create positive health outcomes when others won’t. I’m so proud to work here!

 

Shameless plug: Donate to our current fundraising challenge here! (https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/dental-connections-iowa)

 

Cause- Early Childhood. The first five years of a child’s life are critical to building a foundation of future brain development. The more resources, time, and energy we pour into making sure ALL (and I do mean, all) our smallest children get what they need in these first five years, the better our outcomes in 20-30 years. Do that consistently and you will change the world. Have you ever heard that statistic that the number of prison beds are determined by the number of 3rd graders who aren’t reading at grade level? Well, 3rd grade reading scores are determined by the number of words a child knows at age 2. In the age of electronic babysitting, childhood obesity, and increasing income inequality, kids need us more than ever!

 

What keeps you up at night? 

Usually my six-year-old daughter! Ha! I do some analytic thinking about what went on during the day, and how I interacted with people. Some self-reflection is healthy, but I’ve also gotten really good at identifying subjective lies my brain tells me about myself and replacing them with more objective truths. No one else is dwelling on my blunders, so I shouldn’t either.

 

What is a belief you once held but no longer do? 

If the people I love don’t love the choices I make, they are bad choices. Sometimes I really do know what is best for me.

 

What are you interested in connecting with other women about? 

Literally anything and everything. What is your holy grail mascara? How do you handle tricky situations at work? When do you feel your most confident? What skills would you be willing to teach me? What skills may I share with you?

 

Favorite Quote

“You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.”

 

Favorite Food

I will never turn down watermelon. But roast beef is pretty high on the list, too.  

Emily Mendez

Development Coordinator

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