Imagery courtesy of Monica Treviño-Ortega
“Women’s rights are a generational responsibility. We have to teach our children to continue to fight for the rights we currently have with the same energy and tenacity required for fighting for the rights we haven’t yet obtained.”
What was the defining moment in your past that set you on the career path you ended up following?
Without a doubt, the defining moment that significantly altered my career path was the birth of my first child. In a culture of hustle and overstimulation, I was caught up in the fast-track career woman identity in my mid to late 20’s. Once I finished graduate school, I went after a promotion every year, served on any board that approached me, applied to every leadership development program I could find, and pursued bigger bonuses every quarter. It was unfulfilling, and it was never enough. Then, right before my 30th birthday, I had Alessandra.
When my first daughter was born, I had the stark realization that nothing I had accomplished before her birth could even compare to the empowerment I felt from creating life out of love. I enjoyed every minute of my pregnancy and appreciated my body even more after giving birth. Even the thought of going back to work was inspiring because I was certain that I was going to show my daughter how working mommies get it done: how we raise children, dominate sales meetings, and command the board room all in the same day. Returning to work after maternity leave made me really value my time with my daughter. I knew that if I was going to spend time away from her, it better be for the purpose of making her world a better place. Having my daughter also taught me to respect my own self-worth – I realized that although the pay and prestige of the industry were great, the severe gender pay gap and other sexist structures that existed within the corporate culture were just not worth my time and actually reinforced the gender parity issues we still face.
I left the corporate world in 2016, took six months off to enjoy being a first-time mom, and then got right back to work in an industry I was truly passionate about: non-profit. I can fully attest that working for an employer that truly values equality, and doing work you are perfectly aligned with can completely alter your life and transform you mentally and physically.
I now work for a government nonprofit executing special projects that positively impact the outcome of relationships pertaining to multimillion dollar urban developments in San Antonio. My work through my current employer has allowed me the opportunity to become an even stronger advocate and community leader as I have gained more confidence and connections in public and government affairs. Although I’ve been involved with organizations that support women’s and children’s rights over the last decade outside of work, I’ve leveraged this momentum and experience to be more impactful and effective in advocacy for issues that my daughters may or may not inherit as adults.
Commending the mayor and city council for their support of women’s equality through the City of San Antonio Council Consideration Request for an Equity Impact Assessment and the Women’s Equity Resolution in 2018
Hosting Judge Nelson Wolff and Congressman Lloyd Doggett on a tour of the newly developed San Pedro Creek Culture Park
What makes you unique in your industry?
I think what makes me unique in my industry is the variety of experiences, education, and training I’ve had. We’re all familiar with the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none,” but I’ve really been able to utilize my mixed bag of skills to be effective and successful in a male-dominated industry. My life coach helped me to view this as a positive attribute and we’ve rephrased this saying to be, “Jack of all trades, master of the universe.” It’s about honoring your uniqueness and loving all parts of YOU in the career space. I don’t know any other people working in nonprofit watershed management and urban development that have worked on fashion shows as a makeup artist, cared for children with developmental disabilities, full cycle medical sales, event management, community leadership, civic engagement/public affairs and with a BS in Biology and an MS in Health Promotion. Extremely random I know, but I love and honor my path and I’m very grateful for my experiences. I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
Andrew Ortega and Monica Treviño-Ortega
Monica speaking at the Latina Leadership Institute leadership development program graduation
What is one way you hope to impact your community in the future, either personally or professionally?
One of my biggest goals is for my daughters to think how ridiculous it was that equal pay wasn’t a right when Mommy was in her 20s-30s…because they will have that right.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be afforded the opportunity through my employer and supportive husband to continue my growth through various leadership development programs and organizations that support women. Earlier this year, I checked an item off my bucket list when I co-founded my own nonprofit with a dear friend that provides training and scholarships to women for professional leadership development programs at the local, state, and national levels. The Latina Power Network will officially launch this fall, and I am extremely proud to help women excel, and aid in the push for parity among public and government boards and commissions. I truly feel I wouldn’t be at this point in my career if it weren’t for my two and four year old daughters cheering me on and inspiring me along the way.
I also hope to help move the needle on statistics that currently confirm Latina women faring significantly worse than women of all other backgrounds on subjects such as education, pre-K enrollment, poverty, access to digital technology, insurance coverage, homeownership, prenatal care, obesity, domestic violence and homicide. In my opinion, if you are continuing to help women achieve great feats and break barriers on impenetrable boards and industries, you are no still no better than the structures that created those boundaries if you aren’t simultaneously doing something to bring the women up from the bottom bracket.
Monica and founding Board Members of the Latina Power Network
If you could sit down with any woman in the world–either from history or who is currently living–who would that be and what would you discuss with her?
If I could sit down with any woman in the world, it would be with either one of my daughters in their late years, far beyond my time on earth. At this time I’d imagine they’d live in a world where gender inequality is an obscure idea, and no race, religion or group is marginalized. We’d discuss how equal pay issues were so retro, in the same way a lot of us take women’s suffrage for granted today. We’d talk about their lives, children, families, careers, and everything in between. We’d discuss the love, healing, acceptance, and understanding the world has for all lives and creatures. We’d talk about what they’ve done to make the world a better place.
Monica’s daughters, Avianna (1) and Alessandra (4)