Of all the Zooms we’ve attended over the last several months, one is a standout for members of the El Paso Women’s Fund board. It was the evening of Aug. 24 when we met with the fall 2020 recipients of our scholarship program to talk about the super power of resilience in an increasingly complicated world. Our guest speaker, Nicole Ferrini, the chief resilience officer for the City of El Paso, encouraged persistence and confidence in goal setting.
“Don’t wait to be ‘qualified,’ to be certified,” before taking on new challenges, she told the group. Too frequently women hesitate to put themselves forward for positions they are capable of, but may think they need outside approval to pursue. Participants then shared their own stories of resilience in smaller breakout groups and learned more about how to face adversity with hope. We talked of facing obstacles like illness, childcare issues, mental health and more.
While the scholarships are modest and by no means cover all the costs of education and childcare recipients need, WFEP board members learned that even a little bit of aid meant a lot when it is coming from women encouraging other women. Twenty four applicants received scholarships from the Womens Fund of El Paso in amounts ranging from $250 to $1,500. In all, WFEP awarded $16,400 in scholarships for the fall semester to help cover financial gaps in their pursuit of college degrees or technical training. “It means so much that the El Paso Women’s fund is investing in my success,’ one participant said. Many attendees said they feel special to be part of an organization where women are empowering other women and look forward to the day when they can give back to the community themselves.
Board members chose a theme of resilience for the online meeting in response to the added pressures affecting us all with the coronavirus pandemic. Of course, if you read our blog post to get to know some of our scholarship recipients you’ll see that they are already fiercely determined to complete their education and bring a better life to themselves and their families. Now they move forward knowing the board members of the El Paso Women’s Fund, along with all of our dedicated donors and volunteers, are cheering them on to the finish line.
Welcome new board members!
We are happy to welcome the four newest board members to the Women’s Fund of El Paso family: Michelle Luevano, Maria Garvin, Jackie Butler and Cheri Dorsey. These women have excelled as community leaders within their respective fields and we know they will bring great energy and ideas to the organization. Learn more about them below:
Michelle Luevano is an Outreach Analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas-El Paso. She uses her knowledge, communication skills, and connections in the community to communicate the mission, vision, and critical work of the Federal Reserve. She works to provide first hand feedback from businesses across various industry’s to the Federal Reserve to help guide decisions regarding the economy and monetary policy.
Prior to joining the Federal Bank of Dallas – El Paso, Michelle was the Project Director for the Minority Women’s Enterprise Diversity Center (MWEDC), the Hispanic Chamber’s newest technical assistance center, and maintained her role as the Chamber’s Advocacy Director. She created programing aimed at empowering minority owned women across the country to embrace their true economic potential through starting and growing their businesses.
Michelle graduated from Santa Clara University in June of 2012 with a B.S. of Political Science and earned her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2014. In addition to her role on the Women’s Fund of El Paso Board of Directors, she also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence (CASFV).
Maria Garvin currently serves as the Assistant Chief Financial Officer (ACFO) at Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare in El Paso, Texas, a part of HCA Healthcare/St. David’s Healthcare Partnership. She is an energetic business professional with over 18 years of experience and a proven record of professional growth. She joined the HCA Healthcare/St. David’s Healthcare Partnership family in Austin, Texas, in 2002 as a staff accountant. Her drive and expertise provided opportunities to serve in other positions, including Financial Analyst, Accounting Manager and Controller. In 2018, she became the ACFO at Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare.
Maria completed her Masters of Business Administration from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, in 2006, where she graduated with honors and received a nomination for the Presidential Scholar Award.
One of Maria’s top passions is giving back to her community by volunteering. She has volunteered with various causes and organizations, including the American Heart Association, Salvation Army, Humane Society, Meals on Wheels, Faith in Action, and Austin City Limits Music Festival, to name a few. In recognition of her commitment to community, Maria received The President’s Youth Service Award signed by former President Clinton in 1995 in recognition of outstanding community service. Maria enjoys making jewelry, running and lounging by the pool and continues to follow her passion for volunteering and giving back to the community.
Jackie Butler is the Senior Director of Operations at the Medical Center of the Americas (MCA) Foundation. Prior to joining the MCA Foundation, Jackie served as the vice president of government relations at the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, where she was responsible for managing the chamber's advocacy and legislative efforts. She also planned and executed large events for the business community, as well as community and economic development initiatives such as intercity visits to San Diego, California and Nashville, Tennessee.
In her current role, Jackie manages the MCA’s marketing and outreach efforts, workforce development initiatives, manages events, and oversees grants development efforts. She also serves as Director, U.S. for BIO El Paso-Juarez, a non-profit organization representing the regional medical device manufacturing industry. Jackie’s passion is finding and creating opportunities for El Paso’s growth in the areas of healthcare, innovation, advanced manufacturing, and medtech.
Jackie is a native of El Paso and holds an MBA, summa cum laude, from the University of Texas at El Paso. She received her undergraduate degree in political science from Vassar College.
Jackie values community service and currently serves as a Commissioner for the El Paso County Emergency Services District #2.
Cheri Dorsey is the Commercial Security Sales Manager for Johnson Controls, Rio Grande and Las Vegas regions. She manages a team of account executives developing safety and security solutions for local businesses throughout New Mexico, West Texas and Southern Nevada to include video surveillance, intrusion detection and fire alarm monitoring.
Cheri grew up in El Paso and graduated from UTEP with an MBA in General Management and a BS in Chemistry. She previously worked for El Paso Water Utilities and Levi Strauss, and later moved into sales.
Cheri is married and has four cats she loves dearly. She loves shopping, likes to collect Catrinas and enjoys estate sales. Cheri studies wine regions for varietals and history along with her husband, and focuses their travel on experiencing both.
She is a current member and Past President of Executive Forum, and has in the past served on several boards appointed by City Council to include Parks and Recreation, as well as Bond Oversight. Cheri is proud to live in a historic district and is very active in its support.
Thank you all for being part of the team!
Scholar Recipient Testimonial
Ariadne Reveles remembers the exact moment when she learned she received scholarship from the Women’s Fund of El Paso. The UTEP industrial and systems engineering student says it was the moment she realized hard work truly does pay off.
“The Women’s Fund of El Paso has helped me in so many ways. It has lifted a huge financial burden off my shoulders. I have been able to work two jobs instead of three, allowing me to dedicate more time to my studies and my community. It has also pushed me even more to work harder towards my career goals of becoming the first woman engineer in my family,” she wrote in her 2020 essay.
This summer Reveles was awarded a renewal scholarship for Fall 2020. She was one of 21 applicants who received scholarships from the Womens Fund of El Paso in amounts ranging from $250 to $1,500. In all, WFEP awarded $14,600 in scholarships for the fall semester to help El Paso women cover financial gaps in their pursuit of college degrees or technical training.
The amounts awarded offer support for things ranging from books and tuition to childcare and school supplies. But scholarship recipients also tell us that just knowing the Women’s Fund of El Paso is on their side offers encouragement in dark times.
Emily Mata is a sophomore studying civil engineering at UTEP. She will be the first in her family to graduate college, but she is often asked why she would waste her time on school instead of going right into the workforce.
“Becoming a scholar for the Women’s Fund Scholarship will be an honor for my family and a tremendous motivator to continue my career. I want to THANK the Women’s Fund of El Paso organization for bringing such opportunities to women like myself,” she wrote.
For Norma Orozco, a scholarship helps her transition after being laid off from her previous career working for the city library for 18 years. Now she is studying medical coding and billing at Western Technical College.
“Once I am back on my feet financially I would like to donate to the Women’s Fund of El Paso as a token of appreciation,” Orozco wrote. “This, in turn, could help someone else who reaches out to your group. Perhaps someone like me, a woman who dedicated herself to providing for her family and decades later is finally taking steps to invest in her educational goals during uncertain times.”
For everyone, education is the key to not only improving their lives, but also is expected to have a ripple effect to help those around them.
Jessica Murillo is a single mother who takes the bus from Tornillo to UTEP where she is studying to become a science teacher.
“I would like to influence my students to look for a better quality of life,” she wrote.
Health issues sidelined Yvette Landeros for years from pursuing her degree in business management at Park University. She is a single mother of four children and works full time. She is focused on finishing her last five classes and become the first in her family to graduate college.
“I am determined to finish school so that my children can have a better future. I want to show my children that if I can graduate from college then the sky is the limit for them,” she wrote.
While each scholarship recipient has a compelling story, one of the most profound this year may be that of Bianca Ruida, a nursing student with the Texas Tech Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing. She wrote an update after receiving funds to help with online training guides in the spring semester.
“The Women's fund of El Paso scholarship was an incredible help this last semester. I was able to afford the books and online access that are required. The previous semester I was very lost and unprepared. I was privileged to have received this reward and will forever be grateful. It came at a time that I needed it most,” she wrote.
Ruida explained that due to the lockdown in the spring semester over the pandemic, nursing students were given the option of continuing with their clinical studies or put their semester on hold.
“I chose to continue my degree and went to the hospitals in order to help my community as much as I could. There was a lot of fear in many of us and my fear was bringing it home to my kids,” she wrote. “Once I saw COVID patients and what it does to them, I knew this was my calling. I knew that this was the reason it took me so long to get here. I was not afraid to be a part of this pandemic and I was even more eager to finish my degree and volunteer to be on the front lines.
Rueda said there is some talk that the school may graduate nurses early to help fulfill demand on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight. If so, she said she is ready to serve.
“I am proud to have chosen the career I did, and I will do everything it takes to continue to help during this time,” she said.
Learn more about how you can support scholarships for El Paso women here.
20 Questions with Kate Gannon
20 Questions with Vanessa Aguilar
How many days could you last in solitary confinement? How would you do it? I think I would get a little stir crazy after 5 days. In the rare moments I have to myself I enjoy arts & crafts, cleaning/reorganizing my place and listening to music.
Do you save old greeting cards and letters? Throw them away? I save them. I usually save cards on my refrigerator for a week or two and if they are really beautiful or have a sweet/sentimental message, I keep them in a memory box that I occasionally go through for inspiration or a quick pick-me-up.
What’s some insider knowledge that only people in your line of work have? There is no one right answer! That is one of the most exciting and terrifying parts about marketing.
What’s the worst hairstyle you’ve ever had? I unintentionally got a shmullet…twice!
What life skills are rarely taught but extremely useful? Networking! Networking can be scary but it is so important for your professional and personal growth.
What movie or book do you know the most quotes from? The Princess Bride
What’s the smartest thing you’ve seen an animal do? My cat can guess which cup a ball is in after you mix it up with other cups. She’s a genius.
Who in your life has the best / worst luck? I don’t really believe in luck. I know there are chance circumstances but when I think of those who could be considered lucky or unlucky, it is pretty obvious that they have played active roles in their situations. To credit luck would take away from their efforts or lack thereof.
What trend are you tired of? Ripped jeans, snapchat filters and the Kardashians
What’s the weirdest crush you’ve had? My first crush was on David Bowie. His character Jared in Labyrinth was so dreamy!
Who is the most creative person you know? I’ve been blessed to work with so many creative people. I can’t think of just one.
What elements of pop culture will be forever tied in your mind to your childhood? Hyper color t-shirts and jelly sandals…Did I just age myself?
What would be the most amazing adventure to go on? In the past few years, I have developed an adoration for sloths. That being the case, a trip to the sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica is definitely on my bucket list.
Who in your life is the worst at using technology? Are you trying to get me in trouble? I plead the 5th!
What was the biggest realization you had about yourself? I’ve got this, whatever it is. I’ve reached a point in my professional career and in some respects my personal life that I have been presented with enough situations where I thought, “This it! This is where it all falls apart.” Each time I have come out on the other end…not necessarily unscathed but I figured it out.
What job doesn’t exist now but will exist in the future? Social engagement coach to teach people how to interact with each other offline.
What’s the cutest thing you can imagine? Something so cute it’s almost painful. Baby sloths
What’s the worst thing you ate from a fast food restaurant? I’m seriously afraid to even think about it but I’m sure it was at Taco Bell. Lol!
What was the most amazing physical feat you’ve managed to pull off? I repelled off the Mills building. It was awesome but I never want to do it again.
What values are most important to you? Authenticity, empathy, kindness, and humor
20 Questions with Vanessa Leon
20 Questions with Tracy Yellen
20 Questions with Azuri Gonzalez
20 Questions with Bonnie Escobar
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.