Annual McAllen Symposium Honors Female ‘Community Trailblazers’

The City of McAllen named five female community trailblazers at McAllen’s International Women’s Day Breakfast Symposium on March 8 at the McAllen Convention Center.

“Have confidence in yourself, in your potential and in your ability,” Dr. Shirley A. Reed, South Texas College (STC) President, told attendees when she was asked about advice she could give to women. “I say that because I see thousands of young women struggling in many ways. Part of that is lack of self-confidence, lack of self-esteem wondering about what they can do with their lives. It is not easy. When opportunity comes before you, you have to be prepared.”

In celebration of Women’s History Month in March, the City of McAllen hosts a series of events to promote and encourage the contributions of women in the city. As part of the celebration, the city recognizes women who are trailblazers in their respective fields.

The other honoree are Paula Gonzalez, Athletic Director at McAllen ISD; Alma Johnson, Region Bank President for Wells Fargo; Angela Navarette, Senior Vice President of Integrated Marketing Solutions with Entravision; and Laura Warren, President and Principal of Warren Group Architects Inc.

“We use today to learn and celebrate the political, social and economic achievements of women around the world,” McAllen Mayor Jim Darling told attendees at the event. “All of these achievements and advancements we have had in women and in culture haven’t been accomplished without trailblazers,

“A trailblazer is defined as someone who makes a new path through wild and hostile country,” he said. “The people we are recognizing here today aren’t women who merely decided to excel in the career, they had to be a trailblazer because it wasn’t easy. These are people who are extremely confident and skilled who opened up opportunities for everyone.”

Organizers for the event point out how important it is that Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day continue to be promoted because women often shun the limelight in their personal and professional life.  They often struggle to find a balance between their working woman role and their expected role of family caretakers.

“Women are taught to ‘get along,’ and ‘play nice’ while men are told to go after what they want,” said Rebecca M. Olaguibel, Director of Retail and Business Development.  “We need to be reminded that women can go after what they want, even while getting along and playing nice.”

Christina Flores, another one of the principal organizers pointed out that the community trailblazers are not just role models for women, but also, for anyone looking to reach a goal and want to inspire both male and female coworkers. Laura Warren, one of this year’s panelists, is hoping to get that same message across, stating, “The best opportunity is the one that you give yourself.”

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