September was an important month for the Chamber as we hosted our annual Women in Business conference. The Chamber has maintained an important role as the connector, coach, advocate, and innovator for women in business across the region. Throughout the history of the organization, our aim has been to create opportunities for entrepreneurs and provide guidance for businesses to begin and remain sustainable. Those efforts have overlapped with a growing sector of women-led, women-driven businesses in El Paso, as well as the growth of female executives across small, medium, and large enterprises and in government and the non-profit sector.
Despite these gains, I am aware of the challenges facing women in the workplace, from salary disparity to a lack of upper trajectories to leadership, to issues of harassment and discrimination. I know that enterprise and the economy cannot succeed unless all people have an equal opportunity at prosperity. The Chamber is committed to fighting for equity in business and society.
We purposefully chose September 22nd, National Business Women’s Day to shine a spotlight on women in the region that are exemplars of business savvy and determination. I am especially pleased that our efforts overlap with the term of board chair Arlene Carroll of WestStar Bank. Arlene has had a tremendous career at WestStar, moving through the ranks of the organization, impacting not only the bank’s operations but serving as an important role model for women in the El Paso banking sector. I have been pleased to work with Arlene as Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, because among other things she has brought experience and an important standpoint to the role. She has been a driving force behind Chamber efforts on mentoring over this last year; an especially unique issue given the strain the pandemic has placed on traditional mentoring efforts in the workplace.
I am also especially pleased to be working with Congresswoman Veronica Escobar on a number of initiatives that cover business and economic interests across the 16th District. Congresswoman Escobar has been a luminary for women in the community and on the national stage. She remains committed to her home district as well as to advancing opportunities and support for women in business across the United States. I am constantly impressed with the Congresswoman’s strategic savvy and her focus on long terms trends and strategies for the community to benefit from beyond the next year or two.
El Paso has strong, female political leaders in City Representatives Alexsandra Annello, Cassandra Hernandez, Isabel Salcido, Cassandra Hernandez, Claudia Rodriguez, and Cissy Lizarraga. Through our work with these women, the Chamber has made strides in economic development projects and continues to lay the groundwork for important infrastructures projects. Vision, dedication, and resilience are powerful descriptions of these women in politics and they are cut from the same cloth as Arlene Carroll or the Board’s other leaders, Elizabeth O’Hara from Texas Gas, Elsa Borrego from Helen of Troy, Yolanda Giner from Franklin Mountain Management, Christina Gonzalez of the Federal Reserve Bank, Natalie Littlefield from Borderplex, Anne Mitchell of So El Paso, Terrie Todd of Comfort Keepers, and Kelly Tomblin of El Paso Electric.
The business community has strong female leaders, they are helping inspire a new wave of executives and politicians, and they are committed to the community. I am committed to making sure these women have roles leading in the Chamber and that we do everything we can to magnify their impact on business, the economy, and the future of El Paso.