GETTING TO KNOW ME
My name is Beatriz Valencia. My friends and family call me Betty. I am the last of twelve children and daughter of Antonia and Ricardo. I grew up in Orange County. Originally from Mexico City, I was brought to the United States at the age of six. We spent the first part of our school year learning the English language and customs. I fell in love with the color and smell of grass. Our home had a large front yard, and we considered it our private park. In our eyes, this was luxury.
These early years were crucial in shaping who I became. At the age of seventeen, I had a sincere desire to serve. I joined different community groups and participated in community events from community fiestas to leading children's choirs. Being a volunteer called to me, and it gave me a sense of purpose.
For the next 26 years, I have continued this path. I served as a camp coordinator, children’s guitar teacher, catechist, community outreach volunteer, collaborator with Hope Builders, and have played my guitar wherever it was needed. This sense of community was defining and continued to shape me in ways I did not expect.
It has been in the community where I felt most at home. After obtaining my Master’s in Organizational Communication, I entered the corporate world. As a VP of operations, I extended what I had learned in the community to my organization and created another family in the process. Our organization flourished, and we extended our services to other states. Our people-centered focus allowed us to maintain our brand loyalty without ever having to compromise our integrity.
My integrity was passed down to me from my parents, whom I am fortunate to support in their advanced age. It is a privilege for me to share these years with them. I continue to learn from their lived experiences and oral stories, which transmit the heart of our culture. After many years of working toward the well-being of my parents, I felt a pull toward education.
I decided to return to school to obtain a Ph.D. in leadership studies. My desire to improve myself and be instrumental in my Orange County community was growing as the years passed. I wanted to learn more about myself and my role in this county. I wanted Orange County to be more than a place I lived. I needed Orange County to feel like my home. Through my research in leadership studies, I have learned valuable lessons and acquired new perspectives. Most importantly, I have learned that being a leader is more than a title or a position. My commitment is to be a leader who actively listens, seeks to understand, and has a willingness to adapt.
My life's journey has taken me through a whirlwind of experiences. I have opened another chapter of my life, where my voice is now one I can utilize for my community in Orange County. A voice of change, inclusion, and justice. Developing this voice has been a lifelong endeavor. My name is Beatriz Valencia, and I am honored to meet you. You can call me Betty.