The Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas board chair recounts how she’s led by example throughout a career in public service.
By Joanna Xu, Illustration by Madison Weakley
Five years ago, Jessica Coronado was raising a newborn daughter, working full time in Austin’s city-manager office and securing a degree in public administration—all while uncovering her passion for supporting Texas’ Latinx community and maintaining some semblance of a work-life balance. She knew full well she’d have to stretch every hour of the day just to barely finish her task lists.
Ambitious women require ambitious challenges, and Coronado accomplished exactly what she set out to do. She’s since added volunteering as an active board member for the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas (HWNT) to her busy schedule. The HWNT provides professional resources and career-building opportunities to women exactly like Coronado: the multitaskers, the overachievers, the advocates.
A life in public service and advocacy doesn’t come without a fair share of hard-learned lessons, but Coronado wants fellow minority women to know that it’s never too late in life for a career comeback; actually, it’s encouraged.
OWN YOUR IDENTITY.
“In my experience working with minority communities, we sometimes become self-conscious about our shortcomings and let them hold us back from chasing opportunity. There have been projects where I’ve been the only minority in a conference room. I’ve learned to be comfortable putting myself out there, but also stay open to failure. Take that risk. Put your own self-doubt aside.”
REJECTION DOESN’T LAST FOREVER.
“In public service and advocacy, you can expect to get turned down a lot. There’s especially a lot of finessing that goes into the fundraising process, so you may get some noes at first. It’s just part of the business, but that doesn’t mean the door is permanently closed. Fine-tune your approach, go back and pitch again.”
WALK YOUR WALK.
“With all the different agendas and projects that go into public service, it’s easy to tell when someone is truly engaged and passionate in their cause, versus someone that’s only doing something for their resume. The difference between the two really comes down to their work. Be straightforward in setting expectations, communicate honestly and put in the real work. Transparency is a big tell of someone’s sincerity.”
START FRESH DAILY.
“I have to constantly remind myself that the obstacles of today won’t necessarily still stand tomorrow. So, when I’m feeling stuck or a project is lagging, put it aside and let yourself refresh. Even bouncing ideas off a colleague or homing in on another aspect of the project can inspire new perspectives.”
LOVE YOURSELF FIRST.
“Personally and professionally, avoid seeking validation through how many people like you or want to work on a project with you. Realizing your own worth first allows us to discover our own strengths and weaknesses, what we should work on versus what we should showcase. Before you know it, you’ll also understand that other people’s opinions are beneficial, but not the be-all and end-all.”