By Pablo Jaime Sáinz
Lourdes Valdez started her career in banking as a teller 17 years ago.
Today, her hard work, dedication, and, above all, her friendly personality, have led her to assume professional leadership positions.
Recently she became the first Latina president of the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce for 2008.
Valdez said she saw this as the result of the obstacles she had to face when she moved to the United States from a small town in the Mexican state of Guanajuato at the age of 18.
“I count my blessings,” the 43 year-old Valdez said. “I really value the opportunities I’ve found in the United States.”
Serving as the first Latina president of the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce gives her a sense of pride, she said.
“It’s exciting. I feel it is an opportunity to serve my community and to make a difference. I’m also representing my people at the same time. Being Hispanic gives me the passion to go above and beyond,” Valdez said.
The Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce is an 81 year-old community organization that serves as the voice for over 1,000 local businesses that provide jobs, generate tax revenue, build infrastructure, and provide consumer services for the City of Chula Vista.
There are many Latino business owners in Chula Vista who don’t know the benefits of joining the chamber of commerce, but she will make a special effort to change that, Valdez said.
“We don’t have a lot of Hispanic business-owners attending our meetings. I believe we need to outreach to all the businesses out there,” she said. “We will reach out and inform and invite people to learn more about the chamber.”
Valdez became involved with the chamber in 2000.
The chamber supports businesses providing them with networking opportunities, legislative representation, business referrals, and trade shows, Valdez said.
“When a business owner needs help they don’t know how to get permits, inspections, they can call the chamber and pick up the forms here,” she said.
Valdez was part of the Chamber Membership Committee for several years, incrementing the number of members the chamber has.
“Lourdes has done many things to advance the mission, goals, and objectives of the Chamber but her most notable achievement is the growth of the Chamber Membership while she was the committee chair,” said Chris Boyd, president elect of the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce.
“The President position is achieved through nominations and a vote of the Chamber Board. By being first nominated and then elected to this position, Lourdes has clearly earned the respect of her Chamber Board,” Boyd said.
Charles Moore, past president of the chamber of commerce, said “people skills” will help her become a great president.
“Lourdes has always been very productive in bringing in new members. I'm not sure what her secret is but I think it's her enthusiasm,” Moore said. “The Chamber will face a busy year with projects that need funding. Lourdes' talent for increasing the membership is very timely. I know she will be successful. She always is.”
Valdez has more than 18 years of banking experience, having served as vice president branch manager of Wells Fargo Bank and now as branch manager of the Eastlake office of First Bank.
Valdez attended Miramar College and majored in business administration. She attended Wells Fargo Bankers Academy where she received Intermediate Leadership Training and Advanced Sales Coaching. In 2006 she graduated from the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program.
Throughout her career in banking, she has volunteered with multiple non-profit organizations within the City of Chula Vista. Before being elected president, she served as a Board Director for the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce for the past seven years.
She has been an active member of the Chula Vista Rotary Club for the past seven years and currently sits on the board of directors for the Chula Vista Library Foundation.
“Our current challenges only make the role of the Chamber and the voices of our membership more important. As competent engaged business people with a watchful eye on policies and developing markets, we can provide meaningful support to our governing leadership to achieve prosperity and the economic health of our city,” Valdez said in her inauguration speech.
Without a doubt, Valdez will foster a good environment for Chula Vista businesses, especially for Latino business-owners.
“Lourdes is a delightful individual who is a friend to the Chula Vista business community,” Boyd said.