We had the good fortune of connecting with Ara Grimaldo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ara, what inspires you?
I am inspired by youth, the younger generation often brings fresh perspectives, energy, and enthusiasm to various aspects of life.Young people tend to have a fresh outlook on life, believing that they can make a difference and shape a better world. Their optimism can be contagious and inspire others to maintain a positive attitude even in the face of adversity.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am currently the Executive Director at After8toEducate, we provide wraparound services for unhoused youth in Dallas. I have been in the nonprofit sector since 2008, it has been a rewarding career thus far as I have been able to meet wonderful human beings who want a better life. I am most excited about working leading an organization with team members who truly care about the well being and future of the youth we serve.

I was able to get to the position where I am at now through hard work, resilience and perseverance. It has not been an easy road as I was the first in my family to pursue higher education. So, I relied heavily on mentors for guidance and support. In addition, while working tornados my Masters in Social Work, I also had to work a full-time job, it was hard balancing full time employment and full time graduate work. However, on days that I was discrouaged, I remembered my parents and the youth that I worked with. They were my fuel to continue to push through.

Now, as a 35 year old Latina leading a nonprofit, there are times where I am the only one that looks like me in different spaces. I hope that I can motivate other women that look like me that goals are attainable with hard work and the right team. Representation matters.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them to the area I grew up, Bishop Arts District to walk around, get some shopping done and a great meal. I would take them to Glorias for a pupusa and mango margarita. I would then also drive a few minutes over and take them to the Dallas Museum Art followed by dinner at Mi Cocina.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Yes! First-God for the opportunity to exist and serve my community. Secondly-my parents who immigrated from Durango & Guanajuato, Mexico to provide a better life for their family. Third-my husband & 3 daughter’s who are my constant motivators. Finally-all the humans who have poured into me to ensure I had a fighting chance at success, especially, Tina Robertson who ignited my desire to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector.

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aragrimaldosaintus/

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