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

Hi Rosemary, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?

I can point to several habits that I feel have helped me to succeed. First is a hard work ethic. I discovered this early on in life, as a child. My family worked as migrants in the fields of California, picking potatos, grapes, etc. I learned that by helping my family pick potatos at the young age of 10, I could make money. Child labor was not given much thought out in the fields! My father would give me $1 dollar at the end of the week and with that, I was able to purchase Wonder Woman comic books and paper dolls. Another habit I think is inherent is determination.  As an elementary fifth-grader, I determined that I would be either a teacher, reporter, or a congresswoman. I loved seeing photos of Capitol Hill. I didn’t become a reporter although my son did. I also didn’t become a congresswoman although I was the first Mexican American Congressional Intern from West Dallas. In fact, I was planning my wedding in August of that year and my internship was in June but I was determined that I would not miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After work, I would work on my wedding planning. Later, as a young married woman, I was determined to complete my undergraduate college education and became a high school teacher after graduation.  I even began graduate school as a mother of a 1-year old. Unfortunately, determination gave way to child-rearing needs and I stopped halfway through graduate school. Nonetheless, I was determined that one day I would get my Master’s degree. The route toward a graduate degree also included determination. I left teaching after 10 years and became a real estate agent. I was determined that I had to succeed because I did not want to return to teaching. My determination paid off because I became a fairly successful realtor and remained in the field for 7 years until the market crashed and I was forced to look for other employment. One of my employers was a toxic boss whose leadership and management style was authoritarian, instilling fear and conflict, boastful and arrogant, controlling and unethical. I knew that this was not acceptable leadership. I was determined that I would learn a different leadership style for myself so I enrolled in an Organizational Management Master’s degree program. I finally earned the Master’s degree that had eluded me 25 years earlier. My determination has allowed me throughout my long career to work at a variety of job positions without the initial fear I felt when I left my teaching career.  As I worked with two additional employers before retirement, each entailing a variety of roles and requiring more responsibility, I was determined to succeed at each.

In summary, I believe that other life-long habits, such as being detail-oriented, persistence and follow-up, and showing creativity and innovation have continued to help me succeed at my varied careers as well as with volunteer roles that I have taken on throughout the years.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I would like to share about my work as a Volunteer. I have had several volunteer opportunities throughout my life, starting in elementary school when our teachers/mentors of the Y-Teens took us to orphanages, as they were called then, or nursing homes to share crafts we made with the residents. I coninued to volunteer as a college student, tutoring and mentoring young children from West Dallas where I grew up. As a professional full-time worker, I volunteered with various organizations throughout my career. I believe that one thing that sets me apart from others is that I am not comfortable simply being a volunteer; I have to create. This is where I am able to utilize my determination, hard work ethic, detail-orientation and creativity and innovation. I am very proud that I co-founded two nonprofits – one in affordable housing and the other working with youth gang prevention. Additionally, I am very proud that my innovation at creating a new alternative to traditional PTA for Spanish-speaking immigrant parents at another nonprofit earned me a Creativity and Innovation award from Northwood University. I’ve worked in and for my community all my adult life. I’m also very proud to have earned several awards and recognition such as the Audrey Kaplan Inspiring Women of the Southwest Award from the Southwest Jewish Congress and the Ford Motor Company “Mujeres Legendarias” award for community service. But what really excites me today is my volunteer work as a Commissioner on the City of Dallas Landmark Commission where I have an opportunity to represent the Spanish-speaking and Mexican American community. With community requests to landmark historical structures relevant to the Mexican American history in Dallas, I have been able to help historically designate three sites and a fourth one is upcoming. Additionally, the Mexican American Historical League has my heart. As a board member and chairperson of the Exhibit Committee and having taken on additional roles, it continues to excite me even into my retirement. The hard work that it entails is similar to working a full-time job yet I don’t mind it because of the fulfillment I feel at making a contribution to the community. But I realize that many of us are older board members, so I created The Emerging Historians initiative to groom and mentor young professionals who can sustain and move the organization forward after we are gone. Furthermore, the initiative extends toward mentoring them for decision-making positions on city and county commissions and boards where they, too, can represent their community.

My entire life of volunteerism, from the age of 11 to present-day is a tribute to my parents. They set the example and role-modeled for us volunteerism and giving back to the community, especially to the most vulnerable. It was not easy to volunteer as a young parent but I chose carefully which organizations I could help serve adequately and which would over-extend me to the point that I would not be a successful, energetic volunteer. Despite my reluctance, I had to learn to say no or know when to leave the volunteer position when I was no longer able to balance work, child-rearing, and volunteerism. Today, with age and more maturity, I understand very well my limitations and thus, have chosen to commit to only two volunteer positions- the City of Dallas Landmark Commission and the Dallas Mexican American Historical League, both of which fulfill my desire to do my part to contribute toward preserving the history of Mexican Americans in Dallas. In summary, I want the world to know who I am, what was and is important in my life, where and who I came from, and my small contribution to help serve and make the world a better place for my family and others.

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.
Because I am a historian, I would definitely want to take my best friend visiting Dallas to Dallas’ Mexican American historical neighborhoods – those still in existence and those which have disappeared or are disappearing with gentrification. There were, or are 16 Mexican American barrios, or neighborhoods but we would tour 10, starting with Little Mexico, East Dallas, and throughout West Dallas and Oak Cliff. We would visit Mexican American historical sites within these neighborhoods such as Pike Park/Santos Rodriguez Recreation Center; Luna’s Tortilla Factory which is now MesoMaya Restaurant, El Fenix Restaurant where we could eat lunch; La Bajada barrio which has gentrified into Trinity Groves; Los Altos barrio which is also gentrifying with new residential apartments and lofts; the site of the Lone Star Cement Plant with its lone smokestack still there; what was once Cement City and the West Dallas Housing Projects where many Mexican Americans lived in segregated housing units; the Ledbetter barrio which is still fairly intact but has some beginnings of gentrification. We would then go to see Eagle Ford School, a 100-year old school (which I attended but not 100 years ago!) which was historically designated in 2019. We would follow up with a tour to the nearby El Camposanto Grande de la Compania de Trinity Portland Cement Company (Cemento Grande cemetery which the now defunct company gave a few acres to the workers and residents of their company town to bury their dead during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918). All this would take about two days.

On day 3, I would also like to take her to the Latino Cultural Center and the Dallas Museum of Art if there is a special exhibition, most especially if it is an exhibit from Mexico or Latin America. Day 4 would be a fun, relaxing activity where we could eat, drink, hang out and just chat and catch up.

Throughout each day, we would begin with a typical Mexican breakfast at Tapatio’s Restaurant in Cedar Hill, Texas where they have the best menudo and barbacoa or a typical American breakfast at Chubby’s or Judy’s Diner. We would then go hang out at the Wild Detectives Book Store at Bishop Arts. If it’s cold or cool, we could stay inside but it the weather is warm, we could sit outside. For lunch, we could continue with Tex-Mex or Latin American food at either El Ranchito Restaurant, Calle Doce, or Gloria’s Salvadoran Restaurant, all in Oak Cliff. Or if we don’t want Mexican food, we could go to Mama & Daughter’s Diner or The Flying Fish on Irving Boulevard and Riverfront near downtown. Dinner could be at Saltgrass Steakhouse or Spring Creek Barbecue or any of the others mentioned that we have yet to go to. We could also go to Eno’s Pizzeria or Veracruz restaurant, followed by a milkshake or banana split at Hunky’s Hamburgers, all in the Bishop Arts area or we could go sit outside at the Oak Cliff Brewery at the DART Tyler Station.

On Day 4, we would just relax and go see a movie (provided the pandemic has eased and we are both fully vaccinated) at Cinemark Theatres at Cedar Hill or one of the two theatres in Grand Prairie.

We could also go on Day 5-6 to the Sixth Floor Museum and the Holocaust Museum downtown followed by late lunch at Sonny Bryan’s BBQ downtown.

On Sunday, we would go to church at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, followed by breakfast at one of the restaurants mentioned above. We would go back to my house and sit outside on the deck just hanging out before she leaves to go back home.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents would be the first I would dedicate a shoutout to. After all, it was because of their hard work, sacrifice, and example that I became who I am. I would also give a shout out to my husband, children, and grandchildren. My husband has supported all my efforts throughout my life, helped me with child-rearing at a time that was not yet fashionable for men to be school “room fathers,” and worked a night shift so he could take care of the children during the day when I was working.  He also cooked dinner (he’s a great cook whose mother taught him and his 7 brothers to cook in case they married a woman who could not cook!). My children and grandchildren deserve a shoutout because I simply wanted to provide as good an example for them to become educated, be good citizens, and have a better life, as my parents wanted for me and my siblings and they have indeed accomplished my desires for them. I would also like to give a shoutout to the Dallas Mexican American Historical League. As a board member for 13 years now, the organization has fulfilled me personally as I continually work on its mission of preserving the history of Mexican Americans in Dallas. Finally, my faith and religious upbringing most definitely deserve a shoutout because, as with my parents, my faith and upbringing helped me become the person I was meant to be.

Website: www.dmahl.org

Instagram: @dmahlofficial

Linkedin: Rosemary Hinojosa

Twitter: @dmahlofficial

Facebook: Rosemary Hinojosa

Other: rrhinojosa@att.net

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