Maggie Arias-Petrel is a successful businessperson and philanthropist. Born in Quito, Ecuador in 1966, Maggie grew up during the Space Age, meeting astronauts through her father’s work as a NASA engineer. Her mother worked as a teacher in an all-girls school. When she was a teenager, Maggie visited her aunt in California and decided to stay in the U.S. She eventually returned to Ecuador and helped her mother run her toy store business, helping her manage multiple locations. Her entrepreneurship flourished as she helped the family business grow into a successful enterprise. Despite the success in her home country, Maggie always dreamed of coming back and living in the U.S. When her family returned, they settled in Las Vegas in 1991. Through her entrepreneurship, Maggie helped many doctors set up their practices, and began her own consulting business, Global Professional Consulting. Today, her expertise includes over 20 years of medical practice management, marketing and advertising for medical and legal, business development and consulting experience. Maggie is also the Chairwoman of the Executive Board of Directors of the Latin Chamber of Commerce of Nevada. She is responsible for changing the direction of the Chamber and helping it become what it is today. She is also the director of the Señoras of Excellence, a philanthropic organization that focuses on raising funds to help Latino students attend college. They have awarded thousands of dollars in scholarship funds to students across the Las Vegas Valley. Because of her work in the medical field, Maggie understands the importance of affordable health care and accessibility. During the Obama Administration, she was part of Senator Harry Reid’s promotion team for the Affordable Health Care Act. She also worked with Governor Jim Gibbons doing international research work in Mexico, and was invited to the White House for the Cinco de Mayo celebration through the U.S. Hispanic Chamber and the Latino Coalition. Maggie is also responsible for the partnership between the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, one of the most prestigious and accomplished institutions of higher education in Mexico, St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, and the Nevada System of Higher Education to develop nursing programs with direct collaboration from UAG to increase the number of bilingual-bicultural medical professionals in Nevada. She is the director for the Workforce Connections of Nevada Board and the Dignity HealthCare - St. Rose Dominican Hospital Board of Directors. Maggie has also received numerous accolades and awards such as the Community Service Award from the Latin Chamber of Commerce, Señoras of Excellence Award given to woman who excel in their professions, the Excellence in Advocacy Award by The Colors of Lupus Foundation, and the “Woman in Business” Award by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. In 2011, she was named one of the ten most influential Hispanics in the city by the Las Vegas Business Press. She is also one of the community leaders featured in the Las Vegas Latino Leaders Inaugural Edition Book. Maggie attended Los Angeles Mission College and Central University of Ecuador. She lives in Green Valley with her two sons.
Arias-Petrel, Maggie Interview, 2019 May 3. OH-03640. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d1b854135
i AN INTERVIEW WITH MAGGIE ARIAS-PETREL An Oral History Conducted by Monserrath Hernández Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2019 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Monserrath Hernández, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Marcela Rodriquez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE Maggie Arias-Petrel is a successful businessperson and philanthropist. Born in Quito, Ecuador in 1966, Maggie grew up during the Space Age, meeting astronauts through her father’s work as a NASA engineer. Her mother worked as a teacher in an all-girls school. When she was a teenager, Maggie visited her aunt in California and decided to stay in the U.S. She eventually returned to Ecuador and helped her mother run her toy store business, helping her manage multiple locations. Her entrepreneurship flourished as she helped the family business grow into a successful enterprise. Despite the success in her home country, Maggie always dreamed of coming back and living in the U.S. When her family returned, they settled in Las Vegas in 1991. Through her entrepreneurship, Maggie helped many doctors set up their practices, and began her own consulting business, Global Professional Consulting. Today, her expertise includes over 20 years of medical practice management, marketing and advertising for medical and legal, business development and consulting experience. v Maggie is also the Chairwoman of the Executive Board of Directors of the Latin Chamber of Commerce of Nevada. She is responsible for changing the direction of the Chamber and helping it become what it is today. She is also the director of the Señoras of Excellence, a philanthropic organization that focuses on raising funds to help Latino students attend college. They have awarded thousands of dollars in scholarship funds to students across the Las Vegas Valley. Because of her work in the medical field, Maggie understands the importance of affordable health care and accessibility. During the Obama Administration, she was part of Senator Harry Reid’s promotion team for the Affordable Health Care Act. She also worked with Governor Jim Gibbons doing international research work in Mexico, and was invited to the White House for the Cinco de Mayo celebration through the U.S. Hispanic Chamber and the Latino Coalition. Maggie is also responsible for the partnership between the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, one of the most prestigious and accomplished institutions of higher education in Mexico, St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, and the Nevada System of Higher Education to develop nursing programs with direct collaboration from UAG to increase the number of bilingual-bicultural medical professionals in Nevada. She is the director for the Workforce Connections of Nevada Board and the Dignity HealthCare - St. Rose Dominican Hospital Board of Directors. Maggie has also received numerous accolades and awards such as the Community Service Award from the Latin Chamber of Commerce, Señoras of Excellence Award given to woman who excel in their professions, the Excellence in Advocacy Award by The Colors of Lupus Foundation, and the “Woman in Business” Award by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women. In 2011, she was named one of the ten most influential Hispanics in the city by the Las Vegas Business Press. She is also one of the community leaders featured in the Las Vegas Latino Leaders Inaugural Edition Book. Maggie attended Los Angeles Mission College and Central University of Ecuador. She lives in Green Valley with her two sons. vi TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Maggie Arias-Petrel May 3rd, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Monserrath Hernández Preface………………………………………………………………………………………….iv-v Maggie talks about her childhood in Quito, Ecuador, her mother [Yolanda Arias] teaching high school, her father [Guido Arias] working for NASA for 25 years, meeting astronauts [Sharon McAuliffe], the U.S. Space Age and the NASA training stations in South America. Explains her family’s business in toys, the Quito Chamber of Commerce, her family traditions of distributing toys to children for Christmas, and Ecuadorian cuisine………………………………………...1-5 Shares the story of migrating to the U.S. and attending community college to learn English and living with an aunt in Los Angeles. Talks about moving back to Ecuador and helping her mother open and manage more toy stores. Recalls the story of visiting Las Vegas for the first time and buying her first house in Green Valley before it was developed. Describes helping Dr. Cheryl Edwards open her OB/GYN practice at the Women’s Health Center of Southern Nevada, helping other doctors begin their practices as they settled in Southern Nevada, and beginning her consulting business……………………………………………………………………………...5-8 Maggie talks about getting involved with the Latin Chamber of Commerce to help her business grow, getting involved with LCC in marketing and business, working with law firms in town, and working with Governor Jim Gibbons in international work. Describes her role with the National Aging Committee representing Nevada, her work with Harry Reid promoting the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), becoming the Chairwoman for the Board of Directors of LCC. Mentions Peter Guzman, Otto Merida, and Victoria Napoles………………………..9-12 Recalls the establishment of the Señoras of Excellence (SoE) with Sandy Pelton and Santy’s impact on the community, SoE’s contribution to the Latin Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Foundation, the students that benefited from the program. Mentions Dan Tafoya’s role in the Foundation and administering funds to scholarship recipients, Sandy asking her to take over for her running SoE, and the Hispanic Scholarship Program events that help fund scholarships. Describes the Green Valley area since the 90s, St. Rose Parkway and Lake Mead Boulevard being dirt roads, and the buying her home directly from a builder…………………………..13-16 Describes the doctor crisis during the early 2000s due to malpractice insurance skyrocketing in Las Vegas, Sandy Pelton helping fund IND to help keep doctors in Nevada. Maggie talks about her son [Pierre] attending Arizona State University and her both her children deciding to stay in Las Vegas. Shares how the diverse community in Las Vegas is home to her, her son [Pierre] attending the Latino Youth Leadership Conference and the relationships he build through the conference, helping her son move into his dorm at ASU with his LYLC friends, and her thoughts on the term “Latinx”. Mentions Alan Aleman, a DREAMer, and Irene Cepeda, CCSD School Board Trustee for District D………………………………………………………………….17-22 vii Maggie talks about the time she was invited to the White House for Cinco de Mayo through the U.S. Hispanic Chamber and the Latino Coalition. Shares her thoughts on how to preserve culture and heritage, her ability to pick up accents and interpret different Spanish dialects, and the rest of her family moving to the U.S. Shares her family’s experience going back to visit Ecuador, her son, Pierre, studying in la Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara for one year, and her thoughts on the Latinx Project………………………………………………………………………….23-26 1 Hello. My name is Monserrath Hernández. Today is May third, 2019. We are in the Oral History Research Center, and I am with… Barbara Tabach. And Maggie Arias-Petrel. Maggie, can you spell out your full name for us? My name is Maggie, M-A-G-G-I-E. Arias, A-R-I-A-S. Petrel, P-E-T-R-E-L. Maggie, how do you identify yourself? I would identify myself first and foremost as a mom. I’m a mother. I’m an auntie. I’m a daughter. I am a voice to this Las Vegas community. Can you give us a little bit of your family history? Where are you from? I’m originally from Quito, Ecuador. Quito is the capital of Ecuador. We’re right on the equator. This is located in South America. We’re very well known for the Galápagos Islands and probably for being right on the equator. It’s a very small country; yet, very diverse. We have a lot of diversity. It is known also for nature, the nature at its purest. My country is very, very beautiful. We are a conglomerate of people that are hard workers. Over there everybody goes to college. Everybody studies. Everybody tries to better themselves. I have not met an Ecuadorian who either doesn’t have a business or doesn’t have something going on because we’re all very fast-paced, going, yes. What was it like growing up in Ecuador? Growing up in Quito was a very beautiful childhood. My mom, who is now a retired teacher, she teached high school. She actually has a PhD in education and she was always involved with the youth. Her students in the all-girls’ high school that she used to teach just adored her and she was always so busy with that. 2 My dad was a mechanical engineer for NASA. Back in the seventies, NASA had a big station in South America to track the space and mission shuttles that used to be in space at that time. I especially remember the early missions, like the first man on the moon and all of that, because we are right on the equator. There are certain points on the equator that are the tallest in the world that could actually track the shuttles. My dad was part of that and he worked for NASA for twenty-five years. The first mission he was a team member of was the Apollo 11 mission. Looking back, that was a wonderful accomplishment to be part of history. It was a very happy childhood growing up back home. But in some way, shape or form, I was always linked to the United States because my dad was working for NASA. I grew up meeting astronauts. I grew up getting the opportunity to have early childhood friends that were American. Who were some of the astronauts that you met, do you remember? For instance, I met the teacher was killed during a mission, Sharon McAuliffe. Yes, I met her. I would never forget it because she came to Ecuador. Part of their training was going to the stations and seeing how it’s going to be when they’re up in space, how they track them. I remember not being able to see my dad for at least a month when the missions were going to the moon; they had to prepare themselves for this. I remember very clearly how my dad used to bring the recordings; they used to wake up the astronauts in the morning because they would be circling around the Earth and the morning call would be from Ecuador, and so they would wake them up with music and let them know that they were passing the equator. Did you ever go to work with him? Yes. In many occasions. I love it! I think that’s fascinating. 3 It just brought tears to my eyes because it was such a beautiful time. I never experienced this, but just thinking of it made me go back in time. Happy memories. Yes, very happy. Very nice childhood. That’s wonderful. Thanks for sharing that. Thank you. I wasn’t supposed to be talking about this. That’s part of who you are. Yes, that’s true. You can’t separate that. It’s something that will always live with me. I think that’s very exciting being a Space Age kid. Yes. At that time we were like, oh well, you’re going to meet this astronaut, or, they’re coming. Most of the families on the base would go ahead and say, “You’re welcome to come. They’re here for a few days and we’re going to get them together.” It was pretty interesting how they would bring them in and have them tour the station and everything. We were the kids of the base, so they would all have pictures with the kids and things like that. I just never, ever—I have to admit this—ever thought about how that era of U.S. Space Age era would have a following internationally. I wasn’t aware who else was involved. Oh yes. They had stations in Ecuador, they had one station in Chile, and they had one station in South Africa. But our station was the biggest station because we have the Andes and the station was in—I’m going to see if I have a picture. The scene is just beautiful. It’s this big mountain called Cotopaxi and it’s one of the most well-known beautiful mountains. It looks like Mount Fuji from Japan; it’s like a straight cone full of ice. It’s beautiful and surrounded by a lust forest. 4 They had llamas all over. It’s just beautiful. It was very cold to go over there. The station actually had a big sign that said, “This is United States of America Territory.” To go in, it was like you’re entering United States, so it was pretty interesting, and they had military there, like a checkpoint to make sure you go in and you’re okay to go. What kind of education did you have with that attachment to NASA? Did you go to a special school? No. Did you learn English? No. Unfortunately! At the time, we did not have all the technology that we have now. I learned to speak English when I was 17 years old. My mom was very entrepreneurial and aside from her day job, which was teaching, she opened a little factory for stuffed animals, for little toys. She grew the business very, very much, to a point to where she had forty employees at one point and she was exporting and selling to the stores. It got to be pretty big. Fast forwarding, after my mom retired from teaching, she continued with this industry and she was always doing very good. I went to open toy stores. I think I was about twenty when I opened my first store later. I opened two more stores for her. In different parts of Ecuador? Yes, in the city of Quito, at the mall. I was always very involved with that. Because of the business, my dad got involved with the first founders of the Quito Chamber of Commerce and that always stuck with me as far as chamber because I always saw them doing business. They had their full-time jobs, but they were doing this, too. They were very busy. Over there it is very much like a family circle; we grew up with my abuelitos, with my grandma and my grandpa and family. Family is very tight over there. 5 Can you share any family traditions that you used to celebrate when you were younger? Oh my goodness, over there we have a lot of traditions! Let’s see, something that we don’t have here. Definitely Christmas was a very special time for us and still is. Aside from being probably the busiest time of the year for my mom and her industry, we were a very traditional family. As Catholics, celebrating and just having that very special time of the year where we just give to people. It was just a tradition for us, for instance, after the twentieth of December or so when my mom already knew what she had left over from the toys, we would take those and go up to the mountains and distribute to the villages, to the kids, to the natives, because we have a lot of natives there, too, still. We would do that as a tradition for Christmas, so it was very special. That’s beautiful. Any favorite food growing up? Oh my goodness, yes, lots! In Ecuador, pretty much everything is very organic. The food is just amazing. I would say that ceviche is a very traditional food for us and, also, potato soup. In the Andes potatoes are very famous from the Incas and the Spaniards. We grew up with a lot of carbohydrates; potatoes was one of them. Potato soup is delicious; it’s one of the specialties when you go there that people offer you and it’s delicious. It’s just amazing. What kind of seasonings do you put in potato soup? Actually I have never been able to find the seasoning here. It’s called achiote. It is like a little seed that is found in the Amazon and they bring it. It’s like this little, tiny red seed…They use it for many things. But for food it just gives a very special flavor. Are there Ecuadorian restaurants here in Las Vegas? Unfortunately, no. But my cousins, both of them are doctors in Ohio—well, they’re doing their fellowship right now in Ohio State—I went to visit them a couple of weeks ago and they took me 6 to this amazing Ecuadorian restaurant. I was like, “Of all the places we find an Ecuadorian restaurant, in Columbus.” It was really good! Did you go to college in Ecuador? After I graduated from high school, I was about seventeen years old. I graduated a little earlier. I told my mom that I wanted to spend some time abroad. I wanted to come to the United States. I moved to California. I have an auntie that lives in L.A. I wanted to really learn English because back then it was difficult to learn. I see that more and more people speak English now, but back when I was there we didn’t have all these beautiful apps and Internet and all this technology, so you had to either take classes one on one or maybe see how you can train yourself. I told my mom, “Before I commit myself to four years of college here, I want to go to the United States.” She said, “Okay.” I came here and my auntie convinced me that I should stay and go to college back in L.A. In order to do that though I had to take a special test because I had already graduated and I couldn’t go back to high school or do a last year. But I remember back in those days they said, “Well, you would not even be able to take the test until you learn English.” They had me do like a six-month intensive English course. I remember going to morning, afternoon and evening classes just to learn the language so then I could take the test to get to college, so I did that. It was crazy. You must have had an incredible belief in what your skills could be to decide to go to college and not even know English yet. Yes! I believed! Although I asked myself how am I going to go from eight o’clock until two and then go back home, take a nap or whatever, and then go back and be from six to ten o’clock at night? Is she crazy? Why is she having me do this? I was resenting her. She said, “One day 7 you’re going to thank me. You have to do it if you want to go to college. Otherwise, you might as well go back.” I was like, “No, I want to go to college.” So I did that. What college did you go to? To Los Angeles Mission College at that time. I attended two years of college and when I met my husband, he wanted to go see Ecuador. He said, “Let’s go to Ecuador. I want to go see your country.” I took him to Ecuador and he fell in love with Ecuador. My mom said, “You can finish up your studies here. You already have two years.” I went back to college there at Central University and I finished my business administration classes for my bachelor’s degree. While we were there we opened up the stores for my mom. That’s when we went ahead and started working for the company. My ex-husband fell in love with the country. We were young kids, and so we started working and building up. At one point we ended up having three stores and managing all that for my parents. But in 1991, I was like, okay, now we’re doing all this, but I want to go back to the States. Also, my ex-husband’s family was here. We moved to Las Vegas, which was not in the plans because we were moving, but we were moving to Los Angeles, not to Las Vegas. I remember just coming to Las Vegas once with my aunt and I didn’t like it. It was just gambling and too hot because we came in the summer. I was like, “Why are we going there? I’m not going to like it.” He was like, “No. That’s where the opportunities are and we’re bilingual and you have a degree in business administration and we can do something.” He had already got himself as a PA. Some doctors that he knew in L.A. invited him to work with them and so he got into the medical field. 8 At that time, I remember we bought our first house on Overture Drive, which is in the Eastern and Windmill area. Back in those days it was just empty, nothing. Green Valley was nothing; it was all dirt roads. It didn’t exist, yes. No. We bought our first home there, which we were very happy at that age to have a house and everything, so we moved. My first job was working for the Women’s Health Center of Southern Nevada, which was at the St. Rose de Lima Dominican Hospital, in the old part of Henderson. I started the practice with Dr. Cheryl Edwards, who was the first African-American OB/GYN doctor in that area. The first year we brought in two more doctors because we were flooded with patients. For a female OB/GYN at that time…There was only male doctors. For a female, we got just so busy and we hired more doctors. At one point I was managing, I don’t know, probably fifteen employees, twenty employees at some point and we even had separate locations and started working with North Vista Hospital, with Sunrise Hospital, and so we started this network. I did that for a number of years. After my kids were born, I decided to go ahead and start doing something a little bit more entrepreneurial because I didn’t want to be tied in the office. I said to myself, this is great and my doctors love me to death, but it wasn’t really giving me time to grow. I started my consulting business. I would still work with them, but I had other doctors that needed my help to set up their practices. With St. Rose I opened many practices for other physicians that were coming into town; urologists, cardiologists, internal medicine, family practice. Different doctors that would come in, I would help them set up their practice, front and back offices, and whatever was needed on the business part of the practice. That’s where my business started. That’s what you still do today, your business? 9 Actually it has developed into more because I don’t like to stand in one thing. I did that for a number of years. A big chunk of my career was on that. Then I got involved with the Latin Chamber. I started to go to the events because I wanted to network and I wanted to really grow my business in many ways. To be honest with you, at the chamber I met probably my best friends, my family. The chamber is amazing. The chamber helped me grow so much. I will never forget how Otto and Victoria opened their doors for me. The moment I went in and said, “I’m Maggie and I do this,” they took me by the hand and invited me to all the events. I met my dearest friend, Sandy Pelton. Sandy is probably one of the biggest contributors for the Latino scholarship programs. Sandy and I became probably best friends in the whole wide world. She passed this past December, so it was very, very tough. It was very sudden, right? Yes. With the chamber I got the opportunity to start up more of my marketing part of the business, the PR. I work with medical legal; I started to work with law firms here in town. I work with Benson, Bertoldo, Baker and Carter, Shook and Stone, among many others. It started growing in that medical legal part of the business. I also did some international work; I took Governor Gibbons to Mexico, for some of the trade missions we did. I got invited to the White House for the first time. It was amazing. That was when George W. Bush was in office. I was very involved on the national level, too. I was a part of the National Aging Committee representing Nevada. When the new Obamacare was about to come, Senator Reid invited me to be part of the panelists for Nevada. I’m a Republican, but I have to say when I got to learn more about what Obamacare was, I was all for it because I really thought about how important it is for our community to have affordable health insurance. I saw it with many of our 10 own; they couldn’t afford insurance. It was very, very expensive, and sometimes because of that reason, they decided not to have insurance. But then at the end of the day it affects the hospitals; it affects the doctors because if you don’t have insurance that’s it. That was part of the involvement with that participation, so in my opinion that was very good. With the Chamber actually I became the chairwoman of the board. What does that mean? The chamber has the staff, which would be Peter and the people that actually work in the office, and then the board of directors is the governing body of that portion. We are the ones that oversee the President. We are there to support. When I took the chairmanship, the board was undergoing some really tough times. Unfortunately, either we had predecessors that had abused the system or they were not supportive. They were there for name recognition, not really to do anything for the membership. What year did you come onboard? I was involved with the chamber for about fifteen years. I started to be part of the board of directors just as a director. I was there for a number of years. Then I went on my way into being assistant secretary/treasurer, then treasurer, and then I decided I had to make a change and I went for the chairmanship. Becoming chairman was hard because at the time, there were some macho men over there that were like, no, we don’t want you here; we don’t want a woman to be the chairman of the board, no. There was huge infighting to get to this post. At the time Peter was not the president yet; we had Otto. But Otto and Victoria were at the age where they really needed to retire, but nobody had thought of helping them retire, and so I had to establish those logistics to help Otto and Victoria retire in a very respectful and beautiful way because they deserved it. They are tremendous icons of this community. We did that and 11 then I was the one who hired Peter for president of the Latin Chamber. I remember when I even thought of Peter. Peter didn’t think of himself. Peter was like, “ I don’t think I can do this job.” And I said, “No. Yes, you can. That’s why this is happening.” We did that with a new board of directors; we hired Peter. Peter you’ve seen, has done a tremendous job with the Chamber right now, so we’re very excited about all those things. You were the first woman to hold that position? No, but one of the few. Without naming names, were there other women? They had some previous women in the past. I would say I was the first chairwoman after the transition of Otto. In other words, we were the ones who brought the chamber back to where it needed to be. You’ve been in the chamber in this position since when? I would say 2017. Are there term limits or do you just keep getting reelected? How does that work? Yes, we have term limits. Right now our board is up for reelection this year, so we’ll probably have new…but it’s mainly just the top positions, but Peter stays. Peter stays as the president, which is very good for us. We are very excited. I think that had to do with just the change of times and things we needed to do to get us to where we need to be. Now our membership has grown tremendously. We are helping a great number of small businesses because they are the fastest growing. The Latino growing businesses is huge. Just to see successful stories is what drives us. 12 Also, I would add that the involvement with the Señoras of Excellence that Sandy Pelton started was just amazing for me because I was able to help Sandy for over fifteen years on that particular nonprofit that she has. If you don’t mind, can you talk more about her? Unfortunately we weren’t able to get her in for an interview for this project. Sandy is one-of-a-kind. She was probably was the most giving person that you would ever meet in this community. When I met Sandy, actually I was invited—I don’t know if it was through the chamber or however it happened, but I got invited to the first Señoras of Excellence. I remember walking into this beautiful ballroom at one of the casinos. It was just amazing and I was in awe. But I was lost; I didn’t know where my seat was or anything. This beautiful lady comes and says, “Do you know where you’re sitting?” And I said, “No, not really. I think I’m lost.” She goes, “Well, you come and sit with us.” Little do I know that was Sandy and she takes me to the front table. I was sitting with Sig Rogich, with Siegfried and Roy, with all these beautiful people. I’m like, oh my God, and I said to myself, “Maybe she mistook me by somebody.” I said, “Sandy, I’m Maggie. I don’t want you to think I’m somebody else.” She goes, “No. I know. Oh my goodness, no. I want you to be here. I’m actually glad that you’re here and thank you for supporting the event,” and all this. After that I had a really good chemistry with Sandy. She took me in as family. All of a sudden, she’s calling me and saying, “I’m having this at my house. Come over.” Or, “I’m doing this. Come over.” We became very, very close. She was the kind of person that always believed in education. She wanted to do something different for the community and her way of doing—she said to me, “We’re going to have a party, anyway. We’re going to have fun, anyway. Why not do something that while we’re 13 having fun, we’re fundraising for a good cause?” I said, “I’m all for that.” She grew the Señoras and she was a big contributor to the Latin Chamber of Commerce Scholarship Foundation. Later on she came to see the fruit of her labor because there were so many students that benefitted from this scholarship program: We have doctors; we have nurses; we have teachers. We have people that overall got the money from the Latin Chamber because we would get the money from the Señoras and give it to the Latin Chamber and then the Latin Chamber would do the scholarship fund that we have there for many years. We got to see so many people. With the help of Dan Tafoya for the Latin Chamber Foundation, we started following up to four-year scholarships. Now we have kids that we proudly can say we put them through college and they have graduated. We follow them through for the four years. It’s been really, really amazing. Sandy was much more than anything you can imagine. She is an icon in this community. She was involved in so many things, especially in the medical community, too. She was part of the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners. She was the chairwoman of the board of St. Rose Dominican Board of Directors. I’m part of that board as well. She was the first Latina chairwoman of that board. Just a beautiful soul, very happy. Anyplace she went you were asking, who is she? Because she was always so cheery and happy, very happy person. Thanks for talking about her. I will share her bio. I think it’s important that you know who she was. With the Señoras, believe it or not, we took a trip representing the chamber to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber, the National Hispanic Chamber, and this was last year. Sandy asked me to do the Señoras of Excellence event for her. She was fine. She actually passed away in her sleep, so she wasn’t sick or anything. For some reason on that trip we took, she asked me to continue her 14 nonprofit. I said, “Why are you asking me this?” She has a son. She goes, “I know he’s not going to do it, but you will, so I want you to do it if something was ever to happen to me.” I was like, “Nothing is going to happen to you.” We are undertaking that this year. Our event is going to be in October at the Wynn hotel. It is probably one of the biggest fundraisers we have for the Hispanic Scholarship Program. We’re going to have a tribute to Sandy and we’re going to have the scholars come and tell their story. We have one student at MIT. Yes, one of our kids, a homeless kid that used to live here is now going to be an MIT graduate. That’s fantastic. And you’ll continue that program? Yes. After Sandy’s passing I had a lot of support and peop