RDF Retreat to Celebrate Our Mission

RDF Retreat to Celebrate Our Mission
Amanda Sanchez, RDF’s Director of the Pacific Northwest Region, enjoys breakfast with Elyssa Garcia, RDF’s Investment Analyst Education Finance.

We showed up with our bags packed, ready for two full days of bonding, motivation and individual growth. The Raza Development Fund Familia stayed at a local resort together a couple weeks ago to enjoy inspiring speakers, great food and connection.

This retreat was part two of our recent in-person staff meeting in June, the first time together in over a year.

It gave us a chance to spend even more time together. And this time, many of our out-of-state Familia who support RDF’s East Coast Region, Pacific Northwest Region and South-Central Region offices joined us as well.

“It was nice to see everybody in the same room again and meeting the newest members of the RDF Familia, especially those that I don’t necessarily work with,” says Amanda Sanchez, RDF’s Director of the Pacific Northwest Region. “It’s impressive how much we’ve grown.”

The Path Elements

Shelly Shepherd, Co-Founder of LBJ Inc., coaches RDF on our Path Elements

It also gave us time to explore ‘The Path.’ In our June meeting, we all received copies of the book ‘The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement For Life’ as a guide for individual growth to help us better understand ourselves and our purpose in life.

Prior to attending, we each completed an assessment that helped us identify personality characteristics in the form of the four natural elements. Fire represents individuals who excite and are bold, assertive and visionary. Earth individuals are grounded, reserved, organized and cautious. Those with high scores in water are steady, loyal and deep thinkers. Winds thrive on meeting new people and are passionate and optimistic.

At the retreat, Shelly Shepherd, Co-Founder of LBJ Inc., worked with us to explain what our assessment scores meant. She helped us understand these elements in the context of our relationships with how they interact with each other.

“It was very eye opening to see what other people were and according to their element how they behave. I enjoyed observing and taking into consideration how I interact with other people through a lens of the elements in the path,” says Paulina Ugalde, RDF’s Investment Analyst.

Thank you, Shelly, for your guidance during this process.

Living Your Mission

Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley joins the RDF staff retreat.

Beyond the elements workshop, we were all encouraged to continue diving into the exercises in ‘The Path’ to discover or remind ourselves of our mission. In the interim, we had the pleasure of hearing from guest speakers passionate about the missions they lead, especially Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley.

Catholic Charities provides shelter, clothing and food for families crossing the border near Texas. Sister Norma joined us for lunch and passionately described her work and her experiences with these families. She told us about meeting and praying with minors who had been separated from their parents at the border.

“This country has a responsibility to protect the children … We are so focused on doing our job, we overlook the fact that we’re dealing with people and kids,” Sister Norma said. “I knew what my mission was, to receive them with love. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Sister Norma then welcomed special guests Carolina Aguilar Rocha and her daughter Mayrin Diaz Aguilar who received support from Catholic Charities to speak about their journey searching for safety and a home in the U.S.

Together, we cheered for the happy endings and emotionally wiped tears from our cheeks while proud to present Sister Norma with a donation of $25,000 to Catholic Charities.

Passionate Motivation

Xavier A. Gutierrez, President & CEO of the Arizona Coyotes, joins us.

As the retreat continued, we heard from more passionate speakers whose messages if summarized, for me, meant: our work at RDF is needed and we are joined by other inspiring leaders dedicated to a similar cause – caring for our communities.

Xavier A. Gutierrez, President & CEO of the Arizona Coyotes, joined us to share his passion for leveraging the power of sports to make a difference in people’s lives and bringing capital back into communities.

We enjoyed dinner with Julissa Carielo & Rene Garcia, Co-Founders of the DreamOn Group, a development company that provides solutions and services to empower people and transform communities. They shared their story of how they came together to create this impactful organization, one that RDF is proud to work with.

The following day, Jacqueline Johnson, Child Advocate Attorney, tugged at our emotions making us laugh and cry as she shared stories of working with youth in the juvenile justice system in Georgia – kids who often need someone to simply stand up for them.

We wrapped up with Paul J. Luna, President & CEO of Helios Education Foundation who advocated for change in the education system to support our students.

Paulina Ugalde, RDF’s Investment Analyst, and Adrian Ruiz, RDF’s Deputy Chief Investment Officer share their educational journeys.

“We must create meaningful change in education in the next five years, so we can create equity in education,” Paul said. “Every time there’s education success it’s a celebration of a family.”

With Paul, we had the privilege of hearing personal education journeys from panelists: Rosa Gonzalez, MPH ‘23 Candidate at Yale School of Public Health, Lizett Rodriguez Peña, Attorney and Deputy Director of Dreamer Fund, Adrian Ruiz, RDF’s Deputy Chief Investment Officer and Paulina Ugalde, RDF’s Investment Analyst.

On the final day of the retreat, we met for breakfast and left uplifted and motivated to continue the great work we do in our communities supporting education, healthcare, affordable housing, small businesses and more.

“We truly have something very special at RDF and the retreat was a beautiful way to recognize and commemorate this,” says Melissa McDonald, RDF’s Chief Operating Officer. “Thank you, Tom and Mark, for giving us a solid foundation based on our founding principles, mission, and servant-leader culture. These along with our Elements will serve to guide us as we serve our community and each other with love, passion, innovation, and a strong work ethic.”

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