Patricia Garcia Duarte

Executive Vice President, Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc.

My passion for fair and equitable housing opportunities inspires others.

Why do you believe honoring achievement is important?

By honoring achievement and recognizing someone’s accomplishments, several important steps occur. First, achievements or accomplishments are typically in response to certain challenges that the community is experiencing. To honor someone’s success, we must first identify an important issue that needs to be solved. For example, the difficulty many low-income families have trying to acquire a safe, affordable home. Next, we clarify the various obstacles a family might face that make this so difficult. Following this, we create a solution or solutions on how to address these issues. Lastly, we take action and execute these steps to bring about these solutions. While this plan sounds practical and straightforward, the reality is, it takes a champion, someone who is willing to move forward against the tide committing time and resources, often at great personal expense to ensure their plan comes to fruition. 

To honor someone’s achievement, we bring light to an important problem or problems that need to be solved as well as the steps it takes to solve them. This demonstrates that when someone identifies a problem and works hard, they can bring about change. Their success inspires others to do likewise and be a force for change. 

What insights have you gained in your career that would inspire others?

First of all, passion is contagious. When you are passionate about what you do, it’s not just a job but is rather an opportunity that enables you to use your unique talents and skills to benefit others and toward the accomplishment of certain goals.

Like many others, I have had those moments, especially early in my career, when going to work required me to learn, research and understand new systems. However, once I recognized that my purpose is to help others — in my case, to help families obtain a home — I couldn’t help but become passionate about what I did. 

I wasn’t performing a set of tasks to receive a paycheck; my job was to help people acquire a safe, affordable home where families could succeed. I pictured families feeling proud and safe gathered around their kitchen table creating new happy memories.

What can we do — now — to make a difference for young people/women in Arizona?

Perspective is one of the most important elements to understanding the challenges others face. Perspective provides a personal point of view that is lost when we objectify or miscategorize others, especially those who may be different from us. For example, recently there has been a lot of attention paid to immigrants amassing at our borders. Often, they are referred to in impersonal terms such as “illegals” or “aliens” or “migrants.” The reality is, they are children or parents, brothers or sisters, many of whom are simply looking to escape poverty or violence.

When we shove them into categories, they lose their humanity and it’s far easier to dismiss them or, worse, to characterize them as less than us. They want to contribute, to be a part of a community, to provide a healthy environment for their families. In essence, we all share the same values. They are no different from us. 

We must never fall prey to the temptation to categorize or stereotype others but, rather, recognize the dignity of all people. We must walk in their shoes and see through their eyes. It’s about perspective.

About Me:

In 1987, Patricia Duarte began her career in community and economic development after receiving a finance degree from Arizona State University. She has been an advocate for affordable housing and has represented Arizona on two national boards to help address housing and consumer protections — Federal Reserve Board, Community Advisory Committee and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Community Advisory Board. She is executive vice president at Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc. and is now focused on building a homeownership ecosystem to narrow the wealth gap among poor and ethnic minority groups. She previously served as president and CEO at Trellis for 16 years. Patricia and Jesse, her husband, have three children —Alonzo, Mireya and Ricardo.

In Few Words

  • What was the last course, certification or training you took to improve yourself professionally? I am fortunate to be part of a national network that provides regular courses in community development, governance, and affordable housing. I take advantage of community development training often.
  • What would you say is a single characteristic OTHERS might attribute to you that defines your success? Honest
  • What is the one thing you feel you could work on professionally to be a greater success? Writing 
  • What is the one professional skill you have that has gotten you where you are today? Confidence
  • What is the single greatest issue facing Arizona today? Arizona is facing an affordable housing crisis; we need affordable and safe places for all income levels.

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