LEAP LEADs Blog, Week 3

October 4, 2021

Yvette Mendoza

LEAP LEADs members enjoyed another eventful and informative evening at their third meeting of the fall semester. Discussion and presentations covered a variety of topics, from local government to professional strategic thinking (e.g., resumes, thank-you cards) and more. 

We kicked off the evening with a discussion on personal-professional growth, expanding on our previous discussions on having a growth mindset, by examining a self-improvement method of sorts: becoming a more “T-shaped” person, with respect to knowledge base, developing not only breadth of knowledge and awareness on some topics, but also deeper depth of knowledge on specific areas most interesting to us.

We then went over the importance of a resume and how to properly write one. This helped us prepare for future jobs.

As part of our continued community exploration, we enjoyed local fare from El Gordo Taqueria for dinner. Dishes ranged from the very simple Nachos with Chicken Fajita meat to the more traditional plates such as Mexican Enchiladas, Carne Asada, and Mole Chicken.  The portions were generous, and we all enjoyed getting to try out another “new” restaurant. (A special shout-out to the staff for the fast, friendly, and professional service – it can be tough to get 15 separate take-out dinners correct, but we had no problems!

After dinner, we dove into a different sector from our two previous meetings, broadening our ‘micro’ discussions on law enforcement into a more ‘macro’ conversation on local (‘city’) government. Our two special guests, Mayor Andy Brauninger and City Councilmember Joe Rodriquez, provided their insight on how Huntsville works, and how a city should work, from the governance perspective.

Prior to our guests’ arrival, we had spent some time reviewing basic facts about city government structure, using the City of San Antonio’s organizational chart to compare and contrast types of departments and offices with the City of Huntsville. (Is it a coincidence that the author of this blog is from San Antonio…? Maybe – maybe not!)  It was interesting to discover that, in spite of the size difference (San Antonio =1.4M+; Huntsville = 42000+), Texas cities are structured very similarly – we noted the cohesion of department types and office names. 

Mayor Brauninger shared how his career in business was a very different animal than local government, and how he overcame the steep learning curve between the speed of private business and the care needed in the governance of a city. 

Councilmember Joe Rodriquez’s telling of his journey resounded a little more closely with a few of our Hispanic members, who were intrigued by his long history of public service.

Thank you to both Mayor Brauninger and Councilmember Rodriquez, for not only sharing your stories and insight into local governance, but also both for demonstrating such care for community now, and for your military service to our country. More than a few of our group felt inspired, which showed when multiple hands were raised to volunteer to write thank-you cards, the topic on which we closed our evening.