Passion Fuels Career Choices for Cuellar

By Haley Rogers
Special Contributor

Catherine Cuellar’s diverse resume has various jobs in the local media and arts scene, having been an editor and columnist at The Dallas Morning News, a reporter at KERA-FM, a board member for various nonprofits, and a Dallas Cultural Affairs commissioner.

Most recently, Cuellar left her post as executive director of the Dallas Arts District this summer to become director of Entrepreneurs for North Texas, a program of Communities Foundation of Texas.

The job finds Cuellar working with companies that are too young or too small to have an in-house corporate affairs department, helping them leverage their employee volunteerism, philanthropy, and sponsorships. Such efforts include organizing service projects, networking opportunities, and fundraisers.

what is CFT

Communities Foundation of Texas has helped manage charitable funds for families, companies, and foundations since 1953. Learn more at cftexas.org.

What are some significant differences between your previous position and your new one?
Entrepreneurs For North Texas has thousands of potential nonprofit service partners across the region, while the Dallas Arts District is geographically confined to 20 square blocks within downtown Dallas. I still love the arts, but EFNT also allows me to support education, health and human services, animals, elderly — you name it.

What has been the most challenging part of the transition?
This is the first time in seven years that I’m not working in downtown Dallas, where I also live, so I can’t walk to work anymore. In fact, I’m driving to my member companies’ offices from Frisco to Las Colinas to Lancaster, so the biggest challenge is so much time spent driving between meetings.

How has your career prepared you to be director at EFNT?
This job leverages all my previous experiences in the nonprofit, corporate, media, and government sectors. I helped launched for-profit brands like GuideLive.com and co-founded the non-profit La Reunion TX, so I can relate to entrepreneurs. And most of my career has been spent in Dallas, so I understand the culture here and can help EFNT executives who are new to the area learn the lay of the land.

What is it about Dallas that you are passionate about? And what about Dallas do you want to improve through your efforts?
Right now I’m extremely passionate about inclusion and equity in Dallas. If our working poor neighbors continue to struggle in times of prosperity, that’s disheartening. I’m passionate about empowering our entire city — especially young people, women, and people of color — through access to the same outstanding public education, leadership development and career opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to have. Dallas’ public, private, and nonprofit sectors will be most vibrant and resilient when the leaders of our organizations are as dynamic and diverse as the citizens, customers, and clients we serve.

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