Women We Love: Colleagues praise Valdez’s leadership in local banking industry

PROFILE

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Where do you live: McAllen

Employer/Business: Lone Star National Bank

Occupation: Human Resources Manager

What do you like most about The Valley: The great people and great leaders

Known by many, respected by all, Karen Valdez has made a name for herself in the banking industry and on public boards Valley wide.

Dubbed Women’s History Month, March is nationally observed as a time to honor the contributions of women throughout history, and Valdez, 60, more than qualifies.

Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Valdez moved around in three states before settling in Houston, where she completed high school.

“I never really saw myself here,” said Valdez, who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in psychology.

Valdez serves now as human resources manager for Lone Star National Bank.

“I just wanted to make a difference,’ she said. “I wanted people to respect the work that I did, and I wanted to have the sense of self pride in my work.”

Her career took a left turn after winding up in Laredo and experienced difficulty finding a job in social work due to being unable to speak Spanish.

It was Valdez’s mother, to whom she attributes her work ethic, who suggested she become a banker. Valdez celebrated 38 years in the industry on Feb. 28.

When IBC, the bank she served at the time, expanded to McAllen, the president requested she be transferred. This was in 1990 and Valdez and her husband have been here since.

Her involvement, passion and service in local affairs stems from her desire to “give back to the community that’s been so generous and gracious,” she said. “I’ve always had sorta a servant spirit.”

It’s been two years since she’s moved to Lone Star National Bank and it was its staff who submitted her nomination.

Judith Steger, Lone Star talent manager, said she has noticed an impact in how the team performs and increased cohesiveness since Valdez came on board. Constant demonstrations of appreciation, Steger said, are evidence that Valdez is a “genuinely caring person.”

“I don’t see them as employees. I see them as partners,” Valdez said. “I want them to understand whatever they’re doing that it’s important, and without their contribution, none of this would succeed.”

An adage she learned from her father and has long abided is, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” The key to managing her duties, she has come to find, is writing every task down in an “old-fashioned paper planner.”

Over the years, she has been involved with McAllen Affordable Homes, Leadership McAllen, Leadership Texas and in 2009, received the “Woman of the Year” award from the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.

One of the local boards Valdez serves on is the Community Development Council; for a number of years she has held the appointed position as CDBG — Community Development Block Grant — chairperson.

Longtime friend and CDBG Program Director Piedad Martinez referred to Valdez as the “rock” of the advisory board.

“She has been a person that can guide us in the right direction with her expertise,” Martinez said. “She never wavers; she speaks to the direction that is the best for us, for me, for everybody involved.”

Such decisions include the allocation of funds to local services that enhance quality of life and satisfying the unlimited need with limited resources.

Assistant City Manager Michelle Leftwich also spoke of Valdez’s commitment. This role, she said, is treated by Valdez “like a job she’s depending on for her life.”

“I think what stands out most about female leaders is they’re really hands on,” Valdez said. “Most of the woman leaders I know are extremely organized and detail oriented.”

Apart from her professional achievements, Valdez said she is proud of her two children, now grown, and hopes to be seen as a mentor for young people in the community.

rvillalobos@themonitor.com

In observance of Women’s History Month, The Monitor is recognizing local women who inspire us. This is the first of eight profiles on those who made our 2018 list of “Women We Love,” a series we’ll publish every Monday and Thursday in March.

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Where do you live: McAllen

Employer/Business: Lone Star National Bank

Occupation: Human resources manager

What do you like most about The Valley: The great people and great leaders