When you ask Patricia Pérez why she's involved with so many community organizations, she's quick to answer. She focuses her volunteer work on the issues that matter to her: non-profits, job creation, and the environment. As the newest member of AARP California's Executive Council, the team of leadership volunteers that helps to shape and execute our organization's statewide priorities, she has ideas to help blend the three into her service.
It's no surprise she's an avid outdoorswoman who loves to hike, as she serves on the board of the California State Parks Foundation, which advocates for the nation's largest state parks system. She's also on the Executive Committee of the City of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board and a board member with the Center for Non-Profit Management. This is in addition to her work as a partner with VPE Public Relations, one of the nation's largest Latino-owned communications agencies.
A native of El Paso, Texas, Patricia moved to California to attend UCLA. She's been with VPE since 1990, becoming a partner in 1992. Part of the agency's mission is to use their formidable professional skills for the betterment of the community. "It's the best of both worlds," she says. "I get to represent great companies and do something meaningful, working with companies interested in building community partnerships for the long term."
With all of this on her plate, it's hard to believe she has free time, but she laughingly admits that she's recently taken up golf and loves it. She also enjoys spending time with her family; she and her husband Frank live in Eagle Rock with their 15-year-old son David. We felt lucky that she was able to make time to join us for lunch today to discuss what she hopes to accomplish as an Executive Council member and why she'd tell her best friend to join AARP.
What attracted you to AARP?
Collectively, we're looking forward to segunda vida, or a second life, where we can work, take up new sports, have time and disposable income, and be healthy as we age. I want to advocate for this population to receive the programs and services they have been counting on receiving after retirement, but also talk about the opportunities available through AARP. Everything that's important to me, I can find through AARP, from philanthropy to volunteerism, employment opportunities, and encouraging outdoor activities.
I've been an AARP member for 14 years but did not get deeply involved until I won a contract to support AARP’s communications effort. Once I started seeing the whole breadth of what the organization offers, I was so impressed. When the opportunity came up to serve on the Executive Council, I said absolutely!
What do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Executive Council?
First, I want to work with the leadership team in meeting the organization's business priorities, both on advocacy and on member growth. Then I hope to introduce new opportunities, new alliances, and new audiences that perhaps we haven't worked with in the past, such as environmental groups, including Latinos working on preserving open space. Such groups protect the legacy of our state for our kids and grandkids. For families, parks and open space provide an opportunity to have a great time connecting with nature without spending a lot of money.
You're at your best friend's house and she receives her invitation in the mail to join AARP. What would you say to her about why she should join?
The immediate answer is self-interest: all the benefits, discounts, and other advantages that you get just from membership. AARP membership pays for itself a couple of times over when you use any of those discounts. But at the same time, you're joining a community. The fact that you are invited to join means you’re eligible to be a part of this community and it’s wonderful to be a part of a group that's watching out for your best interests. By the simple act of joining AARP, you’re protecting your future and the future of many others.