A foundation of family and hard work leads to new opportunities

Yvonne Pelayo shares her story for Hispanic Heritage Month

According to the United States Census Bureau, Hispanics make up 65.7% of San Antonio’s population. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, CPS Energy highlights San Antonio native and CPS Energy’s Director of Local Government Relations, Yvonne Pelayo. Throughout this blog, Yvonne details her background and speaks on the importance of diversity, specifically, in her field of local government relations.

Yvonne with her family
Yvonne with her family

Yvonne grew up with a strong work ethic instilled in her from a very young age. She witnessed her parents’ discipline and commitment to their work and was exposed to politics by watching her parents volunteer for different political campaigns. She began to understand the importance of seeing Hispanics represented in that realm and her family’s emphasis on hard work and volunteerism created the foundation that shaped her and the future of her career.  

When Yvonne moved into her most recent role as Director of Local Government Relations, her dad’s advice remained in the back of her head- stay focused, go slowly and most importantly, enjoy the journey.

Yvonne graduating from OLLU
Yvonne graduating from OLLU

Yvonne is the first grandchild to graduate from college in her family, graduating from Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Yvonne has been with CPS Energy for 18 years, but before Yvonne’s current role as Director of Local Government Relations, she spent time in CPS Energy’s People & Culture business unit. During that time, she watched the government relations team and was intrigued by the work they did and how they interacted with others in the community. This reignited her interest, and when an opportunity in that unit became available, Yvonne took a leap of faith and said yes to the opportunity.

That leap of faith to enter a new field has led her to the role she is in today, overseeing the Local Government Relations team at CPS Energy.

Q: How important is it to embrace your Hispanic heritage in the workplace?

Yvonne: I think it’s extremely important because both Hispanics and women are underrepresented in leadership roles. It’s critical that when an opportunity presents itself, Hispanic women step into leadership roles. So many young women are seeking role models that represent them, and it gives them something to emulate and work towards.

Q: Why is it important to have diversity in the department of local government relations?

Yvonne: There are 31 suburban cities within our local territory and our team is a direct reflection of the community we represent. It’s crucial that organizations, boards, and political offices have members who represent the communities they serve.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Mayor and city council swearing-in ceremony.  During the ceremony, District 1 councilwoman Dr. Sukh Kaur, reflected on seeing a photo of San Antonio’s City Council at the airport. She spoke about how important it was that others see diverse women with backgrounds similar to hers being reflected in local government.

Q: In your department of Local Government Relations, you lead an entire group of Hispanic women. What does that mean to you?

Yvonne: I am extremely proud of the team I lead and the work they do. This role requires you to put yourself out there and that’s what they do every day by stepping up to the plate and looking for opportunities and ways to serve our community. I think they are all great role models for young women, not only in local government relations but in their personal lives as well.

Yvonne’s department consists of Melissa Carrillo-Cox, Nancy Tabares and Velma Corona.

“Yvonne is a Latina powerhouse,” said Nancy Tabares, CPS Energy’s Program/Project Manager for Local Government Relations.  “The roles she’s held throughout her career are a reminder that Latinas are powerful and hardworking. I’m proud to have a strong resilient, compassionate Latina leader that continues to pave the way for others!”

Q: What advice would you give to a young Hispanic girl beginning her career?

Yvonne: It’s so important to have strong values, a strong work ethic and to always lead with integrity and honesty. Those values are your brand and your calling card. That brand enters a room before you do. Look for other women who are role models in the area you aspire to be in and make those connections. You never know where they may lead you.

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