When Sandra Velarde’s children left home for college, she re-entered the full-time work force and was drawn to the non-profit sector.
“I wanted meaningful and fulfilling work, not just a job,” Velarde, who is TALT’s Development Coordinator, said.
She began her career with the Mi Casa Foundation, a San Antonio-based charity that operated missions in Mexico. She then joined the Alamo Heights School Foundation where she grew her skill set working with a team that increased then exceeded fundraising goals for five consecutive years. She came to TALT ready to focus her broad-based experience on donor relations and development.
“To be successful, you have to touch donors in a meaningful way,” Velarde said. “Every member in an audience has a unique connection to a group like TALT, so it’s important to know them and personalize our mission and our message. That doesn’t happen by accident.”
Urban sprawl didn’t intrude on Sandra Velarde’s childhood in Fabens, Texas, an agricultural community 30 miles east of El Paso.
“Wide open spaces were a gift, but we took it for granted because it was all we knew,” Velarde said.
Since moving to San Antonio 20 years ago, she’d seen the impact of urban sprawl and fragmentation, but didn’t fully recognize their devastating potential.
“Until I joined TALT, I didn’t realize how much land Texas lost to development or how that loss affects our water, food and wildlife,” she said. “It’s insidious and there are hundreds of thousands of Texans who don’t realize it either. They care deeply that Texas is vanishing, but they just don’t know to what extent.”
She is passionate about helping people understand what is at stake.
“If I can play a part in helping people understand that our land is not unlimited and our ecological productivity is fragile, then I’m doing important work,” Velarde said. “Understanding the need to conserve land so it’s available for the next generation is the first step in actually making it happen.”