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Women’s History Month Staff Spotlight: Dolores Ortiz

Four story brick building with adjacent courtyard

Dolores Ortiz, Vice President of Programs

Bridgeport, CT

Tell us about the what you enjoy most about the work you’re doing and why it’s important.
What I enjoy most about the work is being part of a community that allows me to grow and learn every day. I grew up in a marginalized community and people really underestimate how much that can affect your perspective. I truly believed college or a career was meant for other people. It’s great to be in a role that exposes youth and families to all the possibilities and how to access other type of resources.

What attracted me most about coming to USES is the whole family approach. I relied on childcare and vouchers to help subsidize the expense. I had so much support to get to where I am. When I meet a young mother trying to find her path, she reminds me of me. My hope is that I can inspire other women to reject the notion that we don’t belong in executive positions.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in pursuing the work that’s important to you?
 The biggest challenge is TIME! I worked full time to support my two children and slowly chipped away at earning my Bachelors and eventually my Masters. It took about 12 years in all. I made it a part of my life so I wouldn’t think about how long it was taking. Before I knew it, I was walking across the stage while my two children were watching.

How does Women’s History Month connect to your work at USES?
My biggest hero was my grandmother who came to the U.S. on her own with two children from Puerto Rico. What she was able to do with so little money and resources is nothing short of a miracle. In comparison, I look like I’ve come so much farther, but in actuality I simply followed in her footsteps.

Hobbies/favorite song/movie/book/interesting fact
I will never outgrow hip hop even though it’s outgrown me. Listening to Public Enemy as a teenager in Bridgeport gave words to the injustice I felt but couldn’t verbalize. It was my first Sociology class. One of my favorite books is In the Name of Salome by Julia Alvarez.

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