Driven by the Memory of Tomas, Vanessa Alonzo Embraces Her New Role as Cedar Hill Chamber Director

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Vanessa Alonzo headshot

With every life Vannessa Alonzo helps, she does so with the memory of her Tomas in mind.

Alonzo became the new director of the Cedar Hill Chamber of Commerce in mid-February. While she came to the role, it was the loss of Tomas to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome three years ago that led to her Cedar Hill.

“I come from a large, close-knit family. Our tradition of Sunday breakfast at my
grandparents’ house was a constant throughout my upbringing and has been
instrumental in creating my sense of community,” she said.

“The unity and strength of our family have always provided me with unwavering support. Being the youngest in the family, I’ve had the privilege of observing, learning, and benefiting from the wealth of experience shared by my older relatives as I’ve grown.”

Vanessa moved to Cedar Hill in June 2023 to be close to family as she dealt with Tomas’s death. Then, she had the opportunity to embark on her new role.

“While uncertain about taking on another family and a new job in a different city, Tomas remains my greatest inspiration. His influence has profoundly shaped who I am today and guides where I direct my time and energy,” she said. “I approach everything with purpose and passion, carefully choosing where to invest myself.

“For me, meaningful work is essential — it’s about staying true to myself and honoring Tomas’s legacy in everything I do.

“My family is the bedrock of everything I do. I made the decision to move here a year ago to be closer to them because I believe in the strength we have together. With my brother and sister by my side, we form a supportive team for his six wonderful children, each of us playing a unique role in their upbringing. It’s been one of the most fulfilling choices I’ve ever made.”

Nonprofit Experience

A Wichita Falls native, Alonzo is a 2010 graduate of John Hirschi International.
Baccalaureate Magnet High School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business, with a concentration in fine arts, from Saint Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, New York.

Her time in Brooklyn not only provided her with a solid foundation in business but also immersed her in the rich cultural tapestry of New York City, cultivating a passion for the arts. Returning to Wichita Falls, she made it her mission to give back to her community by empowering young people to explore and engage with the arts and culture.

She launched her nonprofit journey at Meals on Wheels Wichita Falls, initially serving as a client services representative. Over time, she moved into the role of volunteer coordinator.
Following this experience, she joined the newly established Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts & Culture. There, she began as an administrative assistant and eventually took on the role of program coordinator.

“During the organization’s early stages, we played a pivotal role in expanding arts
programs for youth and the broader Wichita Falls community,” she said.

Most recently, she embarked on a journey with Special Olympics Texas, where she served as the program director for the North Texas Region for the past three years. “In this role, I oversaw the organization and execution of over a dozen events annually. My experience coordinating these events has been instrumental in preparing me for my current responsibilities,” she said.

Importance of Fostering Relationships

Alonzo said her experience in nonprofit management has provided her with a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to ensure an organization’s success.

“I have navigated through various roles in my career. I recognize the indispensable nature of each of these roles within an organization, especially considering the often limited resources available in the nonprofit sector,” she said. “This has taught me to lead by example. I am willing to take on any responsibility necessary to achieve our goals, never expecting others to do what I wouldn’t do myself.”

Passionate about her work, Alonzo prides herself on devoting her time and energy to ensuring that every task is completed with the highest quality standards. However, she said the cornerstone of her success lies in building relationships.

“Whether serving individuals or engaging with the business community and Cedar Hill, I prioritize being a valuable resource,” she said. “I have learned the importance of fostering partnerships with other organizations, collaborating effectively to deliver exceptional services.

“For me, success hinges on these partnerships, especially as I currently operate as a one-person team with invaluable support from a dedicated board of directors.
Ultimately, I am driven by a commitment to service above all else.”

Alonzo noted that Cedar Hill had gone without a chamber director for some time. She believes her arrival has brought a new surge of energy and support for the chamber.

“I am hoping to continue on their upward trajectory for success for this organization,” she said.

A Vision For Cedar Hill Chamber of Commerce

Alonzo aspires to grow the Cedar Hill Chamber into a comprehensive resource for business and community, offering abundant information and opportunities for professional development, promotion, and engagement.

“My vision is to become a central hub for Cedar Hill’s business professionals, service organizations, and all visitors to our vibrant city,” she said. “Our Mission is to drive opportunities for business through leadership, advocacy, and connectivity.

“In building relationships with the regional community, our resources pooled together can make for amazing opportunities I am looking forward to exploring.”

She said the sense of community in Cedar Hill confirms that she made the right decision to come to town.

“As Cedar Hill undergoes rapid growth and change, I’ve been warmly welcomed with unprecedented support,” she said. “The unwavering encouragement from the city and its residents motivates me to work even harder for the community’s improvement.”

Life Outside Of Work

As an artist, Alonzo cherishes the moments she can create, usually reserved for weekends when she’s not dedicating herself to the family’s “future major leaguers.”
“Our baseball-centric family keeps us happily occupied with the kids’ activities,” she said. “I also enjoy getting lost in a good book or documentary. I find joy in learning because it expands my understanding.”

Despite tremendous adversity, Alonzo has persistently pushed forward, leveraging all of her life experiences for positive growth. For others who might be facing similar challenges, she offers some advice that has helped her continue moving forward.

“It’s not about what happens to you, but how you handle and learn from it that truly matters,” she said.

 

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Rick Mauch
Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters

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