We had the good fortune of connecting with Beatriz Villarreal and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Beatriz, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Our society tends to view risk-taking negatively. Often regarding it as dangerous and even unwise. Although some risks certainly do not pay off, it is important to remember that there is always a chance that they will I believe that I have been a risk taker all my life. This became especially clear from the moment I finished my BA in Special Education and decided to come to USA by myself. I applied to the University of San Diego, a catholic private school, and had the opportunity to study my masters degree in Special Education. Later, I further extended my education and continued pursuing a Doctoral Degree in Educational Leadership. I always remember my mom, my sister, and friends telling me that I was crazy to come to this country and live by myself! But I did it! Not only did I finish with great grades, but also as the first Mexican woman to receive a doctoral degree from USD. After getting my Ed.D, I took another huge risk. I decided to work as a counseling program director at San Diego Juvenile Hall. I was insecure about working at a prison because it was a Pilot study and I had no experience in prisons. We reduced violence, fights, and stress in the eight years I worked there. It was one of the best jobs that I ever had. Furthermore, having learned from the best teachers that someone could have (kids in Juvenile Hall), I decided that it was time to take another risk and resign. I opened my own non-profit organization “Mano a Mano Foundation”. For more than 27 year I have been working in prevention instead of intervention, providing support and education to the Latino community. My life of service has paid off. I have a great family, my husband Jorge Jiron and two children, Beatriz Cecilia (29) and Jorge (25). My daughter also graduated from USD, got married and has the most beautiful girls Beatriz Ileana (2 years old) and Cecilia Maria (6 months old). My son just graduated with honors from UCSD as a Sound Engineer. Both of my kids are fully bicultural and bilingual. I believe that my risk taking has been key in my achievements throughout my life. Nevertheless, beyond my risk taking, I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that there is a plan for all of us. Never lose faith and remember that you could be a risk away from achieving something much bigger than you ever imagined.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I created Mano a Mano Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to provide support and education to the Latino community to help parents prevent their children from becoming juvenile delinquents. The foundation’s doctrine promotes the involvement of parents in their children’s lives, therefore stimulating success in school, pursuing a college education, and achieving the American dream. Furthermore, as the director of a counseling program for eight years at San Diego’s Juvenile Hall, I designed the first program to provide support groups, individual counseling and education to parents and youth on probation. Throughout San Diego County I developed various community-based educational programs for parents and their youth who are at risk of entering the juvenile justice system. I been organizing for more than 18 years the Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Education conference in English and Spanish in Encinitas. It is the only conference in Spanish who provide resources to all the families in the county. My passion is to work with the community and giving support and education to the most underserve population in San Diego. As a bilingual bicultural Latina leader, my purpose is to continue serving my community and be an inspiration to the next generations. I have the fortune to do a TV show “Mas que Palabras” with Televisa Tijuana, channel 12. It is the most watched program in Spanish from 1 to 2pm. People can watch the program from Baja California Mexico to all San Diego County. It is a great opportunity to share important information to families, mainly in these times of trouble.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them to have breakfast at the Potato Shack. They have the best breakfast in north county. Then we would go take a walk at the beach. For Lunch we would go to Teri Café for the best teriyaki plates in San Diego. After lunch we could go to the mall for some shopping or to Oceanside Pier. Then for dinner my favorite place is the Chart House in Carlsbad. We would get a table next to the water and enjoy the sunset. Other places that would take my best friend are Coronado Island, eat there at Il’Fornaio with spectacular views of the San Diego Skyline, Mr. A’s To see the views of San Diego on the other side of the bay. Another must see in San Diego is Little Italy. We love to walk around little Italy for authentic Italian food and lovely sights. A great restaurant there is Barbusa. San Diego has so many unique and must go places that it is impossible to list them all. But they are all reasons why Ive been living her for over 30 years. You will never get bored and never go hungry in San Diego.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Lisa Montes: To me she is a community champion, a humble lady who selflessly initiate and maintain the often difficult and frustrating work that sustains the psychological, physical, and social that she does and the issues they cope with. You serve as inspiration and motivation to me and others to support what they are doing, or to become community champions too.

Instagram: Beatrizvillarreal
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/beatriz-villarreal-816659a
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dra.Villarrealmanoamano/
Other: Mas que Palabras, Televisa Tijuana Channel 12 Tuesdays from 1pm to 2pm TV show that you can watch from Baja California to all San Diego County