Guillermina Gonzalez Considers Art A Serious Business
Mexico City native says success in math and science innovation can only be achieved with a healthy exposure to art.
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Gonzalez finally settled on a field she believed provided access to a wide sampling of her interests: business. She earned both a bachelor’s in business administration and an MBA, and began working for large corporations like Xerox while still in school in Mexico.
In fact, it was as an employee for ExxonMobil that she first came to the United States, in 2001. “They brought me here thinking I was going to spend three years and then go back to take another position for the company,” Gonzalez says. “But I never went back.” Instead she met someone who brought chemistry back into her life: Charles Sobrero, a Caltech-educated chemical engineer working for DuPont, whom she married.
“I had my life all mapped out,” Gonzalez says. “I thought I was going to be one of those super-marketing gurus for corporate America.” Instead, in a space of one year (2001), marriage took her from the comforts of a good salary and a corporate structure to unemployment in a foreign land. Being stripped of her former identity proved a “scary rite of passage.”
“I needed to reinvent myself by realizing that I was somebody beyond a position within a company,” Gonzalez says. She relied on the support of her husband and family, as well as something called the Highlands Ability Battery: a professional assessment test that “helped clarify who I was and where my real priorities were. As a result, I was able to move forward with a leaner, more sharply focused version of myself.”
This clarified vision led to Voices Without Borders, a not-for-profit that called on her to advocate for Latinos in Delaware, promoting immigration reform, economic development and financial literacy. “I also coordinated the very first Latino gubernatorial debate,” she says. Then-candidate Jack Markell was one of the participants, addressing his audience in Spanish. “It was a fantastic experience, fostering the Latino presence in the state,” which, Gonzalez offers, “is growing.”
It was while working for Voices Without Borders that Gonzalez was invited to be part of the transition team of newly elected Gov. Markell. “In that capacity my friendships with many artists grew.” But Gonzalez’s career path was about to take another unanticipated turn. In 2009 the director of the Delaware Art Museum, Danielle Rice, emailed Gonzalez about a new position at the Delaware Arts Alliance. “She thought this was just calling my name and that I had to do it.” And so in January 2010 the alliance, a coalition of cultural and arts organizations from across the state, had its first executive director.