Texan Transplant, Second Generation American, Activist and Team Builder
At 29, Amanda has accumulated a fascinating series of professional and volunteer experiences that have shifted her perspective and opened up new opportunities. Her commitment to “helping others” and exercising leadership has evolved since her early days as a mentor for middle school girls navigating their identities in Austin, Texas. Now, in her business development role at frog Amanda uses her passion for connecting people and ideas with a focus on human-centered design, a methodology to build new products, enterprises, and offerings revolving around user research. In this role, Amanda is experiencing the value of accumulating tools that will allow her to continue to make an impact on people’s lives.
Her Unique Brand of Leadership:
Amanda came from a tight family of Mexican and Mexican-American immigrants in South Texas where expectations on each family member to achieve and support each other were high. In her words, “my brothers and I each knew it was our responsibility to work to pave the way for all of us.” Early on, Amanda knew that helping people was the foundation for everything she wanted to do; so joined social impact organizations: she worked as a special education teacher and counselor, civil rights lobbyist, grassroots electoral organizer, nonprofit advocate, and more. But, in these positions, Amanda was truly burning the candle at both ends. She felt her health was at risk, as she worked long hours for not a lot of income, and started to become concerned that her work was not working for her. Growing up, Amanda relays that she didn’t hear much about the power of business and financial wellness, as these topics were somewhat taboo to discuss in what she describes as a “humble” culture. However, she started to connect the dots and realize that the impact organizations where she was working were fueled, not only by beliefs and hard work, but also structures of financial investment. She started to think about the connection between power and leadership. So, she picked up some business books, and became curious about how the private sector and entrepreneurship can drive impact. She explored, she networked, she compared notes with her friends from Amherst and, after successfully transitioning from nonprofit roles to the private sector in Austin’s tech scene, she decided to pack up and move to NYC.
What she knows about leaders:
Leaders stay curious. They are curious about themselves and the world around them. Amanda believes that the next generation of leaders is committed to “optimizing themselves.” No, not in a super “me” focused way, but by being vulnerable enough to ask the tough questions and get help when needed to make a broader impact moving forward - in a way, taking care of themselves so they can better care for others. I found this perspective incredibly refreshing.
What I Learned from Amanda:
You can pack a TON of experiences into ten years as you build your story constructing the foundation for a career and life. I learned about perspective. For a long time I have thought seriously about the confluence of leadership and power. Power can be a hot button word for sure- especially now. But I wonder, as Amanda has, if part of developing as a leader includes shifting your perspective about the value of power.
You can find Amanda to learn more about her in all these places! Instagram @anvrrreal Twitter @an_villarreal and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amandanvillarreal/