For Aurora “Rori” Ortiz, grit has been the name of the game throughout her career. The first in her family to earn a college degree, Ortiz carries her grandfather’s life lessons with her in the real estate industry at Bonner Carrington, where she serves a variety of diverse communities across Texas. Standing on the shoulders of generations of family members who worked tirelessly to give her more opportunities in life, it is her goal to pay it forward for the young women of the future. Ortiz shares on her personal journey, her grandfather’s guidance, her motivation to give back to the communities she serves, and the two women in history that inspire her interest in leadership.
Eleanora Morrison: What was the defining moment in your past that set you on the career path you ended up following?
Aurora Ortiz: I was born and raised in small-town America in a place called Hereford, TX. My parents are Betty and Ramon Ortiz. My mother is the source of all of my hope. She loves her children to the fullest by working to give us all the opportunities she missed out on. My father is a beacon of perseverance. He, against all the odds from his past, did what was best for his children.
My life has been full of defining moments with parents who have had to persevere and taught me to do the same. Though, if I had to choose one, it would be listening to my grandfather who encouraged me to go to college, which led me to the people who helped me find my path. My experiences in college showed me I had a passion for others and doing positive things in my community.
My grandfather, Telesfor Garcia, was a man who pushed my family to be the best they possibly could be. I am a direct product of generations of people who had nothing, yet still reached for the American Dream. I am the first member of my family to graduate from a University. The primary reason I accomplished this achievement that later became a defining moment in my life is because I was fulfilling my grandfather’s request. He asked me to reach for the stars and to achieve the unachieved for our family to get an education.
Before my grandfather fell ill, I spent a number of Saturday mornings at McDonalds with him bright and early at 6am. During those breakfasts, he explained how hard he worked all his life and did his best to make my sister and me understand the value of a dollar. With the smell of stark coffee, the main point would settle in, with tummies full of sausage biscuits: “nothing in life is ever given, it is instead earned.”
That man taught me to be tough as nails in my resolve; if I ever see myself as weak, or allow weakness to foster in me, the rest of the world will see me the same way. My most significant defining moment is allowing my grandfather’s wishes to be accomplished through me, and I strive daily to embody the “Telesfor Tenacity” with my every breath.
EM: What makes Bonner Carrington unique in the real estate industry?
AO: Bonner Carrington designs, develops, constructs, leases, manages, maintains, and owns apartment home communities. We are a fully integrated company that is Texas-based, owned, and operated.
I have a strategic mind that runs through scenarios and remembers information that sticks with me, giving insight to potential partnerships. I was given the gift of grit and being a part of Bonner Carrington has allowed me to learn an industry that I had no idea was for me. When I was first hired, I didn’t realize that it would catapult me into a career that suits me so well that I enjoy waking up to go to work every single day.
We develop both non-age restricted and age-restricted mixed-income communities that we hold on a forever basis. We pride ourselves on creating the culture of community and do that by partnering with Apartment Life, a faith-based nonprofit that provides CARES Teams to each of our communities.
A CARES Team lives onsite and partners with our management team to build community and serve residents by doing things that flow naturally out of the Christian lifestyle, including welcoming new residents, planning monthly social events, and CARE-ing for residents and property staff in times of need.
Bonner Carrington serves a spectrum of individuals, and I have the pleasure of being an advocate for our communities in Texas. I believe the thing that makes me and Bonner Carrington unique is that we both have care and concern for our neighbors.
Having lived in every major city in Texas, I have had the unique opportunity to experience the development of individuals in communities all over the state. I have always been comfortable with being uncomfortable.
This allows me to be a key team member for Bonner Carrington. I believe that I understand Texas. I also understand that we are growing, and as we grow to keep the culture of community that makes Texas what it is: priceless. We are in the business of working to be the best we can be for each other, our communities, and the state regardless of what our competitors are doing. We are a group of leaders.
EM: What is one way you hope to impact your community in the future, either personally or professionally?
AO: Step by step I made moves, and my journey has been difficult. It took me giving up staying close to my family to work in areas that needed me. I focus on positively impacting the lives of others.
This is accomplished by loving the little things in life. I focus on incremental change that I can impress upon happening. It keeps me fighting, even in the lowest time of my life.
As far as my professional life I leave those plans with God. I try not to step into his territory and allow him the widest canvas to paint my journey. As for my personal life, I hope with everything I do that it makes a world where girls like me have immense opportunity and things are more accessible for them.
I also want to help create a world that cares about each other, and I hope that when people think of me, they have love in their heart. The measure of our lives isn’t the seeds we plant, but the trees that grow once we are gone.
EM: If you could sit down with any woman in the world–either from history or who is currently living–who would that be and what would you discuss with her?
AO: I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some very incredible people with my work. Honestly, I have met many of my role models like Former Governor Susana Martinez, Justice Eva Guzman, Rachel Campos-Duffy, and other noteworthy women. Also, I have had the pleasure to be surrounded by strong women who have aided me in my journey, picking just one would be extra difficult.
If I had to choose one woman, I believe it would be Margaret Thatcher. She was the first female British Prime Minister. Her life is so fascinating, and I would have loved the opportunity to hear her thoughts on her impact to history. Thatcher was one of the longest serving prime ministers. If you have watched “The Crown” series online, or know anything about British Political customs, The Queen gives a weekly audience to the prime minister at which time she has a right and a duty to express her views on Government matters. In the matters of politics, The Queen is constitutional monarch, which means she does her best to remain politically neutral in the public eye.
I would have loved to be in a room with two strong and influential women, Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher to gain their advice. Thatcher was a champion for conservatism and Queen Elizabeth is a beacon of tradition. They are both power houses, but Thatcher is a stateswoman who climbed up the political ladder to her nation’s highest rung . She was a strong leader who was always very well-versed in her answers, and was fearlessly unafraid of creating her own way forward.
I would love to learn from a no-nonsense leader who possessed the grit and tenacity necessary to lead a country. Ultimately, being well liked by everyone isn’t possible (or necessary) while serving in government, and to handle the disinters with unwavering courage and poise to stand up for her initiatives is a skill and strength that I hope to emulate someday.