El Paso Inc. is thrilled to announce the 2021 Women of Impact. This year we have three doctors and a fourth in the making. We have three CEOs, and we have the very best of community service. What an accomplished group and what an honor to get to share their stories with the El Paso community. 

Dr. Sylvia Y. Acosta is CEO of the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region and is taking a stand for what she believes in: eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Acosta says she was called home to El Paso to work on these issues, and amidst current events, including the refugee crisis, Aug. 3, 2019, Walmart mass shooting and the coronavirus pandemic, the city has needed Acosta’s strategic leadership now more than ever.

Dr. Azuri Lizeth Gonzalez has been the face of community engaged young, and especially female and Latina, professionals even if she was the only one at the table. But Gonzalez has never shied away from asserting her voice and using her seat to shed light and offer new perspectives. As UTEP’s director for the Center for Community Engagement, Gonzalez has committed herself to improving community engagement in future generations and has stepped up UTEP’s focus here multifold.

Tasha Phillina Hopper has been leaving her mark pushing excellence through El Paso’s health care halls. Starting out as a labor and delivery nurse, today Hopper is CEO of The Hospitals of Providence East Campus overseeing its $20 million expansion in El Paso’s fastest growing area. Before that she got the nation’s newest teaching hospital, Providence’s Transmountain Campus, up and off the ground. Beyond health care, Tasha is a dedicated volunteer who lends her leadership to a variety of local nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Kristina D. Mena makes a positive difference by focusing on the most basic human needs to improve lives such as access to potable water and health care. Mena is an environmental microbiologist and the regional dean and associate professor for UTHealth Houston School of Public Health in El Paso. Among many volunteer positions, Mena is currently lending her expertise to the local taskforce to help El Paso mitigate COVID-19 transmission and hopefully prevent another coronavirus surge.

Keri Moe’s can-do attitude along with a belief that El Paso has tremendous potential makes her a big asset to El Paso Community College where she is associate vice president for external relations, communication and development. She’s passionate about working with students to make sure they have every opportunity available. In addition, she lends her PR expertise to supporting area nonprofits and taking fundraising to new levels. She’s also on her way to earning a doctorate degree.

Andrea M. Ramirez is focused on getting results, not excuses. She is Project Amistad’s CEO and teases that she has a healthy addiction to helping those in need. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramirez found herself and Amistad on the frontline transporting COVID-19 infected people to and from critical medical appointments. Ramirez ensured her staff was protected and trained and set the example by participating in Amistad’s first transport of a COVID-19 positive client to their dialysis appointment herself.

Congratulations to these women. Your positive impact on the El Paso community is exceptional.

I also want to acknowledge and give a shout out to all the nominees. There were a lot of outstanding nominations, and it made the selection process very difficult. 

El Paso Inc.’s editorial board does the first round of evaluations and turns over a narrow-downed group of finalists to a selection committee made up of previous Women of Impact honorees. Members of the committee scored finalists independently in four areas: local impact, the effect the nominee’s efforts have had on the local community; level of involvement, the time spent; breadth of reach, how wide reaching the candidate’s work is; and professional achievements.

It’s a tough and humbling process. Thank you to the committee. 

As is our tradition, we are planning a breakfast to celebrate this year’s honorees. Please save the date on Oct. 21, 2021, at the El Paso Country Club, of course pandemic concerns allowing. It is yet another great reason to get that vaccine if you haven’t already. 

And finally, we want to thank El Paso Electric for presenting the Women of Impact along with gold sponsor WestStar, and all those who have committed to the project so far. A special section featuring these women will be published in El Paso Inc. Magazine’s fall issue, due out Labor Day weekend.

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