Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria’s cancer bout changed her perspective AND priorities, but didn’t stop her from leading a busy professional life that’s earned her Woman of Impact kudos.

“I was 30, and that situation just made me realize it was important to give of your talents, and not just money,” says El Paso Independent School District’s deputy superintendent for finance and operations.

Her most significant impact on the community came during her 2004-2014 tenure with the City of El Paso, where she headed city financing work on different public projects, the new city hall and Southwest University Park among them.

Matching projects with financing and utilizing different financing strategies made them happen.

Proudest accomplishment? Helping keep a familiar icon shining.

In 2009, the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce owned the Star on the Mountain, and operation costs nearly forced a shutdown. The City, battling its own tight finances, couldn’t take over ownership, so Arrieta-Candelaria was challenged to “find a way to make it happen.”

So, along with the Chamber, El Paso Electric, the site’s landowner, and her own staffers, she hatched a plan: the City leases the land for the next 50 years and funds Star management costs.

Arrieta-Candelaria has learned that making a difference in a community doesn’t always have to mean big or fantastic. Serving on community boards, sharing your talents and becoming involved are great ways to volunteer.

This math wiz credits her Deming High business teacher for introducing her to her eventual profession: accounting.

The CPA’s civic and community involvement list includes board memberships with University Medical Center, ReadyOne Industries and EPISD’s board of managers, while Texas Lottery Commission, YWCA, United Way and Center Against Sexual and Family Violence, among others, have also claimed her time.

Her advice for future women leaders is to be brave, both at home and work.

“When I was young and began my professional career, I took a higher-paying job because I had a young son to provide for; I also wanted a change in my work environment,” she says. “It was tough because I wasn’t ready for the stressful and professional strains of the job.

“I realized I had to be brave for my son and continue to work through it – I’m stronger because of it.”

She’s passing on that advice to her daughter and feels we should all teach it to our girls who will be our future leaders.

“We’ve broken one glass ceiling; it’s time all ceilings are shattered!”