Aileen is also the 2019 President, Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc.
Latin Times Magazine had the pleasure of catching up with Aileen recently, Aileen is one of our 2019 Latina Movers N Shakers! Latin Times Magazine: What part of Florida do you live in – are you from Florida? If not – what brought you to Florida?
Aileen Rodriguez: I live in Tampa and came to Florida with my family as a young child.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about where you were born and raised and where your family is from.
Aileen Rodriguez: I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and grew up living in both Puerto Rico and Florida. We spent summers and Christmas in Puerto Rico and the rest of the year in Florida. Both of my parents are from Puerto Rico. My father was born in Cuba and then raised in Puerto Rico. My grandparents on both sides of the family have roots from Spain.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell me about what organizations you are a part of
Aileen Rodriguez: Currently I serve Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc. Over the past 15+ years I have served many community organizations in Tampa Bay to include:
The City of Tampa’s Human Rights Board, Tampa Bay Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association, Hillsborough Community College Foundation, University of South Florida’s Latin Community Advisory Committee, The Housing and Education Alliance, WEDU Public Television’s Community Advisory Board, Ana G. Mendez University System’s Tampa Bay Campus Community Advisory Board and the Junior League of Tampa’s Community Advisory Board.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about the biggest highlights of your career
Aileen Rodriguez: The biggest highlights of my career were serving in roles where I was able to use my skills and talents to benefit our community. I had the honor of serving as Regional Director for a United States Senator. My role was to serve the community within the eight county Gulf Coast region of Florida. I have also worked in national public relations efforts promoting economic development for the Tampa Bay region by serving as Communications Director for the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee for the Republican National Convention.
Latin Times Magazine: As a Latina leader in community, business or other…what has been your biggest challenge and how have you been able to overcome it
Aileen Rodriguez: Something that can always be a challenge in leadership is building consensus among different groups of people. I have found the best way to accomplish this is by finding common ground and collaborating together to build positive solutions for everyone.
Latin Times Magazine: How important is being a Latina to you
Aileen Rodriguez: My Hispanic Heritage is part of who I am. I treasure my culture, language and heritage and am passing this on to my children. I also share the importance of preserving our Hispanic heritage with the community.
Latin Times Magazine: What is your favorite type of musica and what is your favorite song?
Aileen Rodriguez: I like all types of music from salsa to country to classical. I have many favorite songs depending on the day. There are too many to list!
Latin Times Magazine: IF you can go back to let’s say 18-21, what are some of the pivotal decisions that you have made that you would do differently
Aileen Rodriguez: I would have continued my education all the way through graduate school. I earned a bachelor’s degree in communications, and would have continued to earn a Master’s degree.
Latin Times Magazine: What do you think some of the best career choices are for young Latinas
Aileen Rodriguez: In whatever career path they choose, I would also encourage them to choose getting involved in community service for the betterment of our community. They will learn leadership skills and gain invaluable experience. I also encourage all young Latinas to pursue their higher education degrees.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about what kind of projects you currently have going on
Aileen Rodriguez: Currently, I have the honor of serving as President of Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc. This year we celebrate the 40th year of the organization. In addition to promoting, preserving and celebrating our Hispanic Heritage, an ongoing goal of the organization is to raise higher education scholarship funds for deserving Hispanic students at the University of South Florida and Hillsborough Community College. I’m thankful to work closely with a wonderful group of hard working and dedicated board of directors to accomplish this goal.
Latin Times Magazine: What can we expect to see from you in the future.
Aileen Rodriguez: I will continue serving the community and working in Public Relations. I would also like to pursue a graduate degree.
Latin Times Magazine: What is your comida favorita
Aileen Rodriguez: Puerto Rican arroz con habichuelas y amarillitos; and everything chocolate!
Latin Times Magazine: What famous person do you most identify with and why
Aileen Rodriguez: I admired and looked up to Delia Sanchez, who was my mentor in college. Although she wasn’t a national celebrity, she was very well known locally in the Tampa Bay community. She was a strong Hispanic woman who served the community all throughout her career. She taught me about community service, the importance of education, and to always help others.
Latin Times Magazine: What did I miss? Tell me something you want us to know!
Aileen Rodriguez: I want to encourage our Hispanic young people to get involved in serving the community. Additionally, we need more Hispanics to serve in Leadership and better represent our community. The more we are involved, the more we can better our community!
Aileen Rodriguez was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She spent her formative years living in Florida and Puerto Rico before settling in the Tampa Bay area in the 1980’s. She holds a BA in Organizational and Interpersonal Communications with a concentration in Psychology from the University of South Florida and is a USF Latino Scholarship recipient. She received leadership training through the American Management Association.
Professionally, Aileen is a public affairs executive with more than 20 years of experience leading public affairs and communications efforts for organizations in the arenas of health, education, government and tourism. She is currently the principal of AR Public Affairs & Strategic Solutions. Prior roles include working for Helios Education Foundation, the United States Senate, Moffitt Cancer Center and Walt Disney World.
Aileen believes in giving back to our community and has served the following boards and community organizations during her career: The City of Tampa’s Human Rights Board, the Florida Public Relations Association, the Hillsborough Community College Foundation, USF’s Latin Community Advisory Committee, Hispanic Professional Women’s Association, Pan American University Women, The Housing and Education Alliance, WEDU Public Television’s Community Advisory Board, Ana G. Mendez University Community Advisory Board and the Junior League of Tampa’s Community Advisory Board.
Aileen is a past recipient of the Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc. Leadership in Business award. She has been a board member with Tampa Hispanic Heritage since 2012 and has served in various roles; including Gala Chair, Communications Chair, Membership Chair and past Vice President.
Aileen lives in Tampa with her husband and two children. She is passionate about the transformative power of education and its positive impact on our youth and community. She also values the importance of celebrating and preserving Hispanic Heritage within our community and instills these beliefs in her children.