Following Up With Former The Bend People of Interest - The Bend Magazine

Following Up With Former The Bend People of Interest

A look back at interviews with influential Coastal Bend people and where they are now.

Claudia Melton, a musician in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Photography by Shoocha Photography

Each issue of The Bend includes a Person of Interest section in which we chat with influential Coastal Bend people doing, well … interesting things! From small business owners and government officials to creatives and nonprofit directors, we followed up with several previously featured Person of Interest subjects from the last 10 years to see how different their worlds look now. 

Photo of Mayor Paulette Guajardo
Photography by Deux Boheme

Mayor Paulette Guajardo

Mayor of Corpus Christi

First interviewed in March 2021

“We’ve made significant strides in key areas of focus since the article’s publication in 2021. Firstly, we’re advancing toward securing a reliable water source for our region and moving forward with building a desalination plant to meet this need. Over the last three years, our city has undergone a remarkable transformation, especially in terms of infrastructure. We have invested over $335 million to fix our streets, which is unprecedented. Additionally, our innovative street repair strategy now includes the ‘pavement only’ approach, which will significantly expedite revitalization efforts while reducing costs. This pioneering method compresses a 60-year plan to fix our streets into a 12-year plan, slashing the overall cost from $980 million to $180 million — a historic achievement for our city. These initiatives underscore our commitment to efficient governance and sustainable urban development, positioning us for continued growth and prosperity.

Other transformative projects such as the Whitecap Preserve, Lake Padre development and the catalytic Homewood Suites have reshaped our cityscape. The latter, located downtown on Chaparral, will be only the second new construction hotel in decades, solidifying it as a vibrant main street. Whitecap Preserve and Lake Padre represent a combined investment of $1.5 billion over the next decade, while Homewood Suites has an estimated investment of $33 million, further invigorating our city’s economy and job market.

We’ve also made significant strides to enhance law enforcement capabilities. Notably, the city’s first police training academy is under construction. Additionally, for the first time in decades, we achieved full staffing for our Corpus Christi Fire Department, marking a significant milestone in our city’s progress. We also proudly welcomed our new Fire Chief, Brandon Wade, ushering in a fresh era of progress for Corpus Christi.” >> Read the 2021 interview


Claudia Melton, a musician in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Photography by Shoocha Photography

Claudia Melton

Local Musician

First interviewed in January 2023

“The most incredible update since the January 2023 article is my debut album was released in May 2023. I have listeners in the United Kingdom, Australia and Europe. I’m worldwide! Also, two of my first live performances of the album were in Dallas and New York City. Through that experience, I realized I needed to trust myself playing piano on my live shows. That was the biggest takeaway from the album release: Trust yourself. 

My students have been more thrilled than ever to know their teacher was in a magazine. I can’t count on both hands how many times they asked me for my autograph. Young people, especially young musicians, are needed in our community — so when I’m old, I hope they remember their music journey, how it all began and keep that shirt I signed a long time ago.” >> Read the 2023 interview. 


Coastal Bend Food Bank Executive Director, Beatriz Hanson.
Photography by Lillian Reitz

Beatriz Hanson

Coastal Bend Food Bank Executive Director

First interviewed in November 2015

“The Food Bank has undergone a fantastic transformation since first featured in The Bend in 2015. One important milestone was rebranding the Food Bank of Corpus Christi into the Coastal Bend Food Bank, which better reflects the extensive 11-county area we serve. The impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Hanna, the freeze and the pandemic greatly challenged the Food Bank and its resources. I am in awe of the dedication and devotion of our employees and volunteers, who gave more when there was less. As a testament to what can be achieved, the Food Bank has since been recognized as an emergency first responder in our communities.

With such a distinctive role and responsibility to the people we serve, the need for a larger facility was crucial. In 2021, we launched a capital campaign to raise $30 million for a state-of-the-art building that would better serve the Coastal Bend area. Twenty-one months later, I am proud to say that we cut the ribbon at the grand opening of a beautiful and efficient 108,000-square-foot warehouse and administration building. Pallet storage capacity went from 560 in the old building to 4,567. We are no longer faced with leasing outside storage, and will never face the difficult decisions that limited space brings. The new facility will better meet the community’s needs while allowing for new growth and serving opportunities. From a numbers perspective, in 2015, we distributed 8.1 million pounds of food. Post-pandemic, the demand for food increased considerably, and in 2023, we distributed over 13 million pounds. That’s over one million pounds a month!” >> Read the 2015 interview.

Joey Jewell, Corpus Christi Sports Commission Executive Director.
Photography by Lillian Reitz

Joey Jewell

Corpus Christi Sports Commission Executive Director

First interviewed September 2022

“Since the 2022 article ran, we’ve successfully hosted significant national and international sports events, including the American Cornhole League National and the International Table Tennis Federation’s Pan American Cup. Collectively, these two events yielded a direct spend, estimated economic impact of approximately $1.24 million. In addition to these achievements, Corpus Christi FC initiated the construction of a 5,000-seat soccer stadium, accompanied by six adjacent artificial turf fields. This facility will not only be accessible to the community but will also serve as the venue for future sports tournaments. 

Lastly, we are proud to announce the inception of the Coastal Bend Sports Hall of Fame and Awards Show. This distinguished event aims to pay tribute to sports legends from the Coastal Bend region while acknowledging the achievements of high school athletes and community members, both on and off the field.” >> Read the 2023 interview. 

Alyssa Barrera Mason, Downtown Management District Executive Director.
Photography by Dustin Ashcraft

Alyssa Barrera Mason

Downtown Management District Executive Director

First interviewed in March 2018

“Since the March 2018 article, downtown revitalization has progressed significantly. There’s been over $100 million invested downtown on many private businesses and public improvement projects. I am amazed at the resources that our community has invested and the team we have built to facilitate the revitalization work, as well as the wonderful people that have dedicated time and energy in making this vision of a vibrant downtown into a reality.  

I’ve also done a lot of maturing and my leadership style has evolved significantly. When you’re young and ambitious, you feel like you have a lot to prove. Over time, that need has given way to a realization that I am in a position to support and empower others. ​​Additionally, I became a Certified Economic Developer, a designation held by 1,200 economic developers across the country. This designation gives me a great deal of confidence that I am using best practices and am at the forefront of innovative local economic development. We’re doing what matters for our creatives, entrepreneurs and young people who will be our future. 

We’ve turned a corner and shifted the paradigm of how people feel about Corpus Christi. Downtown looks completely different from 2018: from the sparkling lights on Chaparral to the iconic mural collection to the bustling streets every First Friday — there is a way to go, but we have brought downtown alive again, and it really is a beautiful sight.” >> Read the 2018 interview.