Beatriz Hanson is one of the most recognizable faces in the Coastal Bend, having served her community in numerous roles, currently as executive director of the Coastal Bend Food Bank. Bea, as she prefers to be called, grew up in Mexico City and completed a master’s degree in education before getting married and moving to Corpus Christi.
Hanson admits it took her a while to learn English, but as soon as she could communicate efficiently, she accepted a job in the local welfare office. The rest, you could say, is history. After taking that role serving families in need, she went on to work with other area nonprofit organizations before finding her “true calling” — her role with the food bank, which helps support multiple counties in the Coastal Bend area.
As Hanson says, “I have been privileged to serve our communities for many years.”
How have your experience and background been beneficial in serving the Coastal Bend community?
BH: My role as a caseworker with the welfare office allowed me to understand the families and their difficult circumstances better. I learned about their survival skills, sense of community and resilience. I learned to appreciate and respect cultural influences and differences.
Working with a local medical clinic, I learned communication and counseling skills that have been incredibly valuable in my daily dealings with those I serve. And Lutheran Social Services opened the nonprofit world to me. I obtained such special skills in running a nonprofit organization and judiciously utilizing donations for effective programming.
Little did I know then that God was preparing me for the biggest challenge of my career. For 25 years, I have helped to feed the hungry and to help others achieve healthy eating habits. I never imagined that the food bank would grow from being a little-known organization to becoming a first responder during emergencies.
What do you wish you had known before taking your first management role?
BH: I wish I had known not to let fear direct my decisions. Feelings of insecurity only placed limits on my options and actions. I finally learned that to err is human and I can draw valuable lessons from my mistakes. Taking chances and going in faith can only make me stronger.
What have been the most essential skills in your success?
BH: Accept and love people for who they are, and support and celebrate their accomplishments.
What are the best qualities of a good manager, in your experience?
BH: Communication is so important. Keeping the lines of communication open with employees and co-workers can help with motivation, and encourage others to gain confidence and use their God-given abilities and talents.
What do you love most about the Coastal Bend?
BH: Oh my gosh, I love living here! Corpus Christi has given me a sense of community. I love the slower pace, the sunrises over the water, the friendliness of our neighbors and the generosity of the citizens of our Sparkling City by the Sea. It is second to none.
What was one experience you will never forget?
BH: Hurricane Harvey was a tragic time, but it brought the community together to help one another in a time of need. This is imprinted in my mind and heart; it truly embodied the Body of Christ, the name for which our city is known. People from all over the country shared their hearts and resources with our community. We are all the better because of it.
What are your favorite activities outside the office?
BH: I love exercising, walking my dogs, traveling and spending time with my daughters, grandsons and family and friends.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
BH: We are in the process of building a 108,000-square-foot food bank building that will serve the daily needs of families in the Coastal Bend and will be ready to respond to hurricanes and other disasters for many years to come. We expect completion by September 2023.