“There are women who are afraid to reach out to immigration or worker’s comp for they are undocumented; they’re afraid to reach out to the police,” explains Velia Razo. “We tell them it’s okay. We’re here to support.”
With her colleague Raquel Naranjo, Velia co-founded the Latina Professional Alliance (LPA) to promote opportunities for its members and the community at large. LPA is a network of bilingual professionals ready to help out in every field, from immigration, family, and criminal law to accounting, insurance, and financial advice.
“Being Latina, we don’t have the resources,” Velia says. “We want to empower women and encourage them to continue their passion. So many women give up. We teach them to have faith in the process.”
Velia speaks from experience. She was born and raised on the lower Eastside of Santa Barbara, but her parents were from Jalisco, Mexico. At home, they only spoke Spanish. Her father was an alcoholic, so her mother removed the family from that situation when she was 15.
“Mom didn’t know where to go,” Velia shares. “She didn’t know what were her resources. She was a single mom just like myself. I’ve been a single mom since I was five months pregnant. I didn’t receive any support.”
A graduate of Santa Barbara Junior High, Santa Barbara High School, SBCC, and, in 1997, UCSB, Velia proudly proclaims, “I’m as local as you get.” She studied sociology because she wanted to help people, but also worked as an assistant to loan officers while at university. “I’ve always loved numbers, since I was a little girl,” she explains.
Velia currently works as a mortgage consultant for On Q Financial, where she’s able to serve people even before they’re ready for a loan. “If my clients are not able to buy, I give them a road map to ownership,” she says. “I’m willing to work with a client for a few years to get them ready.” She loves being able to teach people how to own their own homes.
Velia dreams of LPA one day encompassing all of Santa Barbara County, and reports that Latino-owned businesses have been very supportive in sponsoring the alliance’s informative mixers. “We want Latinos to know people are willing to assist,” she says. “We’re not a political group. We want people to feel secure.”
At home, Velia works hard at being a good mom. “We have a strong sense of community in Santa Barbara,” she says. It’s perfect to raise my son., Evan, here. He’s 14. It’s been such a blessing to have a boy. He’s the highlight of my life. I’m proud to be a single mom.”
Velia Razo answers the Proust Questionnaire.
What is your motto? Everything is possible if you believe in yourself and have faith.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My BA degree. I was the first graduate on both sides of my family.
Who do you most admire? My mom. She is a strong and independent woman. She is always there to lift me up when I fall down.
What do you like most about your job? I love helping first-time homebuyers achieve their dream of home ownership. It feels rewarding.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Having peace and love in my heart and being healthy.
What is your greatest fear? Public speaking.
What is your greatest extravagance? I love jeans.
What is your current state of mind? I feel blessed, grateful, and peaceful.
What is the quality you most like in people? Genuine and respectful people.
What is the quality you most dislike in people? People who are selfish. I think we are all here to serve in some way or another.
What do you most value in friends? Their loyalty and trust. A friend who is not judgmental.
What is your most marked characteristic? I love to make people laugh. I think laughter is therapeutic and releases stress.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “OK.” I seriously overuse this word.
Which talent would you most like to have? I am not a cook. So it would be great to learn how to make some delicious meals.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? To fear less. False Evidence Appearing Real has held me back from reaching my full potential.
Where would you most like to live? I love Santa Barbara. I feel blessed to call this place my home. I was born and raised in S.B.
What is your most treasured possession? My photos. I love looking back at pictures and reminiscing on memories.
Who makes you laugh the most? Kids make me laugh the most. They have no filter when they speak. They are so honest in what they say and how it comes out is sometimes hilarious.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? I identify with single, strong, independent women.
On what occasion do you lie? I lie to my mom. I never want her to worry about me. She is always asking how I am doing and if all is well. My answer is always the same, “I’m doing great and all is well” — even when it is not.