Two years ago, Anette Landeros was preparing to lead the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. During that time, some asked her, “What if you have kids?”
No one knew she was pregnant at that time. Her son was born later that year.
“That’s an important thing to say: Leaders can be pregnant,” she said. “Leaders can be new moms; and leaders can have four kids; and leaders can lead and make this time commitment.”
Landeros, 38, is the CEO of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She took over the role two years ago. In her service and her personal life, Landeros said her work boils down to one thing: family.
“At the end of the day, those businesses are really families, and they employ other families,” she said. “If we can help somebody who has a dream and aspiration, a desire to build something for themselves, and we can help them either start it, or maybe it’s already started, and we can help them grow it, that means that their family is going to be better off, that means that their employees are going to be better off, they’ll be able to hire more people, which means more families are going to be better off.”
As a new mother, Landeros sees the value in community leaders having children. She believes it can shape the way people make decisions.
Without having that example, it can be easy for people to get discouraged about having children and pursuing leadership, she said.
“Is it hard? Well, yeah, it’s hard,” Landeros said. “But when you have peers that are doing it alongside you — and it’s not always graceful — but they’re doing it, I think that that normalizes the fact that ‘Okay, we have to be understanding of you, mom.’”
One of those peers for Landeros is Mayor Mattie Parker, who is a mother of 3, and supported Landeros at a public event with her son.
Landeros said during the ribbon cutting of the Northside bridge, her husband was out of town, and her son was with her during the event. When it was time for photos, he started crying. Landeros said Parker told her, “Just bring him” because she did not want to hear the baby crying — which led to Landeros having her baby in the group photo.
Having young parents on the City Council brings a new kind of diversity to decision-making, Landeros said.
“You’re now seeing folks that are parents, and so that’s a different type of diversity,” she said. “It’s not always just race and gender. I’m excited about that, and that’s something that I can personally relate to.”
Landeros fit into management roles quickly, starting in her 20s, suddenly having to figure out how to be a boss to people whose careers were as old as her.
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“I was the only female at my previous office here in Fort Worth,” Landeros said. “In addition to that, I was also a very young supervisor, managing individuals that could have been my parents.”
At times, Landeros found it uncomfortable to tell older employees what to do or push them to meet deadlines, she said.
“I think ambition in young people wasn’t always really taken seriously,” Landeros said. “But I think that I made sure that I did the work. And that I always was very firm in understanding what my job was, and that I just needed to do my job, this is not personal.”
Her sister, Denise Enriquez, 45, said Landeros was trying to be in charge even when they were children and said, while laughing, “she’s very bossy.”
From a young age, Landeros was independent and responsible, Enriquez said.
As she grew older, Enriquez said Landeros kept impressing their family. As a first-generation college student — her mother immigrated from Monterrey, Mexico, in 1968 and her father from Zacatecas, Mexico, in 1972 — Landeros was the first from the family to get a degree.
“At the time, we were just kind of excited that she had attended college and graduated college,” Enriquez said. “But, as she continued, we just couldn’t be any prouder and we were just kind of like standing back and just, you know, trying to support her where we could but she exceeded any expectations that we could have really had on her.
When Landeros was in D.C. “I remember thinking, ‘Gosh, she could be our first female president,’ because she really just had no limits,” Enriquez said. “I mean she just did what she wanted to, and it was pretty much what she set her mind to do.”
Despite not growing up in Fort Worth — Landeros is from San Antonio and moved to Cowtown in 2009 — she has found ways to connect to the community.
Landeros became very involved in the Hispanic Women’s Network, where she met her mentor, Eva Bonilla, 72.
Bonilla said she has worked with a lot of young Latinas, but Landeros has surpassed them all.
“She’s so nice to everyone. There isn’t a person that has met her that doesn’t like her,” she said. “And it’s very valuable to have somebody that leads, especially a Latina at this time. And I support her. I’m her biggest cheerleader.”
The wisdom and skills Landeros picked up over the years have made her a valuable asset to the community as a leader and mother, Bonilla said.
“I’m just so proud of her because she’s showing the world that you can do it,” she said. “And she has a supportive husband in Joseph that can help her do it. Now that she has a child, I was so happy when she got pregnant, and knew that she’d be able to handle it. And the neat thing is, I mean she showed other people you can have a child and you can be successful. And your husband needs to support you as Joseph did, and they support each other. She was helping him while he was getting his degree, his MBA, and I think that’s so awesome.”
Though she still has pride in her hometown of San Antonio, Enriquez said, the family can tell Fort Worth has grown on Landeros.
“She’s really grown to love Fort Worth,” Enriquez said. “I can see where she really strives to improve and be the biggest asset that she can be for her community.”
When Enriquez’s daughter started college at the University of North Texas, she said, Landeros was so excited to show her around Fort Worth.
“Fort Worth has a really special way of getting you involved in the community,” Landeros said. “It’s a city where if you want to be engaged, and if you want to meet like-minded people, and organizations, it’s super easy to navigate, I found.”
Before moving to Fort Worth, Landeros was working as an inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C. But she missed Texas, so Landeros transferred to the office in Fort Worth in 2009.
As a relative newcomer, she’s found a way to use that to her advantage when talking to people who say change can’t happen because of the city’s traditional power structure. When people might shoot down ideas and say it’s “because of the Old Guard,” Landeros does not see that as a reason to stop, but works to find another solution.
“I think that, as more and more people move to Fort Worth, there’s going to be more of that,” Landeros said. “There’s going to be more of, ‘OK, I get it. That’s something that is, you know, there. What do we do here? What do we change? How do we need to move forward?’”
Additionally, more people moving to Fort Worth will start to change the city, little by little, as they bring new values and business ideas to the city, Landeros said.
“Let’s not be naive. There’s still plenty of power-holders and stuff like that,” Landeros said. “But I do think that we have to continue to push our city forward. And that’s in terms of electing leaders, that’s in terms of ensuring that the policies that they pass are the ones that we now value, and that we are ensuring that diverse leaders are at the helm to make sure that those perspectives are being brought to the table.”
Anette Landeros Bio
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas
Moved to Fort Worth: In 2009 from Washington, D.C.
Family: The daughter of Heriberto and Maria Soto. One sister, Denise Enqiruez. Married to Joseph Landeros, and they have an 18-month-old son, Joaquin Landeros.
Education: Bachelors of Science in Public Policy Analysis from Indiana University – Bloomington, and a Masters of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at UT Austin.
Work experience: College internships for elected officials, lobbying organizations, and the Congressional Budget Office. While in grad school, Landeros was recruited to her job with the USDOT Inspector General and started directly following graduation. She worked there for 12 going to work for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Volunteer experience: Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas, Sister Cities International, Artes de La Rosa, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and Carter Bloodcare.
First job: Hostess at a restaurant. Landeros said, “I learned how to not flinch while angry folks rambled at you about having reservations and still having to wait to be seated. I learned how to be empathetic, acknowledge that people had a right to be frustrated, problem solve, and work hard to make things right. (free dessert for everyone!)”
Advice for someone learning to be a leader: Be comfortable as your authentic self. So often we have preconceived ideas about what a leader looks like and we try to mold ourselves into that vision. We need everyone’s diverse perspectives and skill sets to ensure that leadership in general is representative of the greater community at large.
Best advice ever received: Achieving success isn’t the goal. The goal is to bring others with you.
Kristen Barton is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.