If you have been to a networking event in Fort Worth, it’s likely you’ve come across Mario Valdez of Quorum Architects.

Valdez, 43, serves on the board of American Institute of Architects Fort Worth, is on the executive board for the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and has been involved with SteerFW since Mayor Betsy Price founded the group in 2011. He is also a five-year board member with the Benbrook Branch of the YMCA and has been involved with Meals On Wheels and Habitat for Humanity.

“Everyone in town seems to know Mario – he is active with so many organizations,” said Kim Dowdy-Hickman, a Quorum principal.

Valdez admits that when he first arrived at Quorum, about 12 years ago, he didn’t really know what networking meant.

In 2000, Valdez came to Quorum from Irvine, California, and Carlile Coatsworth Architects. A Quorum partner encouraged him to attend a Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce meeting. Some of the members there then encouraged him to get involved.

“I was new to town, so I said sure and so about five or so years later, I’m on the executive board for the chamber,” he said.

With all his involvement, Valdez said he sometimes wonders if Quorum officials expect him to bring in business.

“I asked that, but David Duman (a Quorum principal) told me, ‘You never know how business is going to come in the door,’ and not to worry about it, which is great,” he said.
Valdez was born in Mexico, but grew up in Fontana, California.

His talent at art and drafting stood out to many, particularly his art teacher and guidance counselor.

Valdez didn’t really know how to channel his talents and find his way to a profession to use his abilities.

“They pretty much were the ones that directed me, drew the path for me, without me really knowing much about the possibilities,” he said. “I really didn’t know what the American dream was at the time.”

They encouraged Valdez to apply at California State Polytechnic Institute in Pomona, which had an architecture program.

Mario Valdez volunteering at the Tarrant Area Food Bank (Photo courtesy of Quorum Architects)

After graduation, he began work at Carlile Coatsworth Architects.

He then met his future wife, Cristina Jaramillo, who was going to veterinary school at Western University in Pomona. Originally from Colombia, she had grown up in Texas and planned to return after graduation. They married and made plans to come to Texas.

Valdez’s employment at CCA came with an advantage. Quorum and CCA had a longstanding relationship.

“Quorum hired me while I was still working for the other firm, CCA,” said Valdez. “CCA and Quorum continue to collaborate on projects to this day.”

Valdez was awarded the 2021 Young Professional Award from the American Institute of Architects Fort Worth at the design awards ceremony in June. Based on nominations by his peers, the award recognizes outstanding leadership in design, education and service to the profession.

“Mario sets the bar high as a model for other young architects,” says Duman of Quorum.
Valdez serves as a board member, is director of the Emerging Professionals committee, and is involved with the annual Homes Tour for the architects institute in Fort Worth.

“I don’t feel like I’m young anymore, though people say I look young,” he said. “I just try to help young people who ask me for advice, and I’m grateful for the recognition.”

Valdez has experience with a variety of project types, including public works, senior living, and animal welfare facilities across Texas. That animal welfare experience was gained as he and the firm helped design and develop the St. Francis Veterinary Clinic, where he is a partner with his wife.

Mario and his wife opened St. Francis Veterinary Clinic in 2016 with the support of their friends and family. His wife, he notes, is also on a local committee, serving on the board of directors of the Humane Society of North Texas.

Working at Quorum, he has also contributed in the design conception and design development for facilities such as animal rescue and adoption centers, senior living facilities and veterinary clinics.

Valdez is now on the municipal team at Quorum.
“I’m finally now on the animal care team,” he said. “We design animal shelters and clinics, which is great since I got to work on my wife’s clinic.”

Valdez and the team have recently worked on animal shelters in Odessa, Pearland and Baytown.

Valdez realizes he has come a long way from when he first arrived in Fort Worth.
“In California, I never really took part in anything,” he said. “I went to work, went home, that’s it.”

Now, he is involved and encourages others to get involved as well.

“Once I started getting involved here, the leaders here encouraged and supported me, and in anything I really took interest in, and they continue to do so,” Valdez said. “I tell people to find something they are passionate about.”

Mario Valdez  bio:

 Birthplace: Born in Mexico, grew up in Fontana, California

 Moved to Fort Worth: In 2010 

Family: Wife, Cristina Jaramillo; daughter, Aria, 9; son, Dante, 8 

Education: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California, Bachelors in Architecture

Work experience: Carlile Coatsworth Architects

Volunteer experience: Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, AIA Fort Worth, Steer FW

First job: Pizza delivery for Pizza Hut. 

Advice for someone learning to be a leader: “I try to encourage our younger staff to get out there and find their own passion.” 

Best advice ever received: “Quorum principal David Duman, he’s a mentor for me. He supported me in my involvement and he said if something interested me, to represent our company if it interested me. Do it because you like it. It was good advice.” 

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.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.

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Bob FrancisBusiness Editor

Robert Francis is a Fort Worth native and journalist who has extensive experience covering business and technology locally, nationally and internationally. He is also a former president of the local Society...