Our Story

The pursuit of happiness in a city.

 

Our vision is for all citizens to become owners of their city and be empowered to effect change through public, private, academic and philanthropic partnerships. Our mission is to facilitate a process where citizens build and implement solutions that raise the quality of life.

How we started

During the Viva Laredo Comprehensive Plan public-planning process, our team discovered a strong, local interest from the citizen body in bringing their city to life, to become city-makers. That is, for citizens to create the city they want to live, work, and play in. Since, we have catalyzed that energy into action by empowering the community to not only voice their wants and needs, but to lead the changes they want to see in partnership with local government.

Our work has successfully brought quality-of-life projects into fruition, where our main role has been to facilitate the development and implementation of citizens’ goals. These projects include, among other things, the development of policies and programs that promote cycling as an alternative transportation method, the addition of local urban agriculture as a core component of Laredo's food system, and the implementation of economic development tools to incentivize an active nightlife culture in the downtown.


Our Team

 




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Regina Portillo
Executive Director

Regina grew up in Laredo, TX and spent ten years studying and building her career in both Austin, TX and New York, NY. She specialized in talent management and the complexities of people at work, using psychological principles and research methods to solve problems in the workplace and improve quality of life.

She spent two years as part of the founding team of a successful freelance startup (Skillbridge, acquired by Toptal) and two years as an analytics Associate at Goldman Sachs’ Human Capital Management division.

She graduated summa cum laude from St. Edward’s University with a B.A. in Psychology and holds a M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University.


Our Board

 
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Viviana Frank
President & Chairman

Viviana (FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP) established Frank Architects Inc. in New York City along with co-founder Frank Rotnofsky in 1986, which was then relocated to Laredo, TX. In 1996, they founded Frank Architects Inc., a multi-disciplinary practice that focuses on urban design, master planning, feasibility studies, historical preservation, institutional and commercial design as well as site and landscape design.

Driven by a passion for city-making, Viviana thrives in engaging, solution-driven environments. Her area of expertise is in sustainability and economic development tools. She is a community mobilizer and pioneer, being responsible for starting the Farmer's Market and Jamboozi Festival, and was the project manager for the comprehensive plan for the City of Laredo.

Viviana holds a Master of Science in Architecture and Building Design from Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, New York, N.Y. and a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, N.Y.

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Todd A. Engel
Secretary/Treasurer

Todd (CPA) has over 31 years of experience in accounting and taxation related to the oil & gas industry, financial institutions, real estate, general business and individual taxation as well as small business consulting, entity selection and merger and acquisition advisory services.  Mr. Engel began his career with Arthur Andersen & Co. in their Audit and Business Advisory Division. In 1993 he joined the firm of Oliver, Rainey & Wojtek, L.L.P. in San Angelo, Texas, becoming a partner in 2000. Mr. Engel moved to Austin and joined Rorie Sparkman & Engel in 2014.  

Mr. Engel has a long history of civic involvement, serving as an officer for the Concho Valley Center for Entrepreneurial Development, as the Chairman of the San Angelo First United Methodist Church Administrative Board and was a founding member of Junior Achievement of San Angelo. Mr Engel also served nine years as a board member of the Children's Advocacy Center of Tom Green County, functioning as Treasurer, Vice President and President during his tenure and served as Treasurer and Vice President of the San Angelo Civic Theater during his six year tenure as a board member with the organization. Finally, Mr. Engel served as acting Controller and Chief Financial Officer in a non-board capacity for the San Angelo Health Foundation, a $60MM Private Foundation which disbursed approximately $45MM in grants to nearly 200 recipient organizations during Mr. Engel’s tenure from 1995 to 2014.   

Mr. Engel is a certified public accountant and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Angelo State University with BBA in Accounting and currently serves as a Tax Partner in the Austin based Public Accounting Firm of Rorie, Sparkman & Engel, LLC.


 

Alyssa Cigarroa
Director

Alyssa spent years abroad training in the classical traditions of painting, she has seen the beauty of displaying art throughout many communities and the ability it has to bring diverse groups together.