A passionate love of learning, both in professional and personal settings, infuses all aspects of Felicia Elizondo’s life. That love serves Elizondo well in her role as program and operations administrator at the Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance (The Alliance) where her wide-ranging duties include managing portions of the website, overseeing the 20,000 Alliance contacts, scheduling programs, meetings and webinar rehearsals, working with Alliance Ambassadors, and taking notes at all of the Alliance’s Leadership Councils and workgroups.
“This is my first ever work-from-home position and it was a change coming from a transplant center and being in person,” says Elizondo. “I love the ability to work independently and expand my skill set. I’ve been able to gain knowledge about WordPress for website management, Mailchimp for managing our contacts and e-newsletters, and Excel for our project spreadsheets. I love learning and the Alliance has really given me that opportunity to advance myself.”
She credits her Alliance colleagues for being supportive. “Deanna Fenton, Senior Manager of Program Development & Operations, is a master at Excel and she’s been very helpful. Corey Bryant, Director of Communications, has coached me in Mailchimp, and our website consultant has shown me how to navigate WordPress. Being at the Alliance has helped me grow in those areas and learn new things. And I’m always open to learning more.”
“Felicia always wants to learn and has brilliant ideas,” says Karri Hobson-Pape, executive director of The Alliance. “She truly keeps the trains on the tracks and The Alliance would not be the same without her.”
It’s a mutual admiration society for Elizondo. “At The Alliance, everybody is very supportive of each other, and they push to make everybody their best. They really inspire me to be better because I feel like they do so much and they’re so wonderful in everything that they do. It’s very inspiring.”
A native and lifelong resident of San Antonio, she joined The Alliance in 2018 after 20 years at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital. She began working at the hospital inpatient registration, she then moved to the CHRISTUS Transplant Institute where she served as a transplant financial coordinator, database administrator and transplant business office supervisor in both pediatric and adult kidney transplant, heart transplant and liver transplant programs.
When the transplant center closed in 2018, her director told her about the position at The Alliance. After spending 18 years on the transplant side, she says joining The Alliance has allowed her to see the donation side. “My hat is off to the OPO teams who interact with the families during such an emotional event. Joining The Alliance has opened my eyes to the whole donation world and the gift that they’re giving to the recipients.”
While she has a behind-the-scenes role, Elizondo has developed a stronger knowledge and understanding of organ donation and transplantation. “I take notes at all the workgroup meetings and the Leadership Council meetings, so I hear everything being discussed. And I attend all our webinars and conversation series learning events so it’s easy for me to stay up to date with what’s going on in the community.”
She also attends all The Alliance’s signature events and led a breakout group of The National Donation Leadership Council at this year’s meeting of all the Leadership Councils in Minneapolis. “Everybody was really energetic and eager to discuss things, which was very positive,” says Elizondo. This year she will attend the National Pediatric Donation and Transplantation Summit in Houston and the National Critical Issues Forum in Kansas City.
Photography is a Personal Passion
Elizondo’s love of learning extends to her personal life where her current passion is photography. She loves nature photography, but her new interest is learning about product photography.
Elizondo and her husband, who is an electrician and owns his own business, have three children. Their young adult son is joining his father as an electrician and their young adult daughter is studying real estate. Their youngest daughter, age 7, is taking up karate.
She and her family love to go fishing, and many weekends they travel to Port Aransas Beach or Corpus Christi. “We mainly catch hardhead catfish, but we’ve caught a stingray and a little shark before. We’ve gotten our seven-year-old into fishing and she loves it. What’s kind of funny is that my husband and I don’t really eat fish.” Elizondo says they enjoy the peacefulness of fishing. “There’s something about sitting on a pier at night and just hearing the waves of the ocean, it’s very relaxing and very nice.”
Mom’s Strong Work Ethic
She says her workdays are very busy. In addition to all her other duties, she juggles multiple meeting polls at a time to schedule meetings for work groups or Leadership Councils which can require a great deal of back and forth with multiple people. She says learned about hard work from her mother. “My mom has influenced me the most. Seeing her work ethic drove me to be the person that I am today. She worked multiple jobs and never missed a day of work. I don’t know how she managed everything that she did. Life was hard, but she found a way to make it work.” Her mother passed away unexpectedly in 2008 from a brain aneurysm.
“The Alliance plays a huge role in bringing everybody together,” says Elizondo. “I think for a long time there was a bit of a disconnect between the transplant and the OPO world. We’re making a big impact on bringing everybody together at the same table to discuss the issues and identify ways to move forward. I’m very blessed to work for The Alliance and to be a part of that.”