Two years ago, the Santa Maria Valley Chamber recognized a need to better engage with local young professionals and emerging leaders. As a result, Santa Maria Connect! SMVCC’s Emerging Professionals Network, was created. The program offers monthly events that include networking, presentations from community leaders, site tours of local businesses, and more.
This year, in conjunction with Santa Maria Connect!, The Chamber is excited to present it’s first ever Young Professional of the Year award. Chosen by the Santa Maria Connect! Steering Committee, the Young Professional of the Year was selected based on their participation in Santa Maria Connect! and other community programs outside of work, and their leadership skills.
This year’s recipient, Ruben Escobedo, exemplifies all of these things and more. In addition to an ambitious work ethic, opening his own branch of Lynberg & Watkins law firm, Ruben stays involved in a variety of community organizations and clubs, while also keeping time available to spend with his family. We are thrilled to have Ruben as a valuable emerging leader in Santa Maria, and excited to announce him as our 2018 Young Professional of the year!
We interviewed Ruben to learn more about his community involvement and leadership skills.
Talk a bit about your background, both personal and professional.
I grew up in Glendora, CA and moved to Santa Maria with my wife Allie in 2015. Allie’s sister lives in Orcutt and we would visit fairly often. One morning, I decided to go for a jog and made my way down College Drive, and I saw the sign for the Santa Maria city limits just past Santa Maria Way. The curving, shaded street offered refuge from the summer sun as I jogged down College, and Rotary Park came into view. The Bradley Square development really drew me in, and we eventually decided to buy our first home here.
In 2016, I opened the Central Coast branch of law firm of Lynberg & Watkins, APC, where I practice employment law and personal injury law. Being a lawyer is not a job. It is a responsibility to do my part to run the justice system, along with judges, court staff, and jurors. It is also an opportunity to provide a service to clients, who range from savvy institutional players to individuals who may have never stepped inside of a courthouse. Perhaps what I enjoy most is educating clients and providing assurance of likely outcomes in the litigation process. Planning and preparation are the best weapons against the uncertainties of litigation.
What organizations are you involved in outside of work? What sort of leadership skills have you developed as a result?
I am a member of the Rotary Club of Santa Maria, the Rotaract Club of the Santa Maria Valley, and three local bar associations. I also volunteer through the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County, to offer legal assistance to renters. My wife and I are also parishioners at St. Louis de Montfort church. These organizations make it possible for newcomers like us to connect with this community to make new friends and help our new neighbors. To care for one another is not a means to an end. It’s what makes us human.
Community involvement definitely fostered my communication skills. You must meet new people. You must share who you are, and get to know others. After years of fine tuning, I (almost) feel like I could mingle with any crowd, and enjoy the company of others free of social anxiety, which I believe we all experience at varying degrees throughout our lives.
Why would you encourage others to get involved in their community?
Volunteering has taught me compassion and empathy like few other things can. These are the types of soft skills that few people bothered to mention during my years of formal education and graduate work. Perhaps because they are difficult to measure. Can you imagine being graded and ranked on emotional intelligence? But it is nonetheless critical to personal growth and professional satisfaction. Again, it’s what makes us human, and hirable.
What is your favorite thing about living in Santa Maria?
Escaping the smog and avoiding the horrendous commutes of my native Southern California. Our children, Brooke (4) and Walker (2) love the local parks and beaches. My family and I enjoy exploring what the area has to offer, and after living here three years, we have only reached the tip of the iceberg. What I enjoy most is finding hidden treasures, like the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.
Ruben Escobedo will be formally recognized as the 2018 Young Professional of the Year at a Santa Maria Connect! event in the fall. Learn more about Santa Maria Connect! by contacting the Chamber at (805) 925-2403 or email@example.com