Welcome to Elizabeth Ruiz, Houston Audubon’s New Operations Administrator!

Please join us in welcoming our newest team member, Elizabeth Ruiz! Elizabeth is a born and bred Texan and has called Houston home her whole life. Elizabeth’s undergraduate studies are in Early Elementary education, but she worked in the administrative field for a few years before her daughter Emily (9) came along. Homemaker has been her job ever since, until she began to volunteer at her elementary school as the Workroom Coordinator for the Fielder PTA. Elizabeth is passionate about serving her community, gardens in her spare time, and loves trying to figure out where the birds are hiding in the trees.

Elizabeth answered a few questions for us so everyone can get to know her a little better. 

1. What did you want to be when you were young?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a Veterinarian. I wanted to help save all the animals. Then I learned what it actually took to be a Veterinarian, including the whole “animals die even though you give everything to their care” thing. So, my little animal loving heart broke, and I gave up the dream of being a Veterinarian. Now I just work to give my pets the best life I can, and consciously try to keep the world around me in its natural state for the animals that call it home.

2. What does your child want to be when she grows up?

Fun fact: my daughter, Emily, wants to be a Veterinarian! Now, we’ve already begun the talks about what it really MEANS to be a Veterinarian, but not only is she holding fast to her dream, she’s also quite the nurse! Not too long ago, there was a dog found by one of our friends in the neighborhood, and the moment Emily found out it had a small injury, she packed her doctor kit and took off to help. Her spirit to serve makes me so proud.

3. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pasta. But not the pasta in the plastic bag from the store. Nooooo, no, no.  Handmade pasta.  I became very spoiled on pasta when I lived for a summer in Florence studying abroad.  When I came home, I realized that nothing compares to handmade pasta. Take all the other foods in this world, and leave me handmade pasta.  Nothing less.  I will die on this rock.

4. What’s your favorite family recipe?

This ties in with my handmade pasta love: it’s pesto! I grew up on Pesto alla Genovese (the traditional one with basil, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, parmigiano, etc.). My mother would make a giant vat of pasta, grill some chicken, and top the whole dish with a heaping helping of this magic green pesto.  Oh my goodness, that is heaven.  Most people probably recognize that particular pesto, but did you know there are several different types?!  I’ve been contemplating starting a small side business selling different homemade pestos at Farmer’s Markets, because who doesn’t love pesto and pasta?!? 

5. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of love?

When my husband, JD, and I first started dating, I learned two things about him: he has a wicked sense of humor and if you tell him your fears, he will try to break you of them.  On the evening of the first birthday spent with him, I came home to find a cardboard covered gift on my counter. Now, my husband knew two things about me at this point: I was afraid of spiders, and my birthday is Halloween.  When he lifted the cardboard box, my eight-legged, hairy gift stared back at me. To my credit, I didn’t scream.  Honestly, I really liked the guy, so the Rose-Hair Tarantula (affectionately named Porkchop), stayed.  I became the crazy, arachnophobic woman who loved that man enough to endure the daily terror of opening my apartment door, hoping I would not find a giant spider escaped from its cage looking for dinner, ready to attack my ankles.

6. What is the best gift you have been given?

A gifted tarantula may seem a little suspect, but JD is an incredible gift giver.  He is responsible for the greatest gift I have ever been given.  Since I was a little girl, I have loved snow globes; but, I have an uncanny history of breaking them. In fact, our Christmas tree was littered with the center pieces, now turned ornaments, taken from at least five of my broken childhood snow globes. When we moved into our first house, my mother asked me to take some of the Christmas decorations she had saved, including a beautiful Santa snow globe given to me by dear family friends when I was little.  I took the globe from its box, and promptly dropped it.  It shattered, and I bawled my eyes out.  I could not believe I had destroyed that gift.  I honestly felt cursed.  I kept the base, which was a music box, with Santa still clinging to it.  On Christmas, JD presented me with my Christmas gift.  I opened the box, and there was Santa, swimming in his little snowy globe world, completely intact and freshly painted.  JD had found a snow globe repair company (who knew?!?!) in Tennessee, and had sent Santa to be completely fixed for me.  Santa stays out on my bookshelf year-round as a daily reminder that my man knows me completely, and loves me, even though snow globes are my curse.

7. What’s your favorite holiday?

Well, no shock here, it’s Halloween!  My birthday is quite a holiday unto itself, but getting to dress up and go Trick or Treating for candy on top of having a birthday party?  That’s every little kid’s dream.  As the years have passed, Halloween has become a bit different for us, especially since I now share the holiday with Emily.  But I will forever dress up, forever spookify my home, and forever sit in the driveway handing out way too much chocolate to everyone on my birthday.

8. What is your favorite childhood memory?

My Dad and I had a few traditions: seeing every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, watching the lightning strikes from the back porch, trying to guess Wheel of Fortune puzzles before the other does.  Another favorite of ours was doing an I SPY book together.  He’s got sharp eyes, so I had to learn to move fast.  He normally always beat me, but I loved it anyway.  Now Emily and I do I SPY together, and gosh, did she ever pick up her Papa’s sharp eyes!  Girl’s got skills.

9. What’s the most interesting thing you can see out of your office or kitchen window?

From my kitchen window, I have a clear view of our backyard.  One of my favorite features in our backyard is our micro vineyard of Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  JD meticulously studied Viticulture and built the vineyard from the ground up.  We have practiced training the grapes for the past three years, and this year will hopefully bring our first large harvest of table grapes!  Two more years and the grapes will be ready for wine-making.  He and I have been making wine since 2015.  Our favorite thus far has been a Viognier.  It was so crisp and fruit-forward, almost like a Sauvignon Blanc. If you can’t tell, we’re a couple of wine nerds. 

10. What motivates you to work hard?

I love helping people. In fact, being a support for others is the only profession I’ve ever truly enjoyed.  What motivates me to be at my best in a supportive role is seeing others striving to do their utmost in their own roles.  I’m inspired by people who are working hard using their gifts to honor the commitment they have made to working, in whatever role.  No matter where you go in life, whatever role you are working in, if you are doing your best and using the skills you have, and improving those skills as you work, then you are working hard to make things better for everyone.  That inspires me to work hard to support the goals of the people I work alongside, helping me in turn achieve my own goal of being the best support system I can be.

Welcome to the team, Elizabeth! Be sure to say hello next time you stop by our headquarters at Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary.

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