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Patricia Contreras Shapes Her Priorities

Patricia Contreras is a visionary, influencer, connector, mom, daughter, friend, spouse and colleague. And she’s the first Latina to lead our Global Public Affairs function.

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Before she began her career in philanthropy, she knew she wanted to make the world a better place and now she’s poised to do just that, for a company and a community that has deeply influenced her life.

She brings a diverse perspective to her role as vice president of global public affairs, where she and her team lead our federal and state government affairs, external communications, issues management, media relations, corporate responsibility reporting in addition to the community relations and contributions group.

On the shoulders of giants

Patricia is humbled by the trust placed in her to lead this function.

"I stand on the shoulder of giants, of the many women who have come before me who have smashed ceilings whether glass or concrete," she said. "As a woman of color, it's a big deal – for my six-year-old daughter, for girls and women of color in our neighborhood, community, and our world to know that they can do this and more.”

“I want people to see who I am and know that they can do anything they dream of,” Patricia added. “When I was younger, I never imagined my career would take this trajectory, and not for a company so close to my roots and my neighborhood. With Rockwell, in my roles, my world kept getting bigger. And now I want to make this path possible and easier for others.”

Committed to equality - especially for women of color

During her career, much of Patricia’s responsibilities have been in workforce development, specifically with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educations in the K-12 space, to build the ecosystem to address skill shortages.

Guiding the company’s community relations and contributions work, Patricia recently oversaw a grant to the YWCA Southeast Wisconsin to strengthen the work of its prominent racial justice program to eliminate racism and empower women.

“We are passionate about removing barriers to empower innovators and makers of the future,” said Patricia. “This program is a great example of racial justice programming that continues to educate and shed light on the advocacy and action that needs to take place to achieve meaningful change and create an environment where Black, Latinx, Indigenous and all people of color can thrive."

We can do more

An introvert who shies away from the spotlight, Patricia has always been a good listener, and that’s crucial to this role. Right now, her days are spent working virtually to deepen current relationships and cultivate new ones.

“There are no quick prescriptions to cure poverty or easy answers to fix broken education systems,” said Patricia. “Core to our philanthropic strategy is building relationships and listening – to our community practitioners and education leaders, to people who know our communities most urgent needs and have ideas about how to address those. There is no single solution that works for all. Our work is about being agile and open – customizing, pivoting and taking our core strategy and making it applicable and relatable in different cities and regions.”

Storyteller

Patricia cares deeply about the intersect between company, corporate responsibility and personal purpose, and how those entwine with communities and customers.

“Our people and brand promise of expanding human possibility, are the core of who we are and what we do, and it’s not just the role of our team to create the narrative,” she said. “There are endless possibilities and potential for every employee to shape and share this story.”

Thinking differently

Patricia will work with businesses, global governments, and our communities to influence public policy that helps us grow our business and improve the quality of life in our communities. In that role, Patricia will rely on her diverse perspective to look at new ways to influence change.

“I see things differently because I grew up in systems designed to oppress people of color,” she said. “As a bilingual woman, as a mother, as a member of our community, I’m committed to working tirelessly to ensure that not only I can bring my authentic self to work, I want to use my position to ensure others can do the same.”

Patricia admits to suffering from imposter syndrome (a psychological pattern in which one doubts one's accomplishments), triggered from past struggles with feeling invisible and historically underrepresented.​

“When you are the ‘only’ you often question why you have been chosen to sit at the table. That at times leads you to doubt your accomplishments, to shrink and diminish your voice,” she said. “I want people to know that I’ve felt it, and know they have too. They are not alone and should not question their value and contributions.”

No matter your role, Patricia’s advice is: “You have purpose. Use your voice to shape our evolving culture so it is inclusive and equitable, we all share that responsibility.”

“Our employees are amazing. Committed, thoughtful, engaged employees are the best representation of our brand and culture,” she added. “When we share our exceptional abilities and talents with organizations and communities, the return on that investment will shape our company for generations. What better work can there be?”


Carol Jors
Carol Jors
Storyteller, Rockwell Automation
Carol Jors
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