Eloy Vela Sepulveda (1935 – 2015)

eloy gloria dance(Community Matters) Dad (80yo) passed away on October 15, 2015 at his ranch in Sealy, Texas surrounded by family after battling kidney disease and cancer. Dad always reminded us, he lived a longer & richer life than he ever expected or deserved. We dispute that it wasn’t deserved.

One of 15 children born to Beatrice Vela Sepulveda of Allende, Coahuila, Mexico and Alfredo Sepulveda of Seguin, Texas, Eloy was born in Aqua Dulce, Texas on May 19, 1935. Eloy spoke Spanish until entering the first grade in Houston. He left high school to join the Army (35th Infantry, 769th Medical Detachment). After four years of service, Eloy met Gloria Gomez at a dance in Houston. He and his best friend married the two women they met that night. Until his death, both couples remained happily married.

Eloy joined Stern Empire Dental Laboratories in 1958 at an entry level, working his way up to President of (then) the world’s largest dental laboratory, becoming Executive Vice President of a public, acquiring healthcare conglomerate – until he retired for his third time at the age of 70. A self-taught man, Eloy read voraciously and mentored friends, employees, his children, nieces, nephews and 14 godchildren. Eloy said, “godchildren are a stepping stone to Heaven.”

Eloy & Gloria owned property in Sealy, Texas – affectionately known as “the ranch” or “the farm” – where they retired in 2005. Over the 44 years, they hosted family, schools, churches & friends, 2 to 400 at a time. Most of Eloy’s 60+ nieces, nephews, and godchildren grew up spending memorable weekends at the ranch camping, fishing, riding motorcycles, tractors, golf carts, horses and the dreaded Shetland ponies.

Eloy is survived by his wife of 55 years, Gloria Gomez Sepulveda and their children: Eugene & husband Steven Tomlinson; Bridget Marie Lewis and husband Eric; and Eli Ronald and wife Luci. Eloy was especially proud of his three grandchildren: Shaun David Holifield, Eli Joseph Sepulveda and Paulina Q. Sepulveda. Surviving siblings include Gilda Cuevas and husband Santos, Roy and wife Lorraine, Ramiro, and Alex and wife Minerva – as well as Fred Alvarado, Vera Sepulveda, Karl Thomas & Joe Palomares. Eloy considered Gloria’s siblings his own and survivors include Lily Martinez, Lula de la Isla and husband, Javier; and Yolanda Gonzales and husband Robert – Sarah Ann Chavez a niece like a sister. Godchildren: Benjamin Gonzales, Brian Gonzales, Diane de la Isla, Sylvia Martinez, Norma Jean Mckeown, Joel Palomares, Roland Alvarez, Zachary Gonzales, Jaime Sepulveda, Jennifer Gurka, Julie Zimmerer and Alma Zimmerer Montelongo (13 & 14?). Plans are underway for a memorial service and celebration of Eloy’s life at his ranch on Saturday, October 31. Information at EloySepulveda.com.

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Culture & Employee Engagement Issues No. 1 Company Challenge

deloitte culture engagement(Community Matters) Culture is how you manage a company of over 500 or 1,000 employees. Mission is the north star.

Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends: Culture & Employee Engagement Issues No. 1 Company Challenge.

In an era of heightened corporate transparency, greater workforce mobility, and severe skills shortages, culture, engagement, and retention have emerged as top issues for business leaders. These issues are not simply an HR problem.  

Culture and engagement is the most important issue companies face around the world. 87 percent of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges, and 50 percent call the problem “very important.

Organizations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, deep employee engagement, job and organizational fit, and strong leadership are outperforming their peers and will likely beat their competition in attracting top talent.

Given the harsh spotlight of this new transparency, an organization’s culture can become a key competitive advantage—or its Achilles’ heel.

Culture and engagement are now business issues, not just topics for HR to debate.

Employees are now like customers; companies have to consider them volunteers, not just workers (ha! My all carrot, no stick story might finally resonate!)

Leaders lack an understanding of andmodels for culture:

Today’s workers have a new focus on purpose, mission, and work-life integration

Research shows that a variety of complex factors contribute to strong employee engagement, including job design, management, work environment, development, and leadership. Today, more than twice as many employees are motivated by work passion than career ambition (12 percent vs. 5 percent), indicating a need for leadership to focus on making the work environment compelling and enjoyable for everyone.

While most leaders are measured on the basis of business results, organizations must begin holding leaders accountable for building a strong and enduring culture, listening to feedback, and engaging and retaining their teams.

Citing a specific example, noted a five-year transformation program, a key component of which was to build a sustainable, values-driven culture across the organization. (hmm, I keep focusing on mission driven cultures and forget to note values. I think I take that portion too much for granted)

Where companies can start:

  • Engagement starts at the top

  • Measure in real time

  • Make work meaningful

  • Listen to the Millennials

  • Simplify the work environment

Full report here

Entrepreneurs Foundation’s Culturati Summit January 31, 2016 – February 1, 2016. Underwriter: Deloitte

Baby Sonya

(Community Matters) love this . . .


sonya baby

Pope Francis @ World Meeting of Popular Movements (Santa Cruz, Bolivia)

pope francis bolivia(Community Matters) I almost unplugged completely yesterday – barely responding to email, hardly posting on FB – mostly wandering Marfa, reading, chilling w/ Steven, attending a party at the McDonald Observatory, wrapping up w/ a drink at Cochineal w/ our dear friend Tom Rapp & new friend, Donald.

ahhhhhh . . . and I’m finding myself in a good place from which to listen to others’ messages, this morning Pope Francis’.

Pope Francis spoke Thursday evening at the World Meeting of Popular Movements, taking place in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Some notes I’ve taken:

Let us together say from the heart: no family without lodging, no rural worker without land, no laborer without rights, no people without sovereignty, no individual without dignity, no child without childhood, no young person without a future, no elderly person without a venerable old age.

Not sure about this assumption:  “Many people are hoping for a change capable of releasing them from the bondage of individualism and the despondency it spawns.”

Continue reading


(Community Matters)

he murdered my people, and the flag he loves bleeds
they whipped up hate & objection, yet love prevails
they burn down our churches, we are the phoenix
desperate acts of a dying culture, good riddance

Obergefell et al v Hodges Opinion – ES CliffsNotes

Gay rights activists gather outside the US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC on June 26, 2013. The US Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a controversial federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, in a major victory for supporters of same-sex marriage.The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) had denied married gay and lesbian couples in the United States the same rights and benefits that straight couples have long taken for granted. AFP PHOTO / MLADEN ANTONOVMLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

(Community Matters) My cliffs notes from reading the Supreme Court Decision – Obergefell et al v Hodges

Some of my favorite lines in the majority opinion granting marriage equality:

  • the petitioners, far from seeking to devalue marriage, seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities, Continue reading

Married in Texas, at St James Episcopal Church

11700912_10153780897233029_5585344577308769605_o(Community Matters) While the Constitution contemplates that democracy is the appropriate process for change, individuals who are harmed need not await legislative action before asserting a fundamental right.” – Justice Kennedy for the majority, Obergefell et al v. Hodges 

Thomas Jefferson’s quote: All . . . will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect and to violate would be oppression.

at least right now, I’m not remembering a more important day in our lives. Last night, Steven and I were married in front of some of our dearest friends at St James Episcopal Church. What took place at St James’ last night, transcends us. No doubt we were enveloped in love (we could physically feel it). And . . . the timing . . .SCOTUS ruling on an unexpected Friday,  Rev Lisa’s enthusiasm, the Bishop’s approval, an open Saturday night for a wedding in a church in Austin in June . . . We were so privileged to help cap this extraordinary week with the reality of full inclusion within our inclusive, multi-cultural home, St James Episcopal.

Continue reading

David Brooks: The Art of an Illusionist; a World Class Contortionist

Brooks_New-articleInline(Community Matters)  The Art of an Illusionist; a World Class Contortionist: I’ll grant you usually elegant prose . . . yet few people mislead readers as regularly by distorting assumptions & selective citation of facts as David Brooks. He’s perfected the art of launching with misleading assumptions. Framing Democrats concerned for the outsourcing of more middle class jobs as a Democratic Tea Party is typical Brook’s illusionist art  – The Democratic Tea Party. 

There is no doubt that globalization (especially badly negotiated and enforced) has hurt America’s middle class; that it’s cost us millions of middle class jobs. I agree it reduces poverty around the world. If we’d adequately fund the social safety net which is intended to provide for systemic un- & under- employment and enforce labor & trade provisions as well as adequately fund dislocation & retraining programs, I’d be for the expansion of free trade. I’m not completely against this free trade agreement, how could I be? It’s provisions are national secrets. Let’s debate the agreement & its provisions openly.

oh, and equating the secrecy of a treaty on nuclear armament to one about jobs and goods . . . David Copperfield watch out.

Austin Property Tax Relief

tax-739107_1280-620x365(Community Matters) I’m seeing postings against property tax relief.

It’s the families who most need the tax break that this is about – those for whom property taxes constitute a much higher percentage of their annual income. They aren’t all old, or elderly, or east side families, they also include a lot of middle class families with kids making $50k, $75k, $100k, even $125k per year. We’d all prefer to cap exemption at $500k value but that’s not an option. in the interim, voters overwhelmingly want property tax relief – according to the recent zandan poll: 80% of Austin residents support a 20% homestead exemption, 83% of Austin residents who have voted in the last 4 years (79% from the broader polled universe). Affordability is a growing concern – 86% of the poll’s respondents fear Austin is at risk of losing its appeal because of the rising cost of living. The proposal to launch w/ a 6% exemption “setting a 6 percent exemption at the rollback rate of 48.24 cents would cost the city budget nothing, reduce the median homestead tax burden by $49 per year and potentially increase the rent of the average apartment by $6.31 per year and the average single-family home by $15.93 per year.”

I don’t disagree we need to help renters too. Perfection is too often the enemy of good. Just because this step doesn’t accomplish both doesn’t mean we shouldn’t proceed. Let’s look at utility fee restructure to provide relief to renters.

geez . . . listening to the voices & leadership from the past not likely to get us anywhere but where we are today (see today’s article about threat to musicians & artists of Austin). Voters overwhlemingly rejected the past and elected a new way forward. 80% of Austin citizens want a new way forward & the 20% homestead exemption.

if we always do what we’ve always done . . .

Visiting the Cramers

(Community Matters) such a treat to see Sonya, Reid, Dio & Gabel this weekend. They are hoping for months, planning by the week & living day by day.


What Did Your Grandparents Do?

(Community Matters) I was brainstorming with a friend about how do we effectively communicate the impact of cumulative, institutional & cross-generational discrimination – why today does it still matter if our parents, grandparents or great grandparents were discriminated against?

if they weren’t allowed to attend school (or a good school)? if they lived in a red-lined area so couldn’t obtain a mortgage in order to buy a home (thus accumulating equity in their home, a source of major wealth for most Americans) . . . if they weren’t allowed to earn a fair wage because of racial prejudice excluding from certain jobs . . .

I don’t say this to incite guilt. And, we should probably remind ourselves that many of us were born on 1st, 2nd or even 3rd base while some were prevented from even entering the area of town where the ballpark was located.

Zandan Poll

Peter-Zandan-Pollster-01(Community Matters) Peter Zandan released results of his latest (now annual) Austin poll – see AAS story and super interactive results pages here.

I’ve highlighted some results. The published poll includes a larger than City of Austin universe. Peter’s folks were kind enough to give the same results by crosstab.

  • Overwhelming enthusiasm for 20% homestead exemption
  • Overwhelming enthusiasm for eco. development incentives recruiting middle class ($60kish) jobs
  • Strong majority support for: 1) revising development code to allow more apartments, townhouse, garage apartments, 2) affordable housing or artists, musicians and other creatives, 3) developing the Austin for tomorrow rather than today or its past.

Among full universe polled:

79% support a 20% homestead exemption, 71% believe Austin should provide incentives for more middle class wage jobs, 57% support changing development rules to allow more town homes, garage apartments and other small apartment buildings, 54% believe we should provide more affordable housing for musicians, entertainers and artists, 58% want us to build for the future (vs protect as is or return to past). Important information.

Among City of Austin Residents:

80% support a 20% homestead exemption, 71% believe Austin should provide incentives for more middle class wage jobs, 59% support changing development rules to allow more town homes, garage apartments and other small apartment buildings, 57% believe we should provide more affordable housing for musicians, entertainers and artists, 57% want us to build for the future (vs protect as is or return to past). Important information.

Among City of Austin Residents who voted in the last 4 years:

83% support a 20% homestead exemption, 68% believe Austin should provide incentives for more middle class wage jobs, 58% support changing development rules to allow more town homes, garage apartments and other small apartment buildings, 57% believe we should provide more affordable housing for musicians, entertainers and artists, 59% want us to build for the future (vs protect as is or return to past). Important information.

The margin of error for the total sample size of 814 and a population of the Austin MSA (1.8M+) is +/- 3.4 percentage points.