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Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.
Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.

2021 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty Honoree: Maridarlyn Gonzalez

At the upcoming AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event on Aug. 27, Maridarlyn Gonzalez will be one of the 40 honorees.

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The second annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event will serve to highlight and showcase some of the most diverse and impactful young professionals across the Philadelphia region.

At the event, taking place on August 27, 2021, Maridarlyn Gonzalez will be one of the 40 honorees. She is the administrative and outreach coordinator at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

Biography

As the administrative and outreach coordinator at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Gonzalez works towards the organization’s goal of a prosperous, innovative, equitable, resilient, and sustainable region that increases mobility choices by investing in a safe and modern transportation system that protects and preserves our natural resources while creating healthy communities; and fostering greater opportunities for all.

DVRPC strives to achieve these goals by partnering with a wide array of organizations across the Delaware Valley.

Here are Maridarlyn Gonzalez's responses: 
1. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your professional career?

As an immigrant, it was difficult for me to understand and navigate building a career in this country. There were few people I could lean-to for guidance and support. I had unrealistic expectations of what it meant to be a recent college graduate. It did not make sense to me or my family why I did not graduate with a six-figure salary... that's the signing bonus everyone gets right? In time, I learned to be patient with myself, build meaningful relationships, and enjoy the journey. I am very grateful for the people that throughout my journey have poured into me as a professional but as a person too.

2. What steps can be taken to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in your industry? Why is it important to do so?

The planning field was not an option that I knew of until I was working at my second job after graduating. It was not a field discussed at the middle school's career day and I think it should be. The neighborhoods we live in shape our lives and we must be informed and active in our region's planning process. We often discuss the changes we want to see in our neighborhoods and we must acknowledge how our neighborhoods fit into the region as a whole. If we get our families involved in the planning process then maybe our nieces and nephews can be the planners of tomorrow. More scholarships help too!

3. What does being a leader mean to you?

A wise leader knows when to follow and leads with empathy. Being a leader to me means owning your mistakes and putting others in a position to lead. It is important to have ambition and audacity, not be afraid to look silly, and prioritize the mission of the whole over one's personal preference.

4. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself working at DVRPC as a planner and using my skills in GIS and Geodesign to understand the needs of our region and engage members of the public in the planning process. It is my goal to act as a bridge for hard-to-reach communities, connecting them to the region's vision. GIS is great to help identify gaps, barriers, and opportunities, thus widening our understanding of existing conditions and potential solutions. Geodesign provides a collaborative framework that helps address spatial issues.

I also hope to fundraise scholarship money for kids in the region to go to college through the local LULAC chapter and continue to be involved with organizations such as ULI and Dominicans in the Delaware Valley. 

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