Trellis Celebrates a Great Leader

As we announced on our social media channels several weeks ago, our President and CEO Patricia Garcia Duarte is leaving Trellis, effective March 11th, 2022, to take on an exciting new role at Chicanos Por la Causa (CPLC) as Executive Vice President of Homeownership Initiatives. For 16 years, Patricia has served as a vocal advocate for low- to moderate-income individuals and families in Arizona and has led the fight for marginalized communities in achieving generational wealth through homeownership. Through her visionary leadership, she has been instrumental in the growth of Trellis and her passion and advocacy will be missed.

We asked Patricia a few questions about her role at Trellis and the legacy she leaves behind. As always, her replies were in keeping with her modesty, but unbeknownst to Patricia, other members of the Trellis staff also weighed in on some of those questions and more – take a look:

What have you learned during your time at Trellis that you will carry over into your next position?

PGD: I have learned that we can’t work alone, we need all sectors to join together to address our community needs. I started my career in community development in 1987 at CPLC and I find it neat that I am returning to where it all started for me.

As you leave, what do you envision for the future of Trellis?

PGD: I envision Trellis will continue to grow and respond to the housing needs of our community. It will continue to educate on the importance of housing stability.

What would you say your primary contribution/greatest accomplishment has been while leading Trellis?

PGD: My greatest contribution was my entire 16 years at the organization. Every day and every year were different. I do have to say that advocating for struggling homeowners and bringing important resources to help was a major contribution and accomplishment in my career as President/CEO. Working as a real team helped us all reach important goals to create positive impacts in our community.

Joel: One of Patricia’s greatest accomplishments was being able to step up during times of crisis (i.e., the recession/foreclosure crisis), knowing how best Trellis as an organization could adequately respond with a coordinated effort to meet the needs of our community.

Brenda: I feel like she accomplished everything that she set out to do. She is well known and very well respected in the industry because of all that she has accomplished.  

Helga: The Arizona Foreclosure Prevention Task Force, AZMRF (mortgage relief fund awarded by the Attorney General’s office), 3 LIFT programs in the state DPA, NSP DPA, The Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Center, Freddie Mac BHC (borrower help centers), SPV (South Phoenix Village), Avondale DPA, Save My Home Arizona, Glendale DPA, ADI DPA, Section 32 and Section 18 COP (City of Phoenix), establishing wholesale broker relationships with Flagstar Bank, Rocket Mortgage, Loan Depot, Carrington, UWM, Mountain West Financial, ACRA Lending, etc.

Ramona: Patricia is a great leader and someone I admire as a mentor. She led the organization during the greatest economic impact in the mortgage meltdown. She led this organization with strong leadership to help restore neighborhoods through program revitalization programs, and helped families get back into homes through affordable housing and providing them with resources such as down payment assistance programs. She assisted the average low- to moderate-income household be able to compete and purchase in the market.

Teresa: Believing that one drop makes a difference in the vast ocean.

What work during your tenure has been the most impactful?

PGD: Every month/year counting the “total homeowners created” and/or preserved was the most rewarding. The conversion of client to the ultimate goal of homeownership has been the most impactful. This year in 2022, Trellis should be on track to reach the 4000th homeowner created! That is so exciting!!

Joel: The most impactful thing to me personally has been able to work for both an organization that is mission driven and a leader of that organization that motivates her staff to advocate for clients. She is completely transparent and open to questions, guidance, and feedback and I have learned to model my decisions and behaviors from someone I respect and I know truly cares about Trellis and our mission, but most importantly the impact we are making on each of the families/individuals that we serve.

Brenda: Her passion and commitment to help create wealth through homeownership.

Teresa: On a personal level, her open-door policy; on a community level, her passion to make a difference.

Your favorite memory while leading Trellis – any especially poignant or funny moments?

PGD: So many moments. The day I climbed through our lobby window to unlock the door was both painful and funny. I never expected the desk on the other side to give in and collapse!

Joel: Implementing large impactful programs such as the LIFT programs, Patricia is all hands on deck and dives right in, providing the perfect model of a leader for the team. It’s truly energizing to watch the excitement that she exhibits knowing what an impact we can make. I see it time and again and most recently with the WORTH program application – AMAZING!

Brenda: There was a time that we were doing a Neighborhood LIFT event and it had been a very long day for all of us, when someone put on some music and she just started dancing. It lifted all our spirits. I actually have a video 😊

Helga: When she forgot her key when the front door was on McDowell and jumped through a little window that we had in the reception area. Also, when she brought her grill from home for the potlucks, and we stored it in the storage by Brenda’s office until….. wait for it…. the fire department did their yearly inspection and determined that was not OK!

Ramona: The Gingerbread Event. That generated a divine supply of relationships and donations to the organization. I was in her group to create one of those amazing gingerbread homes. We formed a team and worked alongside Patricia to build one of these famous gingerbread homes. It was a fun experience and it showed dedication and teamwork from everyone on the team in a more personal and intimate setting – it was great! We didn’t win, but our Gingerbread House made its debut and was on the showroom for EVERYONE to see. 

Teresa: My favorite memory is when she invited me to lunch and we got to learn more about each other.

Lori: Nothing exemplified Patricia’s belief that no job was too small for the President/CEO than arriving at the Avondale groundbreaking ceremony only to find her kneeling by a dirt pile helping to fill our little glass swag jars with fresh dirt from the site! She takes willingness to get her hands dirty to a new level!

Dalia: To talk about Patricia is to talk about excellence. I personally have had a great experience with her as our “big boss”, as we often call her in the office. She has demonstrated by example that when things need to get done, we all work as a team and get things done no matter the title you carry. I still remember one time we were at the office, and back then we were doing orientations to all new clients interested in our services. That day, I think the counselor that was scheduled to do them went home sick and the manager was out of the office too, so no one remembered about assigning someone else to do the task for that day. It was already late afternoon, almost everyone had left and the people that were scheduled for the orientation started to arrive. After learning that there was no one there to teach the orientation, Patricia went into the conference room and started to give the orientation herself. At that moment it just amazed me that someone with the big title that she has and duties that she was doing that; she placed everything aside and got the task done. She didn’t even use the PowerPoint presentation. She did an excellent job and I was glad to be present to view how everyone in the room left so happy. She really didn’t even need my help, as she was excellent. All I did was create packets for everyone in the room to take home and answer a couple of questions regarding some of the DPA programs. Assisting her that day was a pleasure to me!

What Trellis moment are you the proudest of? What do you leave behind as your legacy?

PGD: My legacy has been one of collaboration to respond to our housing community needs. 

Joel: Patricia has left a legacy at Trellis as being an organization (like herself) that is respected not only locally and throughout Arizona, but also nationally. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that is so well regarded and that motivates me to make sure that we continue that legacy to honor not only Patricia, but all of the future families we will serve.

Brenda: Patricia’s legacy is that of a fearless leader that truly cared for the Trellis team and the people she served.

Helga: Tremendous and passionate advocate for the betterment of Arizona – all communities and people.

Teresa: Si se puede!

STAFF: What will you miss the most about Patricia’s leadership, and/or how has she influenced you in your job or life?

Joel: I will miss her compassion, her wanting and asking for opinions from the team to make sure everyone has an opportunity to participate. I love listening to her present to boards and in media interviews, and her deep knowledge and understanding of the issues impacting housing/homeownership/lending/community development – a true leader in the non-profit community.

Brenda: She influenced me every day by being a Latina making a difference and remaining strong and committed to her vision.

Helga: I’ll miss her passion for our cause and how she makes it seem easy and seamless. Her great sense of humor.

Ramona: Patricia is truly a great leader/influencer and a true inspiration.

Teresa:  You will be missed but it’s time to steer a bigger ship 😊

Maribell: I love how Patricia is so relatable and approachable, she always made me feel like I could approach her with anything and not feel like she was too important for me. She made me feel inspired that she is a woman paving the way for Latina women and I love that she is passionate about our clients achieving homeownership.

Michelle: I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn under Patricia, as she is truly one of the strongest voices in the Valley fighting for equity in housing and an Arizona that everyone can call home. I take comfort in the fact that she has left a strong legacy at Trellis, and she will still be very much a part of the affordable housing landscape in Phoenix and fighting for marginalized communities. We need her voice now more than ever and I know that she will always be a proponent of the great work we do here at Trellis. Patricia will definitely leave a void. I wish I could be in her brain!

Any good-bye/best wishes you’d like to add for Patricia’s future endeavors?

Joel: I won’t say goodbye because we will still be working together, but I’m sure and I know she will only continue to grow and make a huge difference for so many people. I’m sad that we are losing Patricia at Trellis, but LOVE that she can continue to advocate and make a difference in the lives of thousands of people.

Brenda: CPLC is fortunate to be gaining an amazing and fearless leader. Wishing you the best in what you are setting out to accomplish. SI SE PUEDE! I will miss you ☹  

Helga: We will miss you very much.

Melissa: I have only been with Trellis for a little over a year, but I can say during my time here Patricia has been very welcoming to me and anyone else who has walked through the doors. She takes the time to listen to what you have to say and always has a smile on her face. I am grateful to have met her.

Dalia: For things like that [see anecdote above] and many more, I admire Patricia. It makes me proud to have had the opportunity to work under her leadership all these years. It is also an honor to know that as a Latino woman; she has made it so far and represented us so very well. It is sad to see her leave. I never imagined this moment would come. However, I know she is doing what is best for her and her family. I wish her all the best in her new endeavors. Just want to tell her one last thing, please continue to be the way you are. As big as your title is and was, you never lost the floor and was always approachable and humble. Thank you, Patricia. No te decimos adiós, sino hasta pronto. Porque espero que no te olvides de tu familia que dejas aquí en Trellis.

Karina: I think Patricia is leaving an amazing legacy here at Trellis, from being an amazing team leader and CEO to being an active member of our community. I’ve heard so many stories from Patricia during the times I’ve had the opportunity to talk with her – she is so well known in the non-profit community, and everyone knows her commitment and love for always helping others and that I admire so much. There are not a lot of people out there with a heart big enough to want to help everyone and I’m glad we got to have some of that love shared here, at Trellis and with our beautiful community, where she will be missed tremendously! Best of wishes on your new journey, Trellis will always remember you ❤️ 

P.S. We had a great turnout to Patricia’s Going Away Fiesta on Friday, March 11th and we can’t thank everyone enough who came to wish her well. Please enjoy photos from the event posted on our Facebook page at