Claire Catrino – 20 Under 40

Community volunteer
31 | Education: Texas A&M University, SMU

Claire Catrino’s desire to help others prompted her to leave a career in sales.

“​​In 2014, I faced a tragic family loss and felt a calling to focus on mental health and giving back to others in need,” she said. “It was during the hardest time of grief where God gave me clarity for my future.”

Catrino became a licensed, nationally certified therapist and got involved with such nonprofits as the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum, Junior League of Dallas, and Dallas Symphony Orchestra League.

“We are all given a finite number of hours in this lifetime,” she said. “When I realized how precious time is, I pursued what I believed made a difference, not only in my life but for the lives of others around me.”

Catrino is the youngest woman to chair the Mad Hatter’s Tea, set for April 20 at the arboretum and in its 34th year benefiting the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum.

She’s also chairing the fashion show for the 2022 Children’s Cancer Fund gala.

Catrino served on Dallas Symphony Orchestra League executive board for more than four years and helped plan the annual presentation ball. She’s also on the leadership council for the Junior League of Dallas and on the board of the Notre Dame School of Dallas, which serves students with developmental disabilities ages 6 through 21.

Toughest business/personal challenge?

Managing my time between kids, nonprofit commitments, and transitioning into the field of counseling has been a balancing act. I think the pandemic has also definitely made fundraising more difficult, and some people are hesitant to gather in larger groups. Likewise, from an organizational perspective, I think many are cautious not to alienate their member base by making political decisions. It is unfortunate that COVID has become so political and divisive when we should be supporting each other and showing kindness now, more than ever.

Fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you?

I studied abroad in India through the Honors Business Program at Texas A&M. I love traveling to new places and doing activities outdoors like downhill skiing and horseback riding. I am an Advanced Open Water PADI certified scuba diver and love spending time on the water.

What’s on your bucket list?

I love fashion, horses, and a good party, so I have always wanted to attend the Kentucky Derby. Our daughter’s first major golf tournament was the U.S. Open, so we also hope to go to the Master’s as a family someday.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

After college, my first job was a sales professional at Sewell Lexus of Dallas. I learned about the sales processes, negotiation, and the quality customer service they are so respected for. I learned that someone’s word and reputation are the most valuable thing they have. Treat people the right way and focus on forming a relationship with them. Take a genuine interest in getting to know them. Listen more than you talk. I learned that learned humility is the most important trait you can have as a leader so treat all people with respect and how they want to be treated regardless of who they are. I learned never to judge others because you have no idea who they are or what they are going through. 

Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now?

I plan to continue giving my time as a volunteer and focusing more on establishing my own private counseling practice focused on adolescent women and women and couples navigating life changes. I want to show my daughters the importance of giving back to the community and giving to others in need.

Which leadership skills were the most challenging for you to develop and why?

When you commit to one thing, you say no to others. Setting boundaries is a skill that took time for me to develop but once I began to prioritize things, my energy was focused, and results ensued. I would overcommit because I always said yes but then I realized that I was overstressed and burnt out. Effective delegation also took some time to learn. I am very particular about how to do things and so I had to learn to trust others job done in their own way. As a leader developing this skill required me to understand what my followers were capable of and their limitations. Women leaders should be clear with our expectations up front and speak up! I also learned that I can’t change others, only I can change my reaction to them. One of the most important leadership skills we can all grow in is accepting others for who they are and where they are. When we embrace our diversity instead of allowing it to divide us, that is what makes us come together.

If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

The TV is rarely on in our house unless it’s football season! I am often asked what book I recommend for couples, and I like The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work because Gottmann is evidence-based in his recommendations. I also recommend Getting the Love you Want which is about how (to) build effective communication patterns with your partner.

What is your favorite local store?

I love Tootsies because they always have the newest fashions and great customer service! Their new store is beautiful, and they are so supportive of many organizations throughout our community.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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