Carolyn Bogott: Peña-Marconi a force of positivity in the community

Published 6:02 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2022

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Juliana Peña-Marconi has been described as having “an unapologetic go-getter attitude in advancing initiatives in which she believes.” She has a passion for kids, and so most of those initiatives involve children and their families.

Having earned a degree in psychology in her native Colombia, Juliana has given much to Austin.

Juliana Peña-Marconi

In her professional life, Juliana was one of the first success coaches here, working as a liaison between the school and the home for students with language and cultural challenges.

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More recently she has been a mental health practitioner for the Austin schools, first at the high school, then at Ellis Middle School and now at I.J. Holton Intermediate School. In that role she has worked very creatively with children, both in groups and individually, who have mental health challenges including anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

One of her projects at I.J. Holton, in collaboration with her colleague Holly Arndt, is the Friendship Group, which matches up special education students with mainstream students to do activities and go on field trips together.  All the children benefit. When Juliana talks about her job, her eyes shine and she glows with enthusiasm for her work.

Her basic goals are to help children understand why they do the things they do, and to develop individual and group coping skills. Learning to control emotions and how to handle stressful situations and stressful people are among the challenges Juliana works on with students. Two keys are to help the children realize that they have strengths and to help them develop the habit of gratefulness. Wouldn’t all of us benefit from the practice she encourages of having students note three things for which they are grateful each day?  It is clear her love of life has been a wonderfully positive influence on her students as she has led them in games, cooking activities, field trips and other projects.

This fount of positivity and joy has also contributed to Austin as a long -time board member of the Parenting Resource Center as well as The Welcome Center.  She has given tirelessly of her time and energy for both these groups, and she looks to greater successes for children and families in their new collaboration.

Juliana is effusive in her paise for the opportunities she and her family have had Austin. She praises the fact that the many agencies and entities are willing to collaborate. She said the beauty of Austin is that if you just ask, people are willing to support you, for any project in support of children and families. As she looks toward an upcoming move to Florida with her recently retired husband, she expresses thanks for the great opportunities she has had to work and learn and grow with people here.  She saidpart of her heart will stay in Austin.

Her words of wisdom are always to practice gratefulness and be positive.  “Your attitude can determine your life.”

Austin is losing a great asset. We wish Juliana well in her future pursuits.

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove  or Carolyn Bogott The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond.  AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881.  We support equity and education for women.  Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination.  We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.