Next up in our new “Intern Interviews with Maggie Gorman series,” Senior Vice President Anel Ruiz!

Where did she go to college? How did she end up working in crisis communications? If her childhood had a smell, what would it be?

Keep reading or watch the video above to find out!

Maggie Gorman: What degrees have you achieved and where have you earned them from?

Anel Ruiz: I did my undergraduate studies at Augustana College in the Midwest. I studied political science there and have a bachelor’s degree.  

Maggie: What were some of your work experiences prior to joining Culloton + Bauer Luce? 

Anel: That’s a great question! I have done everything from building playgrounds across  America with a nonprofit called KABOOM! which was fun and exciting, and I fell in many holes during that, mostly literally. I have also worked with Cook County President Preckwinkle as well as Mayor Lori Lightfoot as her press secretary. And I have also worked with a handful of really exciting nonprofits in Chicago that do really great work. Everything from youth development to the arts, and so I have just been grateful for all of the variety of experiences that I have been able to accumulate throughout my career.  

Maggie: What makes Culloton + Bauer Luce stand out against other firms for clients? 

Anel: What is most attractive to me is the fact that we are all folks that have held all of those difficult positions. We have been with principals and leaders in really tough moments and had to advise them on really challenging issues often with little time or little information to ensure that we achieved the best outcome. But we have folks on the team that have been press secretaries, journalists and attorneys. So we just are a small but really mighty and nimble team and I think what sets us apart is precisely that. That you have people with that on-the-ground experience. We are tiny which means that clients get all of us and the best of us when they need support.  

Maggie: Why did you decide to get into the line of work that you are doing now?

Anel: I’m not sure if it was a decision necessarily as much as the laws of attraction. I am attracted to high stakes, to high energy, to intense environments. I really like those moments where you are up against a wall and you need to make decisions and you need to make sure we achieve the best outcome for everyone. I think folks that are in government or other high-stakes environments call it “having the itch,” and I definitely have the itch for those high-stakes, high-energy environments. I really like seeing people at their best. Folks would argue that’s when you get to see what people are made of and I really believe that it brings out the best that folks are when everyone’s fighting together and has locked arms to achieve a shared outcome.  

Maggie: What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t working at Culloton + Bauer Luce?

Anel: That’s a great question. I hope that one day I’ll be discovered as a stand-up comedian. I like to believe that I’m pretty funny. But if it weren’t that and I’m still waiting to be discovered, I would say that I would probably be doing something in the world of public policy. I really like the local level of policy making where you see the direct impact of decisions on people’s lives. That work is critically important and where you see the results the most immediately and where they feel the most impactful.  

Maggie: What can you be found doing in your free time? 

Anel: I have two small children, so I spend a lot of time chasing them and making sure that we deliver a fun and magical childhood at all costs. But what I enjoy doing for me, which is critically important to make sure that all working parents and working individuals take time out for themselves, is I’m a big reader. I am probably sitting on 20 back issues of The New Yorker that I will one day get through. I refuse to throw them away. And I also enjoy running. I’m a slow but dedicated and committed runner. It’s great alone time to just kind of think through whatever issues I might be trying to solve for.  

Maggie: White Sox or Cubs? 

Anel: Interesting plot twist, I’ll confess it here. I’m not a big sports fan. I’m maybe one of a handful of Chicagoans who doesn’t feel strongly about sports. I love the experience. I’ll go to a ballgame with anyone that invites me. I think that to me is more Chicago. The feeling of Chicago crowds and Chicago gatherings that are super vibrant and  exciting. And you cheers with a stranger who turns out to be your neighbor who turns out to know your cousin. That is Chicago to me and so those experiences, whether it is at a ballgame or cheering on the marathon or a street festival, that is quintessentially Chicago and I love all of it.  

Maggie: If your childhood had a smell, what would it be? 

Anel: Oh, great question! I grew up in Mexico in a very Mexican household with two very distinct smells. One that I think my fellow Mexicans can relate to is the smell of a super clean house that always smells a little bit like bleach. Like it’s not clean unless it’s bleach-y clean. There’s an odd comfort in that. Also, the smell of just always a salsa  being made in the kitchen and in the background. The roasted chiles, it takes me back  home and it makes my mouth water. So those are the smells.  

Did you know …

1. I lived in Hunan Province and Shanghai, China for a year. I taught English to elementary and college students and I also taught Spanish literature to the children of a Mexican family living in Shanghai.

2. I was once left on the side of the Pan-American Highway in Costa Rica and had to hitchhike back to where I was staying.

3. My husband and I once traveled many hours to find the best purveyor of country ham. I’ll never disclose the location, but it was in the mountains, delicious and worth the trip.