With Harvey threatening livelihoods, Houston business leader stepped up to help

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It was a tough year for entrepreneurs in Houston.

"Houston and Houstonians are resilient. We have discovered that. I think that's the story we have. Especially entrepreneurs, they don't give up. It's going to take more than a hurricane to slow them down," said Dr. Laura Murillo, president and CEO of Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The Hispanic community turned to their Chamber of Commerce after Harvey, and Dr. Murillo took to the airwaves for days, providing information to help business owners struggling to recover.

Murillo has become a fearless leader in her community. She was born and raised in Houston's East End to immigrant parents from Mexico.

She says working at her parents' restaurant from the age of 10 helped her learn how to talk to anyone.

"I am the beneficiary of two extraordinary parents who instilled in me that anything is possible in this great country," said Murillo.

Murillo has grown Houston's Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to the largest in the U.S.

"You have to surround yourself, as my father would say, with people who are smarter than you are. That makes all of this a lot easier. I don't do anything on my own," Murillo admits.

The youngest of nine children, she is dedicated to grooming new talent behind her through the Emerging Leaders Institute.

"It doesn't matter to us if they are Hispanic. We're looking for leaders. I think another great feather in our cap is that we are about Houston. We are diverse. Forty percent of our board is not Hispanic," said Murillo.

The UH graduate looks back at her education in playing a big role in where she is today. She earned a Bachelor's, Master's and Ph.D. as a Cougar and has a wall full of honors by her diplomas.

One of the highest honors she has earned included the most prestigious honor bestowed by the Mexican government for her civic leadership.

Dr. Murillo says her priority is being the proud mother of two daughters, Marisa and Mia, ages 19 and 15.

"I am of the mindset that we make time for those things that are important to us and I've made time for them," said Murillo.

And she says she's passed on to them three words to live by: people, passion and persistence.

She added, "Don't spend time with people who don't believe in you and are providing you with negative commentary. They don't need to be in your life. Run with people who can help you run faster."

Explore the other members of our community named ABC13 Woman of the Week here.
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