From baseball to nonprofits: Lydia Traina's mission to help Fort Worth families
Alumna Lydia Traina '96 is leading a powerful team of women at Trinity Habitat for Humanity. She's the senior director of development and public relations, which has allowed her and her team to help secure funding and get volunteers to build affordable housing for residents of Fort Worth and the surrounding areas.
“I love it because everybody has a home,” she said. “We're providing an opportunity, just like any of us would want, for families to have a safe, affordable home.”
And although Traina didn’t start out in the non-profit world, it’s one that she’s fallen in love with.
“I went and took all these classes [at a conference], and I remember leaving there thinking, I'm going to do this forever,” she said. “I want to be in the nonprofit world forever.”
Traina has worked for a few different nonprofit organizations, including the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation. She says that it was during her time with the foundation that she found her passion in wanting to help nonprofits secure funding for their missions.
“Once I was at the foundation, I just got the bug,” she said. “I love being able to share an opportunity for people to be generous, and I think that's an exciting opportunity that not everybody can do.”
She was thrilled to take on her current role because she truly believes in the mission of helping her community find secure, affordable housing.
“Just the idea of being a part of changing families lives — that's what brought me here,” she said.
But it isn’t just about having a home. Because families can better afford housing through the Trinity Habitat for Humanity, they can focus their finances on things like education for their children or paying for health care.
“It's not just about the house, it's about saving money that they can use for their children's education, or health or school supplies,” she said. “If we can close that gap for families that are living in those situations, then I'm excited that I get to be a part of that.”
And Traina gives a big part of her and the Trinity Habitat's success to her team.
“I'm so grateful for each and every one of them and every single person who I have had the opportunity to partner with, because I can't do this all by myself,” she said. “Working together to exponentially make a change is probably the best part of my career.”
And her career all started with a conversation at 16 with her best friend’s dad about working in public relations for a baseball team.
“It was just so random, and I didn't even really know what public relations meant,” she laughed.
She spent time researching the career and decided to combine her love of sports with public relations. And finding Texas Wesleyan was a key part in helping launch her career, as she fell in love with the idea of being a big part of Texas Wesleyan’s small community.
“I chose Texas Wesleyan because it was close to my house. It was a small private school. And I knew that just like the billboards I see around town, it was Smaller. Smarter. — I wanted to be a part of that type of community,” she said.
During her time at the University, she worked several jobs, including being a sports editor for the student media group, The Rambler. She even had a class with her mom, who was also attending Texas Wesleyan at the same time. One day, as she was working in the sports department, she saw a fax come into the University about an internship opportunity with the Texas Rangers.
“I could not believe it,” she said. “I applied and got the job.”
She interned with the Rangers for about a year before graduating from Texas Wesleyan, and ended up back at the Rangers the following year working in a newly created position that oversaw “non-baseball PR.” She helped with community relations and publicizing the Ballpark in Arlington and the Legends of the Game Baseball Museum (which, at the time, was just recently built).
“I really, really loved [that job],” she said.
However, after getting married, she left the Rangers to find a job that would work better with her growing family’s schedule. Traina was able to secure a job as an executive director for the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation thanks to meeting Bragan during her time at the Rangers.
Bragan was also passionate about his community and education, even donating his art and baseball memorabilia to Texas Wesleyan.
“He was a wonderful, generous person and so very fun to be around,” she said.
She believes in the power of gaining an internship to help launch your career — a mission that Texas Wesleyan also believes in through providing free career services and one-on-one professional mentoring with professors.
“The advice I would give is, for sure, try to get an internship — that is so important,” she said. “I tell every young person, go try out different things and see, because just like in life, until you experience it, you really just don't know what it's all about.”
Traina said her career is helping her fulfill her life’s mission — to encourage others to give generously of their time, talent and treasure. And she’s leading the way for other women to take on important roles in our community, just like she has.
“The leadership side of my work is important to me,” she said. “I enjoy pouring into others, helping them grow in their personal and professional lives.”
Want to get started on a career in public relations? Take a look at our mass communication degree — or if you want to get a job at a place like the Texas Rangers, check out the sports communication degree. Both are great options to get a job in public relations.