Meet the Staff
Loretta Pequeño-Griffin, M.A.
Loretta Pequeño-Griffin currently serves as the Director of The Leadership Center at UT Arlington. Prior to this role she served as the Associate Director for the department. Loretta began working in the Leadership Center as an Assistant Director where she advised the Leadership Academy and MavsACT programs. She is a Social Worker who holds a B.A. in Sociology and Women’s Studies from Loyola University of New Orleans, and an M.A. in Administrative Social Work and Public Policy from the University Of Chicago School Of Social Service Administration. Loretta serves as a Field Instructor for the UT Arlington School of Social Work, which requires her to challenge students to integrate theory with practice for holistic learning while interning with the Leadership Center. Furthermore, she is a member of the Association of Leadership Educators and has been recognized for her contributions to student leadership development by the Society for Leadership and Success and was awarded the Outstanding Maverick Award by UT Arlington. Loretta spent over 10 years working in the not-for-profit sector in Chicago and before coming to UT Arlington, she was the Volunteer Coordinator at Xavier University of Louisiana. She relocated from New Orleans to the Metroplex during Hurricane Katrina and supervised the disaster case management program at the Salvation Army DFW Metro Area Command. She is a former member of the Arlington Life Shelter Board of Directors where she served as the Vice President of Board Governance. She resides in Arlington with her husband Brian Griffin and their precocious kitty cat, Cleophus.
Veronica Guzman, M.ED.
Veronica Guzman currently serves as the Associate Director of the UT Arlington Leadership Center. She manages the day to day operations of the Center as well serves as the advisor for the UTA HOSTS! Mentor program, and the Freshman Leaders on Campus program. During her professional career she has worked with Freshman Orientation, Commuter Student Programs, and Family Programs at the University of Texas Dallas, and taught fourth grade in her hometown of Harlingen, TX. As an undergraduate at UT Arlington, Veronica received the Sophomore Leader of the Year and Junior Leader of the Year awards for her involvement with EXCEL Campus Activities and other organizations. While receiving her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from UT Arlington, Veronica gained Student Affairs experience with the Tarrant County College Career Center, New Maverick Orientation, UTA Student Activities, and the UTA Leadership Center. In recognition of her accomplishments she received the Outstanding Graduate Assistant Award for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Region III. While working to inspire students and in her own life, Veronica strives to follow the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” Veronica lives with her husband, Joe, her baby son, Caleb, and their little Maltese, Oliver.
Rory Szwed, M.ED.
Rory Szwed currently serves as Assistant Director of The Leadership Center at UT Arlington where his primary responsibilities include oversight of Freshman Leaders on Campus (FLOC), Alternative Breaks, and Maverick Mentor programs. Rory holds a B.S. in Mathematics and Secondary Education and an M.Ed. in Information and Communication Technology from SUNY Potsdam. Professionally, he has worked as a Residence Director and Summer Program Coordinator at the State University of New York at Potsdam, and served as the Assistant Director of Residence Life at D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY. Aspiring to empower the full leadership potential in all college students, Rory strives to create and foster opportunities for growth and development through servant leadership. Rory’s interests include volunteering his time and talents with Alpha Phi Omega; a national co-educational service fraternity widely recognized as the premiere service-based leadership development organization where his volunteer efforts as a presenter, advisor, administrator, and conference planner have been recognized with Chapter and Section Distinguished Service Keys, and has been a recipient of the Warren Weidman Dedication to Service medallion. An avid traveler, nature photographer, jazz musician, a cappella singer, Mensa member, and history buff, Rory is known to travel to all corners of the continent in search of interesting people, places, and stories. He regularly consults with Punxsutawney Phil (whom he personally knows) to advocate for an early Spring, and can usually tell you just how much colder it currently is in his hometown of Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains. Rory resides in Denton with his wife, Amanda, and their two cats, Chessie and Dora.
Amy Nelson began working with the Leadership Center in the summer of 2016. Prior to working with the University, she lived in Austin, TX for 20 years and served as a police dispatch officer for 12 years with the Austin Police Department. In her role, she performed task management for first responders in emergency and non-emergency situations. Her administrative experience includes working for The Texas Department of Health, 3M Corporation and AmCOMP Assurance. The Leadership Center relies on Amy’s Strengthquest strengths of harmony, responsibility, consistency, intellection, and developer to keep the department organized, on task, and constantly improving. Amy is currently studying Astrophysics here at UT Arlington. She lives in Arlington with her 11 year old son Dakota. Together they enjoy traveling, learning about space exploration, and listening to their all-time favorite band, Duran Duran.
Robert is the Graduate Advisor for the Leadership Center. Prior to that, Robert was the Director of the Leadership Honors Program for 2 years while completing his Bachelor’s degree at UTA. Robert holds a Bachelor of Science degree in University Studies (’15, Magna Cum Laude) and a minor in Leadership Studies, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Educational Leadership. He is a two time winner of the UT-Arlington Outstanding Student Leader Award (’14, ’15), and was selected as the Who’s Who among College and Universities for both 2014 and 2015. He was also named Mentor of the Year by the Leadership Center in 2015. One of his favorite quotes is “The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.” – John Maxwell
GRADUATE Intern, UT Arlington SChool of Social Work
Shannon is the Graduate Intern for the Leadership Center, completing her field education for the UT Arlington School of Social Work. Prior to attending UTA, Shannon obtained her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Addiction Studies from the University of North Texas, where she graduated with Honors. She currently is working towards her Masters of Social Work degree with a concentration in Community and Administrative Practice, with which she hopes to use to work in public policy. A quote that inspired her to pursue a degree in Social Work is “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that, then I realized I was somebody.” Additionally, she is employed full-time at a substance abuse treatment facility where she provides counseling and assessing clients to ensure they are able to get the help they need. Shannon assists Leadership Staff with various trainings and also is co-advisor for UTA Volunteers. In her free time, Shannon enjoys reading and taking her dog, Zeppelin, to the dog park.