Judy Pantoja synonymous with community service


By Gloria Burns

Judy Pantoja

Judy Pantoja is a tall statuesque woman, whose beauty inside and out is matched by a sharp mind and giving heart. For those who know her, she and community service are joined in thought and action. Like peanut butter and jelly, where there is one you will often find the other.

As the oldest of five girls from an upper middle class Honduran family, Pantoja has never taken anything for granted and has always felt the need to give back to her community. From rescuing stray animals as a young child and helping elders cross the street to serving as a candy striper at the age of 15, Pantoja continues in this vein to this day.

She is truly a product of Coral Gables. Her early education began at Coral Gables Elementary, St. Theresa’s School, and, finally, at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy. During those early days, she took full advantage of what the Gables had to offer its residents. In fact, she learned to swim at the Venetian Pool and spent endless summers at the Coral Gables Country Club, and even attended summer camps at the Coral Gables Youth Center.

She stuck close to her beloved Coral Gables when deciding on a college and looked no farther than the University of Miami where she earned a degree in finance.

Following her graduation from the University of Miami. Pantoja began her career working for Merrill Lynch becoming a successful financial advisor. Currently, Pantoja is a vice president for investments at UBS International and still works in Coral Gables.

As a very active member of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables, she has been organizing almost weekly community service projects developing a program as Community Service chair who has won the club many accolades. For her outstanding service, Pantoja was named the 2009 Rotarian of the Year by the Rotary Club of Coral Gables.

She continues coordinating volunteer efforts for her club members with such organizations as Paws4You, the VA Hospital at Jackson Memorial, International Kids Fund, The Marian Center, Special Olympics, Camillus House and Shake-A-Leg.

From serving food and beer on St. Patrick’s Day to raise funds for Rotary and the Coral Gables Woman’s Club’s Children’s Dental Clinic to playing bingo with veterans at the VA Hospital, it is obvious to anyone who volunteers with her that Pantoja truly appreciates the opportunity to serve others and her smile can light up a room.

When she is not planning a service project for her fellow Rotarians or managing her volatile and dynamic career, she enjoys socializing with her friends and family. This hometown girl is passionate about Coral Gables and its beautiful streets where she may be found staying in great shape by running and cycling through her neighborhood on a regular basis.

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A graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Spanish, Burns has an extensive background in advertising, marketing and reciprocal trade, travel , non profit consulting and management. Before joining Miami's Community Newspapers as a columnist and marketing specialist, Gloria was the Executive Director of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee (6 yrs.) and first Executive Director of the Coral Gables Community Foundation (14 yrs.) and the Pinecrest Community Foundation (1 ½ yrs) . Burns' volunteer activities led her to become a columnist for Community Newspapers writing Gloria’s Gab, that focuses on the non-profit activity, and a host of an online show, Gloria's Gab LIVE. Gloria serves the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables as Civic and Charity Chair, and is involved in the club's International Committee. She is an active Life Member of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee and is Secretary of the Merrick Festival. She serves on the board of directors of the Coral Gables Woman' Club as Publicity Chair and also coordinates the club's monthly fundraiser for various charities with Gringo Bingo at Clutch Burger. In addition, Gloria participates in numerous other charitable events and is a member of the Business Forum Group, Profit Inc., the Greater Miami Festival & Events Association and the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce. In other volunteer activity, Gloria helps Miami Christian School with fund-raising and PR; is an Ambassador and volunteers for events for A Safe Haven for Newborns. She is an active member of the Music Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church where she enjoys singing in the choir every weekend.



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