Ramona Soto, Dallas ISD’s general counsel, is approaching her fifth anniversary with the district, leading a team of attorneys, who advise school leaders, help them make sound legal decisions, find solutions and pursue options. And she says she has enjoyed every moment.
Soto did not initially intend to practice school law, but when she started working in private practice, she had Dallas ISD as a client and said she fell in love with the work. She transitioned to Fort Worth ISD for about four years before coming full circle to serve Dallas ISD as in-house counsel.
“I love doing school law because every day is different,” Soto said. “You learn something new every day, and that just means I had a great day. It’s always changing, always evolving.”
In honor of Women’s History Month, which recognizes and celebrates all the diverse roles women play in history and society, Soto shared some of her career highlights and reflections below.
What accomplishment are you proudest of?
“I was able to come from a smaller district and adapt to a much larger district. It was a great change, and I enjoy it so much. Not only is there so much to do, but it’s interesting work. It’s truly a dream job for me. I am really proud to lead a team of attorneys and professionals that are making a difference in our schools.”
What advice or words of encouragement would you give your younger self or someone following in your footsteps?
“Life turns out the way it should. Sometimes we get rejections and we don’t know why, but that’s part of the journey, going through those things and knowing in the end you are where you’re meant to be. I don’t think I could have planned my career out any better. It just happened. You don’t know why it’s happening at the time, but then you see where you are now, and you realize, ‘That’s why I had to go through all of those things, to help prepare me for the role I was meant to have.’”
What helps you persevere during hard moments?
“Everything is part of learning, falling and picking yourself back up. You don’t give up with every rejection. You learn from it, and you change what you need to change and get feedback. That has always helped me in life, to always question, ‘How can I get better?’ And that’s through feedback. I really need honest feedback to get myself up and do better.”
What drew you to the field of education?
“I was always interested in being a public servant, and I kind of fell into it. All my early court experience happened with my favorite client, which was Dallas ISD, and I think I gravitated toward it because I felt like I was doing something great.”
What is your favorite memory at Dallas ISD?
“When they told us we were shutting down when the pandemic hit, it was so foreign to not be in person. I remember saying, ‘How do you lead remotely?’ But I had already ordered everybody laptops by then, and I had implemented an electronic system. It was as though I was already preparing for this huge pandemic even though I had no idea it was coming, and so as it turned out, it was pretty easy to make that adjustment. I get excited knowing that we can adjust and adapt so quickly. The work didn’t stop, it continued, and we’ve just kept going in this new world.”