El Paso INC: Interview With Chief Rodriguez

Originally published on El Paso INC.

Deputy Chief Jorge A. Rodriguez, 42, is the man with a plan of action. 

Since 2017, Rodriguez has served as the El Paso City-County emergency operations coordinator, and is assistant fire chief of technical services for the El Paso Fire Department. 

His daily directive is to prevent and prepare for unfortunate and unforeseen events, while leading numerous groups of people to react when they occur. 

When an emergency strikes, Rodriguez is in the frontline. He played an integral role in leading the city through the Aug. 3, 2019, massacre and the migrant crisis – and now, the Covid-19 public health pandemic. 

“These events have made a tremendous impact on our city’s consciousness,” Rodriguez says. 

Rodriguez, who was born from immigrant parents, says he’s living the American dream.

He loves spending time outdoors with his wife and pets. He likes to challenge his physical and mental abilities, is a fan of all things plant-based, enjoys history, sci-fi, traveling and taking in the grandeur of El Paso’s sunsets. 

The El Paso native is an Irvin High School Rocket, Class of ’96. He earned a bachelor’s in political science with a minor in intelligence and national security, and a master’s in public administration with a concentration in leadership from the University of Texas at El Paso. Rodriguez also completed Harvard University’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative and Executive Education Program.  

Q: What has been your greatest achievement or lesson so far?

The value of trusting relationships and partnerships in times of crisis has been both a lesson and achievement. 

Q: Have the recent crises changed your outlook on life?

Yes, definitely. I’ve learned that disasters are extremely complex and chaotic, yet are reduced to the simplest things and meanings of life: health, security, family and happiness.

n a couple of years, I may have a better answer for you. I haven’t had time or space to process just yet.  

Q: What keeps you motivated to go into work each day?

The belief that I can add value and make a difference, the dedication of the men and women of the fire department and the Office of Emergency Management.  I enjoy connecting the dots to complex problems and bringing together amazing people from academia, military, infrastructure, public safety, nonprofits, etc., to find solutions to wicked problems.  

Q: How do you talk to family and friends about what you see at work on a daily basis?

Most of the information we deal with is sensitive and privileged that can’t be disclosed or discussed openly. It’s a weight that can’t be let down— it’s part of the job. It’s easier to discuss with close colleagues who are in the mix of it and understand the pressures. These common experiences make lasting connections and friendships.   

Q: Do you have a mentor? Who inspires you? 

No doubt, Fire Chief Mario D’Agostino. We’ve been through a lot together this last year, and now this pandemic. There’s a bit of brilliance in everything he does. Few get to witness what a sincere place he operates from. His faith and trust in me have helped me come into my own. My wife inspires me to stay true to myself and find the silver lining in every single situation!  

Q: What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I’m a hard-core vegan of 10 years and a blue belt in Krav Maga. 

Q: What can you tell readers about the future of our city?

All we need is already here.  We are a city reborn. Our spirit, that zest to create and flourish, is going to elevate El Paso higher (and sooner) than we ever thought.  Our uniqueness, our culture, our creativity and our “ganas” to outwork everyone else are unmatched.