Liz Silva – 20 Under 40

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Paragon Healthcare
Education: Vanderbilt University, SMU

Liz Silva worked in SMU in alumni relations while attending graduate school at Vanderbilt and often found herself connecting other SMU alumni with people interested in internships or jobs.

That led to her career in staffing. Silva ran her boutique staffing agency for five years before joining Paragon Healthcare.

“I realized I had a unique opportunity to leverage my network and relationships into a business,” she said. “I started a staffing agency that ultimately led me to my position at Paragon, and I’ve never looked back.

At Paragon, Silva oversees talent acquisition, human resources, and community relations. 

“Our motto of ‘People. Purpose. Passion.’ drives everything we do, and I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”

Her University Park roots run deep. Her family moved to the city in 1996 when Silva was in fifth grade.

Her parents still live in the city, and it’s where she and her husband, Nick, are raising a son and soon a daughter.

“University Park is incredibly walkable, and nothing beats our beautiful parks within a few blocks no matter where you live. We especially love having Williams Park down the street in one direction and SMU in the other,” Silva said. “We can easily walk to football games to cheer on our Mustangs — our favorite thing to do as a family.”

She is heavily involved in her son’s school, Armstrong Elementary, where she started a Veterans Day program three years ago to educate students about the holiday’s meaning.

“As an Air Force wife, I felt it was important to do something to honor the service and sacrifice of our military. It’s become a tradition at Armstrong and one of the highlights of the year for our family,” Silva said.

What was your first job, and what did you learn from it? 

My first job was an internship at The Richards Group while I was an advertising student at SMU. Although creative, it was a very structured environment, and I got to see the campaign process from start to finish. I learned a lot, but mostly that I was not passionate about the industry, which ultimately helped me shift gears and set new career goals.

Where do you see yourself and/or your career 10 years from now? 

Personally, still in UP with my husband, Nick, and our kids. Our son, Sam, will be 18, and our daughter (due this August) will be 9 – one in college (hopefully SMU, of course!) and another at Armstrong. Two different worlds. Professionally, I hope I’ve continued to grow with Paragon and feel just as challenged, fulfilled, and motivated in my career.

If you could buy a book (or rent a movie) for your neighbor, what would it be and why?

The one I’m reading right now—Unapologetically Ambitious by Shellye Archambeau. Her daughter is one of my best friends from HP and Shellye was one of my first female role models in business. She’s had an insanely successful career and has served on multiple Fortune 500 Boards, all while raising a beautiful family along the way. The book gives real world advice and practical strategies for success woven into relatable personal stories. Her ability to “have it all” when women were expected to choose between a career and motherhood motivates and inspires me to do the same.

Toughest business/personal challenge?

For me, it’s learning to balance personal with professional. I tend to be “all in” with everything that I do and it’s difficult to feel like I’m ever not giving my all to any one area of my life. Luckily, I have the most supportive husband in the world who helps me prioritize and keeps things running at home when I can’t. He makes family dinner happen nightly and helps me catch my breath when I walk through the door after a crazy day.

What would you tell an 18-year-old you?

It’s ok to say no to things you aren’t fully invested in. Don’t spread yourself so thin that you don’t have time to enjoy the little things.

Favorite nonprofit causes(s)?

Dallas has so many great causes that it’s hard to choose! A few favorites: The Birthday Party Project, Adaptive Training Foundation, and Patriot PAWS.

What’s on your bucket list?

My husband and I dream of having a place of our own in Colorado one day. We love Vail and Beaver Creek and go as often as we can, whether skiing in the winter or escaping the Texas heat in the summer. It’s our happy place!

Fun fact that someone wouldn’t know about you:

At HPHS, I competed in One Act Play every year and even won Best Actress a couple of times. It was my dream to study theater at SMU.


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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at [email protected]

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