- Gender: Female
- University: University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- Undergraduate Degree: Communication
- Organization: The Worthy Ranch
- Position Title: President and Founder
- HSF Leadership Role: HSF Advisory Council, San Diego
Heather Estus is a first-generation college graduate that describes herself as the “proud big sister” of the siblings who have followed in her footsteps. The oldest of eleven children, she says that her mother, a high school graduate, dedicated her life to raising her family and “has created an amazing legacy of loving and creative children.” Her father, a cowboy, an athlete, and a Navy veteran, went to college and briefly played professional football, before being drafted to serve in the Vietnam War.
It was her father’s expectation that she would attend college, and, she says, “I didn’t think twice about it.” She began her college career at Arizona State University, but her plans changed when she gave birth to a daughter during her freshman year and discontinued her education for a time. Undeterred in the pursuit of her degree, she made the decision to re-enroll in college when her daughter started pre-school. Reflecting on these experiences, she comments, “Being a mom and returning to college were two of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Communication at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While pursuing her degree, she began working as a fundraiser for Boys and Girls Clubs of Las Vegas, procuring the first $5 million donation to build a club site in Las Vegas. She later worked as senior fifth officer for the Smith Center, a performing arts center.
Today, she is the president and founder of The Worthy Ranch, a ranch located in the mountains of South Montana that will provide critical services and support to women and children who survived human trafficking. Its purpose is to create a safe environment where survivors can heal from past trauma by receiving equine therapy, life coaching, and job development assistance.
Heather is actively involved in the community both through her job and by participating in a number of organizations. She is a member of Latinas in Power, a group of professional Latinas who support each other, as well as the Jameson Fellowship, which is comprised of nonprofit leaders helping tackle the needs of the community. She is also part of Boulder City Horseman’s Association, Toastmasters, and the Ryan Gordy Foundation.
She joined the HSF Advisory Council in San Diego, in 2017, after a referral from a business supervisor. “HSF,” she says, “is a catalyst to strengthening the future economy of our country, with a workforce who will bring creativity, diversity, and good ‘ole hard work to the table.”
Heather believes that the influence of successful individuals with shared morals and values, combined with consistent personal growth and development, have been important to her success. She encourages students embarking on their professional career to consider their natural talents and skill sets and expand on them. She also advises students to recognize that their career may involve some jobs that do not seem aligned with their long-term goals, urging them, “Keep an open mind about all the opportunities that cross your path, and look at how it might help you become the person you are meant to be.”