Maria Elena Banks has come a long way from when she was a little girl growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, the descendant of a famous general and former president of Mexico.
In the U.S., she's gone from working to eke out a living in real estate as a young woman raising two young boys alone — becoming the first woman Little League coach in Newport Beach and San Juan Capistrano along the way — to becoming president of a powerful Realtor group in Orange County.
Banks, who likes to point out that English is her second language, which she learned to speak in Canada, was installed at the Marriott Laguna Cliffs in Dana Point on Friday as the 2012 president of the Orange County Assn. of Realtors, a professional trade organization representing 12,000 members from Huntington Beach to San Clemente.
The group was established in 1995. Banks is the group's first Hispanic president.