Dynelle Abeyta is a bit of a rarity in Pueblo — she’s a young and skilled professional who has chosen to live and work in the town in which she was born and raised.

The 28-year-old communications coordinator for the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce is bucking the trend of the city’s brightest permanently taking their talents to other locales.

She now works to promote Pueblo through her job at the chamber, as well as through her involvement in the city’s burgeoning arts scene.

Abeyta earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Colorado State University-Pueblo, where she minored in nonprofit administration, reflecting her desire to give back.

She interned with the chamber as a student, but moved to Denver to take a position with a technology education company following graduation. After working for the company for about three years, Abeyta felt she was being called back home.

She returned to Pueblo a little more than two years ago and has since dived headfirst into bettering the community.

Abeyta serves on Pueblo County’s Buy Local Advisory Board to help promote its businesses, is a member the Colorado Complete Count Campaign’s Pueblo marketing committee for the 2020 Census, and participates in the Leadership Pueblo program, which helps residents develop leadership skills.

She also was honored in 2019 by the Pueblo Latino Chamber of Commerce with one of its “40 Under 40 Emerging Leader” awards.

But it’s not just her professional accomplishments that are gaining her recognition in the community — she’s also an active member of its arts scene.

Around the time Abeyta moved home, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She had her thyroid removed in 2018 and has since seen her health greatly improve, but because of the experience, she found herself reevaluating how she spends her time.

“When you go through something like that it makes you realize that you need to do the things that you love and make time for them,” Abeyta said. “So it kind of rekindled my passion for art. And sometimes it kind of sucks that you have to go through things like that to make yourself realize that it’s so important you do those things. But even though it was something negative that I went through, a lot of positives came out of it.”

Abeyta spoke with the Business Journal about her return to the Home of Heroes and her efforts to improve and promote the city she loves.

What made you want to get into communications?

That’s kind of a funny story. When I came out of high school I had my mind set on becoming a nurse — so the complete opposite end of the spectrum from my job now. My drive is always to help people. I went to CSU-Pueblo and started doing classes in the nursing program and got my [Certified Nursing Assistant] license in that time, and once I started to get into it I thought, ‘This is not the profession for me.’ So I really had to take a hard look and see what really drives me — the things that I like, the things that I’m passionate about. And I kind of bounced around a bit … but I found my way to mass communications because I really love creating. I just instantly fell in love with it. I started taking marketing classes, started getting into it and loving it and found a passion for it.

What do you enjoy about the work?

There are so many things I love about it. Getting a degree in nonprofit administration, that’s what kind of led me to the chamber. I love nonprofits because they’re solely focused on helping the community and that’s where my passion lies in general — in helping my community to thrive and to grow. And being at the chamber, I’m in a really unique position to help do that.

Through the chamber — we are business-focused — but we also have Visit Pueblo, which is kind of about tourism and helping to promote Pueblo in a positive light. Because I’m sure you’ve heard negative things about Pueblo, but there’s so much more here. So just being able to help promote Pueblo … it’s great to me. When I was in Denver and people would ask, ‘Where are you from? Are you from Denver?’ I would say, ‘No I’m from Pueblo,’ and they would say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ But there’s just so much more here than people realize.

Pueblo has had a tough time retaining young professionals. What made you want to come home and work in your hometown?

I was doing freelance work so I had an opportunity to come and be back with my family. But there is also just this pull. There’s something that just pulls you back into this town, and not in a negative way by any means.

It’s really exciting. I just feel that the people here — there’s so much potential. And I know things are sort of starting to bubble up right now. People are really starting to see what Pueblo is all about and I always felt there was just something pulling me back here and something I needed to do here.

The city and the county, in different places, are starting to draw in larger businesses and are creating more opportunities for young professionals to stay here.

There are some really exciting things happening. So I do think there will be more opportunities for young professionals — something that will keep them here, rather than moving.

How did you get started with the arts?

Ever since I was young I just loved creating. I loved doing crafts, I loved painting, I loved doing anything with my hands and doing anything creative. And that also translates into the work I do today, because I get to do creative work through marketing.

But as far as art goes, there was a point where I had some health issues. And art really helped take my mind off of those things.

I just started doing art for myself — it was a therapeutic process. Art helped me through those things and it was kind of my escape. But once I started to do that … people started to notice it. So I connected with the arts community here in Pueblo, and it’s taken off within the past couple years.

I’m definitely not in it to make money. I just do it because I love it and I want to share it with other people.

What is your goal with your art?

My ultimate goal is just to keep doing what I love and be able to share it with the public. If it gets to the point where I get to travel and do art, that would be amazing.

But really, it’s just a passion project. It’s something I love to do and if eventually I can turn it into a business or turn it into something else, that would be great. But I’m just kind of going with the flow of it, seeing where it leads me.

What else are you passionate about?

I have passion for community and I have passion for Pueblo. I see so many opportunities coming here, even if they’re not here just yet. Things are starting to happen. We have a huge arts community, we have a growing music scene, great businesses … so my passion is for Pueblo and I am grateful that I have the opportunity through the chamber to help.

How do you maintain balance professionally and personally?

It’s just about prioritizing. I love to make lists and keep a calendar — I’m sure just like anybody else — but I make a priority list because there is a lot to keep track of here, especially through the chamber. We’re involved in a lot of different events and I’m working on a lot of different projects with so many different groups and with the community in general. So lists are my best friend.

But also, it’s making time. You have to make time for yourself. I make sure I have time to make art, to exercise, to get out and hike and do the things that I love to do, which also helps me keep my mind clear and focused. I know a lot of people talk about “self-care” and maybe it sounds hipster or whatever, but it’s really important to do those things. Because if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you do your job adequately?