Rundquist, Maria, 1951-
- Existence: 1951-
Community volunteer Maria Eugenia Escamilla-Góngora Rundquist was born in 1951 to Addy Maria Luisa Góngora-Ceballos and Alberto Hernan Escamilla-Mendicuti in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico. She was one of six children. Her father worked for a Mexican airline as a linguist and tour guide. He drowned in 1960 while saving the lives of two tourists who had fallen from a cliff. Her mother had stayed at home with her children until her husband's death, when she went back to work at her family's pharmacy.
After graduating from high school Maria Escamilla earned degrees in accounting and business from community colleges in Mexico. She married Roberto Peraza Campos in 1971. The couple had two children, Roberto and Susana, and then divorced in 1975.
During and after her marriage to Peraza, Maria Escamilla held an administrative position at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social. In that capacity she helped organize an exchange program between Mexican doctors and medical students from the University of Iowa. While working on this program she met her future husband, medical doctor Rex Rundquist, of Sloan, Iowa. The couple married in 1978 and Maria Rundquist and her two small children moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, to live with her new husband. The Rundquists had two more children - a son, Soren, and a daughter, Sonja. In 1981, Rundquist became an American citizen.
In 1982, the family moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, where Rundquist was active in the League of Women Voters, the PTA, and the Women's Medical Alliance. She also ran for the Northstar Borough board of supervisors in 1990. The Rundquists moved to Sioux City in 1991 when Rex Rundquist, wanting to live closer to his aging parents, joined Prairie Pediatrics. The following year, Maria Rundquist was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. She ran for city council in Sioux City twice (1994 and 1995) and later for a seat on the school board (2004). In 1994, she was elected to the Woodbury County Extension Council and received an award for her leadership of that group.
Since emigrating to the United States, Rundquist has attended classes and training programs at several institutions, and done a wide variety of work as both a paid employee and a volunteer. In many of these positions she has used her bilingual skills (English and Spanish) and her multicultural experiences to improve the lives of Latinos in Iowa. She served on the board of both Latinos en Siouxland and La Casa Latina of Sioux City. Rundquist served on the Iowa Commission on Latino Affairs from 1993 to 1995, and was appointed to the Sioux City Human Rights Commission in 2003. She has received many certificates of appreciation for her volunteer work, including a Friend of Iowa Civil Rights Award in 2002, the Governor?s Volunteer Award in 1997, and several certificates from United Way of Siouxland and the Art Center of Sioux City. In 1998, Rundquist changed her political affiliation and chaired Iowa Latinos for Bush. In 2002, she was chosen by United States Senator Charles Grassley to serve as an adviser to the Senate Republican Hispanic Affairs Task Force. Rundquist opened her own business, the Rundquist Linguistic and Cultural Consulting Services, in 1998. Her company provides translation services and Spanish lessons to individuals and businesses, and cultural programs to schools and organizations. She has remained politically active as a voice for Latinos and continues to devote her time to civic groups.