Vivian Mora has become used to hustle and bustle, but she wouldn’t have things any other way.
Mora owns an art studio in Sawyer Yards and is a regular participant in the First Saturday Art Market in the Heights.
She has another life beyond the canvas, holding a position in the Houston Astros’ growing front office for the past six years. Mora is the vice president of human resources for the Astros, who on Friday host the Oakland Athletics for their first home game of the 2019 season at Minute Maid Park.
“I had previous experience in professional sports work, so when that role came open in 2013, someone reached out to me asking if I wanted to take a look at it,” said Mora, who previously was head of human resources for the Houston Rockets.
Mora said she has always loved the Astros and jumped at the opportunity to be help guide the organization through some rough years. The year before she joined the Astros organization, the team lost 107 of their 162 games. Her first season with the organization, in 2013, they lost 111.
“You have to understand the ultimate plan, and understand and believe in where the team was going to be able to handle those lean years,” Mora said. “We knew that they were about to turn a corner, and that it would hopefully be all uphill from there.”
The Astros rebounded with a playoff berth in 2015 and won the franchise’s first World Series in 2017. Last year’s team set a club record with 103 regular-season wins and reached the American League Championship Series before falling to the eventual-champion Boston Red Sox.
Mora’s role can include responsibility for anything related to organizational development, recruitment and staffing, employment law, performance management, employee relations and compensation and benefits. She said efforts to build some of the staff was a bit trying in her early years.
“A lot of people want to work in professional sports, but not many people want to work for a team that was losing 100 games, so there’s always those challenges when you’re trying to build something,” she said. “I needed people to buy into where we were going and who were willing to help do some of the heavy lifting to get to where we are today.”
As to how her staff now fits into the organization, Mora said she has always thought of it as helping determine the DNA of the club and its foundation. Whether it’s hiring a data analyst, a marketing coordinator or baseball apprentice, Mora and her staff work side-by-side with those like Reid Ryan, the Astros’ president of business operations, to determine who becomes a member of the organization’s drive toward success.
“Everything we do, both on the business and baseball side, is geared toward making the Astros a better organization. It’s all tied together – everyone knows where we’re going and works toward that,” Mora said. “Being part of a team that supports each other is what makes this job great. You don’t find something like that everywhere you go, but it’s definitely prevalent here. Everything starts with the people and those you’re populating the organization with.”
That said, though Mora has a hand in staffing, there is one key aspect of the front office that goes beyond her paygrade. She has no say in hiring the players who compete for the Astros, a responsibility that falls on general manager Jeff Luhnow.
“We leave all the scouting to Jeff and the professionals there,” she said with a laugh.