Christina Villegas is Polar’s Manager of Regulatory and Compliance. Based in LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), she oversees all customs matters, ensuring compliance with air commerce regulations for all customer export and import cargo into and out of the United States.
After a first job with Disneyland, Christina transitioned to the air cargo industry in 2004 with a role at Japan Airlines (JAL) supporting Polar. She joined Polar in December 2011 and hasn’t looked back.
“I love the air freight industry and I love Polar,” said Christina. “It’s so interesting to see all the different cargo that is imported and exported every day; we fly raw materials, finished goods, life-saving equipment, even the latest smart phones. We connect people with the things they need to get their jobs done and live their lives.”
Christina leads a team across LAX and CVG over a 24/7 schedule, ensuring someone is always available to assist with compliance questions. She also oversees audits to ensure station compliance to facilitate seamless cargo transitions for Polar’s customers.
Christina credits her strong work ethic and dedication to her team and Polar to her Mexican-American upbringing. “My parents were born and raised in Mexico. They came to California to start their family with hope for a successful future for the five children they raised here.”
She added, “My heritage is a big part of how I approach my life both at work and at home. I am raising four children and it’s very important to me that I expose them to the culture and traditions that were part of my own childhood.”
In fact, Christina’s mom recently brought Christina a molcajete from Mexico. It is the same kitchen tool that her family has prepared traditional Mexican meals with for generations.
“My mother learned to cook using a molcajete from her mother – my grandmother. It’s an extremely heavy, lava-rock mixing bowl, similar to a pestle and mortar, but much bigger. There is a special method for preparing the molcajete for its first use—it begins with grinding up rice which almost seals and coats the inside of the bowl. Then you add garlic and salt and grind it all together. It was unusual to me because I haven’t cooked this way, but it was really meaningful to be following the same steps my mom, her mother, and her mother before her took to prepare their own molcajete.”
Christina’s children enjoy gathering around the molcajete to help their mom prepare delicious Mexican dishes, including her special extra spicy salsa made with two kinds of chiles.
“I am so appreciative for the sacrifices my parents made to give me and my siblings a better life,” she says. “Because of the way we were raised, I always do my best to honor them and their drive. I think many Latinos have similar stories and celebrating our heritage, not just during Hispanic Heritage Month but all year long, is a way to remember where we came from.”
Christina’s Molcajete Salsa:
In the molcajete:
According to Christina, the grinding action releases essential oils which add a depth of flavor to this salsa, which you would not be able to achieve with a food processor or blender.