Sunday Conversation: Lizette Diaz, LatinWE Foundation
Lizette Diaz, 48, has been working in media for 31 years when she took her first job at a newspaper in Colombia where she grew up before she came to the United States seeking. asylum.
The seasoned journalist, who’s worked in radio, television and has had her own magazine founded the Katy-based organization LatinWE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to helping Latina woman over 30 — many of whom may not be able to speak English but who’ve had degrees from the countries their from — improve their quality of life.
Diaz lives in Katy with her husband, long-time journalist Pedro Alvaraz, and their two daughters.
How were able to stay involved in media when you arrived from Colombia?
I’m a single mother of my oldest daughter Daniella. When I came here in 2003, I got here to Houston. I met my husband Pedro Alvarez. He was the editor of a local newspaper called El Diá. It no longer exists, but he was the news editor. I wanted to work here as the entertainment editor and that’s how we met, we got married and we have another daughter named Andreá, who’s 11 years old.
When I was six months pregnant with Andreá, Pedro was fired from his position. I was there by myself, so about two months later I resigned. I wanted to avoid a conflict of interest. Pedro wanted to start his own media company and so in 2006, we started our own company called Penta Communications. We created a newspaper, which no longer exists, called Sucesos, that would come out every 15 days. We spent about 10 years with that company.
Where did the idea for LatinWE come from?
Within the Hispanic community, there are so many smaller subcommunities. That is to say, the Hispanic community is not just one. We’re not all Mexicans. We’re not all Salvadorians. We’re not all Hondurans. The Hispanic community has many smaller communities within itself.
The paper turned into a way to express concerns for all those communities, not just for the Mexican voices but for all the Hispanic communities. So for 10 years, that’s what Sucesos was; the voice of the community. The Colombians knew that’s where they could go, the Venezuelans, the Peruvians and even the Salvadorians.
We created some events around the newspaper and then I got indirectly interested with the theme of “women.” We created a cooking club for Goya with the intent on teaching non-Mexican women to use Goya products.
That club led to the birth of the LatinWE Foundation. It lead to woman asking me questions about business and how to get started.
Why do you feel this is so important for you to do?
As a Latina, I lived through all of this. I’ve been blessed from God to have arrived and have work but how many people can say they get to come here and can work in their field? Very few. I didn’t realize that was such a blessing until I was here and I started listening to all the stories from others who had arrived in similar situations and who had been here for 20 years. Some of these people are doing things they don’t want to do and it’s frustrating because everything is in English. So as a journalist, I felt a growing concern to inform the people in Spanish about what we knew, but also as a person I was able to identify with the stories of a lot of these women who had arrived just me but didn’t have the same luck as I did. I mean I arrived and I got found a husband, a house and a job. If we could just help people with the information we had, why would we keep all that information. We just could help them find those answers. It became a growing passion of ours.