First Latina in space to deliver keynote at Engineering Virtual Expo 2021
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Latina Astronaut Dr. Ellen Ochoa in uniform posing with her helmet on her lap

By Oregon State University

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina to journey to space and the former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, will deliver the keynote lecture next month at Engineering Virtual Expo 2021, an event organized by the Oregon State University College of Engineering that showcases undergraduate student design projects.

Ochoa, who joined NASA in 1988 as an engineer at Ames Research Center and was selected as an astronaut in 1990, will speak at 12:10 p.m. on Friday, June 4, prior to the presentation of the expo’s People’s Choice and Industry Choice awards.

Ochoa became the first Latina in space while serving in 1993 on a nine-day mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery. She has flown in space four times and has logged almost 1,000 hours in orbit.

Those interested in attending Engineering Virtual Expo 2021 and watching Ochoa’s presentation can register online. The event, free and open to the public, kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with student project displays and virtual College of Engineering tours geared toward high school students. Those who attend the expo can visit with students about projects in a range of areas including artificial intelligence, clean water, health, natural disaster preparedness, robotics, sustainable energy and virtual reality.

Click here to read the full article on Oregon State University.

Latina historian Monica Muñoz Martinez among MacArthur ‘genius grant’ recipients
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Latina Historian Monica Muñoz Martinez, seen here in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 16, 2021, is among this year's recipients of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's "genius grants.

By Associated Press

CHICAGO — A Latina historian devoted to keeping alive the stories of long-dead victims of racial violence along the Texas-Mexico border is among this year’s MacArthur fellows and recipients of “genius grants.”

Monica Muñoz Martinez, a historian at the University of Texas, Austin, was recognized, in part because of her book “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas,” about a period a century ago when hundreds Mexicans and Mexican Americans were slaughtered by vigilantes as well as the Texas Rangers.

“This award is so timely for me, personally … to remain committed to make sure the public has access to the truth, true history, even when it is troubling (and) especially when that history can help us build a better future,” Martinez said, pointing to efforts in some states to limit how teachers discuss racism.

The Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation on Tuesday announced the 25 recipients, who will each receive $625,000.

The historian was part of an eclectic group that includes scientists, economists, poets, and filmmakers. As in previous years, the work of several recipients involves topics that have been dominating the news — from voting rights to how history is taught in schools.

Race figures prominently in the work of about half of them, including that of Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to be an Antiracist” and “Stamped from the Beginning,” which was a National Book Award winner for nonfiction.

There is a generation of older and younger writers, thinkers and creators who are able to recognize the “complexity of racism” and “clarify it for everyday people to see it and grasp it and be outraged by it,” Kendi said.

“These generations have been hugely inspired by previous generations,” added Kendi, who will contribute an essay to the forthcoming book “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story” that’s based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” that centers U.S. history around slavery. “I think we built this movement to a point in which it is indeed a juggernaut with no way of stopping.”

The selection process for the MacArthur grants is shrouded in secrecy. Instead of applications, anonymous groups make nominations and recommendations to the foundation’s board of directors.

Kendi, 39, said he had no knowledge he had been nominated.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

The new Latino landscape
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The swift growth of U.S. Latinos is reshaping big states and small towns. Meet the faces of a new era.

By Suzanne Gamboa and Nicole Acevedo, NBC News

In New Hampshire, a Roman Catholic church where Irish and French Canadian immigrants used to worship now has the state’s largest Latino congregation. In the Deep South, a county in Georgia is one of the nation’s top 10 in diversity.

Hispanics accounted for over half of the nation’s population growth in the last decade. This is not just reflected in larger cities, but in mountain towns, Southern neighborhoods and Midwestern prairies.

“The Latino population has been dispersing across the United States for years — a reflection of where the nation’s population is moving and where opportunities are located,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, director of race and ethnicity research at the Pew Research Center.

Lopez, whose Mexican American family has been in California for over a century, has seen dispersion in his own family, with relatives moving to Washington state, Nevada, North Carolina and New Jersey as they followed job, educational and military opportunities, mirroring some of the data he and his team have recorded over the years.

Though a majority of Latinos — almost 70 percent — are U.S. born, Lopez noted that as “you see Hispanics pursuing opportunity around the country, oftentimes immigrants are leading the way” in terms of moving to places with new economic opportunities.

Amid Western mountains, new possibilities

For Lissy Samantha Suazo, 18, the open space of Big Sky, Montana — a small town near Yellowstone National Park — has been a beginning to wider, bigger possibilities.

“When I arrived here in Big Sky, I was the second person of color and Spanish-speaking person in the school and the first one who didn’t know how to speak English,” said Suazo, who was 12 when her family came from Honduras.

Waded Cruzado’s journey through Montana started a few years earlier than Suazo’s. She was hired in 2010 as president of Montana State University in Bozeman.

“I remember saying, ‘You know, I have never been to Montana. … Do you know what I look like? I don’t look like and sound like anyone in Montana,’” said Cruzado, 61, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico. “But I was wrong.”

Hispanics have been in Montana since the early 1800s as fur traders, ranchers, rail workers and laborers in beet fields, according to Bridget Kevane, professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at Montana State University.

But in the last two decades, Montana has been among the states with the fastest growing Latino populations in the country. Though the 45,199 Latinos who live in Montana are minuscule compared to the 15.6 million Hispanics who live in California, the state’s 58.2 percent jump in Latino residents since 2010 leads all U.S. western states over the last decade.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

MSNBC’s Alicia Menendez On How Latinas Can Break Free From The Likeability Trap
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Alicia Menendez attends Build Series to discuss her book "The Likeability Trap: How to Break Free and Succeed as You Are" at Build Studio on November 18, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Manny Carabel/Getty Images)

By Raquel Reichard, Yahoo! Finance

Once a year, America acknowledges the egregious pay gap in which Latinas earn just 67 cents for every dollar a non-Latinx white man makes. It’s time we interrogate this fact year-round. The L-Suite examines the diverse ways in which Latinx professionals have built their careers, how they’ve navigated notoriously disruptive roadblocks, and how they’re attempting to dismantle these obstacles for the rest of their communities.

This month, we’re talking with MSNBC news anchor and creator of the Latina to Latina podcast Alicia Menendez about how succumbing to the pressure to be “likable” at work can sometimes work against Latinas.

Journalism has an inclusion problem. In local and national newsrooms across the U.S., Latinas are underrepresented as reporters, editors, and producers. According to a study by the Women’s Media Center, the demographic makes up just 2.4 percent of the news media workforce — and despite efforts at improving diversity and inclusivity across the American workforce, the problem might actually be worsening in this sector. The American Society of News Editors Newsroom Employment Diversity surveys show that the tally of women journalists of color has barely budged since 2016. When it moves, it’s often in a downward direction, as the industry is losing Latina, Black, Asian, and Native women’s voices. The root of the problem is twofold: Newsrooms are less likely to hire Latinas, especially for leadership positions, while many in the workforce quit the industry due to salary disparities and minimal opportunities for career advancement.

Alicia Menendez has witnessed these losses up close. Prior to anchoring MSNBC’s weekend news program American Voices, the Cuban-American journalist worked across a gamut of mediums, including television, digital media, and podcasts, where she witnessed women of color who were talented but lacking in support leaving their roles in media, often for jobs in more stable industries. Her experience mentoring emerging Latina journalists as well as interviewing women about their professional struggles and triumphs on her podcast Latina to Latina has led to her intimate understanding of the barriers, inequities, and microaggressions that push talented women out of newsrooms. In many ways, it is precisely these stories that propel her to stay in the industry.

“The truest thing I can say is I just refuse to go away,” Menendez, 38, tells Refinery29. “At some point, there is always the question of ‘Is this the moment where I opt out?’ But as someone who feels that this is a call to service, it is hard for me to imagine an alternate path that has comparable impact.”

For Menendez, inclusive and nuanced news coverage requires diverse newsrooms. To sustain herself in the industry, she has developed creative methods that she imparts with other women of color in journalism. From breaking free of the likeability trap to creating her own media, Menendez shares her story and offers advice for Latinas passionate but disillusioned by the work.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Finance.

Becky G on beauty, business and looking up to J.Lo
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Becky G recently launched her own makeup line, Treslúce Beauty.

By Elana Fishman, Page Six

In 2013, Becky G made history by becoming the youngest-ever CoverGirl spokesperson at the age of 15. Now, less than a decade later, she’s at the helm of her very own beauty brand, Treslúce.

“As a young Latina businesswoman, I realized I don’t just want to be the pretty Latina face of something. I want something that’s ours, something that we own, something that’s made by us and for us,” the 24-year-old “Fulanito” singer told Page Six Style.

Treslúce gets its name from a mashup of two Spanish words. There’s “tres,” the number three — a symbolic numeral representing the mind, body and soul — followed by a conjugation of “lucir,” which means “to shine.”

“It’s just such a spiritual representation of how I identify with makeup; not just being an expression of what’s on the outside, but also from within,” Becky explained of her inspiration. “Makeup, for me, has always been kind of this intimate process of transformation to a brighter version of myself.”

The Mexican-American star, who said she’d “for sure” be a makeup artist if she wasn’t a musical artist, fell in love with cosmetics as a young age, and recalls frequently borrowing from her mom’s stash of beauty products.

“I had a young, cool mom who wasn’t like, ‘No, you’re too young for makeup,’” Becky explained. “She was all about [us] learning to express ourselves.”

And there are countless ways to do just that with Treslúce Beauty’s hero product, the “I Am” eyeshadow palette ($30), which is packed with 18 vivid matte and shimmery shades formulated with Mexican blue agave.

“I wanted to infuse little things that meant so much to me. And the blue agave is actually from Jalisco, Mexico, where my grandparents are from,” Becky shared of the unconventional ingredient. “I love tequila, so that’s probably where it came from too!”

In further nods to her roots, the palette’s packaging features a third eye design by Mexican artist Monica Loya, while the shade names — a mix of adjectives in both English and Spanish, including “divina,” “fuerte” and “unstoppable” — are meant to serve as affirmations.

And considering that her debut single was titled “Becky From the Block,” it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Latin Grammy nominee looks up to Jennifer Lopez as her personal beauty (and business) hero as she continues to build her own brand.

Click here to read the full article on Page Six.

‘Spoiled Latina Day’ stresses the importance of empowerment, self care
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Raquel Cordova speaks during the sixth annual "Spoiled Latina Day" on Saturday, July 31, 2021, at Madera Estates in Conroe. Spoiled Latina, a digital platform that describes itself as "celebrating what it means

By , Houston Chronicle

Yvonne Guidry remembers the first time someone called her a “spoiled Latina.” She was working as the creative director on a music video that wasn’t living up to her standards, and after voicing her dissatisfaction, another crew member derisively said, “You’re a spoiled Latina, aren’t you?”

“Someone called me that because I was demanding perfection,” Guidry said. Rather than let a man use the label as an insult, Guidry, who has lived in Houston for over 20 years, embraced the moniker and turned it into a business empire, launching the “Spoiled Latina” blog in 2008 and expanding it into a lifestyle brand in just a matter of years.

Guidry hosted her 6th annual “Spoiled Latina Day,” on Saturday with panel discussions featuring speakers across a range of industries. Reggaeton superstar Becky G, who headlined the Houston Rodeo in 2020, flew in from Los Angeles to give the keynote address.

“What’s so amazing about what Yvonne does is it’s focused on community, and I think that creating safe places for women, for us to share experiences and knowledge and get inspired is just beautiful, and that’s really just what called out to me,” Becky G said.

A couple hundred people, mostly millennial Latinas, came out to the Madera Estates in Conroe for the event, mingling in the courtyard outside the main hall to trade business cards, sip cocktails and sample food from a variety of eateries. Local vendors were also on hand selling clothes and artisanal Latin goods.

In the parking lot, attendees lined up to take rides in a hot pink Polaris Slingshot with a decal reading “The Glow Up Es Real,” the theme of Saturday’s event. Others took pictures in front of the main stage, which was decked out in pink flowers and balloons with a sign that read “Spoiled Latina Day.”

Yubia Martinez, 37, is an administrative assistant at Roar Over Texas, a pyrotechnic company, and came at the invitation of her boss’s wife.

“We have a lot of people knocking us down, you see all this bad stuff in the news and this is just something uplifting, we’re supporting each other and our brains and our heritage. Whatever it is, we can overcome it to do anything,” Martinez said.

Guidry started Spoiled Latina to empower women and encourage them to put themselves and their needs first, she said.

“Growing up, I saw my mom hardly taking care of herself or taking me-time so that she could go out and serve others. She always put herself last, so I wanted women to remind themselves that it’s OK to spoil yourself, it’s OK to take care of yourselves before you go out and take care of others,” Guidry said.

After an initial networking hour, the audience listened to three panels touching on brand-building, content creation and goal-setting. Alekza Latte, senior brand manager for Foot Locker Women, was excited to appear on the “Content Queens” panel with Patty Artiga, a lifestyle blogger, and Estefania Saavedra, a TikTok personality who has garnered over 1.7 million followers on the video platform.

“There’s lots to be learned here, and this is a great place to, one, meet new mentors, and two, find new people to collaborate with. Whether you’re looking for a partner in business or its someone who you look up to, they might be here and you can learn from them,” Latte said.

Saturday’s theme, “The Glow Up Es Real,” is meant to celebrate the way that women push through challenges to thrive in an unforgiving environment, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Guidry.

“Looking back at all we’ve accomplished during and after, and even before [the pandemic], sometimes we get kind of caught up in ‘Oh, I’m not moving fast enough’, or ‘Oh, I’m not there yet,’ but when you really look back on it, it’s like ‘Girl, you’ve done a lot, and you should pat yourself on the back for that,’” Guidry said.

Click here to read the full article on Houston Chronicle.

‘Latinas On The Go’ inspires and motivates women in the community
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Latinas On The Go are recognizing women in the community who have overcome adversity to inspire others by highlighting them in a fashion show fundraiser July 29.

By  Robert Boyd, ABC Action News

There’s a group of Tampa women who have been looking for an organization that looks like them and speaks to them. So when they couldn’t find one, they decided to start their own. They call it Latinas On The Go.

From raising money for charities to fixing up houses for people in need to motivating one another through networking events, these are some of the missions for the women of Latinas On The Go.

“I just couldn’t find a place where I felt like I belonged to and so I just took the initiative,” said founder Sarahi Terreforte.

Terreforte soon realized there were plenty of other young, career-oriented, Latina women, like herself, looking for a group to call home.

“All these women who are looking for a welcoming inviting space together where they can find empowering words and get encouraged and not only that but grow together and learn from each other,” said Terreforte.

This month, Latinas On The Go are recognizing women in the community who have overcome tremendous challenges, like Mariela Ayala.

“I was disabled for 20 years, something I thought I was never going to get rid of,” said Ayala.

Due to an undiagnosed genetic disorder, Ayala was never able to get her weight under control, pushing nearly 500 pounds.

Now, thanks to medical breakthroughs and the support from Latina’s On The Go, she is doing things she never thought possible. So far she has lost 180 pounds and counting.

“I can truly find out what I am capable of and being able to be around women who are already on the top of their game, I’m like, ‘what is out there because I didn’t know,’” said Ayala.

On July 29, Latinas On The Go will host a fundraiser, “Step into the Light Runway,” in which inspirational women like Mariela will be given hair, beauty and fashion makeovers by fellow Latina On The Go Yarrellys Ruiz.

“These women, they have the same dreams and goals as me,” said Ruiz.

Ruiz has been inspired to give back ever since her own life-changing event in March when Tampa Police Officer Jesse Madsen was killed in the line of duty when he stopped a wrong-way driver from hitting her head-on.

“I went to the funeral and I heard all the great things that he used to do for the community and I wanted to do the things that he was doing when he was alive,” said Ruiz.

Click here to read the full article on ABC Action News.

Tech Scholarships For LGBTQ+ Folks
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woman pointing forefinger towards a graph line in 3D

Tech is one of the fastest-growing industries of the 21st century, creating millions of work opportunities around the world. But still, with all its exponential growth, diversity is still an issue.

According to a recent Stack Overflow survey, 92.1 percent of interviewed tech developers identify as heterosexual, and only 1 percent are transgender folk.

It is safe to say that members of the LGBTQ+ community are not sufficiently represented in the tech industry as of 2021, but the hope is that this will change in the future. Many people and institutions are committed to achieving the goal of more representation. If you’re a queer person and are interested in obtaining an education in tech, here are some scholarships and financial opportunities worth a look at.

1.    Grandcircus Bootcamps

If you’re interested in coding, Grandcircus offers an immersive 14 or 18-week coding bootcamp in two language tracks. Their graduates have gone on to work for big companies like Ford, Amway, and Meridian.

They offer their potential students many financial help possibilities because they believe in the diversification of the tech community. They grant scholarships to members of underrepresented populations including, among others, LGBTQ+ folks.

Their scholarships consist of automatic tuition discounts for students who qualify, and you can apply online. If you have a very special situation, they are also open to discussing other possibilities with you.

2.    The Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship

Edie Winsor is one of the greatest role models for the LGBTQ+ community. She was not only a tech manager at giant IBM but also a very important gay-activist whose Supreme Court case led to the federal recognition of same-sex married couples in the US.

In the spirit of Edie Windsor’s fight, the fund that bears her name finances a coding scholarship to allow LGBTQ+ women and non-binary folk the opportunity to delve into the world of tech. They consider that learning how to code gives underrepresented groups the tools needed for greater economic opportunities, and it’s a more accessible alternative than a four-year degree.

3.    V School – You Belong in Tech

V School offers full-ride scholarships for people in underrepresented communities and those in financial hardship. They offer both web development and coding courses that include a paid internship with a creative agency, and their students have gone on to work for major tech players like Apple.

V School is 100 percent online and works under a responsive learning model that works around student skills and not around a time-based curriculum. They also place a high value on one-on-one coaching.

4.    Burlington Code Academy

This scholarship is set to help diversify tech, helping students with difficult situations the possibility to get an education. They offer scholarships to BIPOC, Womxn, and LGBTQ+ folks, who they believe are underrepresented because of lack of access and representation in the workplace.

Their Diversity Initiative funds the Impact Scholarships, which offers discounted tuition to underrepresented groups. The conditions of this scholarship can vary, so they encourage you to contact them directly to analyze your particular situation.

5.    Codesmith Scholarships

Codesmith offers a full-stack coding bootcamp with a rigorous program. You are taught by professional developers, and they guarantee that you will learn the skills needed to immerse yourself in the tech industry right away. They offer both in-person and live remote programs.

The institution is committed to making tech an area of equal opportunities for everybody, no matter their background, so that they can provide their points of view in solving the problems of the future. They offer a full range of scholarships for minorities and underrepresented groups; these are distributed among their accepted students, and they are granted based on application scores and interviews.

Conclusion:

The world is changing, and the LGBTQ+ community is taking more and more the place it deserves. To continue to create a better, more inclusive world in the future, it’s important that diverse life experiences are represented in all environments. The work market is particularly important, as it’s there that a lot of the change in the world comes from. Tech has proven to be the future, so it’s vital that this new, diverse generation is involved in it. With the engagement and support of its collaborators, the LGBTQ+ will soon have a strong contribution to the industry.

Young Latina Artist From Long Beach Seeks to Empower Women Through Art
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Latina Artist driving a painted van

By Alejandra Ortiz and Lorena Bourdevaire Casillas, NBC Los Angeles

Nuria Ortiz, a Southern California artist of Mexican descent, is internationally recognized for her large and colorful spray paint murals. With her Latin heart, Ms. Yellow, as she likes to be called, manages to express powerful messages that invite equality and inclusion. “I try to help, to teach what I do with my art to the community so that they can do more with it,” says Ms. Yellow. “I go to different countries to teach. I travel, I paint murals, and I work with different communities.” Galleries, museums, and the streets of the United States, France, Spain, Haiti, Mexico, and Egypt have witnessed her works of art.”I was [in Haiti] last year teaching women art and different techniques and classes. I’m very excited to return.”

Using her artistic skills, Ortiz is dedicated to sending a positive message to women around the world. She says she uses her skills and knowledge to empower women, for whom art can often serve as emotional therapy.

“I don’t remember a moment without art at all. It’s something that has been in me since I met life,” says Ortiz. “I really had this passion since I was like 3 years old. I started graffiti when I was 12 years old and from then on I didn’t stop.”

In the Los Angeles area, Ms. Yellow is decorating a truck for Angel City F.C., a new women’s soccer team in Los Angeles.

“For me, it’s a huge honor to work with them!” she said.

Click here to read the full article on NBC Los Angeles.

Meet Amy Quichiz, the Vegan Latina Reclaiming Veganism for People of Color
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Amy Quichiz sitting in the grass in front of a pink poster while holding her head in her hand and looking at the camera

By Katie Coss, Hip Latina

Planted within the intersection of veganism, scarce resources, and a college student budget, a self-identified queer Latina would turn an Instagram account for vegan recipes into a global community for vegans of color. Reaching a demographic of vegans unbeknownst to Amy Quichiz in 2017, this Peruvian and Colombian New York City native would create the foundation of a tribe of hundreds of women, trans, and non-binary people of color eating a plant-based diet through Veggie Mijas. Originally a shared space for vegans of color to circulate affordable recipes, Veggie Mijas is now a grassroots organization with over 11 active chapters across the country with the latest established chapter in Mumbai, India. In an effort to curate a support system for vegans of color, this collective strives to break barriers towards environmental justice and decolonizing one’s diet.

While this community continues to grow and vegan options become far more accessible, a lot more could be said about the Latinx community’s efforts towards building a far more sustainable future for our minds and bodies. Specifically, within the U.S. only 3 percent of Americans identify as vegan, on the contrary, Latin American countries like Mexico have 20 percent, self-identified vegetarians and vegans, according to Vegconomist. These statistics prove there is an evident disconnect between our Latinx plant-based roots and the current environment and eating habits of Latinx folks within the United States. While Veggie Mijas is not exclusive to Latinx folks, Amy and this community are building the bridge within that gap.

“I think honestly just getting together and having a group of vegans of color is so radical,” she said. Amy spoke to HipLatina on the ancestral significance of food within the Latinx community, shifting food to mindset, and the future of veganism by people of color.

Plant-Based Ancestral Practices
When thinking of veganism as a Latinx person, it has been complicated, like any other person of color, to find oneself within this rhetoric and lifestyle when the options for plant-based foods are geared towards American foods. Although veggie burgers can be delicious to vegan and non-vegan people alike, Amy highlights how critical it is to formulate your food options in ways that are traditional to your household. Particularly in reference to introducing veganism to her Latinx parents, Amy states “If you start eating things that are already vegan like for example rice, beans, avocado, with plantains, that is literally what we eat already so just finding ways that make sense for them has been helpful.”

Amy also notes how asking questions has allowed her family and herself to think outside of “white veganism” and back towards plant-based ancestral practices. “When I would ask my parents what did you used to eat in Colombia or in Peru before you came to this country, I was actually surprised by that answer because a lot of the food was either pescatarian or just more plant-based options than they would have eaten here,” Amy reveals. As the United States reaches the highest recorded rate of adult obesity at 42.4 percent, Latinx adults have an obesity rate of 44.8 percent, according to a report from Trust for America’s Health. Despite these staggering numbers, it is no surprise Latinx folks, as well as Black folks, have far more health issues than white Americans when a variety of socioeconomic factors are at also play. Alluding to the food deserts in Black and Latinx communities, Amy explains, “Really asking a lot of questions like what are the choices of food that are given to you? Are they really choices?….we question these things and then I feel like that gets closer to your ancestry practice.”

Click here to read the full article on Hip Latina.

How three Latina women let go from 9NEWS are helping change the journalism industry
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Former 9NEWS journalists (from left) Lori Lizarraga, Sonia Gutierrez and Kristen Aguirre.

By , Denver Post

When model student Sonia Gutierrez was informed by her high school counselor in 2009 that college was out of the question because the young Colorado Latina lacked documentation, Gutierrez allowed herself an afternoon to sob, mourning the future she and her parents had worked toward their whole lives.

Then she got to work.

Gutierrez testified before the Colorado legislature in support of the ASSET bill, which passed in 2013 and allows qualifying students without legal status to pay in-state tuition rates. She shared her story with local journalists and was consistently disappointed in the coverage.

“I just remember thinking, ‘Well, of course. They don’t know what it’s like,’” said Gutierrez, now 30 and with permanent U.S. residency. “I have these white guys interviewing me about what it’s like to be here undocumented… I wanted to be the change that I wanted to see. I wanted to see stories told by my community — stories more fairly and truthfully representing what is happening. That was never going to happen unless people like us are doing that job.”

Gutierrez’s persistence paid off, landing her a 2012 internship at Denver’s 9NEWS, where she worked her way up to a full-time job, eventually meeting fellow Latina coworkers Lori Lizarraga and Kristen Aguirre.

However, the driving force behind Gutierrez’s journalistic pursuits — her family’s decision to come to America from Mexico when she was a baby and her struggle to obtain legal documentation — was thrown back in her face by 9NEWS, she alleged, when management told her she could only cover immigration-related stories if she disclosed her residency status in her reporting.

An article Lizarraga wrote for Westword last month laid out a story the three Latina reporters who were all let go by 9NEWS in the past year never imagined telling: allegations of discrimination in an industry that prides itself on holding others accountable and their dogged pursuit to tell their increasingly diverse community’s stories in spite of the obstacles in their way.

At a time when re-invigorated national conversations around racial justice are infiltrating industries across the country, Lizarraga’s disclosure rallied local Latina politicians, who called for meetings with the news organization; brought to light a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing from a major shareholder of 9NEWS parent company TEGNA alleging racial bias among top brass; and spurred TEGNA-wide change to the language the company’s journalists use when reporting on immigration.

“I look at these three women as my heroes,” said Rebecca Aguilar, president-elect of the Society of Professional Journalists and chair of SPJ’s diversity and inclusion committee. “We should be very proud of Lori for coming forward because she has told us the reality of what’s going on in that station and the realities of the news business. I believe in our SPJ Code of Ethics. We are not supposed to do people harm. What these managers have done to these three women is harm.”

9NEWS management declined a phone interview with The Denver Post and would not comment on the exits of Lizarraga, Aguirre and Gutierrez — the station didn’t renew their contracts — nor their allegations of discrimination, calling them personnel matters.

In a two-page statement, 9NEWS Director of Content Tim Ryan said the newsroom is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Recent efforts include a DEI committee, listening sessions with journalists of color, training on inclusive journalism practices and an upcoming diversity audit by a third-party researcher, Ryan said.

“While we are making progress, we know we have much more work to do,” Ryan wrote. “As with many things, some changes and improvements will happen quickly, and others will occur over time. Ultimately, we are committed to working with our employees and the greater Denver community on a holistic strategy and tangible actions that effectively enhance our culture and serve and represent our community.”

Click here to read the full article on Denver Post.

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Upcoming Events

  1. ALPFA Leadership Summit
    November 6, 2021
  2. LULAC 2021 National Women’s Conference
    November 12, 2021 - November 13, 2021
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    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022