Anyone who listens to Spanish-language radio regularly is likely to be familiar with the work of Newington native Veronica Diaz, but not her name.
The Washington, D.C.-based social marketing specialist plays an important role behind the scenes in the development of the public service announcements aired on hundreds of Hispanic stations across the country.
These PSAs, designed to assist and empower the Latino community, have been produced and syndicated to a network of affiliated broadcasters by Diaz’s employer, the Hispanics Communications Network. This social marketing company works with government agencies and nonprofit organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association or a crisis intervention program in New Mexico.
While Diaz remains virtually anonymous to the millions of radio listeners who hear the PSAs, she has gained recognition both at work and in Washington.
Recently, a national Hispanic publication, Latino Leaders magazine, saluted Diaz as a Club Leader of the Future for the District of Columbia, a designation for Latino men and women it considers to be rising stars in the capital. The “club” designation, Diaz said, is a term used to signify the honorees are in the 20-30 age group.
In accepting this honor, Diaz announced that HCN had promoted her from executive assistant for its chief executive officer to director of project management and operations.
Diaz now serves as the primary point person with clients during the production phase of the PSAs and various multi-faceted campaigns that include print, TV and digital media.
Among other things, she works with HCN staff to make sure delivered on-time and on-budget. It helps that she is fluent in Spanish.
“Just about everything is done in Spanish,” she said.
Being bilingual is part of who the Newington High graduate is. Her father is from Puerto Rico and her mother, who she said is the major influence on her life, is from Peru.
“I grew up fluent in both English and Spanish,” she said.
Even though she was using her parents’ language at home, she sharpened her skills by studying Spanish at Newington High School and in college.
Her interest in helping the Latino community and concern about immigrant issues, she said, was “inspired a bit” during her high school years. There were only a few Hispanics at the school then but at the same time she was gaining an awareness of the Latino culture through her family life.
Among the activities she remembers enjoying as a youth and the youngest of three children was going to Mill Pond Park and in particular attending the various local events held there with family and friends.
Further exposure to Hispanic culture was gained through trips to Latin America.
Veronica has visited Mexico and Puerto Rico but it is Peru, where she has traveled extensively, that has made the biggest impression. She could easily become a spokesperson for the South American country, with her enthusiastic praise for the beauty of the Amazonian rainforest, the vastness of Lake Titicaca, the grandeur of the Andes and the majesty of the Machu Picchu ruins.
Back in Newington, Veronica was active in musical productions in high school and can play several instruments.
Next stop was Catholic University of America where she really became committed to her current career path during an internship on immigration issues and advocacy.
Diaz graduated with a bachelor of arts in Spanish for International Service and minored in French and Latin American Studies.
Except for a six-month stint as a bilingual teacher in Texas, Diaz’s post-college career has seen her remain in the Washington area and work in the immigration rights and advocacy field. She joined HCN in January and lives just outside the city in Silver Spring, Maryland.
In addition to music, her interests include Bakram yoga and learning about different cultures.
As for the future. Diaz plans to continue her career in social marketing. She also wants to spend more time in Connecticut with her family which includes an older brother and sister, both married. She also looks forward to dining at Cora Cora, a Latin American restaurant in West Hartford where she says the Peruvian food is excellent.