Building The Next Generation of Latino Leaders
CHCI set them on their path to service
Chris Pineda and Zoraima A. Diaz-Pineda both grew up in Austin, Texas. They were friends all through high school and college. It wasn’t until they came to Washington, D.C. as Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) Public Policy Fellows in 2001 that they fell in love.
Their fellowships began “during a tumultuous time.” They had just arrived two weeks before the 9-11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., their new hometown.
“The attacks set a tone for the year. The event gave me a great sense of appreciation for every opportunity during our time in the city,” shared Zoraima. “CHCI provided an intellectually-rich environment for each of us to explore and learn from each other and our other fellows.”
Both Zoraima and Chris felt their time at CHCI put them on their path to success, service…and love.
“The CHCI experience had a tremendous impact on my personal and professional trajectory,” Chris explained. Following his time as a CHICI, he went on to the Kennedy School of Government and Boston University School of Law. “My placement at Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund was the first time I had ever worked with an attorney.”
Fourteen years later, the couple is back in Texas (Brownsville). They married and now have two young sons. Today, Chris is serving his community and country as an attorney with the federal government.
“… [The CHCI] experience must have planted a seed in my mind to…have a career in public service and become the first attorney in my family,” Chris expanded. “I even learned about my current position through a fellow CHCI alumnus.”
Zoraima is now the La Puerta Program Manager for the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville. She assists low-income working families to achieve financial stability and get a home.
The couple are equally committed to their community as they are to their family.
“As working professionals with young children, our days are often a blur. We attempt to balance between birthday parties and board room meetings,” Zoraima explained.
Ultimately, they want to pass along their legacy of leadership and service to their sons. They want to create opportunities for them and other children in their community.
“Our sons are a blessing from God, and we recognize that we are stewards of this great blessing,” Zoraima said. “We pray our sons will mature into wise and courageous men. That they always strive for excellence and have a heart to serve others.”
Chris and Zoraima are dedicated to building the next generation of Latino leaders. Their hard work and commitment represent the values and purpose of Hispanic Heritage Month.
“Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for CHCI and everyone to celebrate the tremendous contributions our community has made and continues to make to this great nation,” said Domenika Lynch, CHCI President & CEO. “In a nation where one in four children is Latino, it is critical they see their own faces reflected in the history of our country.”
“We know the future success of America is directly tied to the success of Latinos,” Domenika continued. “This Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 we applaud the accomplishments of our alumni and the Latino community. We also encourage all Americans to join the more than 55 million of us commemorating National Hispanic Heritage Month.”