Oct 8, 2021 · 4 min read

Celebrating Latinx Heritage Month: 5 CZI Employees Reflect on Their Cultures & Inspirations

Five smiling people framed by colorful shapes on a gold background.
From left to right: Emiliano Martinez, Dalia Rubiano Yedidia, Abel Regalado, Gaby López and Luis Ornelas. (Photos by Dale Ramos)

As part of Latinx Heritage Month, we’ve been celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of people living in the U.S. whose ancestors came from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

The cultural month begins on Sept. 15 because it marks the anniversary of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

I come from somewhere. My culture binds me to my humanity and guides me in my fight for justice.

Dalia Rubiano Yedidia

During this time, our Unidos employee resource group has been hosting celebratory events to educate our teams about multiculturalism and the history of the countless contributions of the Latinx community. Each event is connected to the theme — “de aquí, y de allá” or “from here, and from there” — meaning members of the Latinx community belong everywhere, in every space. We spoke with a few CZIers to learn how they celebrate their Latinx heritage year-round and what inspires them most about the community.

Abel Regalado

An image of a man in a green shirt smiling next to an image of children with orange medals on.
In 2017, Abel Regalado supported the fundraising efforts for the 17th Annual Latino Student Honor Roll in Oakland and was also a Latino Honor Roll student. (Left photo by Dale Ramos and right courtesy of Abel Regalado)

Abel Regalado is a first-generation Mexican American and software engineer on the education team. Abel was raised in a Spanish-speaking household by two Mexican immigrant parents and grew up in Oakland’s Latinx community.

“I celebrate my Mexican and Latinx culture and roots by preserving generational family recipes passed by my mom,” he says. “I celebrate by eating tamales and birria during Christmas, New Years, and basically any other family reunion. I celebrate by honoring Latinx folks who came before me and by uplifting the up-and-coming generation of Latinx youth in my community.”

Gaby López

A women rests her chin on her hand and smiles. On the right, a black-and-white photo of a woman and daughter.
Pictured on the right are Gaby López and her mother at the baby shower celebrating her youngest sibling. (Photos courtesy of Gaby López)

Gaby López, director of Research to Practice Measures for CZI’s Education Initiative, is a first-generation Guatemalan American. Gaby most appreciates her culture’s deep connection to living and ancestral family.

Her mother used to tell her, “Te pueden quitar lo material, pero tu educación nunca te lo pueden quitar. Y con eso servis a tu comunidad.” It means, “They can take the material things away, but they can never take your education, and with it, you can serve your community.”

Dalia Rubiano Yedidia

A close up of a woman smiling next to a photo of two woman smiling.
Pictured on the right are Dalia Rubiano Yedidia and her mother in Uzaquén, Bogotá, in front of the building that her mother lived in as a child. (Photos courtesy of Dalia Rubiano Yedidia)

Dalia Rubiano Yedidia is a movement capacity building strategist and mixed Latinx, Jewish queer woman. Her mother is from Bogotá, Colombia.

Dalia brings her identity as a Latina and daughter of an immigrant to her work, which guides her “toward principled action and understanding who and how I want to be in the world. I come from somewhere. My culture binds me to humanity and guides me in my fight for justice.”

Emiliano Martinez

A man in a suit smiles next to a picture of a man kneeling next to his son who is in a soccer uniform.
Pictured on the right are Emiliano Martinez and his father — his boyhood coach with whom he shares a lifelong love of soccer. (Left photo by Dale Ramos and right courtesy of Emiliano Martinez)

Emiliano Martinez, a director in CZI’s legal department, identifies with the Latinx community through his dad’s family from outside Aguascalientes, Mexico. Emiliano’s great-grandmother and grandfather made the arduous journey to California by foot when his grandfather was a young child.

Emiliano celebrates his culture by “continuing to work on my Spanish language skills, and passing the language on to my kids. And also by making sure my kids know about the struggles and sacrifices our family made that allow us to have the life we have today.”

Luis Ornelas

A man wears a blue shirt next to an image of a family of four in their home.
Pictured on the right is Luis as a toddler, his dad Carlos, his mom Cecilia and his older brother, Victor. (Left photo by Dale Ramos and right courtesy of Luis Ornelas)

Luis Ornelas is an educational practice manager and the son of Mexican immigrants. He appreciates the love, closeness and importance of family within his culture, and the joy and energy that flows through family gatherings.

For as long as Luis can remember, his mom embodied the saying, “Donde come uno, comen dos,” or “Where one can eat, two can eat.” He says, “despite how much or how little we have, my mom always makes room at the dinner table for friends, family or anyone in need. While the food we eat changes … the belief that our table is big enough for others has always been true in our home.”

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