El Zócalo's Community Cuentos y Charlas
for houston's diverse latinx theatregoers
Alley Theatre’s El Zócalo announces a series of online panel conversations to serve our bilingual community of theatregoers. This season's Community Cuentos y Charlas were centered around our 2021 Spring digital productions of Medea and El Chuco Town Forever.
The Alley's Spring 2021 Digital Season is FREE and reintroduces Houstonians to the classics and celebrates Alley All New Alumni and Houston writers. For more information about the Spring 2021 Digital Season and to register for your private viewing links for the productions, visit alleytheatre.org/plays.
Check back soon for Community Cuentos y Charlas centered around our 75th Season.
Meet the panelists FOR previous events.
Moderator: Blanca Beltran
Real Beauty Real Women
Blanca Beltran is a Show Host for the Real Beauty Real Women show and for Champions Club Radio. She was a Correspondent for several years at Houston Television but before joining HTV, Blanca worked at ABC13 for 18 years. She began as a news writer, and then transitioned into a producer for the Debra Duncan show eventually forming part of the digital department for the last 12 years at ABC13. She is currently a board member for a non-profit, Thrive Pro Bono, which helps the community in need. In her spare time, she enjoys her family, volunteering, yoga, tennis, and running, as she has completed 7th Houston Aramco Half Marathons and currently training for her 8th.
Mental Health Panelist: diane arms
The Council on Recovery
Director, Center for Co-Occurring Disorders
Diane Arms currently serves as the Director for The Center for Co-occurring Disorders at The Council on Recovery. She has dedicated her career to serving the Latino population in the Health Field, including Mental Health and Substance Use. She received both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso. Diane has served as Director of Health Integration at Avenue 360 Health and Wellness, Director of Prevention and Counseling at the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans and with the Harris County Health Care Alliance as Program Manager facilitating leadership meetings amongst local FQHCs to proactively identify, address, and resolve systemic issues.
Community Partner: ivette mayo
Power on Heels fund, inc.
Ivette Mayo is an awarding winning entrepreneur, international author, globally recognized career coach, motivational business speaker and philanthropist. Her 27 year global career was spent working in business development, sales, marketing and training for both employees and clients throughout five continents. Her focus is to incorporate cultural awareness into all her training programs to assist participants in inspiring performance, build stronger interpersonal skills and build an agile team of leaders. This dynamic facilitator has worked with Fortune 100 & 500 all over the world. POWER On Heels Fund, Inc™ is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization focused on the advancement of LATINAS by helping to decrease the impact that GENDER PAY GAP has on their earning potential.
Community Partner: anna l. garcia
Anna L Garcia is a strategic account lead in the global business organization at AT&T, with over 24-year experience in telecommunications and technology. She is a community ambassador, mentor and coach to the next generation of leaders and has a passion for continued growth and the empowering of both self and others. She serves her community through her work as National President of HACEMOS, an employee resource group of AT&T, as the HACE El Futuro Chair for the Houston chapter of this national organization, and other volunteerism efforts.
Community Partner: Lollie Ramirez-Bennett
Women of AT&T
An AT&T employee with 35 years of service, Lollie is a business trend analyst and strategist that utilizes data to effectively lead an organization to meet and exceed their business goals. She has managed remote teams across the US, Europe, and India. For the past 30 years, Lollie has built a dual career working with several of the AT&T Employee Resource Groups. She was a founding chapter leader for the Houston HISPA chapter (now HACEMOS) and later took leadership of the Women of AT&T Houston chapter, as CEO / President. Today is serves as the CEO for Women of AT&T National. Lollie has a passion for empowering women, mentoring students, and serving our underrepresented communities for a better tomorrow.
Director of el chuco town forever: Laura Moreno
The Catastrophic Theatre
Laura Moreno is currently pursuing an MFA at the University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance after receiving a BFA in Acting in 2016. Moreno is known throughout the local theatre community as a producer, director, arts administrator, actress, makeup artist, costume and wig designer, and teaching artist (Alley Theatre, Main Street Theater, University of Houston). She currently sits on the advisory board for El Zocalo at the Alley and she served as an advisor and task force member of the play selection committee for Stages’ Sin Muros Latinx Theatre Festival. She founded the Houston chapter of the Parent Artists Advocacy League (PAAL) and is its chief representative. She is also a member of the UH College of the Arts Anti-Racism Task Force and School of Theatre and Dance DEI committee.
Community Partner: Jose Avalos
president and co-founder
Jose Avalos serves as President and Co-Founder of Creative Vida. A local non-profit with a mission statement to educate and empower youth through creative experiences. Jose was born in Baytown, TX to loving parents that came to this country from a small town near Guadalajara, Jalisco. He graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor's degree in Marketing and a minor in Sales and Entrepreneurship. In his career, he helps small-medium-sized businesses create software, apps, and digital marketing strategies. Jose has always kept the phrase 'change the world' or 'cambia el mundo' close his heart and with the help of God, his wife Michelle, and a lot of mentors, he has faith he will do just that.
Community Partner: Veronica Olivarez
University of Houston Hispanic Alumni Association
Veronica Olivarez is a digital marketing consultant, solo-traveler, and creative professional who believes in living big and laughing often. She specializes in assisting entrepreneurs with digital marketing strategies to help build a clean and effective online presence. After graduating with a BBA in Marketing from the University of Houston and two years in the oil industry she began researching and learning the ins and outs of digital marketing and the best practices to build a brand online.
Community Partner: Dr. Sergio Lira
education consultant, former HISD school board trustee (2018-2020)
A public-school educator for twenty-eight years, Dr. Sergio Lira received his doctorate in Urban Educational Policy from the University of Houston. His mission in life is preparing all students for a career or college and advocating for equity of resources for their future. He proudly served on the Houston ISD school board as a trustee from 2018-2020.
Dr. Sergio Lira's thirty-five years of community involvement have centered on helping all students, immigrant families, parents, teachers, staff, and all educators. He pursued the highest level of education possible because he wants to be the best prepared to offer his knowledge and experience to those who need it the most. His vocation, his mission in life is to provide educational access and equity to those who are disenfranchised and to create maximum educational opportunities to all students. He promotes strong academics supported by a strong fine arts program to enrich and develop every students with multiple intelligences.
Mental Health Panelist: Blanca Garza
Center for Creative Resources
LPC Intern psychotherapist
Blanca L. Garza, LPC-Intern. Graduated with her Masters in Counseling Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in California. She currently interns as a Bilingual Psychotherapist at the Center for Creative Resources under the supervision of Jyl Scott-Reagan. She works with BIPOC communities and the focus of her studies has been Depth Psychology where she focuses on the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious incorporating mythologies, somatic work and other creative modalities. Her thesis work and research has centered around the archetypes of the Latina woman including the archetypes of the warrior goddess and the enslaved virgin.
mental health panelist: sergio aguirre
national alliance on mental illness of greater houston
certified family partner, The harris county center for mental health and idd
Sergio Aguirre is a Certified Family Partner in Texas, a Certified NAMI Instructor in Texas, and a Certified Pastoral Counselor in NY. He currently works at The Harris Center and Volunteer advocate with NAMI and Mental Health of America. He has been working within the Houston Community for over 20 years.
moderator: tony diaz
Nuestra palabra: latino writers having their say radio
Writer, activist, and professor Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, was the first Chicano to earn a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. He earned his bachelor's degree in Communications from De Paul University in Chicago. Diaz is currently the Director of Intercultural Initiatives at Lone Star College-Houston North, where he also teaches Mexican American Literature.
Diaz is also a political analyst on "What's Your Point" which airs on Fox 26 Houston. He also hosts the weekly bilingual radio program Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say which covers Latino Literature, Art, and Politics on KPFT 90.1 FM Houston. His essays have appeared in the Houston Chronicle, Texas Observer, CNN.com, the Los Angeles Times, and Huffington Post Latino Voices, among other publications and wrote the novel “The Aztec Love God.”
Diaz made national and international news when he led the Librotraficantes in defying Arizona's ban of Mexican American Studies by organizing the 2012 Librotraficante Caravan to smuggle books banned books in Tucson back into Arizona. He just completed writing the textbook "The Mexican American Studies Toolkit" for adoption in Texas high schools. Diaz currently resides in Houston where he continues to fight for Intellectual Freedom and Freedom of Speech.