The ZAVALA organization developed in 2001 when Chuck Neale, Director of the Wichita Falls Community Foundation, and Carroll Wilson, then-Editor of Wichita Falls Times Record News noted the increased growth in the Hispanic population and the need to have Hispanics involved in leadership positions.
Both Neale and Wilson coordinated a meeting in the Spring of 2002 with the Hispanic community to discuss ways to engage the Hispanic population and identify barriers that kept Hispanics from becoming involved in community. The first meeting was attended by 70 individuals, and several meetings followed.
As a result of these meetings, a steering committee was formed in the Fall of 2002, comprising of Iliana Jaramillo, Rudy Bermea, Stewart Frazier, Marlon Pesantez, Dr. Robert Clark, John Hirschi, Carroll Wilson, Juan Rivas, Miriam Mas, Father Hector Medina, Rigoberto Contreras, Judge Woody Gossom, and Liz Mendez.
The committee adopted a mission statement and goals. They also chose Zavala Hispanic Cultural Initiative for the organizational name, after Lorenzo de Zavala a historically significant Texan for his leadership role as a diplomat, democratic reformer, writer/publisher and Vice-President of the Republic of Texas.
Zavala became a special project fund of the Wichita Falls Area Community Foundation in the Fall of 2003. Then on January 9th of 2003, the Texas Secretary of State issued a formal charter and approved the By-Laws and the Articles of Incorporation. In addition the Zavala Board received a resolution of commendation from the Secretary of the State of Texas on May 22th, 2003. In July 31st of 2006, Zavala become a 501 (c) non-profit organization.
Zavala has been an active nonprofit organization over the years and presently.
Over the years, Zavala has;
- Collaborated with Vernon College in the “Command Spanish” program
- Collaborated with The Kemp Center for the Arts and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in presenting “Las Posadas” in December
- Celebrated the Hispanic Heritage Festival in September
- Participated in the Immigration Citizen workshop
Zavala continues to;
- Celebrate the annual Hispanic Leadership banquet
- Collaborate with the Wichita County Commissioners Court in recognizing the Hispanic Person of the Year
- Present scholarships to high school graduates and college continuing education
- Host the Calle Ocho Festival
- Host Café con leche
With great pride and dedication, Zavala continues its commitment;
- to preserve the unique cultural gifts of Hispanic Heritage and
- to empower the Hispanic community to become fully engaged in overall community opportunities and challenges.