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. On July 31st of 2006, Zavala become a 501 (c) non-profit organization.
Zavala has been an active nonprofit organization in the community over the years and presently.
Over the years, Zavala has:
Collaborated with Vernon College and Midwestern State University in the Summer Road To College program.
Collaborated with MSU Bilingual Education Student Organization (BESO) in presenting Dia de los Muertos in November and Las Posadas in December.
Collaborated with Wichita Falls Public Library in promoting bilingual literacy for families in the Amo Leer program.
Celebrate the annual Hispanic Leadership banquet in recognizing the Hispanic Person of the Year and presenting scholarships to high school graduates and college continuing education.
Host the Zavala Latin Festival in October to celebrate the many faces of Latin culture.
Work with Café con Leche to prepare students and parents for post-secondary education and offer FAFSA and TASFA assistance.
Zavala International Dance teaches traditional folkloric dance and international dances that have been influential in Latin culture.
Collaborating with Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture to encourage and promote the arts during Hispanic Heritage month.
A Hispanic community that flourishes.