5 questions for Maria Lara

“Learning pottery is a great way to indulge my love for houseplants.”
Sep 19, 2023
2 minute read

We're welcoming Maria Lara as our newest team member. Maria is our Digital Equity Manager and is already busy onboarding the 2024 Digital Inclusion Fellows!

What was your favorite childhood meal?

Oh, let me tell you about my all-time favorite childhood dish: my Grandma Pepa's pozole rojo! This amazing bowl of goodness was pure magic, and I cherished every bite. Imagine a rich, flavorful broth that's been simmering for hours, infused with the warmest spices, and inside you'd find tender chunks of pork, perfectly cooked to melt in your mouth. Grandma Pepa's pozole rojo will forever hold a special place in my soul, reminding me of the joy and love that surrounded those cherished moments. It's not just a dish; it's a symbol of family, togetherness, and delicious comfort.

Maria wears skull Mexican makeup as she stands alongside the alter she created.

Maria and her ofrenda (an offering) on an altar she made for her first Day of the Dead in the U.S. in 2020.

What are your favorite memories of Mexico?

My favorite memories of Mexico are the unforgettable taste of tacos al pastor, the vibrant celebrations of Dia de los Muertos, and the heartwarming moments with my family gathered around the table — and if I could pick one thing I miss the most, it's definitely the mouth-watering Mexican food!

What's something new you're learning for fun?

Learning pottery is a great way for me to indulge my love for houseplants, as I enjoy repotting them every year without emptying my wallet! If you're a fellow houseplant enthusiast, you totally get where I'm coming from!

What are some of your favorite local adventures?

Kayaking the rivers around Portland is one of my favorite adventures, especially if I bring my dog, Sabina, with me.

What is one new place you would love to travel to?

If I could choose one new destination to explore, it would be Spain. I'm drawn to the idea of wandering through museums, enjoying the architecture, basking in the Mediterranean sun, and indulging in incredible culinary delights like olives and wine.

Tristan Penn

Tristan Penn


Equity & Accountability Director, NTEN

I'm originally from Central Kansas and am a citizen of the Navajo Nation. I've worked in nonprofits for the past 16 years, primarily Boys & Girls Clubs and youth development organizations. I'm passionate about nonprofit community engagement, organizational best practices, youth development, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.I began my professional DEI work with Pacific Educational Group's three-year cohort/professional development initiative "Beyond Diversity: Courageous Conversations" while working for the Boys and Girls Club and Lawrence Public School in 2009. Coupled with my lived experience as a Black and Navajo professional, I have served on previous organizations' equity teams and been a facilitator for DEI (rooted in racial equity) in the workplace and nonprofit programming.

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