RIP: Cecilia Alvear

Submitted by Admin on Fri, 04/21/2017 - 22:48

Although my friend and colleague Cecilia Alvear is now gone, she will never be forgotten. Veteran NBC producer and award-winning multilingual journalist Cecilia Alvear died following a long battle with breast cancer. She also served as executive editor of

Longtime NBC journalist Cecilia Alvear, who opened doors for Latinos and women, dies at 77

Muere en Los Angeles Cecilia Alvear, pionera latina de los medios de comunicación en Estados Unidos | La Opinión…/muere-en-los-angeles-cecilia-alve…/… via La Opinion

Cecilia's long-time partner, former NBC correspondent George Lewis wrote: It is with a very heavy heart that I share the news of the death of my dear, sweet Cecilia, whose life ended at 1:48 this afternoon from the breast cancer that was first diagnosed 23 years ago. There will be a funeral mass and later on, a celebration of life and I will post the information here. If you want to remember Cecilia, there is a City of Hope fundraising page:

Cecilia passed away in her California home. She is survived by George Lewis; her four sisters, Alexandra, Magdalena, Montserrat and Rocio, and two half-brothers, Eduardo and Alfredo.

Her longtime partner and veteran NBC News correspondent George Lewis wrote

RIP: Cecilia Alvear, retired NBC News producer.

Cecilia Alvear racked up an astonishing number of “firsts” in a lifetime that spanned 77 years. A news producer with NBC network news for 25 years, she liked to joke that she was the first native of the Galápagos Islands ever to work in American television. When she was born, her father was military governor of the Galápagos, part of Ecuador, and Cecilia took her first steps on island beaches populated by exotic birds, strange iguanas, and packs of sea lions.

As Cecilia, one of five sisters grew up, the family lived on the Ecuadorian mainland in several different cities. Cecilia had a desire to explore the world beyond Ecuador and as a young woman in the mid-'60’s, learned English, obtained a green card and went to seek her fortune in the USA.

In 1971, she was hired at the NBC TV station in Los Angeles as a production assistant and was the first Latina in that sort of position. She also broke the gender barrier when the California Chicano News Men’s Association accepted Cecilia as one of its first female inductees and changed its name to the California Chicano News Media Association, an organization that would later give birth the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ). Cecilia would go on to serve as NAHJ president from 2000 to 2002 and be inducted into the association’s hall of fame in 2007.

In 1982, NBC News hired Cecilia to run its bureau in Mexico City. She was the first Latina news producer at any of the three major TV networks, covering wars in Central America, unrest in Chile, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia, and earthquakes in Mexico City, El Salvador, and Ecuador. She also produced interviews with Fidel Castro in Cuba.

In 1988, she was selected for a Nieman fellowship at Harvard University, becoming the first Latina in the program, designed as a year of study for mid-career journalists. Returning to NBC the next year, she was assigned to the Los Angeles bureau.

That brought a wide variety of assignments from coverage of the O.J. Simpson murder trial to earthquakes, fires, and floods in the western United States.

Her career was interrupted in 1994 with a diagnosis of stage three breast cancer. Cecilia chose an aggressive course of treatment that included high dosage chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant at the City of Hope Hospital near Los Angeles.

Cancer stayed in remission for eighteen years during which time Cecilia made the “Hispanic Business” list of “100 most influential Hispanics in the United States.” She constantly pushed for more diversity in newsrooms, serving on the boards of Unity-Journalists of Color and the Nieman foundation. Many Latinos in journalism credit Cecilia with helping start their careers as she encouraged them to attend workshops and job fairs sponsored by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Cecilia frequently returned to the Galápagos Islands to help out the elementary school founded by her father as the first public school on the archipelago. She started the school’s first computer lab and aided local women in the formation of a business cooperative that bears her name. She also hosted workshops for journalists in the islands and began a blog about news from Galápagos.

As a cancer survivor, Cecilia joined the organization Padres Contra el Cancer, which helps poor Latino families who have children undergoing treatment for the disease. She also worked with Dr. Susan Love’s foundation on projects designed to increase cancer awareness among Latinas...