by Tina Vasquez (Los Angeles), The Glasshammer, Smart Women in Numbers
Moving foward in a challenging neighborhood is a hard thing to do. It is so hard, in fact, that some young people use their immediate surroundings as an excuse as to why they haven’t done more with their lives or for their community. The opposite was true for Magda Yrizarry, Verizon’s Vice President for Workplace Culture, Diversity, and Compliance, an ASPIRAnte from Brooklyn, NY, who turned her upbringing in a housing tenement in a low-income Brooklyn neighborhood into an opportunity to give back to the community she once called home. Yrizarry’s father died when she was three, which left her mother to raise three young children alone.
“My personal motto, which I’ve had all my life, comes from my mother,” Yrizarry said. “When we were kids she drilled this into our heads: ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’ We didn’t have material wealth, but we were blessed and fortunate and had every opportunity presented to us and with that, came the obligation to pass it on.” Yrizarry, who has a Bachelor of Science and Master’s Degree from Cornell University, has a history of giving back. Before joining Verizon in 1990 as manager of educational relations, she served as director of Program Planning and Leadership Development at the New York City Mission Society, which is a nonprofit organization geared towards helping students from disadvantaged neighborhoods fulfill their dreams of attending college. “In my work before joining Verizon and in my earliest work at Verizon as manager of educational relations, I was dedicated to building effective partnerships to improve underserved communities, particularly through education. What initially attracted me to Verizon was an obligation that we both shared: to make things better,” Yrizarry said.