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Cecilia Alvear dead; NBC reporter, Latina journalism pioneer was 77

Cecilia Alvear on Jan. 15, 2006.

Cecilia Alvear on Jan. 15, 2006.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Cecilia Alvear, who fought for Latino inclusion in newsrooms and reached unprecedented heights for a Hispanic woman in journalism in a long career with NBC News, has died, her partner said last week.

Alvear, who served as president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, died at her home in Santa Monica on April 21 after suffering from breast cancer that recurred in 2012, her longtime partner George Lewis said. Alvear was 77.

A native of Ecuador born in the Galapagos on the island of San Cristobal, Alvear came to the United States in 1965 and worked in a congressman’s office until getting a job as a TV news production assistant in 1971.

At the time, roles for women in journalism were few and roles for Latinos were even fewer. As she moved through various jobs in local television in Los Angeles, she was often the only member of either group working in news production. But she fought to make sure that the environment would change.

“She was a relentless campaigner for more diversity in newsrooms,” Lewis told the Los Angeles Times.

In 1982, NBC News tapped her to run its Mexico City bureau. From there she covered wars and revolutions in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and she produced several interviews with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

“At the time it was rare to even meet a female producer, much less an Ecuadorian-born Latina who spoke English with an accent,” Anne-Marie O’Connor, an ex-LA Times reporter, told the paper. “Cecilia broke the mold.”

In 1994 on assignment in Mexico, she learned she had breast cancer. She was clear of the disease for 18 years. She remained with NBC until her retirement in 2007.

She is survived by Lewis, four sisters and two half-brothers.

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