Maria Solis Belizaire is a powerhouse with a vision. In her early 30s, she found the life-altering power of running and wanted to share it with other people from her community. The problem is that she couldn’t find them! She knew some Latinos who run, but they definitely didn’t attend races in substantial numbers. And when she talked to people in her community, she realized that there was a preconception that Latinos are fat, lazy, don’t like to exercise, and were definitely not runners.

The power of visibility is so important. Until you see someone who looks like you doing an activity, you may not realize that you can do it too. In 2016, she started Latinos Run (and now also Latinas Run) to bring awareness to the sport and to show Latinos that running can change their lives for the better. She’s been on a mission ever since. Today we talk about:

  • Running: how she found the sport
  • Racial disparity in running
  • Latinos Run & Latinas Run: the genesis of these organizations
  • Her family: how important family is to her
  • Racism: With a mixed race background – her dad is Belizean/Mexican and her mom is Puerto Rican – she has darker skin than her siblings and experienced racism even within her own community
  • Her advice: how companies can show more representation and invest in more diverse communities
  • Visibility: the power of seeing people who look like you doing activities
  • Her magnetic appeal (especially to older white men!)
  • Her mindset in three chapters: 14-15 years old, 30 years old, now

Check out her TedX talk here!

That BAKLAVA recipe we talked about:

Pan Size 9 x 13
• 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
• 1 pound unsalted chopped mixed nuts (16 oz) (walnuts, pecans and almonds are good with this)
• 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

– 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 cup water
• 1 cup white or brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ cup honeyDirections

• Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.
• Step 2
Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 – 8 sheets deep.
• Step 3
Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
• Step 4
Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
• Step 5
Remove baklava from oven and immediately pour sauce over it. Let cool.  This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.