A model owl sits among plants, ready to scare off garden pests

Oral History: Zonia Ortiz

Zonia Ortiz Introduction

Interview Date: September 18, 2022

Profession: Community Organizer and Board Member

Birthplace: Savannah, Georgia

A person in blue jeans and a bright yellow shirt poses for a photo in an outdoor garden

Zonia Ortiz has been a resident in the Highbridge community in the Bronx for almost 60 years. Growing up, Zonia learned an appreciation for southern Black-American foodways from the women in her family, especially her grandmother, who exposed her to traditions of farming, cooking, and herbalism. She was also raised in a Latin-American family where she learned Latin-American culture, cuisine and Spanish language as a bilingual speaker.

In Highbridge, Zonia has expressed her love for the youth as an advocate/organizer in a range of organizations including Bronx Defenders where she was mentored by Carmen Pinerio, United Parents of Highbridge with O’Cynthia Williams, and Housing Preservation Development with Albert Velez. She’s also worked in Harlem with Community Voices Heard (CVH) for racial and economic justice. She now serves as President of the Block Association and a Chair of Education and Youth on Community Board 4, to improve educational and youth employment programs. Alongside her civic engagement, she has worked as a Senior research analyst for a major music production company. After she moved into the residential building next to La Isla Garden, she became a member and continued her youth advocacy work as an eventual leader of La Isla Youth Community Garden.

Zonia Ortiz

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