10 Remarkable O.C. Women

Lizet Ceja Diaz

Agent of Empowerment

Diaz has a story taped to her bedroom door. It’s about a boy walking on a beach strewn with stranded starfish. He picks IMG_5168exone up and flings it back into the ocean. He can’t rescue them all but considers this a poor reason to stop trying. Diaz sees the fable daily as she leaves for her job as volunteer manager at WHW, a nonprofit agency in Santa Ana dedicated to providing resources and training to the unemployed and underemployed. “That story is behind every decision I make.”

The 26-year-old oversees WHW’s internship program and more than 1,000 volunteers. She recruits, advises, negotiates, and plans, all with unflagging diplomacy, her colleagues say.

“I think this is the path that I was destined to (take),” Diaz says. She was a WHW intern herself and fell so in love with social work, she frequently had to be told to go home. Her colleagues think Diaz should run her own nonprofit someday. Which is precisely what she intends to do.