NextGen Collective spotlights Lori Lizarraga, the newest host of the NPR podcast Code Switch. Read about her close relationships, her advice for rising professionals, her daily routine, and more.
Where are you from?
My dad is from Mexico, my mom from Ecuador. I was born in Metairie, Louisiana. I grew up in Waxahachie, Texas. Today I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
What do you do today?
I am the newest host of NPR’s Code Switch!
Who inspired you the most in your life growing up?
The most consistent inspirational force throughout my life is my big sister. Christy has been my best friend since we were kids. She’s only four years older than me but in many ways she is deeply more wise, more steadfast, and much more patient. In other ways, we are still little girls who share a bedroom, braid each other’s hair, and spend as much time together as we possibly can. Christy and I have very different personalities and have always had very different goals in life, but that never kept us from understanding each other or supporting one another’s dreams. The gentle, caring space she held for me growing up fed and watered my spirit so many times in so many important ways. I owe so much of who I am and what I’ve accomplished to my big sister’s love and support – there is truly no greater cheerleader in the world!
In a crazy, new way, she continues to be my greatest source of inspiration by way of her son, my first nephew, who was born in 2020. He has changed my orbit and recentered my life around being to him the kind of constant, caring defender and friend his mom has always been to me.
What lesson did you learn early in your career that still serves you today?
Early in my career I learned the value of being willing to show up and try things – especially when that takes you out of your comfort zone. Move to a different city, take on unfamiliar challenges, meet new people, set new goals, ask questions, shadow different roles, learn something new, show up energetically, arrive early, leave late. A lot of us worry about the unknown – “What happens if I say yes to this place I’ve never been or this job I’ve never done?” From experience I can tell you, the best part starts when you say yes to trying. What’s the worst that can happen? Even if it’s a bad fit, it’s important to remember that learning what you absolutely hate doing is equally as important as learning what you love doing. I still remind myself of that any time I start to get nervous about trying something new!
What are some of the biggest challenges you see for Latinx professionals early in their careers?
For myself and many other first-generation immigrants, first-generation college students or graduates, and first-generation industry professionals, there can be early financial barriers to entry that may prevent us from pursuing opportunities that we’re otherwise qualified for. But a lack of financial literacy or financial resources are not insurmountable disadvantages. It’s about not taking ‘no’ for an answer. Good grades equal cash in the form of scholarships and access in the form of entry into univeristies, so get good grades. Student loans aren’t just debt but an investment in yourself and in your future, so invest. Negotiating a higher salary may be uncomfortable, but it’s also a skill that everyone needs and only gets easier with practice, so practice! Beginning with your very first internship – never work for free.
What podcast or lifehack can you not live without?
Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning – total lifehack. You don’t even really have to know how to cook all that well and Tony’s will make you a culinary wonder with your friends and family. Put it on eggs, atop meat or seafood, on veggies, soup, salad, pasta, anything savory! This is not sponsored. This is simply a lifehack that everyone deserves to know about.
What is part of your daily routine that you look forward to every day?
Moving my body! I have a goal of 20,000 steps a day – I rarely reach it but I try for it anyway! And five days a week my routine includes a workout. Lifting weights, jogging through the neighborhood, taking a class. Anything from barre, pilates, spin and hot yoga to CrossFit and bootcamp. I go to different spots all over Philly or pop into a new studio for a first-time guest class if I’m traveling. I mix it up to challenge myself, but also to keep from getting bored. My newest addition to the rotation is boxing and I love it! I’m not an athlete by any means and I’m not training for anything. Moving for me is all about feeling my best and keeping my heart healthy. This little body has done so much for me and I don’t take my ability to move for granted!
What is one non-work related goal that you would like to achieve in the next five years?
Deliver a sermon and try stand up. Two oddly similar and also vastly different goals that I’d love to mark off my bucketlist in the next five years! I guess now that I’ve announced it, I’ll have to! Keep an eye out for a Z-list standup comedian coming to a club that’s possibly near you – haha!
What’s one thing we’d never be able to guess from your LinkedIn profile?
I played Toto in a community theater production of The Wizard of Oz and Chip in my high school’s musical theater production of Beauty and the Beast! I landed a few other roles throughout the years too but those are definitely among my strongest supporting actress debuts.
Your theme song.
Has to be Baila Esta Cumbia by the one and only Selena, our forever queen!