Lizzy Diaz-Ortiz’ exceptional ability for creative problem-solving serves her well both inside and outside the workplace. Lizzy’s (pronounced LEE-see) upbringing is how she developed this unique skill. Lizzy grew up in a military family and has lived all around the world. “My family is Puerto Rican. My parents left the Island for better opportunities. Both joined the military and ended up career military,” she reflects. “I spent my formative years in Germany,” Lizzy says, “and Chicago-Kent College of Law was where I earned my IP certificate because I had a strong interest in the entertainment industry, creative work, and trademarks.” After law school, Lizzy worked in several financial institutions focusing on regulatory compliance but remained involved in the IP community.
Another way Lizzy’s upbringing informed her interests and the way she views the world is her first-hand experience being the only student of color at her school. “In Germany, at the time, the only brown kids at the school were my brother and me,” she recalls, “so I grew up not seeing a lot of people like me in addition to being different from my peers because they didn’t grow up moving around the world like I have.” Years later, Lizzy has found her niche in the financial services industry. Lizzy is VP, Senior Advisor, Governance & Inclusion, at BMO Harris Bank. “In my current position, I feel that the three areas I am most passionate about—IP, the creative industry, and diversity and inclusion—are really coming together,” she says, “and I am uniquely positioned to succeed in this role, in large part, due to my early life experiences.” Lizzy is acutely aware that the law profession generally, and IP law in particular, suffer from lack of representation of women and believes that organizations like ChiWIP are essential to changing that. “I feel [ChiWIP] is such a great group of women who support each other,” she said, “and also looking to be diverse and inclusive.”
Being intentional about her time with her family is also something Lizzy learned from her family. “With children, someone once told me, the days are long, but the years are short, which really resonated with me,” Lizzy says. As a mom, Lizzy believes that it is very important to show her daughter that she is greatly invested in her career but also to be there for her daughter in meaningful ways. “I’m very cognizant of the fact that my time with my daughter is fleeting, so I put in extra effort in being present with her, as my mom has done for me.”
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