Joy Diaz

Senior Reporter, City Government

Joy Diaz has been a reporter with KUT on and off since 2005. Since joining KUT, Joy has covered education, healthcare and immigration. She is now a Senior Reporter covering the city beat.

Originally from Mexico, Joy moved to the U.S. in 1998 when her husband Luis was transferred from his job in Mexico City to train workers in a telecommunications plant in Virginia. While there, Joy worked for Roanoke's NPR station WVTF.

Joy speaks English and Spanish, which is a plus in a state like Texas. She graduated from Universidad de Cuautitlán Izcalli in Mexico City with a degree in journalism. In 2008 she took a break to devote herself to her two young children, before returning to the KUT studios. She loves reading, painting and spending time engaging with the community.  

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Austin
12:14 pm
Wed July 29, 2015

Austin's Digital Inclusion Program Serves as a Model for Other Cities

'Unlocking the Connection' is an Austin program aimed at bridging the city's digital divide.
Brad Flickinger/flickr

Federal housing officials were in Austin Tuesday — not to give direction,  but to learn from the local housing authority's successes in closing the digital divide. The federal government is taking a model for digital inclusion from Austin to other cities around the country.

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Austin
12:26 pm
Mon July 27, 2015

Report Calls for Action on 'Repeat Offender' Properties

A report argues the city isn't doing enough to hold owners of properties frequently cited for code violations to task.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

There are thousands of rental properties in Austin – after all, most people who live in Austin rent – and of those thousands, there are more than two dozen that have racked up 300 code violations from the City of Austin. A new study provides suggestions on how to handle the so-called “repeat offenders.”

The study’s author argues that the city could be focusing more on these violations, rather than dedicating more Code Compliance resources towards the policing of short-term rentals.

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News
12:09 pm
Mon July 27, 2015

More Women Than Men Now Emigrating to U.S. From Mexico, Study Says

Google Maps

When you hear the words "Mexican immigrant," what image pops into your head? 

Maybe you're picturing a male day laborer. But Rogelio Saenz from the University of Texas at San Antonio says the latest data does not reflect that.

"Women are becoming​ much more a part of the Mexican immigrant population," Saenz says.

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Immigration
9:35 am
Sat July 25, 2015

Judge Says Detaining Immigrant Children Violates Agreement

A detention facility in Karnes City, Texas, designed to house mothers and children aprehended at the border
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

A federal judge ruled Friday in favor of immigrant rights lawyers who have said the current detention of immigrant children violates a court settlement from 1997 known as the Flores vs Meese Agreement. U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee issued her decision in California.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to announce how it will proceed. DHS recently changed the rules of how it releases mothers and children currently in detention. 

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Austin
5:30 pm
Mon July 20, 2015

TV's 'Shark Tank' Looks for Entrepreneurial Veterans in Austin

Bunker Labs Austin is an incubator for veteran-run startups. Above, a Bunker Labs event featured in the incubator's introductory video.
Screenshot courtesy of Bunker Labs Austin

Coming to Austin Tuesday: Shark Tank, the television show wherein small business owners pitch their ideas to wealthy investors. The show's searching Central Texas this week for a particular kind of businessperson: veterans.

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Texas
10:09 am
Sun July 19, 2015

'With a Heavy Heart,' Gov. Abbott Orders Texas National Guard: Start Carrying Weapons

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

If anyone runs into National Guard personnel in Texas, they pretty much look like any military personnel dressed in their camouflage fatigues. But, up until now, the biggest difference was that they were not armed.

That's about to change: Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced this weekend that the Texas National Guard will now carry weapons while at military facilities across Texas.

Governor Abbott said this new measure is in response to last week's shooting in two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Austin
4:02 pm
Fri July 17, 2015

Most Child Drownings in Texas Occur Among Children of Color

A lifeguard sits on stand at the Northwest Park swimming pool in Austin.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

The triple-digit summer heat typically leads more Central Texans towards pools and lakes to cool off. Unfortunately, it also raises the risk of drownings. Seventy-three children drowned in Texas last year. And this year is looking just as bad – so far 44 kids have drowned — most of whom were children of color.

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Austin
12:30 pm
Fri July 10, 2015

As the 55-and-Older Population Booms, Many Austinites Enter Life's 'Third Act'

Ron Kramer (left) talks with a friend at the YMCA about married life after retirement. 'It's a different dynamic,' he says.
Joy Diaz/KUT News

The number of Austinites officially entering into the "third act" of their lives is growing by leaps and bounds – that's because Central Texas' 55-and-older population is growing faster than anywhere else in the country. And its 65-and-older population is growing the second-fastest in the country.

Both men and women in those age demographics are moving forward into their third acts. But, when broken down by gender, it turns out a woman's third act often looks very different from that of a man.

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Austin
8:28 am
Thu July 9, 2015

As Austin's 65-Plus Population Grows, Seniors Face Housing Hurdles

A company called Lennar builds homes for 'multigenerational' families — i.e., older parents who live with their adult children. They're calling it the "next-gen" home.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The 65-and-older demographic grows nationwide by about a million people every year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

That spike in growth has played out in Central Texas, and Austin's been the epicenter of that growth. The city's seen a higher growth rate of its pre-senior population — those between 55 and 65 — than anywhere else in the country, and it has the second highest rate of senior growth, those 65 and older. 

While getting older has its perks, it also has its challenges, and a major challenge people 65 and older face is housing.

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Texas
9:53 pm
Tue July 7, 2015

As Seniors Live and Work Longer, Some See an Opportunity to Change Careers

Attorney Kay Lively, 72, visits elderly clients in their homes for meetings. Lively has made several career changes throughout her life.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

Have you ever had to reinvent your career? For some people, later-in-life career reinvention isn't an option — it's an essential survival tool.

More seniors are working now than ever before, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the next seven years will only bring those numbers up. By 2022, the Bureau estimates 1 of every 3 Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 will still be employed — but not necessarily in the same line of work they worked in before.

One Austinite who falls within that age range has reinvented her career – four times.

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Texas
12:59 pm
Mon July 6, 2015

In So-Called 'Mix-Up,' Detained Immigrant Kids Get Adult Dose of Hepatitis A Vaccine

Children detained at immigration centers, like the ones in the towns of Dilley and Karnes (pictured) in Texas, are administered a series of immunizations after they arrive.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

About 250 children at a South Texas immigrant detention center were administered adult-size doses of a Hepatitis A vaccine, officials say. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is calling the mistake a "mix-up." ICE spokesperson Richard Rocha said this weekend health professionals are monitoring the children who received the wrong dosage of the vaccine.

The kids are detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, southwest of San Antonio. The facility is an immigrant detention center for mothers and their children, and it's run by a private prison company called Corrections Corporation of America.

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Texas
1:20 pm
Fri July 3, 2015

Three Tips to Stay Safe In and Around Water

Just like responsible drinkers assign a 'designated driver,' responsible swimmers should also have someone assigned to 'watch duty' on a rotating basis
Joy Diaz/KUT News

Most drownings are among those "preventable" tragedies. And yet, not everyone knows which precautions to take to prevent such accidents. In Texas alone, 73 kids died last year in the water. And adults are just as vulnerable. So, here are 3 tips to make your water gatherings more enjoyable.

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Austin
4:25 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

How Could Austin Become More Welcoming to People From Other Countries?

An Austin commission is compiling a report trying to gauge how welcoming the city seems to new people.
Jessica Wright/flickr

What does it mean to be a "welcoming" city?

More specifically, what would Austin need to do to become more welcoming toward people from other countries? Perhaps it would need to implement signage in different languages, or perhaps, it'd need to do other things.

In order to find out what those other things are, a team of advisors recently surveyed Austinites and is compiling the answers into a report.

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Texas
8:22 am
Wed July 1, 2015

State Employees' Same-Sex Spouses and Their Children Are Now Eligible for Benefits

Diane Jones and Bryna Wortham stand with Rev. Richard Bates at their wedding ceremony at the Travis County Courthouse on June 26, 2015
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Today is the first day state employees can apply for benefits on behalf of their same-sex spouses and their children.

Every year, during the summer's open enrollment period, Cathy Terrell's typically pretty busy. Terrell and her team manage the benefits of close to 333,000 state employees and retirees with the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS). The ERS oversees the benefits of every state agency excluding the UT and Texas A&M systems.

After last week's Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex couples to marry in every state, Terrell realized this open enrollment season will be busier than ever.

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Crime & Justice
3:00 pm
Sat June 20, 2015

From Death Row, an Inmate Reflects on Fatherhood

Rodolfo Medrano is sentenced to death for his role in providing weapons that were used in the murders of six men in Hidalgo County in 2003.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Sunday is Father's Day, and as we celebrate the fathers in our lives, we realize that roles are changing.

Little by little, more men are participating in the upbringing of their children. Of course, some fathers are more hands-on than others.

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Texas
9:41 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

As Flood Waters Recede, Wimberley Residents Start to Pick Up the Pieces

Wimberley residents walk and survey the town after Monday's storms.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The community in Wimberley is finding some sort of normalcy after record flooding over the weekend. Seven homes there were destroyed, and 1,400 were damaged. But even before the waters had receded, community members started looking for ways to help their neighbors.

A steady flow of customers came into Brookshire Brothers, Wimberley's local supermarket, on Tuesday. Customers were buying extra water and groceries that supermarket employees would then pack up for neighbors in need. A sign-up sheet by the door encouraged residents to write down how they could help others. Some people offered their cars; others, their cell phones.

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Small Town Texas
10:34 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Could Artists Revive Downtown Florence?

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

If you’re heading north on I-35, just past Georgetown you’ll find Florence, Texas.

The town of a little more than a thousand people is experiencing big changes.

It used to be a vibrant little town, in part because drivers needed to go through it on their way to Killeen. About 18,000 cars used to drive through Florence’s Main Street everyday — but not anymore.

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Texas
10:27 am
Fri May 15, 2015

Will Texas Lawmakers Close Austin's School for Adults with Developmental Disabilities?

Locals gathered at the Living Center in March for a rally protesting the residential facility's potential closure.
KUT News

It's been almost 100 years since the state school opened its doors to adults with severe developmental disabilities. Today the state school is called Austin State Supported Living Center, and it's facing closure via two bills in the legislature: Senate Bill 204 and House Bill 2699.

The process started last summer when the state's Sunset Advisory Commission, the group of legislators who study which state agencies are obsolete, decided the school needed to close. Despite opposition from the parents and guardians of the 215 people who live at the school, the bills are steadily inching their way through the legislative process.

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Texas
11:28 am
Wed May 13, 2015

Why Austin's City Attorney Keeps an Eye on the Texas Legislature

For now, City Attorney Karen Kennard hopes that none of the bills that would affect Austin make it through the whole legislative process and end up on Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.
Callie Hernandez/KUT News

Every legislative session, there are bound to be bills targeting some regulation or other in Austin.

Which is why every session, Austin City Attorney Karen Kennard heads to the Capitol to learn more about the bills and to see if their impact on Austin would be positive or negative. These are her projections.

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Austin
10:16 am
Wed May 13, 2015

3 Reasons Why Decker Lake Golf May Not Be the Best Economic Driver for East Austin

A rendering of the club house for the proposed golf course on Walter E. Long Lake, also known as Decker Lake, from architects Norr.
Norr, via City of Austin

It's far from a done deal, but a golf course may be coming to Distict 1 in East Austin.

The Austin City Council is not ready to make a final decision on the course at Walter E. Long Lake proposed by Decker Lake Golf LLC, so in the meantime, several city committees are considering the proposal.

This week, the city's Economic Development Committee showed some support for the golf course, precisely because District 1 is in dire need of economic development.

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