Joy Diaz

Producer, Texas Standard

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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More than 360,000 Texans make $7.25 an hour or less, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only five states have a higher percentage of minimum wage workers than Texas.

Big corporations like Walmart and McDonalds recognize that, for many workers, $7.25 an hour isn’t enough to live on. Both companies have announced they'll increase their workers' pay this year.

But what happens when wages go up, and they're still not enough to live on?

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

The Austin Animal Center is finally fully staffed: Tawny Hammond, who just moved to Austin from Fairfax, Virginia, has taken over as the city's new Chief Animal Services Officer. 

Hammond's new job involves getting to know her bosses on the Austin City Council, like East Austin representative Ora Houston. Recently, after meeting some of the staff, Hammond sat with Houston to learn about the specific animal needs of the council member's East Austin district. Hammond says she's learned some districts in Austin have a large number of homeless animals. 

Hammond says there are three things she wants to do in her new role.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Mary Blackstock has no idea when she learned how to swim. In fact, the Louisiana native says she doesn't remember "ever not knowing how to swim."

Blackstock, 88, was born in between the great wars. Her father was a dentist, her mother, a stay-at-home mom. She says her mother couldn't swim and was afraid of the water. But her father's family owned a paddle-boat. They transported sugar cane and cattle to New Orleans. The family home was on a hill at Babylon Bayou, and that's where Mary Blackstock and her siblings would swim every evening — but only when her father was home from work. He was the one who would throw the kids in the water.

Swimming, Blackstock says, changed her life.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

VonTrey Clark, the Austin Police Officer linked to a murder in Bastrop earlier this year, is now in FBI custody in Indonesia.

Clark was given an indefinite suspension of duty last month after he refused to attend an in-person interview related to the Bastrop murder investigation. But before he was suspended, Clark spent several months on "restricted duty" with APD.

But what does being on “restricted duty” actually mean?

Seventy-three children died in Texas last year from a single cause. And so far this year, 56 children have died as a result of that same cause: drowning.

And, while there are efforts at both the statewide and local levels to educate adults on how to avoid drowning deaths, children of color are disproportionately represented among the victims.

Charlotte Carpenter

Back-to-school shopping is not for the faint of heart.

To the uninitiated, it may seem like total madness.

But, really, it's family time: parents read school lists out loud while children run around in search of items. It's also a time children in foster care rarely experience, but, for the first time, a non-profit is trying to provide children in foster care with a similar experience.

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.

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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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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.