Meet Natalya Merida

Meet Natalya Merida

Hello Familia! My name is Natalya Merida-Brito, and I am a Senior at Moon Valley High School in Arizona. I am currently working with the Communications department. I have been a part of RDF for the past three years, and overall, my experience has been excellent.  I always feel included and loved by RDF’s family, and I am happy to be part of la Familia

I am an Arizona native with strong Hispanic roots that lead to Mexico City and Guerrero, Mexico. I am interested in pursuing a career in the medical field to help my Latino community because I witnessed my parents go through struggles to communicate with their only English-speaking physician.

I love working for RDF because the organization shares my passion for supporting the Latino community while also connecting me with affiliate non-profit organizations that are involved with my career goals. Since I was little, I have been exposed to helping the community, so I can identify myself among most of the people that we help.


Starting at RDF

Natalya with Eric Salazar

I was introduced to RDF’s organization through the connection that my mother had with Elvira Espinoza, RDF’s Chief Communications Officer. Then, I was informed about the RDF’s internship program, so I interviewed with Tom Espinoza, RDF’s Founding President & CEO. From that moment, I knew that Tom was going to be an important mentor figure in my life. As a young Intern, Eric guided me and had patience with aiding me on sharping some of my professional skills to be successful. And luckily for me, Tom was not the only one who would become a cherished advisor while at RDF.

To start, I worked directly with Eric Salazar, RDF’s late colleague who previously served as Director of UnidosUS Affiliated Investments, in 2020 to support the Affiliates Support Program. Eric introduced me to the RDF Familia and took me in as a Sophomore in High School. He was one of the most patient, intelligent, and hardworking people I know. He helped me learn  in-depth information about the affiliate non-profit organizations and allowed me to make one-on-one website suggestions to them. I was a part of the UnidosUS 2020 Conference and wrote my first blog, A Virtual UnidosUS Conference From the Eyes of An RDF Intern. Mr. Salazar and I shared many laughs and wonderful moments.

He was such a selfless man with an enormous heart that deserved only the best. My he rests in peace. I wish the best for his family, blessings.


Returning for a Second Time

Natalya with RDF staff.

While interning with Eric, we were working virtually due to the pandemic; however, the virtual experience was more personal to me. Since I was new to RDF, Eric gave me the warm introduction; he was extremely patient, and he was a great teacher. He gave me a detailed introducing and taught how RDF soul and heart are put into helping the community. I immediately knew that I wanted to return next summer.

Next, I had the excellent opportunity to be Ruby Marinez, RDF’s executive assistant for office of the President, intern in 2021. During my internship, I learned how to communicate in a professional setting. such as writing corporate emails, learning to introduce myself, and speaking with confidence in a crowded setting. I also wrote a continuance of my previous blog with a recap of the UnidosUS 2021 conference, titled UnidosUS Annual Conference: An Intern’s Perspective. This time around I had an opportunity to meet more staff members as well while attending a few in-person / hybrid meetings.

It was a wonderful experience working with Ruby, and it’s nice to sees her in the office.  She was a great mentor and helped me build my networking and professional skills. I couldn’t wait for an opportunity to return to RDF.


Re-uniting with the Familia Summer 2022

Natalya (at right) with Rachel Jimenez, RDF’s PR & Digital Content Strategist.

Currently, I am working with the Communication team directly with Monica Ballesteros, RDF’s Communications Director. With Monica and the rest of the team, I am learning how fast the communication team runs. I am inspired as I learn from their enormous effort. This summer, I have written a couple of blogs while exploring new layouts and improving my writing skills. I also loved attending the UnidosUS 2022 Conference in person this year compared to previous years that I followed virtually and had the opportunity to write a recap of my experience once again.

Overall, I am grateful for my three summers of experience at RDF. I love the atmosphere that RDF creates. I love being involved with an organization’s mission that aligns with me. It has been engraved into me to help our community and be part of that fight for change and difference. The more I learn about the organization and meet the people that make RDF run, the more I fall in love.  I am grateful for all the people that I have met, As the years go by, I am deeply integrating myself into the RDF Familia.

As I approach a new school year, I know that I have many opportunities for next summer thanks to the connections I have made at RDF. It is always a pleasure coming back in the summer to meet new staff and learn about new projects. In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy cheering, dancing, and other school activities.