Conversations with Women We Admire: Conchita Lozano Batista

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In this interview, lucyPRO Kit Rich, decided to turn the spotlight around on one very deserving lucy fan, Conchita Lozano Batista. Conchita is a mother of 2, labor union lawyer, and human rights activist.

Upon first meeting Conchita, you would be immediately taken by her classic looks that are in the same league as a young Vivien Leigh or Dorothy Hart. But, Conchita is not famous. She doesn’t normally get interviewed and she doesn’t walk the red carpet. That is, if you don’t count that one time her friend invited her to the Academy Awards as his guest.

In fact, this busy mother of two was surprised and taken aback when I asked her if I could interview her. When we sat down to talk, the first thing out of her mouth was, “I never get to talk about myself.” This, of course, made this all the more satisfying and gratifying for me. Because, although her face doesn’t cover the tabloids, Conchita exemplifies what happens when extraordinary touches the ordinary life. And within 5 minutes of talking with Conchita, you quickly realize you are truly in the presence of a star.

So, world. Meet Conchita Lozano Batista—the ultimate balancing class act. She's a lucy fan, mother of two, wife, friend, full time lawyer, human rights activist, ballet dancer, and healthy homemade pie maker. 

Let’s first start with the word “woman.” What does this word mean to you?

It means everything. It’s strength. It means caregiver. Helper. Friend. Bad-ass. Women are bad-asses. They really are. It means being the ultimate multi-tasker. You can’t be a woman and not multitask.

You have a very demanding full-time job, a marriage, and two children. How do you fit in time to take care of yourself? What do you do?

Recently, I went to see Zadie Smith speak. All of these people in the audience had these heady questions and all I wanted to ask is, “How do you balance all of this?” I respect and look up to her so much, I wanted to know her secrets. But I didn’t raise my hand because I thought, “Oh, the mom question.” I do wish I had more time to take care of myself. But I feel I do an okay job and that’s working for me right now. But I have gotten really good at figuring out how to take care of myself without eating into my time with my children. Twice a week I go to ballet that starts after their bedtime. It’s great because I come home from work, I can make dinner, put them to bed, and then get my exercise in. It’s hard though because I often go back to work after the kids go to bed. Other days, I might run to the gym if I get out of a hearing early. I try to always make exercise a component. I’ll walk to the grocery store if I know that’s the only exercise I’ll get for the day. I also try to exercise as a family. I want my kids to know this is the norm. So we sometimes go to the track and we all run together. Sometimes they run or just play. But they see me doing it. Lately, we’ve been doing family soccer every Sunday morning. For two hours, we just get to run around with them. I also do Fit by Kit videos! They’re truly perfect for working moms. 

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Who are your greatest female influencers?

My grandmother and my mom. I’m very lucky to have been raised by such strong women. So much so, I never felt I had to seek role models outside of my family. But, just knowing they are a part of my DNA makes me feel like I can do so much because they are in me. I still, to this day, ask myself sometimes “What would my grandmother do?”  My grandmother was one of the first female Cuban basketball players and coaches. She managed to do that while working, having kids and being married. She even helped coach my basketball team. So, I always had this notion I could do all of these things because that’s what the women in my family do. I wish I had told my grandmother more how much she meant to me. I try to tell my mother. I guess, I hope, she gets it to some degree. But my grandmother is no longer with us. By the time you’re old enough to say how much someone means, they’re gone. Or, at least to articulate it in a way that is meaningful.

When do you feel the most beautiful?

When I go to ballet class and when I have date night with my husband. I have to drag myself sometimes to this ballet class because I’m so tired after work and after taking care of my kids. But when I get there, I look in the mirror, no makeup on, and all I can think is, “I feel so good.” It’s always so hard to get there, but I never regret going. That’s when I feel beautiful. And my husband makes me feel really beautiful. He really gets me.

You are a union side labor lawyer who started her career in human rights activism. Can you tell me what drew you to this career and how you got started?

I am a daughter of immigrants. My mother is from Cuba and my father is from Mexico. I was born in Puerto Rico, then moved to Mexico City and ended up being raised for the rest of my childhood in California right along the Mexican border. So even though I was never an immigrant, or a refugee, my parents were and I connected to that. I often felt like one because of my parents. I always wanted to be a lawyer, even as a teenager, and I used to volunteer at a sanctuary covenant where it was my job to interview the Central American refugees who had fled the war. I would meet with refugees, listen to their stories and I remember being completely rocked to the core. Before then, I knew to some degree that kind of stuff happened and my mom had come from a country torn apart by political strife. But volunteering there really changed my understanding on a much deeper level. I started to see everyone differently. You can walk next to someone down the street who looks like a regular person and have no idea that they might have these same stories. From then on, I had such appreciation for everyone and their hardships. I still feel like that drives me today in labor union law. The space that I inhabit now is more about ensuring that working people get fair wages and are protected. I get to work with immigrant workers, dealing with immigrations issues in the workplace and many other cases such as sexual assault. Being a lawyer can be really mundane. Like any job really. So I really put my energy and focus into what inspires me about my job. I have to feel inspired if I am going to be away from my kids. And, in this job, I feel like I am doing something that adds true value and purpose not just to my life, but to those I represent.

So let me get this straight, you cook 5-7 nights a week? How do you possibly have time to do that?!

I’m not sure, but I do! Ha! My mother was an incredible chef. So I get that from her. It’s something I really enjoy doing and I have my kids help me. So I’m teaching them while getting quality time with them. That’s what it’s all about for me. Having my family sit around the family table knowing that this is what matters. We don’t have our phones on us or the TV on. It’s just quality time around a home cooked meal.

 

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What is your favorite thing to make?

I like to challenge myself with desserts. I try to make desserts with very little sugar apart from the fruit. I especially like my pie crumbles. I make a lot of fruit crumbles. When the summer fruits come in, I get so creative. I mix up the toppings such as nuts or oatmeal. I try to use very little sugar. I want my kids (and me) to feel like we can have a treat that is healthy and still tastes delicious. It’s funny, we even make our own Fanta because I don’t let them have soda. 

What is your healthy eating regimen?

Well I think the fact that I use organic and local products as much as possible, really helps. I am always thinking “healthy” and keeping it delicious. At work, I get so busy so I have gotten in the habit of packing simple foods that I know will give me energy and sustain me. I bring mixed nuts to work, fruits, hard boiled eggs (with whole wheat toast) and avocados as snacks. And then at night, I cook a more elaborate meal. 

You have been together for almost 20 years. What is the secret to your successful marriage?

There isn’t any one thing. Firstly, I think I got so lucky with the man that I have. He’s just smart, kind hearted, humble, sweet, loving, athletic and he really works on himself. He constantly challenges himself. Being with someone who continues to challenge their life is really important. Even during tough moments, they’re trying to work through it. Communication is really big. We’re getting better at even silly communication like who’s picking up dinner or the kids. I’m even talking about getting better with communication via email or text and putting appointments into the calendar. 20 years later and we still work on communication. Also, when you figure out how to raise kids together and you both can figure out how to still have time for yourselves, even in some small way, then you’re doing a good job! Lastly, I would say staying busy is important. I tell people this a lot. By busy, I don’t mean always having something urgent to do. By busy, I mean that each individual person can entertain themselves and keep their lives interesting. I don’t believe in being bored. I think if you’re saying you’re bored on a regular basis, then there is something you’re doing wrong. And my husband and I both keep busy which keeps our life exciting for ourselves and for each other.  

 

What are the values that you try to instill in your children? What do you hope they say about you when they’re older?

Being a mother is everything to me. I am a mother before everything else. I hope I instill in them strength, being self sufficient, empathy, love of humanity and just the love of being alive. I want them to know that this world we live in is something we share with everyone else and it’s up to us to make it an amazing place. I want them to value friendship and relationships and not take things for granted. You have to work for what you get. And when they’re older, I just hope they don’t roll their eyes when thinking about me. Honestly, I just hope when they’re older, they still want to call me and tell me about their life. That they still want to talk with me, check in, and I hope they always know that I’ve got their back no matter what.

What is your advice to our lucy readers out there?

To any woman out there trying to find her place in the world, my advice would be to put your phone down. Don’t look at other people. Look at yourself. We spend so much time looking at other people that we lose looking within. Even if we just spent more time doing that, we could draw so much confidence and inspiration from ourselves. I don’t think you have to look outside often. And lastly, make sure you continue to put your focus on those you love. Life is just more beautiful when you do that. 

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