Winner of the Hennessy Latino 30 under 30 Award
Public Policy Analyst, Google/Youtube
Heritage: Cuban and Dominican
Marshall Scholarship recipient
By: Frank Morris
What do Saint Thomas Aquinas, athletics and access to information all have in common?
These are all areas of interest for Alexander Diaz, the 24-year-old former Cambridge resident who has gone on to pursue ventures outside of the so-called “People’s Republic.”
With two master’s degrees from Oxford University — one in public policy, the other in financial economics — and a bachelor’s from Harvard in psychology, Diaz now lives in San Francisco where he works for Google’s public policy team, focusing on the social video platform, YouTube.
“We basically set the strategy for the company. I like to call us the moral compass of the company,” Diaz said. “What I do on a day-to-day centers on controversial content and free expression, fighting to secure a balance between free speech and security. Your views get challenged on a daily basis, but I think it's important work to keep the internet a vibrant community and also make sure it's safe."
It is a commitment to public service and his faith that guide him in every aspect of his life, Diaz said.
"I am dedicated to public service, which can be manifested in so many ways. If I were to end up in politics or the presidency, that would somehow be a huge honor, but I don’t live my day-to-day thinking that,” he said.
Originally from New Jersey, Diaz attended a Jesuit high school, and it was there that his dedication to service was forged.
“If you’re driven by certain guiding principles or moral relativism, it's important. My faith in God cemented my action,” he said, citing saints Peter, Ignatius of Loyola and Thomas Aquinas as some of his spiritual role models.
While in Cambridge, Diaz said he was met with a great deal of support from community leaders, such as former Vice Mayor Dennis Benzan, Dario Collado and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Junot Diaz. He describes his time here as being among his most formative years.
“I’ve been a huge beneficiary of mentorship in my community, and there's no way I could pay that back. I just move forward and as long as I’m doing that, I think I’m on the right path,” he said.
Beyond his work at Google, Diaz has a plethora of experience in diverse roles including serving as a fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations and for U.S. senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker. Additionally, he previously served as a project manager for Bachata superstar Romeo Santos.
Outside of his professional endeavors, the Rhodes Scholar is also an athlete, frequently playing basketball and baseball.
“I think sports teach you how to lose in the face of adversity,” he said. “My faith taught me to not give up and sports gave me the tools to not give up — literally a ‘next play mentality.’ I think that's kind of been engrained in my general approach in life. I role with the punches.”
As for being named one the inaugural El Mundo Boston Latino 30 under 30, Diaz says, "It's a huge honor. Being a child of immigrants, it's almost like a manifestation of the American dream.”