The ZAVALA organization developed in 2001 when Chuck Neale, Director of the Wichita Falls Community Foundation, and Carroll Wilson, then-Editor of Wichita Falls Times Record News noted the increased growth in the Hispanic population and the need to have Hispanics involved in leadership positions.
Both Neale and Wilson coordinated a meeting in the Spring of 2002 with the Hispanic community to discuss ways to engage the Hispanic population and identify barriers that kept Hispanics from becoming involved in community. The first meeting was attended by 70 individuals, and several meetings followed.
As a result of these meetings, a steering committee was formed in the Fall of 2002, comprising of Iliana Jaramillo, Rudy Bermea, Stewart Frazier, Marlon Pesantez, Dr. Robert Clark, John Hirschi, Carroll Wilson, Juan Rivas, Miriam Mas, Father Hector Medina, Rigoberto Contreras, Judge Woody Gossom, and Liz Mendez.
The committee adopted a mission statement and goals. They also chose Zavala Hispanic Cultural Initiative for the organizational name, after Lorenzo de Zavala a historically significant Texan for his leadership role as a diplomat, democratic reformer, writer/publisher and Vice-President of the Republic of Texas.