Image courtesy of ¡Presente!.

To get in touch with her Latino roots, María Manautou Matos is branching out.

While attending Carnegie Mellon University in the late-1990’s, the Puerto Rico native joined the board of the Spanish and Latino Student Association, where she celebrated and shared her heritage while learning about others.

Now, two decades later, her mission has taken a bolder and more targeted approach. On March 1, Manautou Matos launched ¡Presente!, a bilingual magazine that gives a voice to Pittsburgh’s Latino community. “¡Presente!” is a Spanish exclamation used to denote your presence in a place. She intends to make a lot of noise.

The mission of the online publication is to inform, entertain and support more than 30,000 Hispanics in Western Pennsylvania while introducing others to this vibrant and diverse population.

“This is all about connecting families to what’s happening in the region,” says Manautou Matos, who lives in Allison Park with her husband and two children.

María Manautou Matos and her children Gabriella and Eric.

Updated throughout the week with original stories by Manautou Matos and those obtained through PublicSource, the platform offers insights on everything from immigration, housing and jobs to business, education and events. Matos has formed partnerships with the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation, Latino Community Center and other local organizations to create a centralized hub of information.

She feels the magazine is essential, especially in the COVID-19 era.

The shutdown happened just weeks after the website debuted. Manautou Matos, who has an extensive background in marketing and writing, created a section dedicated to news about the virus, as well as personal stories of how Latinos were adapting to the new normal.

¡Presente! received a $5,000 grant from the Facebook Journalism Project and Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which Manautou Matos used to translate information from English into Spanish. As the site grows, she hopes to hire freelancers and release a print edition once a year to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15-Oct. 15.

“I also see this magazine as a way to fight stereotypes and misinformation,” Manautou Matos says. “We’re highlighting the great things about our community and what local leaders and companies like Duolingo are doing. People are making a big impact and we want to share their stories.”

People interested in contributing can send an email to Manautou Matos.

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.