Lisa Mateo is nothing if not tenacious. She started at PIX Morning News in 2000 as a production assistant and worked her way up the ladder, toiling as a producer, helicopter reporter, regular reporter, weather anchor and news anchor. Mateo, who was born in Brooklyn and raised in Leonia, credits her dad with instilling in her the drive to succeed.
"I have three sisters," she says, "and my father always said, 'You have to be strong. You have to fight for what you want. It's going to be difficult because you're women and you're Latina, and you have to fight extra hard for something if you believe in it and you want it.' It's always been that way, with school, with sports at school and with my career. I'm always looking for the next challenge."
"When we were in Leonia, my family loved Dante's Place, right on Broad Avenue. It was one of our favorite spots. It was a tradition. We'd go there on Fridays as a family. Everyone was doing something different, but we all looked forward to that. Years later, after my parents sold the house, we'd go and they'd still know our names. That's where I'd go back and visit.
"What I love about my job at PIX is that it's something different every day. Right now, they're calling me a PIX Morning News features reporter, but I can be doing weather one day and anchoring the news another day. I can be doing breaking news or I can be at the circus. Every day is a new adventure."
"I live in Somerset County now with my husband (Jose) and our kids (Jaren, 10, and Jiselle, 4), but I loved Leonia. I'd ride my bike up and down the block and my mom would do this whistle, which would mean, 'Hey, it's time to come home for dinner.' I just have so many memories, and now I'm passing that kind of thing on to my family. It's nice when I can see my kids ride their bikes and say, 'Hey guys, it's time to come in!' It's nice to see that transition in my life.
"I volunteer a lot with a group in New Jersey that does scholarships for Latino students. People grow up differently, and it's good when they see success stories and say, 'I can do that, too.' I want to be there and tell them, 'You know what? You can, even if you come from a family that can't afford college. There are opportunities out there that can help you reach that goal.' Just for me to tell them that, to tell them how important an education is, it's great."