Raised on a farm in a family of all older brothers, Joy Diaz says she grew up as a tomboy and only had two speeds—moving fast or asleep.

An avid outdoorswoman and all-around active person, Diaz, chief marketing officer (CMO) and executive vice president at Land Care Inc. in Las Vegas, was dealt a blow when she received news about growths in both breasts 18 months ago. A double mastectomy and six additional surgeries later, Diaz can now proudly say she is cancer free, but still has at least one more surgery in her future. It’s been a rocky road, but this mother of three says a strong circle of family and friends kept her going.

I love to run, always have and always will. The endorphins produce a wonderful equalizing feeling. When I am “in the zone” and running, I use no music—just a steady, relaxed rhythm that is very calming and peaceful, allowing me to think clearly about everything—or nothing. I get to choose.

I believe that shared stories change the world. If I can give hope to one person that they can overcome incredible odds and can do this by being part of the greatest industry on earth—then my mission is accomplished. We are the greatest industry on earth because we are stewards of the most precious resource on earth—water.

My personal motto and our family motto is “Diazes never quit,” which is from my late father-in-law, who was a purple heart recipient and POW. When I think of him starving and freezing in one of Hitler’s prison camps and the character it took to survive, I know he never quit. That determination is rooted in my deep faith. In business, I would say some of my key words are “trust,” “integrity” and “loyalty.”

I wish I could say that I heard this big, booming voice that called out from the heavens that said, “Joy, go green,” but instead my beginning is much less exciting. My husband asked me to set aside my career in sales and marketing and come help him build Land Care. That was two decades ago—the rest was destiny. It’s a decision I have never regretted. I love the green industry.

I love my decaf Good Earth Tea and I usually drink it daily. But I also like to pause and indulge by cupping my mug with both hands, raising it to my nose and taking the biggest sniff of spicy cinnamon heaven on earth.

The best reactions I get when I tell people I’m a landscape professional are when I speak to kids in the local school PAYBAC Program about what I do for my career and to encourage them to stay in school. At a school speaking to elementary kids about running a landscape company, a boy raised his hand and said, “I bet it takes you a long time to dig a hole and plant a tree because you’re so skinny.” At that same school another boy asked me “Do you sweat a lot?” This is Vegas so we get up over 100 degrees.

I love meeting people, I love being able to help people create and solve issues that make their lives a better place to live. I love the fact that some of my clients are still my clients after two decades. It’s a blessing and a privilege to have these connections. I love driving around town and seeing the landscapes we have designed, built and maintained in commercial and industrial areas. I love being part of leaving a “green” legacy—and that is priceless.

Connect with Turf Magazine: Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Twitter