She was the network's Mexico City Bureau Chief from 1982 until 1984 when she was transferred to Miami to serve as the Senior Producer for Latin America. In 1989 she was assigned to the West Coast.
As a producer Alvear has covered many major news stories; among them, the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s, the Mexico City earthquake in 1985, protests and elections in Chile and Argentina, the War on Drugs in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, the Mengele investigation in Brazil, unrest in Panama, two interviews with Fidel Castro in Cuba, the Pan American Games in Havana, the Barcelona Olympics, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation rebellion in Chiapas, the Colosio assassination, and events that have affected the Los Angeles area in recent years: riots, earthquakes and the O.J. Simpson trial.
In 1998 she was part of the NBC News team that reported on Hurricane Mitch in Nicaragua and Honduras. In 1999, she produced stories on Pope John Paul II's visit to Mexico, the earthquake that damaged Armenia, Colombia, and the turnover of the Panama Canal to the Panamanians.
Prior to joining NBC, Alvear worked in the Los Angeles area for all three network-owned local stations. While working at the CBS outlet, KNXT, as a producer for Two on the Town, she was part of a team that won the local Emmy in the best series category.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Alvear was a board member and Vice President of the California Chicano News Media Association, one of the first organizations of Latino journalists. She was honored for her pioneering efforts on behalf of CCNMA at their 1996 Scholarship dinner.
Alvear has been a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists since the 1980s. She has participated in the annual convention as a panelist, speaker and/or recruiter for NBC News. Alvear was elected Vice President-Broadcast in 1996 and represented NAHJ on the Board of the Radio and Television News Directors Association. In 2000 she was elected to a two-year term as President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. That same year she made the Hispanic Business list of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the U.S. In 1995 and 1996, Alvear was Editor at Large of Si, a short-lived magazine depicting the Latino experience in the U.S.
In 1988 Cecilia Alvear was one of twelve American journalists chosen for the prestigious Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University where she spent the academic year 1988-89.
Born in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, Cecilia Alvear immigrated to the United States in the 1960s and became a U.S. citizen in 1984. She frequently returned to the Galapagos, where she was helping to upgrade the public elementary school first started by her late father, the former military governor of the islands.
Alvear died of breast cancer on April 21, 2017 at the age of 77.