Community Awards 2012
Carolina Padilla immigrated to the United States from Guatemala with her husband and three children. Mrs. Padilla worked for One World Community Health system for 12 years moving through various health departments during her tenure there. She was an administrative assistant and before leaving One World became the Dental Department Manager. Shortly after, she had the opportunity to become the Director of the Latina Resource Center, an arm of the Catholic Charities organization. Her primary responsibilities during her time with the Resource Center were to develop social service programs for younger adult women who were currently being under-served in the community. Mrs. Padilla also noted that another segment of the population was also being under-served, Latino seniors.
Recognizing the need, she created a pilot program for Latino senior women. The success of the program was a great one. Detrimentally, under the organization there was no interest to start a viable program for seniors in the community. With determination, Mrs. Padilla approached various organizations that could help her with her mission. The last organization she contacted, Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging (ENOA). For many years ENOA had the interest of serving the aging Latino population but had no knowledge of how to create a program because of the lack of bilingual personnel. Recognizing that ENOA could not give the Center 100% of its resources, Mrs. Padilla was strongly encouraged to start a 501c(3) so she would be eligible for the additional funding she would need. On March 19, 2009 the Intercultural Senior Center opened its doors to the Latino senior community. With the capacity for 15 people, the Center’s first location became too small for the membership within 3 months. The Center was forced to relocate to The Hall of Our Lady Guadalupe, where it remained for one year. The Hall was needed for other Church activities and the Center was forced to relocate once again to 2021 U St (Sokol South Omaha). The Intercultural Senior Center now currently serves between 40-45 seniors a day three times a week. This second home for many offers a variety of social programs, they include physical activity instruction, English instruction, and many other educational programs. The Center serves the entire Omaha and Council Bluffs communities. The Center attracts seniors of all sorts of backgrounds and heritages. With the support of many organization and funders this senior center is here today and it is here to stay for many years to come to serve the aging Latino population I need.
Currently in his 4th year at UNO double majoring in Secondary Education and Latino/Latin American Studies with minors in Political Science, History, and Sociology. He graduated from Omaha South High in 2009. While at UNO he has been involved and held leadership positions in various clubs and organizations including the Association of Latino American Students (ALAS), Latino Men of Impact (LMI), American Multicultural Students (AMS), Cultural Student Council, and Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society (ODK). Outside of school besides working part-time is involved in his community by volunteering and participating in various community organizations including the Grassroots Leadership Development Program. After his graduation he plans on working as a high school social studies teacher but also continuing his studies to receive a Master’s.
Maria Isabel Garcia
In 2000, María was recruited to be an Education Specialist in Multicultural Affairs at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She moved to Omaha for the adventure of beginning her professional career and creating a sense of community for herself in a new place and was particularly fascinated by the Latino community of Omaha. For years, María committed her time and efforts toward the students and families she served at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She assisted with recruitment, retention and graduation efforts of underrepresented students, and enjoyed advising student organizations and being a resource to the community. After over eleven years of service educating and coaching youth and young adults to achieve their academic and professional goals, María internalized her own advice and boldly stepped into a new career endeavor to pursue an entrepreneurial passion in the financial services industry. María joined Heritage Financial Services in June of 2012. She is committed to developing long-term relationships, thereby providing excellent service for her clients. María holds securities registrations, Series 6 and 63, is studying to achieve her Series 7 and 66 and is licensed to sell life, health, and disability insurance. She is a registered representative of Securian Financial Services, Inc. María volunteers on the executive boards for Latino Center of the Midlands, Barrientos Scholarship Foundation, Women on a Mission for Change, and ALPFA Nebraska Chapter – a professional association committed to building Latino business leaders. Additionally, she serves on the OPS Latino Academic Achievement Council and is the Community Advisor to Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc. at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. María is a covenant partner of Ambassadors Worship Center, serving in the youth and singles ministries. She enjoys investing quality time with her family and friends, traveling, reading, cooking, practicing Pilates on the reformer, and long walks with her dog.
Mary Lee Fitzsimmons
Mary Lee Fitzsimmons has been active in the non-profit sector in positions of executive management and in positions of board leadership. She has expertise in health care administration for low-income and minority populations and in alliances focusing on homelessness and domestic violence. A strong believer in philanthropic/community collaborations, she has worked to involve all segments of our community in human service issues. She assists many non-profit organizations improve their day-to-day functioning and their longer-range development. Her most recent activities have included non-profit board development, strategic planning, and working with capacity building for community-based organizations. She is currently directing an organizational capacity development project for the Omaha Community Foundation.
Rodrigo Gomez-Cordero, MD
Born in Nicaragua I started my medical career by studying at Universidad Autonoma De Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico from 1967 – 1974. I practiced at the Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, IL, the same hospital where I did my Surgical residents. I also served in the United States Air Force. I currently live in Norfolk, Nebraska where I have my own private , the Santa Marianita Clinic. I also practice at the Hospital of Faith Regional Health Services.
I am an attorney in Lima Peru, where I developed my career in the Supreme and Superior Court. I obtained my Masters of Arts in Leadership from Bellevue University, and currently pursuing other studies. My goal is to be an attorney in the United States to serve my community. I am actively working for the Latino Community of Nebraska through different organizations and companies as a board member, professional, leader and volunteer. Prior, I was working as Interpreter for the former Chicano Awareness Center, Program and Community Coordinator for another non-profit organization, as the Executive Director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the South Omaha District Executive for Mid America Council – Boys Scouts of America.