My Story: Maria Gomez
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Maria Gomez came to the US from Colombia as a teen with her mother for a better education. A few decades later, she's running one of the most successful nonprofits in DC.
Mary's Center provided $7.3M
worth of free healthcare for the uninsured
at its four locations in DC and Maryland in 2012 and is on pace to provide services to 50,000 people
this year. The operating budget has grown from $250k to $39M in 25 years, and Maria recently won the Presidential Citizens Medal
. With colleagues, she launched the 409-employee
nonprofit, which provides healthcare, social services, family literacy, and job training, in 1988. The inspiration
came after working as a nurse and seeing the plight of immigrants. She went to school thinking she would become a doctor but couldn't ask her widowed mother
to pay for such an expensive education. Looking back she wonders if she would have even launched Mary's Center had she become a doctor.
The awards and money raised are great but what really motivates Maria is getting letters
of thanks like one from a 21-year-old man who was born
and grew up
through Mary's Center services. The organization was originally founded to help Latin American women who immigrated
for safety and economic reasons but were raped as they crossed the border and became pregnant. It started out offering maternity care and then added other medical services
like mental health, dental care, home visits, senior wellness, and teen programs as the community's needs evolved
One of the changes came with the gentrification
of the Adams Morgan neighborhood where the main Mary's Center is located. One way they brought in funding was to offer healthcare to people who had insurance
. For every insured patient, at least two uninsured
people can receive care. Maria is now pushing to get the Affordable Care Act fully implemented to expand
the insured population and advocates for immigration reform
with the help of the National Council of La Raza. She does this while keeping true to the mission
of getting Latinos educated, healthy, and moving up the economic ladder.
Turn Off The Lights!
is going off the beaten path
to find and profile associations we've never heard of. And there are many among the 1.8M that exist. This week we're featuring the International Dark-Sky Association, a 25-year-old organization
in Tucson, Ariz., that advocates for restrictions on how much light
should be allowed during nighttime
. IDA also works with manufacturers to produce nighttime-friendly lights like the ones that only turn on with motion. Managing director Scott Kardel
says too much light at night impacts wildlife
and is a big waste of energy
, so IDA has also stated its case to the Energy Department and the National Parks Service.
The organization is run by DC-based Bob Parks
, but it was started by David Crawford, a professional astronomer, and Tim Hunter, an amateur astronomer. The 6,000-member
org has seen progress: big-box retailers are carrying more neighbor-friendly lighting than ever before. But the continuing challenge is that the amount of light
of the night sky is growing faster
than the population. Why? People are afraid of the dark, says Scott (who? us? what? no way! hah! wait, what was that noise?! Ah!), so convincing households and businesses to turn off their outside lights
at night is difficult.
So while we all try to keep it dark, think about other associations out there that are a little under the radar. Send recommendations to Bisnow's Tania Anderson.
Summit's Latest Fete
Last week, our sister company Summit
—led by Bisnow
co-founder Elliott Bisnow
and co-founded by Bisnow
CEO Ryan Begelman
—held its first event on top of Utah's Powder Mountain
, which it purchased in April to build a community of innovators
, and thought-leaders
. Above is just a segment of the quarter-mile long table
at which 1,100 people had dinner one night. Both Summit and Bisnow
are attempting to disrupt
what it means to convene people
and build communities that haven't existed before—read this great article
from NextWeb to learn more.
What do Dance and Family Services Have in Common?
The Center for Nonprofit Advancement crowned Bowen McCauley Dance and Northern Virginia Family Service with its 2013 Board Leadership Award
. The winners get a $10K grant
, and training and development for the board and CEO. Bowen McCauley Dance won in the under $2M budget category. Here is board member and marketing consultant Paul Di Vito
, board member and Bean Kinney & Korman attorney Lauren Keenan
, CohnReznick principal Anne Schrantz
, BoardSource training director Andy Davis
, board member Susan Schwelling
, board member Kathleen Sheehan
, executive director Ricki Marion
, board member and Arlington Convention and Visitors Services director Emily Cassell
, founding artistic director Lucy Bowen McCauley
and Center for Nonprofit Advancement CEO Glen O'Gilvie
Northern Virginia Family Services won in the over $2M budget category. Andy, Anne, and Glen flank NVFS COO Cheri Villa
, board past president and Inova Alexandria Hospital assistant HR VP Hugo Aguas
, NVFS president and CEO Mary Agee
, NVFS programs SVP Malinda Langford
, and NVFS programs SVP Stephanie Berkowitz
. Later, everyone walked down the futuristic hallway where this was taken and launched into space.
Do you remember your first job? If so, tell Bisnow's Tania Anderson about it. Words and pictures welcome!