Staff Profile: Public Affairs Officer Mayra GomezFebruary 7, 2011
Successfully coordinating events and large campaigns for First 5 LA, like this month's Children's Oral Health Month and November's Read Early, Read Aloud! early literacy campaign, takes a person with superb organizational skills and creativity. They must have the ability to coordinate and disseminate large amounts of collateral and information, including educational literature, giveaways and web content. Then, they must go into the community to ensure that the First 5 LA message is accurate and consistent so that parents and child-related organizations are well informed and getting the support they need. And all of that must be done with patience and a smile.
Since 2008, Mayra Gomez, a First 5 LA public affairs officer, is the main link between the community and the organization at conferences, fairs and other events, like dental clinics during oral health month and library story times during the early literacy campaign. As a self-described "perfectionist," it's a job Mayra does with ease, despite the often hectic and stressful pace.
Mayra can trace her attention to detail back to her childhood, when she refused to get moving until her shoes were tied just right or turn in homework that wasn't neat and complete. She was always a good student, despite a sometimes chaotic family life in her hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico.
Mayra is the youngest of five children. During her early childhood, she lived in Mexico with her mother while her father earned a living in the United States - first as a farm worker, then as a dishwasher before opening up his own businesses. "There was sacrifice so there could be a better life for the kids," she recalled.
When Mayra was 12, she moved to Inglewood, where her father owned a market. She attended Catholic schools and made a name for herself as a star volleyball player. While earning required service hours for school, she gained a sense of volunteerism by reading to retired nuns and starting a canned-food drive.
But living in Inglewood was a culture shock for Mayra. She saw behaviors she didn't understand, like the separation between blacks and Latinos.
Culture shock was more severe in Indiana, where she attended the University of Notre Dame on an academic scholarship. Mayra found her passion in gender studies as a political science major, learned about law and education and fought to form the first feminist club on campus.
Mayra returned home to be close to her family, and finished her degree while working as an administrative assistant at First 5 LA. She left for a year to work at the Feminist Majority Foundation as a campus organizer. She traveled to conferences and spoke to thousands of people about voting and other issues important to women and children. "It doesn't get any better than that when it comes to politics," Mayra said.
A year later, she returned to First 5 LA, but has her sights set on law school. Her applications are out and she expects to begin work on her law degree this fall.
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