Ms. Rivera is a veteran nonprofit executive, community activist, educator, and lifelong resident of Milwaukee’s Southside.
For more than 25 years she has provided strategic and operational leadership across several communities and organizations including: United Community Center, SER Jobs for Progress, Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee, United Cerebral Palsy of SEW, Girls Scouts of Milwaukee Area, Voces de la Frontera, etc. In 2008, she opened a consulting firm named Xecutiva to provide executive level consulting and services to organizations and professionals. She has also taught preschool, alternative education, adult basic education, and undergraduate and graduate courses. It is this diverse range of deliberately crafted experiences that she says, “has her committed to a holistic approach and unity in and across community.”
She was a community activist early on in her teen years including starting a youth council at United Community Center where she was an AODA peer counselor. She trained at the Gamaliel Foundation in Chicago, IL, when hired by The Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee (HTFM) to organize single mothers and volunteers at food pantries. Although she makes clear she was the novice and youngest organizer, HTFM’s efforts spun off what we now know as MICAH (Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope). Her involvement in community issues, working to engage others in the political process, and political advising has remained consistent over the years. Her efforts include founding The Lula Project, a Latina Research and Leadership Institute; Campaign Manager for Judge Phil Chavez, who was an unknown candidate in an upset election and the first Latino in that position; and establishing the Latino Elected Officials group. In terms of the Latino population that SOC serves, her reflection was “God created me a Latina and gave me to a family in the inner-city, it is an indication to me that I will always have a responsibility to the things that I am.”
Among her educational and training achievements, she holds a certificate in organizing; a certificate in Bible studies; graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Community Education; has a Master’s degree in Administrative Leadership where she was on fellows; and has entered the final stages of her Ph. D. in Adult and Continuing Education, with a minor in higher education, and a certificate in Teaching and Learning (focused on online learning) where she also has been a continuous fellow. Her dissertation research is focused on Latina leadership. She is a recognized beginning scholar including having her work published, presented and awarded. “Education is a cornerstone, flint stone and capstone to many impoverished and marginalized people.” is what she said about helping others learn about community development.
Like many families, her grandparents arrived here in response to intense labor recruitment during the industrial boom. They worked long and dangerous hours in factories and her grandmother lost much of one arm in a tannery. This is where she said she learned her work ethic and concern for workers. Her mother purchased a humble home in Walker’s Point and worked as an educator at the Council for the Spanish Speaking’s Guadalupe Head Start Program. She grew up in the shadows of the Rockwell Clock Tower among the children of the other Polish, Irish, German, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and other immigrant’s grandchildren. She purchased her own home on Historic Layton Boulevard more than a quarter of a century ago where she continues to live. She says her personal conviction is to “live where you lead.”
Ms. Rivera responded to the announcement with, “It is an honor to come along side my community as we move forward to realize our hopes and address our hardships. I am confident that we will be able to contribute to a thriving Southside and a stronger Greater Milwaukee by building leadership, unity, and engagement among SOC residents and in all sectors of our neighborhoods.”
Great appreciation is expressed to former board member Graciela Hernandez, who graciously served as the Interim Executive Director since the middle of November, and also to the neighbors, staff, volunteers, collaborators, funders, and wider community for their continued commitment.
The Southside Organizing Committee will be celebrating 25 years of partnership with the community this year. We are a neighborhood-based organization dedicated to the development and sustainability of Milwaukee’s near Southside neighborhoods. We focus on projects that support community stakeholders and create safe and livable neighborhoods.