President McGuire announced that the 2013 Commencement speaker at Trinity Washington University will be “the amazing Maria Gomez, the founder and CEO of Mary’s Center, a remarkable community health organization that provides maternal and child care to more than 70,000 participants in seven sites throughout the Washington region. Ms. Gomez’s leadership on behalf of women and children in our region has received high acclaim.” Trinity’s Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 18, at 4:00 p.m. Gomez will be presented with an honorary doctor of letters.
Having immigrated from Columbia at the age of 13, Gomez attended D.C. Public Schools, and then Georgetown University’s School of Nursing. After earning her BSN at Georgetown, she went west to the University of California at Berkeley where she received her master’s in public health. Fortunately for thousands of families here, she returned to D.C. and shared her nursing talents in public health, in positions at the D.C. Department of Health, the Visiting Nurses Association and the Red Cross, where she directed community education programming and disaster services.
Gomez founded Mary’s Center in 1988 with the mission to build better futures through the delivery of health care, education and social services that embrace a culturally diverse community, and it was initially established as a clinic to provide prenatal and postpartum care to Latino women living in the Adams Morgan and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods. Under the leadership of Gomez, Mary’s Center has grown from an initial budget of $250,000, serving 200 participants a year, to an annual budget of $40 million, projecting to serve more than 70,000 participants at seven sites throughout the District of Columbia and Maryland in 2013. Many Trinity families have reaped the benefits of health care and education through Mary’s Center.
Maria is among the strongest leaders in the region and is frequently recognized for her role in the D.C. metropolitan region’s health care system. She currently serves on the boards of Share our Strength, United Medical Center, and the Meyer Foundation.
Gomez has received numerous other honors and awards from the Pan American Health Organization, National Council of La Raza, the Washington Post, and other organizations. She received the National Association of Hispanic Nurses’s Nursing Excellence Award, the Jessie Bernard Wise Woman Award from the Center for Women Policy Studies, the Hispanic Community Leadership Award from the Hispanic Employees Association, and Washingtonian of the Year, as named by Washingtonian Magazine. She received the Minority Business Leader Award from the Washington Business Journal, and the Salmon Award from the D.C. Primary Care Association to recognize her “life spent swimming upstream.” For her dedication to helping save babies, the March of Dimes granted her the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Maria Gomez represents the values of Trinity in service to people in need in our community, in working for social justice and advancing the cause of education and improved health for children and families,” said President McGuire. “She will bring a powerful message to the Commencement ceremony.”
Trinity Washington University was founded in 1897 and today enrolls more than 2,600 students. Trinity offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate programs for students of all ages, with a special emphasis on women’s education and the liberal arts in the College of Arts and Sciences, and professional development in the coeducational School of Education, School of Nursing and Health Professions, and School of Professional Studies. Trinity educates more D.C. residents than any other university in the nation. More than 350 undergraduate and graduate diplomas will be conferred at Trinity’s 110th Commencement.