Maria S. Gomez, president and CEO of Mary’s Center, founded the organization in 1988 as a clinic to provide prenatal and postpartum care to Latino women living in Ward 1. Under Maria’s leadership, Mary’s Center has grown from an initial budget of $250,000, serving 200 participants a year, to an annual budget of $52 million serving over 41,000 participants from all over the globe at five medical locations, two senior wellness centers and program office throughout the District of Columbia and Maryland in 2014. Maria is among the strongest leaders in the region. As testament to her significant commitment to give back to her community, she was selected by the White House as one of the 18 recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor. She is also frequently recognized for her role in the DC metropolitan region’s health care system. Prior to establishing Mary’s Center, Maria was a public health nurse at the D.C. Department of Health. She also worked at the Red Cross, where she directed community education programming and disaster services, and at the Visiting Nurses Association. Originally from Colombia, Maria immigrated with her mother at age 13 and attended DC Public Schools. Ms. Gomez obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Georgetown University and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley. She currently serves on the boards of United Medical Center, the DC Primary Care Association, the Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County, the Meyer Foundation and the Washington Area Women's Foundation.