special guest speakers
Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and Iowa Finance Authority (IFA)
Debi Durham is a longtime economic and community development professional who serves as executive director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA). Durham was named to the position by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds in January 2019.
Dawn Oliver Wiand
Iowa Women's Foundation
Originally from Des Moines, IA. A graduate from the University of Iowa. Returned to Iowa City after 30 years in Kansas City. She joined the Iowa Women’s Foundation as Executive Director in February 2013 after serving as Executive Director for the Women's Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work and has worked in the nonprofit field for more than 34 years as a volunteer and professional. She spent the first 15 years in the public housing field, providing direct services, and then moved into nonprofit management, focusing on fundraising and ultimately providing vision, leadership and management to two women's funds.
In 2013, the Corridor Business Journal named Dawn as one of the area’s Movers & Shakers. She was recognized by HER Magazine, a publication of The Gazette, as a 2018 HER Women of Achievement Award honoree.
She truly believes that "improving the lives of women and girls is a must, not only for our families but our communities and, ultimately, our country!"
Intercultural Senior Center
Founder and Executive Director
Carolina Padilla provides leadership for the Intercultural Senior Center's growth, vision, and community reach. She is actively involved with all functions of the organization including fundraising, outreach, partnerships, program development, and direct services.
Carolina immigrated to the United States from Guatemala in 1992 with her husband and three children. Her educational background is in Communication Science. She worked for One World Community Health Centers for 12 years, moving through various health departments and administrative and leadership positions. Shortly after that, she was elected the Director of the Latina Resource Center, a program of Catholic Charities. Her primary responsibilities were to develop social service programs for younger adult women in need of basic skills in English as a Second Language, leading toward employment as well as services for women facing domestic violence.
During this time, Carolina realized that another segment of the population, Latino elders, were underserved. This was the beginning of the Intercultural Senior Center.
Intercultural Senior Center opened its doors in South Omaha on March 19, 2009. During the 10 years of ISC’s existence, Carolina has been a passionate advocate for the elderly of our community. Her contagious enthusiasm has created greater awareness and understanding for the need for services for the diverse aging population. Her determination in the cause she is serving has succeeded in attracting many likeminded friends and organizations who are now funding different programs and services when there was hardly any support during the early years.
The first chapter of ISC started with four seniors and Carolina as the driver, teacher, cook, exercise teacher and the only go to person for the group. Carolina moved her center 4 different times as the number of participants started to grow. Her audacious dream to create a permanent center consisting of adequate facilities, beautiful green lawns and gardens has finally been realized when the center started its operations from 5545 Center Street on March 19, 2019. This home away from home for seniors is not only promoting recreation, socialization and overall wellbeing for them, but it is also creating a strong sense of community and belonging regardless of language, ethnicity, race, socioeconomic background or any other differences that create separation and isolation.
Carolina has been actively engaged in serving as a board member for the Non-Profit Associations of the Midlands, Omaha Network, and Nonprofit Executive Institute (NEI). She is in the Advisory Committees at the College of St Mary School of Nursing, the External Advisory Board at Creighton University School of Public Health, Creative Aging, and also at the Methodist Age-Friendly Health Care Committee, Nebraska Caregiver Coalition, Involvement and Advocacy LGBT Seniors. In addition to that, she spends time to provide guidance and leadership at the UNO Hispanic Advisory Committee, the Omaha Public Schools, the Nebraska Refugee Task Force among others. Carolina has been trained in Target Excellence & Execution to Achieve Mission (TEAM) Building Culture.
In honor of Carolina’s many years of service and commitment, the Women’s Center for Advancement has awarded her the Tribute to Women 2020 Award. ISC was accredited by the NCOA (National Council on Aging) NISC (National Institute of Senior Centers) in 2021. The only senior center in the state of Nebraska. 50 Over 50 Nebraska Non-Profit Award in 2021.
Carolina’s legacy to the city she now calls home is this center that has been serving the aging population for a decade and will continue to do so for generations to come. ISC is a testimony of the three most important philosophies Carolina holds dear: Diversity, Inclusivity and Dignity.
The abduction of Elizabeth Smart was one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time. Elizabeth was abducted on June 5, 2002, and her captors controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape. Fortunately, the police safely returned Elizabeth back to her family on March 12, 2003, after being held prisoner for 9 grueling months.
Through this traumatic experience, Elizabeth has become an advocate for change related to child abduction, recovery programs, and National legislation. Elizabeth triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered during her abduction, which led to conviction.