Albert VarasChief Executive Officer
For nearly 20 years, Albert Varas’s career and community service work has focused in the areas of education, nonprofits, business and public health.

As Executive Director for the Latino Center of the Midlands (LCM) since January 2017, Varas has increased the organization’s annual operating budget from $700,000 to $2.2 million and overseen the staff grow to more than double the team’s previous FTE. Varas also led an IT infrastructure overhaul and as part of an agency rebranding shifted the leadership structure to foster more collaborative decision-making. In addition to launching new program initiatives including several in response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Varas has identified and cultivated new strategic and mutually beneficial relationships with community organizations, businesses and other partners.

A former special education teacher with the Miami-Dade County (Florida) Public Schools, Varas also worked for Avenue Scholars Foundation and Building Bright Futures. He has sustained his passion for education by serving as the chair of the Chancellor’s Hispanic Advisory Cabinet at the University of Nebraska Omaha and on Avenue Scholars Foundation’s community advisory board, and formerly serving on the boards of the Omaha Public Schools Foundation and Interface: The Web School. Varas’s wife, Valerie, is principal at Omaha Public Schools’ Crestridge International Studies & Dual Language School.

Varas strives to support diversity, equity and inclusion and the advancement of underserved youth and families through education and resource access. This is reflected in not only his work with LCM, but also his board service with the Greater Omaha Chamber, his membership on the Mayor’s COVID-19 Community Response Advisory Board, and his involvement as a founding member of the Omaha Permaculture Advisory Board. Varas is also a member of the Aksarben Foundation Floor Committee and was previously a member of the Douglas County Health Department Board of Health. He is a former board president and avid supporter of City Sprouts.

In 2014, Varas was recognized as one of Omaha’s Top 40 Under 40 professionals, and the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance recognized City Sprouts in 2016 with the Project of Merit Award for its expansion into South Omaha and the Latino community. In 2018, Varas received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Midland University. Varas has presented at the National Neighborhoods Conference, the Greater Omaha Young Professionals Summit, the Heartland 2050 Summit, the Nebraska Hispanic/Latino Summit, and the Greater Omaha Chamber’s 2020 Conference on Opportunity, Diversity and Equity.

During his free time, Varas can be found tending to his garden, exploring local hiking trails, and spending time with his wife and two young children.

Silvia VelezDirector of Operations
Silvia has fulfilled multiple roles and helped the South Omaha community at the Latino Center of the Midlands since January 2010. With a Bachelor’s in Accounting, her education and past experiences have allowed her to go from instructor to administrator. Before joining our team she was an office coordinator, but her interest in sharing her knowledge in computing with adults and members of our community who did not know how to operate a computer or surf the web led her to her first position at the Latino Center. She enjoyed helping community members become more self-sufficient and find better jobs, but now she is able to help every department in multiple ways. Silvia loves spending her free time reading a good book, traveling the country and world, listening to music, and working out.
Tyler Wilcox, CPAChief Financial Officer
Tyler has been managing finances and enabling growth at the Latino Center of the Midlands since December 2018. With a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, his education and past experiences with our organization have allowed him to create opportunities for our organization to grow and remain a constant resource in the community. Before joining our team, Tyler was a as a financial contractor at a local manufacturing company, but his passion for helping the small business community to grow led him to the Latino Center. Tyler hopes to help support the growth of LCM and all its stakeholders including its employees and the community it serves. He loves the mission of the organization, and he believes education is the foundation of growth and all our programs are focused in some way on that key element. Tyler considers himself an outdoors person. He spends most of his free time camping, fishing, and golfing during the spring and summer months, but he also enjoys working out at the local gym.
Viridiana AlmanzaFCW Program Director
Viridiana was introduced to the Latino Center of the Midlands through her position as the coordinator/organizer for the DREAMers Project Coalition in 2013-2014. Her familiarity the Center, and her perspective that it is a place where everyone has a passion for helping others and where staff is full of energy and has innovative ideas led her to join our team in January 2019. Viridiana earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, and she is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Before joining our team, she was a Bilingual Program Coordinator at Partnership 4 Kids, but she chose to pursue the opportunity at the Center because she hopes to support our families directly though our diverse programming and seeing how their lives transform in a positive way. Viridiana believes that the well-being of an individual is an area that is imperative for everyone and that can lead to so many positive results. She hopes to incorporate her passions of learning about indigenous peoples and advocating for immigrant rights into her current position on our team. During her free time, Viridiana enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and staying involved in the community. She currently stays involved by mentoring three young ladies whom she has mentored since 2015.
Carmen ChagollaP2S Senior Program Manager
Carmen has been working in the nonprofit world and wearing many hats at the Latino Center of the Midlands since February 2014. With a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and minor in Women’s and Gender Studies from Creighton University, Carmen’s education, experiences, and passion for helping others become their best self, especially women led her to our organization. Carmen enjoys working with youth in our community because she enjoys seeing how the services we offer can make a difference in their lives and the lives of future generations. Before joining our team, she was a Bilingual Liaison for Omaha Public Schools, but her willingness to give back to her community led her to the Latino Center of the Midlands. Carmen’s free time is spent dancing, listening to music, watching movies, participating in community involvement activities, and spending time with her friends and family.
Aida LamelasABE Coordinator
Aida has been helping people and teaching them important skills needed for getting their GED at the Latino Center of the Midlands since November 2017. With a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism from the University of Havana, her education and past experiences have allowed her to successfully work with adults on their journey towards earning their GED. Before joining our team, Aida was new to the area and chose to join the team to help the community and build a community for herself. During her free time, Aida enjoys pursing her passions by reading and traveling, watching TV, playing dominos, and packing her outdoor gear for a nice camping trip.
Aidan PoseyESL Level 1 Instructor
Aidan is one of our new members of our Adult Basic Education program at the Latino Center of the Midlands. He is currently a student at the University of Nebraska Omaha studying Business Administration and Spanish as a Foreign Language. Although he had already been volunteering for the Latino Center since 2017, he decided to take the role as one of our ESL Instructors to help the community learn and understand something new. He’s passionate about helping others and making others smile and enjoys seeing the progress of his students, especially once they understand a new concept. During his free time, Aidan enjoys volunteering, traveling, and reading books.
Erik BatlleGED Instructor
Erik has helped students reach their goal of earning their GED at the Latino Center of the Midlands since October 2016. He graduated from the University of Havana in 2000 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry. After he graduated, Erik became a biochemistry instructor at the Veterinarian College in Honduras. With years of teaching experience, he decided to move and teach in the United States. Erik chose to take a position with R.M. Marrs Middle School as a 7th grade science teacher, but he wanted to find a way to help the Latino community so he pursued our position as a GED instructor. Erik enjoys working with his adult students because they are eager to learn. During his free time, he enjoys bowling and watching and playing sports.
Candelaria VelazquezFCW Youth Specialist
I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in December 2018 with a Bachelors in Emergency Management and minors in public health and Gerontology. After college, I was a part time front desk and sales rep at a gym as well as being a stay at home mom to my two children. After Learning of a job opportunity, I decided to join the Latino Center of the Midlands in January 2020. During my free time I love to spend time with family, watching movies, relaxing, exercising, shopping, and going outdoors for a nice family walk!
Carlos MuñozComputer Literacy Instructor
Carlos Muñoz joined the Latino Center of the Midlands in October in order to help distribute CARES Act funds to the community. He stuck around afterwards, and is now a Computer Literacy instructor. Coming from a web development background himself, Carlos helps adult learners familiarize themselves with both computer hardware and software. He also works in sales, marketing, and radio broadcasting during the day. During his freetime, Carlos enjoys walking and spending time with his family outdoors.
Cecilia SaavedraFamily Garden Instructor/ Cultivadora de Salud
Cecilia was brought onto the team at the Latino Center of the Midlands in February of 2019 to help with the Family Gardening aspect of our Family and Community Well-Being program. She currently holds an Associate’s in Horticulture, Land Systems Management and is working towards her Bachelor’s in Environmental Science with a focus on geography and planning and minors in Chicano Studies and Sustainability at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Before joining our team, Cecilia served as a Marketing Intern at No More Empty Pots, Program Manager at the UNO Collaborate, and an Environmental Geology Tutor. Cecilia’s education and passion to help assist individuals in the community who are suffering from food insecurity led her to the Latino Center. She appreciates our mission and loves the opportunity to share her horticulture knowledge with our families. Cecilia hopes that the family gardens will empower families by providing them with the skills, resources, and knowledge needed to assist them in their journey. During her free time, she enjoys camping, hiking, gardening, farming, photography, web development/bogging, and volunteering for a multitude of organizations throughout the community.
Chloe MartinStrengthening Communities VISTA
Chloe Martin joined the Latino Center of the Midlands as a Strengthening Communities VISTA in November 2020. She recently graduated from Cornell College with a BA in Geology and Spanish. Chloe grew up in the Omaha area and was drawn to the Center because of her desire to give back to my community. What she likes most about LCM is being part of a team that is working to provide access and opportunities to the underserved Latino community in Omaha and improve the wellbeing of families. In her freetime, Chloe can be found crocheting blankets, listening to music and spending time outdoors.
Diego Erazo-ReynaCommunications VISTA
Diego Erazo-Reyna joined the Latino Center of the Midlands as a Communications VISTA in October of 2020. Before joining the team, Diego was an Art Program Specialist at the Boys and Girls Club. Diego graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a Bachelor’s Degree in studio art with a concentration on graphic design. Diego enjoys using his creative skills to create compelling for the Latino Center’s different social media and communications channels. In his free time, Diego enjoys painting, walking his dog, and fashion.
Dolores Morales PerezESL Instructor
Dolores Morales Perez joined the Latino Center of the Midlands in January of 2021 as an ESL 1 instructor. She is currently a student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a certificate in ESL. As an instructor, Dolores loves being able to see her students succeed and achieve the goals that they have in mind. She recognizes that every student has unique goals, and she wants to be sure they all have the capacity to achieve them. In her free-time Dolores enjoys spending time with her two children.
Francisco SalinasStudent Advocate at Bellevue West
Francisco Salinas joined the Latino Center of the Midlands in 2020 as a Student Advocate at Bellevue West. He recently graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a Bachelor’s Degree in English with minors in Criminal Justice and Psychology. Before joining the Center, Francisco was an intern with the Legal Aid of Nebraska. What drew him to the Center was the opportunity to show students the value of a quality education. He finds it an honor to help the future generation of leaders prepare for the next chapter of their lives and make progress towards their own goals. In his free time, Francisco likes to go on hikes with his dog Dexter, write, and get lost in books.
Gladys Moscoso De VargasCultivadora de Salud
Gladys joined the team as Cultivadora de Salud at Latino Center of Midlands in January of 2020. She has an associate degree in Design and Cosmetology from her native country Bolivia. When asked about what made her change her career to community services, she always says, “we always have to make turns in life until we find out our true passion.” Thus, Gladys came to the Center with a great sense of concern for helping the Hispanic Community in the city of Omaha. She spent her childhood working on her father’s farm with organic products, so she has always dreamed of teaching others how to live healthy lives. Learning how to sow our own vegetables and cook is just the beginning. Her passion and love for human beings has moved her to volunteer work as leader of Hispanic communities in Kentucky, Alabama, and Tennessee. She was also one of the leaders of the End it Now movement led by her Christian church organization, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which focused ion stopping the abuse and violence against women within the Hispanic Community. She has worked hard empowering women, helping them to find their own dignities and rights. Gladys is still active in these movements in the city of Omaha, and we’re grateful to have her as part of our team!
Guadalupe Perez-AguilarStudent Advocate at Norris Middle School
Guadalupe Perez-Aguilar joined the Latino Center of the Midlands family in December 2019. Before joining the Latino Center of the Midlands, Lupe was the Administrative Assistant for the EL, Dual Language, Migrant and Refugee Education Program. Before her position at the TAC building, she was the Main Office Secretary at Omaha South High Magnet School. She was born in the small town of Cuatro Bancos, Guerrero, Mexico and came to Omaha, NEBRASKA at an early age. Lupe is also a proud graduate of Omaha South High Magnet School. As a young woman, she has always loved working with her South Omaha community and has been searching for a career that fit her passion of assisting the South Omaha youth. She is thankful for the Latino Center of the Midlands for giving her the chance to help her community in many ways. Lupe is known for her gracious smile and ability to make people around her feel welcome. In her spare time, she enjoys eating seafood, taking care of her plants, feeding her guppies, painting, reading a romantic novel, and heading out on a hot summer day with her daughter.
Jim CunninghamESL Construction Apprenticeship Supervisor
Jim has been helping adults in the South Omaha community with the Latino Center of the Midlands since July 2017. With a Bachelor’s of Science from Creighton University and a Master’s of Science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, his education and past involvement from 2010 to 2012 at the Latino Center have allowed him to wear many hats while he has been on our team. Before rejoining our team in 2017, Jim taught locally for forty years. After his retirement, his passion for teaching led him back the Center where he worked as an ESL Instructor before becoming the ESL Construction Apprenticeship Supervisor. His past experiences have allowed him to adjust his teaching style to the cultures, ages, and lives of the students in our community. Jim enjoys working with adults and seeing the progress they can make in a short amount of time. He spends his free time birding, setting up tee times for rounds of golf, staying active through exercise and hiking the trails.
Lashaia BassCivic and Social Responsibility Practicum Student
Lashaia Bass joined the Latino Center in October of 2020 as part of her university Practicum student. She assists the Family and Community Well-Being Department with research, program development, and community engagement. Before joining the Center, Lashaia I worked on-campus at UNO in the food pantry. Her favorite part about working at the Latino Center is the friendly and family atmosphere. In her free time Lashaia enjoys watching movies, working out, and cooking big meals.
Leticia CrismanFamily Strengthening Coach & Cara y Corazon Facilitator
Leticia has been helping build positive and healthy family relationships with the Latino Center of the Midlands since March 2013. With a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and an emphasis in Spanish as a Second Language, Leticia’s education and experiences have allowed her to connect with families through a shared culture and love for learning. She is passionate about the history of the Hispanic culture and is constantly learning from her students. Before joining our team, she was a Language Associate in Spanish for the Elkhorn School District, but her love for the Latino community and her culture led her to the Latino Center of the Midlands. Leticia loves to spend her free time reading, listening to music, and traveling to new and exciting places.
Magda BatizHealing Circulos Facilitator & Student Advocate at Omaha South High School
Magda has been helping youth in the South Omaha community with the Latino Center of the Midlands since August 2017. With a Bachelor’s degree in Library Studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, her education and past experiences have allowed her to successfully work with youth and support them during their high school careers through Joven Noble. Before joining our team, she was an Orientation Leader/Ambassador at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, but her interest in working for an organization with a history of serving the South Omaha community led her to the Latino Center of the Midlands. Magda spends her free time riding the trails on her bike, watching her favorite musical artists perform live concerts, and settling back with a good book to read.
Mahatma LargaespadaHealing Circulos Lead Facilitator & Student Advocate at Bellevue West High School
Mahatma loves working with youth and helping them become successful men and women with an identity and appreciation for their culture. With a passion to serve others, he has become a support system for youth who may not have anyone to rely on outside of family and feels honored to be able to work with all types of families regardless of race/ethnicity. Before joining our team in October of 2014, he was a paraprofessional/mathematics tutor for the ESL department at Omaha South High School. Mahatma said the Latino Center of the Midlands caught his attention after he noticed “the Center does not seeks praise from the world, but instead seeks to serve those who are underrepresented in our community.” Searching for a place to be part of something meaningful and important, he joined the team and found staff that inspire and encourage him through their self-sacrifice and similar passion to help others. During his free time, Mahatma enjoys spending time and playing with Loki – his dog, biking, playing guitar and bass, going to the movies, and expressing his creativity through painting, drawing, and finding awesome pens to use.
Maira HernandezStudent Advocate at Bryan High School
Maira joined our Pathways to Success team and started helping students at Bryan High in February of 2019. Before joining our team, Maira was a bilingual case manager with a contractor of the State of Nebraska. Her past experiences with the community we serve and passion to continuously help children and families in need has enabled her to help students at Bryan succeed in every aspect of their life. Maira enjoys working with our youth to help them achieve their goals by giving them the support they need to create their bright and successful futures. During her free time, she loves to listen and dance to all types of music and traveling the world with her family.
Maria RamseyLiteracy Instructor
Maria has been volunteering and helping the Latino Center of the Midlands accomplish our mission for many years, but became the literacy instructor in September 2017. With certifications and an associates in ESL and Art from Metropolitan Community College, her education and prior experiences with our organization have allowed her to help the Latino community directly and indirectly. She is passionate about helping others and enjoys when her students tell her that they appreciate and are happy with the way she teaches her class. During her free time, Maria enjoys dancing, cooking, oil painting, and picking up a tennis racket to play tennis.
Maria ValadezFamily and Community Well-Being Program Coordinator
Ever since she started at the Latino Center in February of 2020, Maria has been managing a wide variety of projects from a bilingual reading program to a Mammogram event. As the FCW Program Coordinator, Maria ensures that programming is not only running smoothly, but impacting our community. Maria holds a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology with minors in Theology and Women and Gender Studies from Creighton University. Her background in sociology and cultural anthropology allows for her to lead programming that is not only educational, but inclusive. Her goal when joining the Latino Center was to contribute to the rich history of Hispanic heritage in Omaha. Everyone at the Latino Center recognizes her effort and contribution. In her free-time, Maria loves watching movies, traveling, and dissecting sociology articles.
Nate Van HauteCommunications Coordinator
Nate Van Haute joined the Latino Center of the Midlands as Communications Coordinator in February of 2020. He manages all of the organization’s communications channels and also leads the Media Internship program. Nate graduated from Saint Louis University in 2017 with Bachelor’s degrees in English, Spanish, and International Studies. Before joining the Latino Center team, Nate worked for Casai, a hospitality startup in Mexico City. In his freetime, Nate enjoys reading, travelling, and coaching soccer.
Octavio SordoGED Instructor
Octavio has been teaching our community in multiple positions at the Latino Center of the Midlands since October of 2007. With a Master’s degree in World Languages and Bachelor’s degrees in Chemistry and Biology, his education and his passion for helping the community have made him a versatile instructor. Before joining our team, he taught locally, but Octavio’s family history encouraged him to join our team since his family members had worked for the Latino Center in the past. During his free time, Octavio enjoys sports and continuously learning by studying.
Rosana PerriFCW Lead Program Assistant
Rosana has been a constant figure at the Latino Center of the Midlands. Her strong belief in the mission and the Latino Center as an organization led her to join our team in August of 2007. Rosana has worn many hats within the Center and with her certification as a Commercial Secretary, she started off in our organization as the receptionist and is now the FCW Lead Program Assistant. Her constant dedication to her community and joyful spirit has enabled her to help a multitude of individuals throughout the Omaha Metro. Before joining our team she was a receptionist at a hotel and served as a secretary at an insurance office. Rosana loves working with the community the Center serves, and she is passionate about helping others and strives to find the best services for those who step in the door. During her free time, Rosana enjoys picking up a good book to read and taking time to meditate.
Ruth MoralesESL Instructor
Ruth has been helping the LCM community since 2017, at the time she was an ESL Level 1 Instructor. Now, she rejoined our Adult Basic Education team and became an ESL Level 2 Instructor. Ruth is currently a student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and when she’s not there she dedicates her time to her community. Her passion for helping the community is what led her to the Latino Center of the Midlands. She believes people who’s come to our organization want to become a better version of themselves, and with her passion, she hopes to bring self-empowerment and knowledge in another language. Given the opportunity to teach adults once again, she continued to share her passion with our ABE students. When she has free time, she enjoys reading books and going on bike rides around the town.
Shelby VarilekStudent Advocate at Ralston High School
Shelby Varilek graduated from Northwestern College in 2019 with a Bachelor’s of Social Work and a Bachelor’s in Spanish. Before joining the team at LCM, she worked as a victims advocate at the Iowa Victims Service Call Center and a direct support professional for individuals with disabilities. She was drawn to the Latino Center because of her passion in helping youth recognize their value and worth. Shelby values the opportunity to help students achieve their goals and see a bright future for themselves. In her free time, she loves traveling, reading, watching movies, walking my dogs, and taking care of my many plants.
Victoria CruzOperations Assistant
Victoria Cruz joined the Latino Center of the Midlands in January 2021. However, she was involved in the Center as a Step-Up Intern years before. Victoria was an administrative assistant at an occupational health facility and was busy finishing her practicum volunteering at the Stephen Center before joining the LCM team full-time. She currently is our Operations Assistant, taking on a multitude of community engagement projects. Her favorite part of working at the Center is getting to work with such a wonderful team and being part of a thriving organization that seeks to help the needs of our growing Latino community. In her freetime, Victoria enjoys volunteering at the Stephens Center, reading, swimming, travelling, and spending time with her (awesome) significant other.
Yicel HernandezESL Instructor
Yicel is one of our youngest instructors at the Latino Center of the Midlands, but that doesn’t stop her from helping our students overcome language barriers by teaching them English. She joined our team in May of 2018, and she currently attends the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Language and Literature with a Spanish concentration and business minor. Before joining our team, she was an instructor at a daycare. Her passion for supporting others with their needs and helping our community led her to our organization because she views it as a great opportunity to connect with her community, especially the Hispanic/Latino individuals. Yicel finds joy in giving others the opportunity to advance in their lives because they have learned the English language. During her free time, she enjoys playing tennis matches, picking up a good book, and helping others through volunteerism.