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.