Sergio Sosa, Executive Director
Sergio Sosa is the founder and Executive director of the Heartland Workers Center. He studied Philosophy and Theology from the University Rafael Landivar and The National Seminary of the Assumption in Guatemala. Throughout his 30-year career as an organizer and Executive Director, Sergio has received various recognitions including, the Hispanic/Latino on the Month Award from the Omaha Human Rights and Relations Department, the Barrientos Scholarship Foundation Award for Community Service, the Community Leader of the Year recognition from the Nebraska Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Defender of the Bill of Rights from the ACLU of Nebraska and the Good Apple Award from Nebraska Appleseed. Sergio is from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. He is married with two teenage children. In his free time, he enjoys reading, praying, and watching sports and news.
Abbie Kretz, Lead Organizer
Abbie Kretz began working with the Heartland Workers Center in November 2009. Originally from Schuyler, Nebraska, she has her BA in Philosophy & Religion and Spanish from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. Abbie recently received her Master of Arts Degree in Sociology at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she completed her thesis, titled NEOLIBERALISM AT ITS BEST: WAGE THEFT AMONG LATINO IMMIGRANT WORKERS IN NEBRASKA. The idea for her thesis emerged after workers sought from the HWC to recover their lost wages. Prior to working with the HWC, she was a volunteer in Lima, Peru with the Good Shepherd Volunteers. There, she coached soccer and started a reading group at a home for teen girls from the street, worked at a women’s center, and coached soccer with boys through a chapel in one of Lima’s shantytowns. In her free time, she enjoys running, teaching/doing yoga, reading books on world history, and traveling.
Lucia Pedroza, Senior Organizer
Lucia Pedroza started working at HWC in May 2014. She was born in Guatemala and raised in Hastings, Nebraska. She is currently a student at University of Nebraska Omaha where she studies sociology with a focus on families and inequality. She is also the mother of two boys, Santiago and Andre. She hopes to help build communities that work for all people and create a more just and human society for future generations. She finds inspiration for her work through her children, family, and friends. In her spare time, she enjoys exercising outdoors and spending time at home.
Penélope León, Trainer – Health & Safety Training Institute
Penélope León began working as the OSHA Outreach Trainer for HWC in June 2014. She was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico and moved to the United States in 1991. She has a B.A. in Communications with a major in Journalism from the Universidad Ibero Americana in Mexico City and is a proud Mexican and American citizen. She is happily married and has a 15 year old daughter, Natalia. She has a deep passion for helping workers on different labor issues and working towards equality, liberty, tolerance and respect between humans and nations. She enjoys listening to songs by musicians such as Pablo Milanes, Silvio Rodriguez, and Amaury Perez who spoke out about social justice issues. In her free time, she enjoys taking walks and practicing photography.
Gabriela Pedroza, Organizer
Gabriela began working at the Heartland Workers Center since December 2015.She graduated from North Valleys High School in Reno, Nevada. She is currently a student at Metropolitan Community College. Before working at Heartland Workers Center, she worked at JBS food processing company. Gabriela is a mother of a five-year old girl. During her free time, you will usually find her at the gym or with her family.
Karla Sosa, Administrative Assistant
Karla has worked as an Administrative Assistant with the HWC since October 2015. She is originally from Mexico City and has an Associates Degree in Business Administration and Secretarial Studies. Prior to joining the HWC, Karla has worked as a secretary with her families’ businesses in Mexico. Karla is married and has a daughter named Maya. Living in Omaha, Nebraska has given her the opportunity to meet hardworking people. In the future, Karla wants to pursue a college career where she can increase her knowledge about human rights so that she is able to grow as an individual and better serve the Latino community in the Omaha area. With her determination and perseverance, she aspires to build a life full of positive expectations for her family.
Derek Ramirez, Organizer
Derek Ramirez began working as an Organizer at the Heartland Workers Center in April 2015. Prior to working with the HWC, he volunteered. He is currently seeking to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Metropolitan Community College in Omaha. In the past, Derek worked in tax preparation and as a real estate agent. During his free time, Derek enjoys gardening, doing exercise and playing chess.
Stephannie Zambrano, Organizer
Stephannie Zambrano began working as an Organizer since June 2015. She has always been involved with the Omaha community as volunteer. She became involved with the HWC as a volunteer in the fall of 2014. She worked with many Young Nebraskans in Action (YNA) peers to pass the LB623 bill, which allowed DACA Recipients obtain a driver’s license in the state of Nebraska. She is currently attending the University of Nebraska-Omaha and pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism with a concentration in Creative Media and minoring in Latin American Studies. She is the oldest of four siblings. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico. She hopes to continue to inform the Latino community through media. During her free time, she is involved with the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s MavRadio in which she loves discussing topics going on in the community.
Yajaira Gonzalez, Organizer
Yajaira Gonzalez began working as an Organizer with the Heartland Workers Center (HWC) in June 2015. She began her work within the Latinx community as a volunteer for the Dreamers Project Coalition in May 2013, which she now coordinates as Young Nebraskans in Action (YNA). Yajaira was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico until she moved to Omaha, Nebraska with her family. She is currently a full-time student at the University of Nebraska in Omaha as an International Studies major with a focus on Global Strategic Studies, and a minor in Political Science. Yajaira plans to work with communities on a global scale by protecting human rights through policy change, and empowering individuals who have been affected by war, poverty, and other crimes against humanity through advocacy and organizing. In her free time, she likes to work out, travel, read and watch foreign independent films.
Fatima Flores-Lagunas, Organizer
Fatima Flores-Lagunas began working as an Organizer with the HWC in July 2015, but prior to that, Fatima was involved with the organization when she volunteered with Young Nebraskans in Action (YNA). Born in Mexico City, Fatima was brought to the United States at the age of 6. Since then she’s lived in Omaha, Nebraska as a DREAMer. Growing up in the Midwest was no easy task but a struggle that has fueled Fatima’s drive and passion for social justice. After coming out of the shadows as an undocumented immigrant, Fatima has dedicated her life to advocating for social rights. She is a proud graduate of Central High School and is currently a Political Science major at the University of Nebraska – Omaha. With her education, Fatima plans to work side-by-side with elected officials to make positive changes in her community. In her free time, Fatima loves to spend time with her family, friends, traveling, and volunteering. You can also find her at a park painting, reading, and listening to classic rock.
Katie Larson, Organizer
Katie Larson began working as an Organizer in January, 2017. She is from Omaha, and studied at Nebraska Wesleyan University where she received a B.A. in Global Studies and Spanish. While getting her B.A., Katie spent a year studying in Latin America. Before starting her work at the HWC, Katie served as the Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministry at Kountze Memorial Lutheran Church. In her free time Katie enjoys spending time with her family and listening to music.
Alejandra Escobar, Organizer
Alejandra Escobar began working as an Organizer since September of 2016. She is originally from El Salvador and started volunteering during the HWC’s first Latino Political Convention, where she served as a representative of her precinct. In addition, she helped lobby for the legislative bill LB 947 and participated in the Get Out The Vote Campaign. She is currently working on her undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she will be studying Business Management and Political Science. Alejandra enjoys playing sports and volunteering.
Jackeline Prados, Organizer
Jackie began working at the Heartland Workers Center in March 2017. Prior to this, she was an active volunteer, most recently working on the 2016 Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Campaign. She has her BA in Architectural Studies from the University of Panama in Panama City, Panama, and a diploma of Architectural Technology from Metropolitan Community College in Omaha. In the past, Jackie worked for Building Supply Corporation where she held a role as a Wall Panel Designer, where she designed structures with IntelliBuilt Software to then deliver them to carpenters. Jackie hopes to transfer her experience of designing and building different structures to building and developing her local community. Jackie enjoys making new friendships, baseball and reading books.