The Heartland Workers Center was founded to help unite workers in the meatpacking, construction, restaurant, and cleaning industries to harness their collective power to make positive change in their work and neighborhoods. From the beginning, the HWC mission would concentrate on identifying, training, and developing leaders, promoting, and advocating for workers’ rights and responsibilities, and developing effective methods of participating in the civic society.
In 2010, the Heartland Workers Center received its nonprofit status. Today we use the Cultural Wealth Model as the theoretical framework for our programs, where we develop six forms of capital: aspirational, linguistic, familial, social, navigational and resistance. Our programs focus on education to build community leaders’ agency and confidence in organizing around issues of importance to them and their communities, and secondly on activating these members to be engaged civically.
We use a Core Team model to identify and activate leaders, using 10 steps to community organizing: 1. Build Relationships 2. Investigate and Listen 3. Research Issues. 4. Delivery of Findings. 5. Plan of Action. 6. Execution Outside of HWC. 7. Evaluate. 8 Communicate Results. 9. Celebrate. 10. Assess and Wonder. Each core team concentrates on specific topic to plan, develop, execute, and experience the result of coalition building towards one single goal.
We want to build a community that works for all.
The Heartland Workers Center develops and organizes leaders, promotes workers’ rights, and fosters a culture of civic engagement in order to build power and create change with immigrant and underrepresented communities.
The Heartland Workers Center is dedicated to helping build a community that works for all across the Midwest.
We envision becoming a recognized and self-sustaining organization that provides leadership training to immigrants and workers.
Our iron rule is “Do not do for others what they can do for themselves.” This rule is fundamental to our ability to develop leaders who are capable of promoting, protecting, and defending their rights.
Solidarity: Love, hope, generosity, giving back, service, respect, making a difference, and loyalty.
Social Justice: Community, courage, freedom, wisdom, equality, leadership, truth, power.
Diversity and Inclusion: Connection, commitment, respect, compassion, openness, teamwork, positive change, belonging, authenticity.
Equal Rights: Ethics, balance, compassion, freedom, respect, responsibility, and inclusion.
Cultural Respect: Contributions, dignity, family, vulnerability.
Meet Our Team
Lina Traslaviña Stover, Ph.D.
Dr. Stover is a Sociologist with deep commitment to address inequality and social justice. As a leader, she is passionate about discovering what makes people tick. She seeks to gather passion with talents to build stronger communities. Lina says that leadership is about motion: "It is the active and intentional effort to build relationships, communicate with compassion, and collaborate patiently.” Dr. Stover is also a mom and an educator: "learning is social, we do it best when we process with others.”
Director of Programming
As Director of Programs and Training, Janeth wears many hats for Heartland Workers Center. Having joined our team in 2022, Janeth provides organization-wide support, oversees all organizers, and ensures that they have the training, tools, and skill set to deploy community programs effectively
Janeth likes to say she “grew up everywhere.” She was born in California but moved to Mexico as a child, before eventually coming to Council Bluffs when she was 15. Her experiences support and guide her work as we provide services to immigrants, Spanish-speakers and minorities in the area.
Outside of work, Janeth enjoys music, photography and dance and uses these hobbies to share her culture and learn about others. Janeth loves nature and being outdoors with her kids—whether that means she’s at the playground or going for a run, she enjoys the little moments.
As our Senior Organizer, Raul Muñoz oversees all of Heartland Workers Center’s community organizing efforts. In addition to leading our team of Community Organizers, he also works in conjunction with city and state legislators to lobby for issues important to our organization.
Originally from Lima, Peru, Raul moved to Omaha to study Business Administration, completing his degree in 2008. He joined our team as a Community Organizer in 2018 after previously working with Latino Center of the Midlands and Omaha Public Schools.
In his free time, Raul loves running and hiking and being outdoors. Additionally, he is passionate about reading and spending time with his family.
Senior Advocacy and
Health & Safety Institute Manager
Penélope León began working as the OSHA-authorized Health & Safety Trainer with the Heartland Workers Center in 2014, and has provided more than 800 hours of training. She has been working in workplace safety and health for more than 20 years for a variety companies.
Born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico, she 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 has a deep passion for helping workers better understand their rights and responsibilities in order for workers to be productive and return home happy and healthy to their families.
Elena Cisneros serves as a Community Organizer in the South Omaha area. She joined Heartland Workers Center in 2022 and has enjoyed the process of learning to grow and work together with her team. Elena applies her previous experience as a mental health professional to her role as Community Organizer to create workshops and work with families.
Elena grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico but moved to Omaha when she was 14 and completed her education here. She loves music, spending time with her family, and is a proud military mom.
Luis is originally from Peru, where he earned a Bachelor degree in Journalism and Public Relations from the University of San Martin de Porres in Lima. He moved to New York with his family in 1992, until winds of change made their way to Schuyler, NE in 1995.
He has been involved with the Schuyler community for several years, promoting inclusion, social integration, and a welcoming environment for all. Luis has previously worked for the Peruvian Police Department, in food processing and production plants, provided labor service for rural areas poultry farms as contractor, insurance agent, as well as Human Resources Specialist for several years. He enjoys cooking, traveling, going to live concerts, soccer games and gardening.
Andrea was born in Bogota, Colombia. Andrea is a proud naturalized American Citizen who lives in Nebraska City. Andrea moved to the United State in 2010 and lives in Nebraska City. She started working as a community organizer for the Heartland Workers Center, after she worked at Cargill for ten years.
Her family is made up of her domestic partner, two children and three grandchildren, enjoys being with her family, she loves gardening and helping the community at the same time. Her goal is to seek to break down language barriers and be a bridge for the Hispanic community.
Nolvia Mendoza is a Community Organizer in the West Omaha area. She started with Heartland Workers Center as a volunteer but now leads a group of 21 individuals. She enjoys working with young, civic-minded people.
Nolvia is eager to encourage those who need help or whose voices can be stifled by more dominant forces. She understands the immigrant intersection having come to Omaha from Honduras as a young adult. She is dedicated to her family and church. Nolvia is naturally curious and a life-long learner who is currently studying theology.
As a Community Organizer in South Omaha, Perla focuses on creating change that ensures every voice is heard. Perla is an instrumental part of Heartland Workers Center having volunteered for four years prior to her current role. Previously, she was a program coordinator with the Hispanic Art Center of Omaha.
Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Perla graduated in 2019 with her GED from the Latino Center of the Midlands and is studying social work at Metropolitan Community College. Self-care is important to Perla; she grounds herself through nature, music, and dance. Whether it’s playing with her grandchildren, fur baby, or caring for her plants, she strives to enjoy every moment.
Antonio is originally from Guatemala. He arrived in the United States in 2001 and graduated high school in 2016. Antonio is trilingual, speaking K'iche' (a Mayan dialect), Spanish, and English. He also serves as an interpreter. Before working at the Heartland Workers Center, Antonio had a position as Quality Control at a pork processing plant in Fremont, Nebraska.
In addition to working full-time for the HWC, Antonio is attending Metro Community College to become a certified interpreter. Antonio affirms that "the only way to do great work is to love what you do."
Dolores Ramirez is our Community Organizer in West Point, Nebraska, where she connects her community to educational opportunities including ESL and GED classes. She officially joined the Heartland Workers Center team in 2021 after volunteering with our organization for two years. Dolores believes that helping people voice their concerns and be heard is the most important part of her job.
Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Dolores says she did not have much access to education growing up but is now a devoted student. She recently earned her GED and plans to continue her education. Outside of work, Dolores loves to read, photography, and helps direct her church choir.
Rosa Pinto is a Community Organizer in Columbus, Nebraska, focusing on community building and connecting people with resources. Growing up in Peru, her mother taught her to serve the community, assisting anybody who needed help. When Rosa moved to the U.S., she brought that same service mindset to Columbus.
In her role at Heartland Workers Center, Rosa brings extensive experience as an Immigration Legal Assistant and Certified Medical Interpreter. She is President of the Head Start Committee at Central Nebraska Community Center and volunteers with parent-teacher organizations in Columbus. In her free time, Rosa enjoys spending time with her children in their activities and making DIY crafts. She especially loves crocheting and designing jewelry.
Jaden Perkins is a politically-seasoned young professional specializing in coalition building and grassroots activism. He was born and raised in Omaha and graduated from Omaha South High Magnet School in 2018. During high school, Jaden found a passion for politics & public service. He went on to serve as President of South High’s Gay-Straight Alliance and sat on adolescent advisory boards for One World & Planned Parenthood. Most recently, Jaden worked as a Field Organizer for various candidates that ran for Congress, Mayor, City Council, & County Attorney.
As Heartland Workers Center’s new North Omaha Community Organizer, Jaden will bring his amazing energy and extensive background knowledge to build consensus around the issues that impact working-class communities the most.
Our Board of Directors
CEO and Owner, Midwest Maintenance Companies, Inc
Maria Vazquez, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs, Metropolitan Community College
Daniel A. Padilla
Executive Director, Lending Link
Rev. Ernesto Medina
Lead Pastor, First Lutheran Church
Lisette Aliaga-Linares, Ph.D.
University of Nebraska Omaha
Program Administrator Small and Emerging Small Business Program, City of Omaha
Director of Multicultural Banking, First National Bank of Omaha
Managing Partner, Baird Holm