Community Spotlight: Q&A with Cynthia Gómez
Who are you?
My name is Cynthia Carmina Gómez and I currently serve as the director of cultural centers in Diversity and Multicultural Student Services at Portland State University. Before that, I spent 12 years working at Portland State University as a Senior Capstone instructor for University Studies teaching sustainability and social justice focused community-based learning courses to undergraduates. During that time, I also worked for the Portland nonprofit Latino Network, first as a board member, then in direct service as an adjudicated youth educational advocate, and most recently, as the director of Líderes, a civic engagement and leadership program. Formerly, I worked as the PSU coordinator for the Oregon Leadership Institute, where I worked with college and high school Latino students in partnership with Portland Public Schools and the Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement; worked for the nonprofit Innovation Partnership; and operated my own consulting firm. I am also a 2012 graduate of Leadership Portland, am a dual citizen of U.S and Mexico, and am a native Spanish speaker.
What are you working on right now?
I am a commissioner for the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs (OCHA) and the OCHA member representative on the Environmental Justice Task Force (EJTF). It is an honor to be appointed by Governor John Kitzhaber for these positions. As part of my work, I am convening a planning committee of students, commissioners, and other stakeholders to bring the EJTF 20 year Anniversary of Governor Barbara Roberts' 1993 Oregon Environmental Equity Workgroup to Portland State this winter. I also serve on the United Way Diversity Advisory Committee.
What’s the one thing you want the sustainability community to know about what you’re doing?
Teaching about and for social sustainability is a passion of mine. I love teaching my summer course Community Greenworks. In this course undergraduates work with community partners such as the Summer Academia, OPAL, and Verde to complete field projects. Additionally, in my current role as the director of cultural centers, I work with collaborators to bring guest speakers and performers to campus. I am thrilled to share that as part of Social Sustainability Month 2013 and in collaboration with a student-led planning committee, on November 20 the cultural centers will be hosting a wonderful group from Los Angeles called Las Cafeteras. We hope you will all join us!
What is your dream job?
I am blessed. I have my dream job!
If you could have lunch with one famous person—alive or dead—who would that be and why?
I would have lunch with the artist Caetano Veloso. He is a brilliant songwriter and activist. I would want to hear stories about his youth and what inspires him as an artist.