About Our Founder

Maria S. Gomez founded Mary’s Center with a group of health advocates and the DC Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs in 1988 to help immigrant women fleeing war and poverty in Central America.

Under her leadership, Mary’s Center has grown from serving 200 participants in a small basement with an initial budget of $250,000 to serving more than 60,000 participants across seven locations in DC and Maryland with an annual budget of $76 million.

Originally from Colombia, Maria immigrated to the United States with her mother at age 13 to escape violence and find new opportunity. They built a life in Washington, DC through hard work, courage, and the willpower to succeed. After years of determination, Maria obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Georgetown University and a Master of Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley. Upon graduation, she returned to the District and began dedicating her life’s work to the empowerment of her local community.

Prior to establishing Mary’s Center, Maria was a public health nurse at DC Health. She also worked at the Red Cross, where she directed community education programming and disaster services, and at the Visiting Nurses Association.

As a testament to Maria’s commitment to community, President Barack Obama presented her with the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor.