Board spotlight: Karina Perez advocates for the underserved and underrepresented

Small Towns

The Center for Rural Affairs’ staff and board work toward bettering rural America. From helping small businesses with financing and training to giving family farms a leg up against larger operations to fostering community inclusion—and so much more—the people at the Center spend their days helping the underserved.

So does Karina Perez of Columbus, Nebraska, the newest Center board member. For the past four years, she has served as executive director of Centro Hispano, which collaborates with the Center for Rural Affairs on several projects.

Centro Hispano’s mission is to foster intentional change for immigrant families, learners, and entrepreneurs through direct services, programming, and advocacy. While working toward those goals, Karina learned about the Center and the similar objectives shared by the nonprofits.

Her interest in the Center and the relationship she formed with it continued to grow, and for the past few years, Karina has served on the Center’s Advisory Committee. In March, she was asked to join the Board of Directors.

“I wanted to get involved because the Center's work aligns with my personal life,” she said. “The organization advocates for those who are underserved and underrepresented in rural Nebraska communities.”

Karina is looking forward to exploring her new role, and she credits the staff for introducing her to the many layers of work with farmers and communities.

“They are helping address many issues around inequities that exist for immigrant families and racial disparities that BI+POC individuals face,” she said.

She feels the Center’s work is integral to a thriving rural America and tries to use the skills she’s developed through her professional experiences as an asset.

“The work of the Center is helping our society, specifically in rural communities, progressing with the rest of the world by keeping them informed with topics and opportunities that impact their day-to-day life and businesses,” Karina said.

She says her nonprofit background helps her appreciate the importance of being an engaged and committed board member.

And, even though she’s just beginning this journey, Karina is excited to see what the future holds and strives to uphold the Center’s mission.

“To me, the mission of the Center means that our rural communities are moving forward; taking the lead, with guidance from the Center, on the values that mean most to them,” she said. “I hope to see the Center continue to flourish and continue to adapt to our ever-changing needs for our rural communities. I look forward to collaborating and helping move forward the mission of the Center across rural Nebraska.”