Staff spotlight: Gladys cares about community inclusion

Gladys Godinez knows firsthand what it’s like being an immigrant in America.

A native of Guatemala City, Guatemala, Gladys’ experiences over the years sparked a passion for inclusion work. She’s spent her entire adult life helping bridge communities through civic engagement, and goes out of her way to include others as community members, students, and clients.

Recently hired by the Center for Rural Affairs, Gladys works as a community organizing associate. She said she was drawn to the organization after hearing about our work with beginning Latino farmers and our small business lending program, the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project.

Gladys focuses on continuing the Center’s inclusion work, and expanding those benefits to more communities in rural Nebraska.

The middle child in a very education-driven family, Gladys is grateful that she and her siblings have found success. She credits their parents’ sacrifices, forward-thinking, and motivation.

“I’ve carried that gratitude throughout my life – from my youth in Guatemala, to growing up in different places across the United States, all the way to Lexington, Nebraska, where I make my home today,” she said.

Gladys has big plans for her role at the Center. She aspires add to existing inclusion work, and develop a mentorship program. She would love to eventually learn more about agriculture and how it impacts rural communities.

“The Center has focused on various projects and programs that are so important in my community, and I’m so glad to be a part of it,” she said. “I am truly excited to be able to help equip rural communities with their ever-changing demographics. I feel lucky that I get to meet various individuals who are ready to make their communities more inclusive, and help build bridges within their communities.”

Not only does Gladys have a passion for helping small towns, she also says she wouldn’t want to live anywhere else; her heart lies in the Great Plains.

“Rural America has so much to offer; the most important thing for me being peace of mind,” she said. “I love walking down the street and feeling safe. I plan on living the rest of my life in rural Nebraska.”

Outside of work, Gladys says she enjoys spending time at the lake or pool with her husband, Chris, and their two children, Esperanza and Cannon. They also have fun participating in parades as a family, and have every year since their children were babies.

Gladys works out of her home office in Lexington, Nebraska, and can be reached at 402.318.3689 or