We would like to introduce you to Paula Gomez Farrell Ph.D. She is the newest member of Friendship Bridge’s Board of Directors. Paula’s professional background includes over 35 years of experience leading and working with nonprofit and government organizations. Her experience has largely involved work with and in organizations that served underrepresented and disenfranchised individuals and families. She frequently worked as an advocate and organizational leader for people with developmental disabilities, individuals with severe mental illness, victims of domestic violence, people who were homeless as well as adults and teens who were unemployed. In the early 90s she was Director of the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Planning Council under Governor Romer. Her mid-career focus was on the deinstitutionalization of people with disabilities and mental health concerns. She also worked in organizations focused on reducing racial disparities in income and access to healthcare. During the recession between 2007 and 2010, she was the Director of the Division of Workforce Development under Mayor John Hickenlooper.
In 2015 she became a Social Entrepreneur when she opened an art gallery to benefit local artists and nonprofit organizations. Paula ran the gallery for two years.
We asked Paula a few questions to get to know her better:
Friendship Bridge: Why did you choose the career path you took?
“I chose to dedicate my professional career to leading organizations that served people with life challenges because of my own personal challenges related to poverty and lack of natural supports as a child and young adult.,” said Paula. “I became a high school dropout. I was able to overcome many of my early life challenges by serving in the United States Air Force and earning my Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. degrees while I worked.”
Friendship Bridge: What drew you to Friendship Bridge?
“I first heard about Friendship Bridge about nine years ago through members of the Genesee Circle. The more I heard, the more I wanted to become involved. I thought it would be a good way for me to contribute my skills globally,” Paula said. “After decades of working with government and nonprofit organizations in the U.S., I thought this would be a good organization to support. The first time I saw the Guatemalan women in person and the way they worked hard, cared for their families and each other, I knew I would make Friendship Bridge a focus of the next phase of my life.”
“It is hard to pick just one. As a girl, I devoured biographies about successful women. I wanted to meet Helen Keller, Harriet Tubman, Babe Didrikson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others. Helen Keller really struck a chord with me because, she like all of the other women, found ways to overcome many barriers and do tremendous things for other people. As an adult, I still enjoy reading about women with integrity, tenacity and a commitment to making the world a better place for all of us.”
We are happy to have Paula join the Friendship Bridge Board, and look forward to working with her!