On February 15, 2013, President Obama presented Mary’s Center President and CEO, Maria S. Gomez, with a 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal at the White House. President Obama highlighted the extraordinary work and commitment of the recipients of the second highest civilian award in the United States, calling the awardees “shining people and an inspiration to their fellow citizens.”
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. President Obama is recognizing Americans whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention. The President called on members of the public to nominate people in their lives who have performed exemplary deeds of service. More than 6,000 individuals were nominated, and 18 were selected.
Gomez was recognized for founding Mary’s Center 25 years ago with the mission to build better futures through the delivery of health care, family literacy and job training. Mary’s Center is part of the working group launching First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Read Let’s Move Campaign.” Prior to establishing Mary’s Center, Maria was a public health nurse with the D.C. Department of Health. She has also worked for the Red Cross, directing community education programming and disaster services, and with the Visiting Nurses Association. She currently serves as Regional Representative for the South East to the National Council of la Raza, and previously served two terms on the board of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington.