Rossana Salazar received a 2022 Latino Excellence Award in a virtual ceremony which took place Thursday, October 13, 2022. The awards, presented by the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, honor Latino “leaders, trailblazers, and changemakers who contribute significantly to the commonwealth.”
Salazar is a Community Engagement and Evaluation Specialist working with Latino families and communities at the Collaborative for Educational Services. She is an RN, has an M.P.H. in Community Health Education; a Graduate Certificate in Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies; and is a doctoral candidate in the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Environmental Conservation Department, working with Latin American Indigenous Communities. In her graduate studies and community work, Salazar has developed effective working relationships with different communities in the area. As part of the Healthy Families and Community – Healthy Hampshire team, Rossana works with the Latinx community, promoting healthy lifestyles through different projects, and establishing a close relationship with the community that favors the participation of community members in the different projects which directly benefit them. She feels a great responsibility to support her Latino and extended communities in all her work in an effort to improve their quality of life, while always seeking social justice.
In nominating Salazar, Representative Mindy Domb, 3rd Hampshire District, noted that “Rossana has worked with the Latinx community to advance food justice in the town of Amherst and build food security in Amherst neighborhoods with efforts that have directly engaged and been led by Latinx residents. She facilitated community conversations around how to define and increase food security which produced the bicultural bilingual community-led Amherst Mobile Market and the recently opened Fort River Community Garden. Rossana’s contributions go beyond the impact of these specific programs, her work has supported community members with direct experience to participate in this important community-building work.”
Desiree Lalbehrie-Josias, Director of the Early Childhood programs at CES, says of Rossana: “Rossana is passionate about the community and those she serves, and has contributed to the well-being of families and children in many meaningful ways. Rossana provides outdoor playgroups and story times and helps families to provide activities to support literacy, school readiness, and social-emotional learning. Rossana has excellent relationships with external stakeholders, and she continually provides referrals to support programs and agencies. She is committed to the families that she works with and is creative in providing solutions and we are so fortunate that she is part of our Early Childhood Department!.”
In response to receiving this honor, Salazar noted that “being part of the Collaborative for Educational Services (CES) team is a pride, working with this human team, creating wellness opportunities for the community inspires me every moment. I feel part of a gear that is giving way to a new model where we all feel included and where the community sits at the same decision table, where they talk about their unmet needs and how they want this process to look. Thank you for this recognition that I receive with great responsibility and gratitude. Thanks to State Rep. Mindy Domb for thinking of me for such an honor. Thank you for being everywhere, accompanying us and following up on the projects, and strongly supporting them when they need to be strengthened. Thanks to CES for giving me the opportunity to work on these beautiful projects and all the support I receive from all these extraordinary people who make up the CES team and to the great community, especially Latinx, who inspire me all the time and whom I respect a lot.”