Meet our new economic inclusion program coordinator, Magdalena S. Rivera

One of CEDAM’s newest team members, Magdalena “Maggi” Rivera (she/ella) joins us as our economic inclusion program coordinator. We sat down with Maggi to learn more about her past experiences and what she’s most excited about in this new role!

Can you give me a brief overview of your professional background and how it led you to CEDAM?

I’ve heard of CEDAM’s work intermittently through my work in communities in Ottawa and Kent County. Whether I was serving on commissions and boards, working in school systems or employed by nonprofits, CEDAM has been there through “Show Me the Money Day”, with the VITA tax program, and tax credit advocacy like the Home Heating Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. 

Primarily, I’ve worked in education for more than twenty plus years, including kindergarten, high school and even at the collegiate level. I’ve worked at public, private and charter schools.  A highlight of my career was being elected to my alma mater Holland Public Schools District in 2011.  

What are you looking forward to most?

A great team effort, progress and impact. I’ve held roles in organizations where I was the only person in the department and that can be really tough. I am very happy to be working with Brian and Madeleine, as well as everyone else on team CEDAM. I understand how community development programs and policy advocacy align, and being a former elected official, I’m looking forward to continuing to build networks and make connections.  

CEDAM is projecting its strategic planning and long term impact for the next 15 – 20 years; holding on to the best and greatest things and being creative and innovative. I’m looking forward to bringing racial equity and inclusion to the conversation. I ask “Where can partners and CEDAM grow and be intentional about racial equity and inclusion?” and  “How can we really “stretch” to reach all communities?”

What excites you most about community development?

I am excited about CEDAM being intentional about how we go about doing this work. Imagining what I can contribute to community development by being seated at the CEDAM table is rewarding in and of itself.

Lighting Round Questions

What’s the last book you read?

I just moved, so that’s not a fair question.  I read different books at the same time. I read, and reread, my cousin Juan R. Palomo’s memoir of poetry Al Norte – he’s an artist and former journalist out of Houston, Texas. 

What are you currently watching?

I really really liked the first season of Mayans. It’s about a motorcycle gang in California. It’s got everything your parents might say not to watch. I am currently rewatching and still binging Yellowstone. Whether it’s on Netflix or Hulu, BET, Peacock, HBONow, there’s so much talent. I really am impressed with the amazing acting talent out there on these various entertainment platforms.

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

Brazil. But I have to see all of it—north, south, east and west. It would have to be a year’s journey. There’s just so much to know and see. It’s a racially, linguistically and politically diverse country.

What was the last concert you attended before the pandemic?

I worked at a record store when I was an educator. What educator doesn’t have to have a second job?  I’ve held onto those friendships with staff and I’ve attended many concerts. I’d like to go see Bonnie Raitt – folk, rock country, she’s really dynamic. She became better known mid-life with that song “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” She’s going to be at Interlochen. If I’m going to take a risk to be in public during a pandemic, I want to be in an amphitheater or outdoor concert venue.

Have you picked up any hobbies during the pandemic? 

Catching up on sleep. It’s not a hobby but we could make it into a thing. Seriously, I liked cooking, going to the beach and listening to music. During COVID I’ve been much more intentional about trying new recipes and making my own food at home. However, I do miss safely sharing meals with colleagues, friends and family.     

Connect with Maggi here