Strengthening Democracy: Heartland Workers Center

The Heartland Workers Center is our Defender of Democracy Award honoree for its essential work during the 2018 session of the Nebraska Legislature.


Each year, Civic Nebraska’s Strengthening Democracy Awards recognize Nebraskans whose work embodies the spirit of a modern, robust democracy. Our 2018 honorees include educators, administrators, students and everyday Nebraskans. We officially honor the winners April 12.  Before then, here’s a chance to learn a bit more about what makes them special.

Sergio Sosa

Civic Nebraska honors the Heartland Workers Center of Omaha with its 2018 Defender of Democracy Award. The award is given annually to a partner, group or individual whose work furthers the goal of protecting access to the ballot for all Nebraskans.

Sergio Sosa created the Heartland Workers Center in 2009 after hearing from hundreds of south Omaha community members about the challenges they were facing in their daily lives. Its mission is to help improve the quality of life for Latino and Latina immigrant workers.

The Center develops community leaders, strengthens civic participation, and defends workers’ rights through legal information sharing, training, and organizing.

Katie Larsen

In addition to Omaha, the Heartland Workers Center partners with communities across the state, including Columbus, Nebraska City, Norfolk, and Schuyler. Sosa is known for saying, “You cannot speak about the community without knowing the community, without walking the streets to build relationships and learn from people.”

During the 2018 Nebraska legislative session, Heartland Workers Center was vital in informing and educating senators on a number of voting initiatives. Organizers Katie Larsen and Gabriela Pedroza coordinated powerful hearing testimony over bills ranging from voter ID to redistricting.

Gabriela Pedroza

“Thanks to their work, Nebraska remains a state that does not impose harmful barriers to the ballot box,” said John Cartier, Civic Nebraska’s director of voting rights. “We look forward to working alongside Heartland Workers Center as they continue to grow into an organization that supports communities all across the Midwest.”

Meet representatives from the Heartland Workers Center and their fellow honorees at this year’s Strengthening Democracy Awards on April 12 at Chez Hay in Lincoln. Get your tickets here.

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