“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person,” a quote from Mother Theresa, is not only Lorena Meza Lara’s favorite quote, but it also describes how she has approached much of her life. A 25-year resident of Alamance County, Lorena currently serves as the Education Director and Parent Support Coordinator, a new position created in partnership with Alamance Achieves and the CityGate Dream Center. Advocating for children is a long-time passion of Lorena’s. She shares, “I want nothing more than to protect our children and give them a better education than the one I had.” It is important to her that parents feel comfortable engaging with their children’s schools and are active participants in their children’s education.

Lorena’s natural leadership emerged at a young age. Two years after migrating to the US, Lorena learned English, and at 11 years old, she began serving as her mother’s interpreter, a skill she also loves to share with the community today.  Children’s books served as an educational tool for Lorena to learn the fundamentals of English grammar, and today she enjoys sharing them with young children and their parents through the Bilingual Storytime program she developed while serving as a Mebane Public Library assistant. As a sophomore in high school, Lorena became the Vice President of M.E.Ch.A (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan), a student organization that promotes higher education, culture, and history.

Lorena became a paralegal, serving in the criminal and immigration fields. She shares that being a paralegal reminded her that, “the United States government is one of a kind; [it] does its best to serve and protect its citizens.” Lorena is passionate about using her voice to advocate for others, particularly those who are not being heard or who are unable to advocate for themselves. She previously served as the Community Organizer for the #AlamanceForward project and other programs with LatinxEd and then as the Director of After School Programs at the CityGate Dream Center. As one community leader shared about Lorena, she “has a heart for the community and wants to bring people together and build bridges so everyone can thrive. Her deep roots in the community and passion for building bridges and celebrating people have allowed her to help inspire incredible change and build lasting trust with many groups from educators, parents, police officers, students, and all ages of people as we continue to see our community grow in hope and purpose.”

If she could tell her younger self one thing, Lorena would say, “If you could only see what a great leader you are, and all the changes and challenges you are going to face…. what you’ve been through already has prepared you for your future.”