Salas Ramirez returns to hometown for nonprofit leadership role

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, December 22, 2022

More than a decade ago, Sara Salas Ramirez left Austin to start her path as her family’s first-generation college student.
After moving to Austin in 2000 as a child from Mexico, Salas Ramirez often was told by her parents that while they did not have a lot, giving their children an education was a top priority.

Salas Ramirez excelled at St. Cloud State University, graduating in 2014, and started her professional career in that community. Yet, she always kept an eye on a position in her hometown – executive director of the nonprofit Parenting Resource Center (PRC).

This fall, the PRC’s leadership position opened, and Salas Ramirez applied.

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Salas Ramirez started her job as PRC’s executive director on Thursday. She is excited and grateful to be back in Austin.

“This is where my family has established roots and where the community has cared for and supported us,” said Salas Ramirez, a 2010 Austin High graduate. 

As executive director, Salas Ramirez now oversees the PRC’s programming for families along with The Welcome Center; Seibel Family Visitation & Exchange Center; Catherwood Child Care; Austin Positive Action Coalition (APAC); Partnering with Parents; Rainbow Route busing; Helping Homes; and the Diaper Program, among others. Nearly a year ago, the PRC merged with The Welcome Center, whose staff became PRC employees.

In the coming weeks, PRC expects to open its new Austin Community Action Building (CAB) that has been under construction for more than a year as a major addition to the PRC headquarters in the Seibel Center near Austin’s U.S. Post Office. The new facilities will house the PRC offices, The Welcome Center and Children’s Dental Health Services.

In her most-recent job based in Oakdale, Salas Ramirez worked in adult and child case management. She has more than seven years of experience with children and adults who have experienced substance abuse, domestic abuse, trauma and the justice system.

“I believe in empowering people by connecting them to the appropriate resources to help them achieve their goals,” she said. “I believe that the most effective way to address a larger problem is by approaching smaller hurdles one step at a time.”

Salas Ramirez succeeds Gema Alvarado-Guerrero, who led the PRC the past six years and worked for the nonprofit for nine years overall. In recent months, Alvarado-Guerrero opted to step down from the leadership role but agreed to work in a part-time capacity to help with the leadership transition, including training Salas Ramirez for the job.

Karen Wolf, chair of the PRC’s board of directors, said the board is confident Salas Ramirez will be a great addition, especially at such a critical time of growth for the organization.

“Sara has spent her career working with people in need and those struggling with various challenges in life,” Wolf said. “That background and passion to help people from all walks of life is a big reason our board is excited to have her as the next PRC leader.”

Salas Ramirez brings experience to the position, especially from overseeing supervised visitations and providing vision and guidance as a social services director, said Wolf, who is executive director of Nexus-Gerard Family Healing in Austin.

Wolf also noted Salas Ramirez is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work in Multicultural Clinical Practice. 

“That is another huge strength of hers for this leadership role given the wonderful diversity of our community,” she said. 

Salas Ramirez said she is “overjoyed” to have been selected for PRC’s leadership role, saying she wants to help the organization expand, offer more opportunities and continue to have a positive influence on the individuals served by it. 

With the CAB facilities, PRC will serve even more as the community’s “front porch” in that it will offer multifaceted programs and resources to everyone, Salas Ramirez said.

“Similar to a porch, which often has a sturdy foundation and offers protection from the outside, individuals and families can obtain resources, have their needs met and receive a strong support system from staff and professionals,” Salas Ramirez said. “At the same time, PRC serves as a front for meeting community needs and tackling critical community barriers.”