Cecilia Zamora is the Executive Director of the Latino Council, a
San Rafael non profit seeded by the United Way of the Bay Area in 1997. The Latino Council’s focus is strategic planning, organizational development, board diversity, data gathering/research, and advocacy/public policy development. The Latino Council, once known as the Latino Services Project, helps other organizations (nonprofit, government, business) create culturally responsive approaches and strategies to increase the outcomes of their work with the Latino community.
Cecilia Zamora was born in East Los Angeles, CA, and is a proud Fifth Generation Californian and Mexican-American. When she was very young, the family moved to the suburbs and lived in several Southern California towns. Cecilia remembers many fields and orchards, farmland and horse ranches, where she and her siblings played in those early years. She also remembers when the 405 Freeway was built right where their house stood and the family needed to move to make way for progress. She is the second of five children and was dubbed “the student” early on. While her siblings were engaged in the arts and sports, you could find Cecilia reading the encyclopedia or organizing academic projects during the summer. The Zamora family included Cecilia’s maternal grandmother who helped raise the kids of two hard-working parents. Cecilia was greatly influenced by her grandmother, who had a hard life, but gave effortlessly to her children and grandchildren, as well as to the neighborhood.
Cecilia’s mother, Sally Zamora Carson, was born in Tucson, AZ. Sally became a legal secretary who worked for the Udall family, civic-minded lawyers who later became quite well known politicians. Later in her career, Sally Carson would work as an Aide to State Senator Al Song, California’s first elected Asian-American legislator. It was during this time, that Cecilia became interested in politics and community service. As a freshman in college, she recalls that her Political Science professor stated that “all politics are the public arena.”, and she still agrees with that statement to this day.
After attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cecilia moved to San Francisco to get out of the heat and the hot wind of Southern California. Her first job was with the phone company, which had a very diverse workforce and was aware of gender equity in management. Cecilia worked in the Financial District as a Communications/Marketing Representative and honed her “people” skills working with CEOs, VPs and Senior Management, as well as secretaries and receptionists. After a brief stint in Colorado, Cecilia returned to the Bay Area and took a job with PG&E in their personnel department. It was here she understood that working with people to help them craft their professional lives was a strength. Living in San Francisco and working in the corporate environment of the Financial District was a dream!
Then she met the love of her life who happened to grow up in Marin County. He said it was “God’s Country” and Cecilia moved to Marin to find out that it certainly was different than San Francisco. But she loved it! By that time, Cecilia owned her own business as a high-tech recruiter, working with the new biotech industry that was emerging in Emeryville. Following an accident at Yellowstone Park in 1989, Cecilia had to change her career and was lucky to find a part-time position at the United Way of the Bay Area. She learned from this experience that the statement “all politics are the public arena” was true. In fact, it confirmed to her that even everyday people could be responsible for community change. She became an assistant vice president for the United Way of the Bay Area and was the dedicated staff for the project that became the Latino Council.
When the Latino Council successfully spun off to become its own nonprofit entity, Cecilia was asked to be the Executive Director. Under Cecilia’s leadership, the Latino Council has been a founding member of many coalitions/collaborations including Breast Cancer Coordinating Council, Marin Human Rights Roundtable on Hate Violence, Legal Self Help Center, and California Network for Aging Latinos.
Cecilia began her volunteer board experience with the Marin Child Care Council. She then served on the boards of United Way of the Bay Area, Marin General Hospital/Marin Community Health Foundation, San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club of Marin, MarinKids, San Rafael Schools Community Network, and Women’s Leadership & Philanthropy Council of Dominican University. She continues to serve on the Workforce Alliance of the North Bay, Marin County Equal Employment Advisory Committee of the Personnel Commission, and has served on the advisory boards of Bank of Marin, Latina Breast Cancer Agency, and Marin Asian Advocacy Project.
Cecilia is President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Marin. She is proud to support the Latino professional community and its significant contributions to the economic development of Marin County. She received the North Bay Business Journal’s Latino Leadership Award for this work. Cecilia served on the Marin Women’s Commission from 1996 – 2017, and was Chair of the Commission in 2003/2004 and 2016/2017. She joined the National Association of Commissions for Women (NACW) Board of Directors, a national nonprofit organization supporting Women’s Commissions across the country, in 2004 and served as President from 2010-2016.
Cecilia is a Fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute of the California Women’s Foundation and a graduate of HOPE (Hispanas Organized for Political Equality) Leadership Institute. She is a graduate of the San Rafael Leadership Institute and has proudly chaired the Institute, as a volunteer, since 1998. Through this work, Cecilia has been influential in advancing the leadership of many emerging and existing Marin County leaders.
Cecilia’s many acknowledgements include: the Spirit of Marin Award, Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award, Hero of Marin Award, Leadership Beyond Boundaries from the Institute for Women’s Leadership, Community Diversity Award presented by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, and Servant Leader of the Community Award presented by Rep. Jared Huffman. Cecilia is featured in the 2004 book “100 Faces of Marin.” During National Women’s History Month in March 2017, she was named “Northern California Woman of the Year” by State Senator Mike McGuire.
Cecilia maintains a private consulting practice specializing in leadership development, philanthropy planning, and multicultural strategic planning for businesses and nonprofits. She has been a Marin County resident since 1986 and currently lives with her husband of 34 years in San Anselmo.
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