2020 Top Florida Latino Lideres Award Recipient
Soraya Rivera-Moya is a Latino Mover N’ Shaker from Miami, Florida.
Latin Times Magazine: Where are you and your family from? What is your Hispanic heritage? Soraya Rivera-Moya: My name is Soraya Rivera-Moya, I currently live and work in Miami, Florida. I am a proud Puertorriqueña, born and raised. Miami has been my home for the last 22 years. But I have the opportunity to visit the Island two to three times a year to see my family and friends, reconnect with my roots and simply admire what Puerto Rico is all about.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about what you do for a living and how you got into it Soraya Rivera-Moya: My current role in the community is to develop partnerships with individuals, corporations, and civic groups to provide assistance to needy families with sick children. I have the privilege and honor to be the Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida, a non-profit organization that provides temporary lodging for parents whose children have been diagnosed with critically ill medical conditions.
For the past 25 years, I have been involved with this organization in another capacity before leading the chapter here in South Florida. My background is Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising which started in Puerto Rico at an agency and who our main client was McDonald’s. My career started as a Junior Account Executive and eventually was promoted all the way to Senior Account Public Relations Executive in two years. Learned so much with this worldwide brand and heard for the first time about Ronald McDonald House Charities.
After fours, an opportunity and an open position was available in Miami, Florida and that is when I made the difficult decision of leaving my country and my family. I worked the same account, McDonald’s but this time I visited the Ronald McDonald House and learn more about it. I made an approach to one of the members of the Board of Ronald McDonald House and got interested in the open position of Executive Director. I was accepted. I had no prior experience in non-profit management but took it upon myself to learn every single aspect. And that is exactly what I did, I took classes, webinars, sessions, networking with other peers and much more. It took some time, until I felt completely confident that I could do this. I love challenges and this was definitely one. My mission was to create more awareness of the mission of the organization and I think it has been accomplished. But there is still worked to do, new plans and projects so I am ready.
Latin Times Magazine: In your industry, what would you say separates you from your competition Soraya Rivera-Moya: In the non-profit industry, especially in the Human Services section, there is a lot of different organizations that do incredible work in support of individuals in our community. But Ronald McDonald House Charities provides a unique service, and that is to take care of families and their sick children. No other organization has such a comprehensive operation and donors’ value that. They believe in the clear mission and its purpose. for being transparent showing financials, have an exceptional volunteer base, demonstrate leadership and effectiveness. That is what Ronald McDonald House is all about. Our history of 38 years is proof of it.
During these times of COVID-19, the services of the Ronald McDonald House are more important than ever. Parents with sick children looking for the best medical care can not afford a hotel for long periods of time, so they rely on the Ronald McDonald House for basic needs of shelter and care
What makes Ronald McDonald House a successful no- profit is:
- Clear communication in mission and vision
- Engaged Board Members, staff and stakeholders
- Transparency in financials
- Achieve positive results through impact stories of families
- Plan for the future
All these aspects take time and good teamwork with anyone involved.
Latin Times Magazine: During Covid-19, tell us about your Biggest Challenge/obstacle and how you overcame it/or are overcoming it Soraya Rivera-Moya: COVID-19 has transformed our lives in all aspects: personal and professional. This is a crisis like no others in these recent times. These are times of fear and uncertainty. As a leader, you have to respond efficiently and effectively. The first aspect was to address that crisis and evaluate the impact that could have in the organization. In our case, it was a big one, due to the fact of human contact in a communal place. New protocols and procedures needed to be implemented and communicated for the security of our clients and staff. I had to demonstrate that fear will not overcome me and show behavior that will prevent staff and others to react the same. A COVID-19 team and committee were created with experts in the health industry to review current operation programs, guidelines, and create protocols to guide our organization to this new scenario. Keeping the communication lines open between medical advisors, staff, donors, and volunteers made it effectively positive to keep everyone safe, healthy, and engaged.
My biggest concern was the staff, I needed to make sure they felt safe and they needed some distraction. Each and every one of them is dedicated to the mission that for me was very important they were also taken care of. I created a “Healthy Challenge” with an app where we will all take steps and after 30 days, we will announce the top three winners. We were all working remotely so that gave time for them to go out, distract and initiate some healthy habits. It was one of the best initiatives to keep us connected remotely.
For the moment, COVID-19 in Miami continues to be a threat but I feel confident with what we have done to make things better for everyone. I have the best team and best Board members who support my ideas and initiatives.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about your biggest achievement, and how you achieved it (Covid or non-related) Soraya Rivera-Moya: My biggest achievement as an individual has been to become a mother of two beautiful girls. I have been in contact with parents of sick children and I am blessed that my daughters are healthy. Right now, they are engaged in their education and that makes me so proud that they are taking the right path towards their future careers.
As a professional, my biggest accomplishment has been able to meet every year the fundraising goals to keep the doors of the Ronald McDonald House open. The economy is a big factor and there has been a few years I have not been able to fulfill it. Because of COVID-19, this year, will be the biggest challenge as it is uncertain how things will be towards the end of the year. Many have lost their jobs and we rely on individual donations to make things possible. But I am confident that we will be stronger next year with the support of our community. Everyone is in this situation together and will overcome this challenge.
But what makes me proud of the challenges is to see families return home with their child healthy. This is my biggest reward.
Latin Times Magazine: What is next for you? What can people expect to see from you? Soraya Rivera-Moya: Although I have been in the non-profit industry for 18 years, I still continue to learn from other peers and leaders in the community. Now with COVID-19 non-profit organizations have had to adapt to new ways to fundraise, engage with donors and volunteers. This is something new to everyone. But in the next 5 years, I will be focusing all my efforts in a new and incredible project. I can’t wait to start and share the news. I will be more active in fundraising, engaging others, and be able to assist more families than ever. I am excited for this project and looking forward for our community to see it become a reality. I will be very busy but for a very important reason. Stay tuned!
Latin Times Magazine: What words of encouragement can you offer?Soraya Rivera-Moya: I want Hispanics to continue be actively involved in philanthropy, because nonprofits are able to address many of the issues impacting our communities. Select an organization you feel connected with their mission and objectives. Give, engage, support! It is so important.
Latin Times Magazine: Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to share? Soraya Rivera-Moya: Thank you for the opportunity is given to me to be nominated for this award. I am and will always be a proud Hispanic, representing the Puerto Rican woman. I love my country, its roots, and feel proud of its heritage. Hispanics are so vibrant and happy that I could not be happier to be one. I am here to make a change in the community, to help as many people as much as I can and able to for as long as I live. With humbleness, I accept this is my mission in life. I have the best job in the world!
I also have some hobbies: cooking (a lot during this pandemic), riding bike, photography, traveling and hosting gatherings at my house. I love to spend time with friends and family.
Latin Times Magazine: What is YOUR comida Latina favorita? Soraya Rivera-Moya My favorite food of all times is Puertorrican, specially anything with green or sweet plantains. My favorite dish is “Piñón” which is a lasagna with sweet plantains and ground beef. Absolutely delicious!