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Lincoln leader Rico Zavala: There’s no grass growing under his feet
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Lincoln leader Rico Zavala: There’s no grass growing under his feet

Rico Savalas

Rico Zavala is service director for Cedars, the father of three very active children and is involved in multiple community service activities.

This guy doesn’t sit still, not even at his desk at Cedars.

Rico Zavala is the father of three very active children. He’s service director for Cedars. He’s on the board of The Bridge, the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association, the Norris Baseball Association, the Nebraska Coalition for Juvenile Justice, and if that’s not enough, he coaches several youth sports teams.

And, on top of all of that, he wanted to get more involved in Lincoln, so he participated in the Leadership Lincoln Fellows Cohort in 2017-18.

Cedars has helped children in Lincoln and beyond since 1947. The organization has a rich history of working with youth who have been abused, neglected or homeless. It provides safety, stability and enduring family relationships, and is one of the largest nonprofit child-caring organizations in Nebraska. Zavala’s 15-year involvement with Cedars began as a coordinator of care for youth served by the organization. Then he evolved into managing several of the programs and now serves as director of services, which means he’s on the go helping run a broad spectrum of operations in the community.

Zavala and his wife, Angela, met as students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Angela doesn’t sit still either. You’d think parenting Kendall, Max and Madyn would be enough, but she works with Primary Care Partners and is on the faculty of Nebraska Methodist College, an Omaha-based health professions institution.

In addition to his work with Cedars, parenting three very active kids and serving on a number of boards and commissions, Zavala took part of the Leadership Lincoln Fellows program. Participants begin their year with a retreat.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said when asked about the experience. “What I found was a great way to meet people from across the community and to learn about what makes Lincoln such a great place,” he said. “My favorite part of the Fellows program was government day. It gave me a chance to really understand just how dedicated and hardworking our elected officials really are.”

Zavala grew up in Wood River, Nebraska and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology from UNL. He joined Cedars right after college and has helped the organization grow in its connection with Nebraska Juvenile Justice, work with Health and Human Services and even with some federally supported activities.

“I’ve been impressed with how people in Lincoln work together to make things better,” he said. “The pride people have in our community impresses me. And, I’ve learned that people aren’t afraid to get involved to help make Lincoln even better.”

As if his work at Cedars, raising an active family and serving on a variety of boards and commissions wouldn’t be enough, Zavala has also joined Lincoln’s Downtown Rotary Club. He’s certainly not sitting still. He’s a young leader who is seeking to help Lincoln care for less fortunate boys and girls.

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