“In Pittsburgh, I’m able to grow my heritage far from home.”
Within two weeks of arriving in Pittsburgh for her post-baccalaureate program at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), Jesabel Rivera and her husband Eddie Guerra were invited to a Latin American Cultural Union picnic. That invitation helped to create an anchor for the couple who now see LACU members as their family in Pittsburgh, and a starting point to connect with the region’s Latino community.
Founded in 1986, the nonprofit LACU promotes, preserves and enriches the Latin American and Caribbean cultures in the region. It serves as a point of education around Latino identity, integration and connection through activities such as picnics, independence commemorations of various Latin American countries and community service days.
By 2012, Jesabel had become president of the organization, ushering it into a greater visibility both within the region's small-but-fast-growing Latino population but also for the wider community.
Then there's her day job. After earning a master's of public health at Pitt, Jesabel worked as a health strategy consultant for Highmark for four years. In 2016, she joined the American Heart Association-American Stroke Association. Her wide connections across the region have put her in a strong position to asses health needs and assets to develop, coordinate and implement strategies and programs to improve blood pressure and decrease cardiovascular risks in Allegheny County
Jesabel and Eddie, an engineer for a firm in Monroeville, love to dance salsa and bomba, a folkloric afro-Puerto Rican dance, which they have performed in various events. "It’s incredible! I used to dance salsa a lot back in Puerto Rico, but never thought that I could continue to grow my heritage so far away from home."