November 13, 2020
Catalina Samper Horak
Founder and Former Executive Director
Building ONE COMMUNITY
Catalina has worked in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years. She is a proud Colombian by birth and equally proud US Citizen by circumstance and commitment. Catalina’s multicultural experience comes from having lived in several countries in North America, South America and Europe, and in CT since 1997. She has served as a an active volunteer, board member and officer of several non-profit organizations in the USA as well as in her native Colombia. As former Board Chair of Neighbors Link Mount Kisco, she was a driving force behind the initiative to replicate the Neighbors Link model and bring it to Stamford. In 2017 the organization rebranded and chose a new name that better reflected its mission. Catalina has a BS in Biology, a MS in Genetics and Plant Breeding and a MS in Nonprofit Management.
Building One Community( B1C) , was founded in December 2010 as the result of convening key community stakeholders from different backgrounds and expertise, to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing immigrant newcomers, and to identify best practice models for successfully integrating them into the economic and social fabric of their new community. As a result of this collaborative strategy, B1C opened its community center in June, 2011 offering program services which successfully link recent immigrants with the tools they need to adapt to their new environments.
B1C model leverages existing services to improve outcomes for immigrant adults and children through a network of
collaborating program partners and referrals. In addition, the center’s location, hours of operation, cost-free programs and on-site babysitting eliminate barriers which immigrants themselves identified as impediments to access.
Ensuring that these newcomers can acquire the language skills and other tools to become full participants in their new communities is important not only for their own economic well-being, but also for that of the greater Stamford area and the surrounding region as well.
To date, Building ONE COMMUNITY has established itself as a thriving organization with a clear expertise on the immigrant community and has helped over 13,000 immigrant adult individuals from over 100 different countries —and their families—make measurable progress towards English language fluency, economic and family stability, working hard to achieve their American Dream.
As part of a carefully planned transition to ensure the long term sustainability of the organization, Catalina transitioned out of her role as B1C’s founding Executive Director in July of 2020. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the vulnerable immigrant community, prompted B1C during Catalina’s last months as its Executive Director, to adapt and adjust its programs and to introduce emergency assistance as a temporary program.
Catalina currently serves on the board member of Americares Free Clinic (an organization that provides high quality health care to low-income uninsured patients in CT) and 4-CT (an organization founded to aid CT citizens struggling with the health and economic effects of COVID-19).