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Rico Zavala

When we asked Rico Zavala what he hoped for in the future, when we asked him what he felt the City of Lincoln needed, and when we asked him what makes him feel he’s had a good day . . . Rico Zavala always pointed to others. His hope for the future is the opportunity to serve those around him. He feels that the City of Lincoln could use more affordable housing for people who are financially challenged. And, a good day for him is when a young adult comes up to him and says thanks for how he helped them through a struggling time as a youth and that he made a positive impact on them.

Zavala is part of the leadership team for Cedars, a 70+ year-old organization in Lincoln that helps children achieve safety, stability and enduring family relationships. His particular area of responsibility is to oversee all Juvenile Justice services including an emergency shelter, a street outreach team, Bridges Transitional Living Program and the foster care services. He’s been part of the Cedars team for 15 years.

  • For our kids to serve in the community is best, and frankly that’s better than a jail cell. We work closely with their schools, counselors and teachers to create ways for them to be successful.

On the personal side, Zavala and his wife Angela have three active children who are involved in all sorts of activities. He’s coached a daughter’s softball and basketball teams, his son’s baseball team and is actively involved in nearly all of their activities. Angela, in addition to her involvement with their busy family, is a nurse practitioner and a faculty member teaching others about nursing.

Zavala sits on a number of boards, is a graduate of the Leadership Lincoln program and an active member in Lincoln’s Downtown Rotary 14. He grew up in Wood River, Nebraska (just West of Grand Island) and ended up in Lincoln to attend the University of Nebraska. In this conversation you’ll learn more about the Cedars organization, Zavala’s family, and a little about his passion that drives him to do so much in our community.

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    I love Lincoln and I want to be actively involved. Lincoln is something special and I hope people don’t take that for granted.

In 2020, CEDARS Announced $3.5 Million Project to Add Space to Southeast Nebraska's Only Emergency Shelter for Youth.