Gloria Perez, CEO of Jeremiah Program, to speak Nov. 6 in First Friday Speaker Series Patricia Sirek October 23, 2009 Gloria Perez, president and CEO of the Jeremiah Program, will be the next speaker in the University of St. Thomas Alumni Association’s First Friday Speaker Series at noon Friday, Nov. 6, at Nicollet Island Pavilion, 40 Power St., near downtown Minneapolis.Gloria PerezPerez was one of the first staff hired by the Jeremiah Program, an 11-year-old Twin Cities organization that provides safe, affordable housing and support to low-income single mothers and their children. Since then Jeremiah has grown from one campus in Minneapolis to a second in St. Paul, with plans to replicate the model nationwide. Its budget, once $650,000, is now $3.9 million.The San Antonio, Texas, native has spent most of her career serving families and children. She is former executive director of Casa de Esperanza, a domestic violence-prevention agency in St. Paul, where she had volunteered since her days as a student at Macalester College. Last year Perez, a Latina, was honored with an Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which recognizes “remarkable Americans who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage.” Perez serves on the boards of Allina Health Systems, the College of St. Benedict, several foundations and Minnesota Women’s Roundtable. On Nov. 13 she will receive the “Unsung Hero Award” from WomenVenture, a St. Paul-based agency addressing a range of economic, training and career issues facing women.On first Fridays of each month during the academic year, the St. Thomas Alumni Association’s First Friday Speaker Series offers lunch and a speaker of current interest. St. Thomas alumni and friends, along with the general public, are invited. Cost of each luncheon and presentation is $25. UST students may purchase tickets for $15 online.Reservations for the Nov. 6 luncheon are due Friday, Oct. 30. Early reservations are recommended as these events fill quickly. For reservations and more information, call the St. Thomas Alumni Association, (651) 962-6430, or register online at the association’s Web site.