People Served Define the Careers of Two Retiring Leaders

Donna Werner and Raul Saldivar

Vivid memories highlight the careers of Raul Saldivar and Donna Werner, senior leaders at Mosaic who are retiring at the end of the year.

Both Raul and Donna had many notable career achievements.  Raul was a Mosaic pinch-hitter, taking on many roles over the years, including time as Senior Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Operating Officer.  Donna led Mosaic’s quality drive that brought the first-ever network certification, was an integral part of Mosaic’s international programs, and now serves as Senior Vice President of Advocacy.

Yet, asked about their highlights, both mentioned people – those they served and those with whom they worked.

Raul was a teenager working on Mosaic’s campus in Axtell when he met a man named Charlie, who became his “inspiration.”  Charlie had cerebral palsy and communicating with staff was a challenge.  Competitive by nature, Raul was up to the challenge. 

“I put questions in yes or no format and I could tell by his eyebrows if the answer was yes or no,” Raul said.  “I saw determination in his face to accomplish things and do the best he could do.  He worked hard at it every day.”

Charlie taught him that people with disabilities can do far more than was often believed, Raul said. 

To Raul’s satisfaction, it became known that if people had trouble determining what Charlie was trying to communicate, they would go find Raul.  He’d figure it out.

A young girl named Christina stands out for Donna.  In 2003, Mosaic began a partnership in Romania with a local organization to bring children with disabilities out of a wretched, communist-era institution. Describing the scene, Donna said, “There were tons of kids and very few staff.  There was no adaptive equipment and no toys.  You’d go into the restroom and there were no towels and no washcloths.”

In the midst of that, they found Christina, laying in an iron crib, curled up in a fetal position.  Staff said Christina just laid there, all day, listless.

“I thought she was 3,” Donna said.  “She was actually 7.”

When the head of Mosaic’s partner organization brought in a specially made, bright red wheelchair for Christina a few days later, the reaction was amazing.

“We lifted her up and put her in it.  She was like a flower blooming.  Her head came up, feet came down.  The other kids started coming over.”

Christina left that institution unable to walk. Within eight weeks, she was climbing the stairs at the group home she moved to.

Throughout their careers, there were countless Charlies and Christinas for Raul and Donna.  They were also countless employees they mentored and inspired. 

Achievements and awards make nice wall hangings and shelf decorations, but changed lives create a legacy. It lives on long after you retire.

Thanks, Raul and Donna, for all you’ve done for the people of Mosaic. 

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