This week, 40 organizers from the immigration movement are taking part in BootCamp without Borders, a week-long New Media BootCamp designed specifically for those fighting for fair immigration policy in America.
The class represents a diverse and dynamic a group, as is only fitting for those fighting to ensure that America lives up to its history as a home for all those yearning for a better future. We're proud to introduce the class of New Media BootCamp without Borders.
Ameerah Gillespie is the Communications Outreach Coordinator for the National Network for Arab American Communities. Her passion for resolving community issues stems from her multi-cultural Detroit upbringing and active engagement as a former award-winning video journalist at both Lansing State Journal and HOM-TV. Before landing her first job in college, she began working with several news stations and doing volunteer organizing for the Michigan House of Representatives, learning laws and loving people. She began to see how just telling stories wasn’t enough to resolve their problems. In 2011, she left the world of journalism to combine her talent with bias efforts and help her community at home. She received a BA in Journalism and Political Science at Michigan State University (2010). Ameerah firmly believes that anything can happen, if you write your own story. “Write it down, and live it well,” she says.
Héctor Vaca is the Charlotte Director of Action NC. He has been a community organizer for the past 6 years. He started down the activism path at the age of 16, when he and other students staged a sit-in at their high school to protest Desert Storm. In later years, Héctor discovered the punk rock community, where he got more civically involved. As a community organizer, Héctor has been working tirelessly to organize tenants, immigrants, and other people of color. In 2008, while organizing immigrants in Los Angeles, he and the ACORN members he was organizing a commitment from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service to process over 170,000 citizen applications that were backlogged. Because of his organizing work, in 2011 the Charlotte Observer voted him as one of its Seven People to Watch in 2011. In 2011 he received the Unsung Hero award from the Charlotte NAACP.
Pamela Reséndiz (@_allwehaveisnow) is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico City, Mexico. She currently attends the University of Texas at San Antonio where she is completing a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in Latin American Studies and a concentration on Pre-Law. She is a community organizer and founded DREAM Act NOW! at UTSA, which she presided for one year. Dream Act NOW! was the organization that launched the hunger strike at national level during 2010. She is also a core member of the San Antonio Immigrant Youth Movement as well as the Texas DREAM Alliance and United We Dream. Pamela has been involved with local, state and national grassroots organizations advocating for the DREAM Act, immigrants' and workers' rights. She currently interns as a legal advocate at the Equal Justice Center in San Antonio. She hopes to one day attend law school and become an immigration attorney.
Daniel Alejandro Morales (@Danie_Alejand) is an undergraduate student in the University of Michigan's Literature, Science and Arts college. He plans to major in Public Policy upon his acceptance to the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy and minor in Sociology. Daniel is originally from Mexico, Chihuahua specifically, but was brought to the United States at the age of one. He lived in Carson, California for half of his life and eventually moved to Detroit, Michigan where he spent his adolescence. He lived as an undocumented immigrant in the United States until July, 2011 when he was finally granted permanent residency. He plans to enter the Peace Corps. upon graduation and attend law school thereafter. As a student, he is a member of Migrant and Immigrant Rights Advocacy on Campus and is a founder of the Coalition for Tuition Equality. His major focus is on access to higher education for undocumented youth.
Derek Washington (@iamderekw) has been an activist since being picked by Robin McGehee (Get Equal) to head up Diversity Outreach for 2009's National Equality March. As leader of bot the Southern Nevada and Nevada State Stonewall Democrats, Derek has helped create one of the nations' strongest LGBT political organizations. He was a leader on repealing DADT and works closely with the Latino community on immigration. He's also a whole lot of fun!
Karla Chavez is s a current student at Volunteer State Community College. She is majoring in Organizational Communications with a concentration in non-profit organizations. She is an active volunteer for Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. Where she is the youth media organizer for the organizations youth group. She is passionate about youth organizing and bringing the diversity in the Nashville community together. She is an enthusiastic community activist who believes in immigrant rights. She is also a proud supporter of the D.R.E.A.M. Act and a Dreamer herself. To make sure that no bad anti-immigrant legislation is passed within the state of Tennessee. Karla spends several days a week lobbying her local state representatives. One day she hopes that all immigrants will be welcomed and respected in Tennessee and across the nation.
Franklin Soults (@fsoults) and his siblings were raised speaking both Spanish and English in Syracuse, New York, by their Chilean immigrant mom. After completing his bachelor’s at the University of Chicago, Frank worked as an adult ESOL teacher and as a music journalist and editor, winning three statewide journalism awards in the early 2000s. In May 2008 Frank earned a master’s in journalism at Columbia University, and in April 2009 he joined MIRA as a spokesperson and strategic communications planner.
Roxana Bendezu (@RoxannaBendezu), a native of Peru, is an activist in Charlotte, North Carolina. She serves as the executive director for Social Justice Action Network, a non-profit that aims to bringing existing organizations together to share economic and human resources to tackle issues at the local, state, and federal levels. She serves as a member of the board for Democracy NC and is an executive committee member of the NC Central Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club. She participates in the Social Justice committee of her parish, St. Peter's Catholic Church, as well as in the Charlotte Region Catholic Environmental Advisory Council. She is committed to encourage and promote a wholistic vision of our social struggles to find inclusive solutions with a focus on human dignity.
Lulu Martínez (@OhKayLulu) is a queer Latina currently living in Atlanta, GA. She immigrated from Tlalnepantla, Mexico to the U.S. with her parents and brother when she was three years old and was raised and politicized in Chi-City. Before moving to the South and joining the Georgia Undocumented Youth Alliance (GUYA) and Southerners On New Ground (SONG), she was a Chicago youth organizer with the Immigrant Youth Justice League fighting for the passage of the DREAM Act and creating platforms for undocumented youth to share their stories. She is passionate about building bridges between the queer and immigrant communities and creating more black and brown solidarity. She recently found her love for popular education through the use of photography and audio and is working with GUYA on a photo project to change the negative portrayal of immigrants in the state of Georgia.
Justino Mora (@justinmora159) is a student activist at UCLA pursing a Computer Engineering major and Political Science minor. He has a wide range of experience in online organizing, political advocacy, and community organizing. Justino is a leader in the immigrant rights movement, a strong believer in change from the bottom up, and has traveled to Sacramento, CA and Washington DC to lobby and advocate for the passage of pro-immigrant, pro-education legislation such as the DREAM Act and compressive immigration reform. He served in the Steering Committee of the CA Dream Network (CDN) and played a critical role in the organization’s growth. For instance, he created the organization’s website, introduced and merged online advocacy with offline organizing, and leads the efforts to maintain an active and influential online presence. In 2011, Justino helped plan, organize, and lead one of the largest youth-lead, statewide campaigns to pass the CA Dream Act. He has been an active supporter, volunteer, and leader in the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and, when not organizing in cyberspace, he reads books and academic journals, plays soccer and trains for long-distance running events.
Sam Sukaton (@spsook) is a community organizer based in Los Angeles, California. He came to organizing through his time at UCLA, where students organized for increased access for low-income students, for the DREAM Act and against budget cuts. He has worked, written for, and organized with a broad community of activists, including students at the University of California, nursing home workers in Long Beach, city employees in Atlanta, and immigrant rights advocates in Los Angeles. At UCLA, Sam was a columnist and editor for the Daily Bruin, a board alternate for the United States Student Association, an activist with the University of California Student Association and a member of the Student Labor Action Project's national committee. Sam is a community organizer for the Southeast Asian Community Alliance (SEACA) in LA's Chinatown supporting environmental justice, workers' rights, and planning a city that works for all its residents. Sam works with SEACA's Youth Organizers program and Youth Leadership Project, which teach students about their communities, about systemic oppression, and how to build power for positive change. Sam's dedication to workers' rights, immigration reform, and public education come from his own family's experiences; his parents emigrated from Indonesia to go to college.
Dominique Medina came out of the Russell Pearce recall campaign ready to change the world. Raised in Phoenix Arizona he had a thirst for justice. Tired of the popularity racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric had gained in Arizona, he left his position working for the State for a chance to help his community. Hoping to use his bachelor's degree in art and experience in web development and video production to make the world a better place for all.
Cairo Mendes came to this country from Brazil at the age of nine in 2002. He quickly excelled in school, and in less than two years he left the English Language Learners program, transferring to an all English speaking class. As the years went by however Cairo's world changed. High school wass fairly harder, and so he went through a time of difficulty. But we was able to pull through due to the help of the Student Immigrant Movement, and through the activism, Cairo became confident he could take on the world. As a senior in High school, Cairo plans on attending community college in the fall since it's close by and financially stable. He wants to be a politician and make a difference in people's lives, something he's always wanted since he was a child. He hopes that with this boot camp he can learn on news ways of helping out the community at the movement.
Kate Werning is the Youth Organizer for Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant and worker rights center in Southeastern Wisconsin. Kate graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Bachelors in Community Education and Organizing, a minor in Spanish, and a Certificate in Latin American and Caribbean studies. She has studied both in Mexico and in El Salvador, and has spent some time doing volunteer work on the U.S.-Mexico border. Some of Kate's passions include youth leadership development, liberation theology, dancing, gardening, and the Great Lakes. She aspires to become a stronger organizer, better at empowering youth, and certified in English-Spanish translation.
Whitney Buchmann holds a B.A. in Spanish and International Studies and a Certificate in Conflict Resolution from Kansas State University. Whitney's passion for creating change in immigrant communities stems from time in a public interest law center, grassroots organizing in Costa Rica, and mission work in remote villages of Honduras. She is a bilingual community organizer leading CCO's work on immigration and public safety issues. Since coming on staff in May of 2010, she has worked with community leaders to reduce fear of reporting crimes in the immigrant community, address the overwhelming number of vacant and unkept properties in northeast Kansas City, MO, and increase access to higher education for undocumented youth.
Ivone Guillen (@iguillen) is the Immigration Campaigns Fellow at Sojourners, an organization that seeks to discover the intersection between faith, politics and social justice. She is a native of Washington State, where she lived and worked amongst immigrant communities. Ivone graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., in 2009 with a degree in International Studies and Spanish. After college, she worked with Tierra Vida (Land of Life) as the program coordinator for C.A.S.A. and was an immigration policy fellow at Bread for the World before joining Sojourners in September. Ivone looks forward to opportunities that continue enriching her personal and professional development as well as looks for ways in which she can continue impacting lives through the work that she does. As she tries to be optimistic most of the time, she believes that life is an open journey and it's up to each individual to decide how much of an impact they want to leave behind.
Elena Hernandez is undocumented, unafraid, and determined. Raised in Orange County, one of the most conservative counties in the state of CA, she’s fought against the grain of conservative ideals. Planting her activism roots within DeColores Queer Orange County, Elena is a firm supporter of Latin@ LGBTQ rights that incorporate intersectionalities of identities, and struggles. As an active member of the Orange County Dream Team, Elena continues to educate herself and others about the realities of immigrant communities throughout the state. Not just Elena, but Carolina to her family, she maintains the need for Sunday linners consisting of dangerous mixtures of beef, chile, and carb-based complimentary sides.
Daria Ovide (@dariaovide) is the communications and operations coordinator for CASE (Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy) in Phoenix, Arizona. This is Daria’s fifth career, having formerly been a land conservationist, copyeditor, financial educator, and room service worker at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale, where she developed her taste for winning from the UNITE HERE! organizing campaign there. Daria attended Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia and then lived and worked in Boston before moving to Arizona the day after Barak Obama was elected. Born in Israel and raised in Ohio, she blends Mediterranean directness with Midwestern politeness. She laughs very, very loudly.
Esteban Ortiz (@ortizee21ios08) is and individual that has done it all been everywhere and lived everywhere.Currently he works out of Dayton, Ohio because Ohio just loves and needs him and keeps bringing him back. He sits on the board of directors for a small non-profit called Del Pueblo Inc. in Springfield, Ohio that serves the Spanish speaking community in the area. He is a 09 Political Leader Fellow from the Center for Progressive Leadership in the state of Ohio. Work to organize and increase the participation of Latinos with SEIU,Obama for America, U.S Census Bureau, Hispanic chamber of commerce, LULAC, Legal Aid of Western Ohio and the Consulate of Mexico in Indianapolis. Currently working on my Master's degree in conflict analysis and engagement because every conflict or problem is and opportunity.
Rosa Cabezas came to this country at the age of three in 1996. She started head start at age 4 in order to learn English. As the years went by and she grew older, she realized that she was undocumented and couldn't have the same opportunities like everyone else who was a citizen. At the age of 16, she couldn't drive because she didn't have license . She couldn't work to help her family because she didn't a social security number. She didn't give up and stayed in school and graduated high school. After high school, she it was hard for her to go to college because she couldn't afford it. She now works two jobs to save money for college and to help her family. Now at 19, years she is a volunteer for Promise Arizona in Arizona. Her dream is to help the community and give them hope to keep fighting for immigration reform. Rosa wants to be a social worker and help families. Coming to bootcamp she hopes to learn new ways to help her community and become a better leader.
Kaleigh Schwalbe (@moroccotaco) moved to Arizona two years ago to become more involved in the immigrant rights movement. Kaleigh volunteers for the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and the Somos America Coalition as a Social Media Organizer. Learning most of her skills through Google and trial and error, Kaleigh has helped these organizations launch several social media campaigns, and is looking forward to learning how to do more! Kaleigh also does volunteer work with No More Deaths Phoenix, and works part time at a domestic violence shelter that serves undocumented women. In the past, Kaleigh has worked at a transitional housing shelter for undocumented families, as an ESL teacher, and a citizenship counselor.
Refugio Mata (@economicrefugee) is the founder of www.economicrefugee.net a progressive activist blog that seeks to engage Latinos and other underserved communities through news analysis, communications management tips, and community organizing advice. He is a Los Angeles-based Public Relations specialist with extensive background in community organizing tactics and Integrated Communications Management. Currently he works as a Communications Coordinator for Good Jobs LA, a grassroots project based in South Los Angeles. In addition, for nearly five years, he was a Project Organizer for Heal the Bay, a Southern California environmental nonprofit organization that focuses on revitalizing the Santa Monica Bay. He co-founded their “Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Environment Initiative” as part of a communications strategy to organize around environmental justice issues in inner city Los Angeles.
Angelica Rubio (@annrubio) is a native New Mexican, who has returned to her hometown of Lake Arthur after spending five glorious years in Los Angeles, CA. A political junkie, renowned blogger (in her own mind) and social media extraordinaire, Ms. Rubio is in the process of finalizing a 501c3 application for her organization, Center for Advocacy Rights and Engagement (CARE) in rural New Mexico. She is currently working with allies to provide much needed services to the immigrant community as well as ongoing support to a growing Latino voting block. In addition to her work with CARE, Ms. Rubio is a blogger at www.rubiodispatch.com, writing about the days political events with personal analysis from the confines of her own little world in rural New Mexico. In addition, she is a freelance writer and was recently published in the journal of North American Congress on Latin America, providing insight on the media’s negative use of the term “illegal” in the ongoing immigration debate. While her life-long dream is to be as awesome as Rachel Maddow, Ms. Rubio is also very passionate about her work at the grassroots level and committed to making New Mexico a better place.
Lizbeth Mateo (LizbethMateo) was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and moved to Los Angeles, California when she was 14 years old. Lizbeth is undocumented and a co-founder of DreamActivist California and The National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) – an undocumented youth-LED nationwide network of grassroots organizations. In 2008, she became the first in her family to graduate from college, earning a degree in Chicano/a Studies from Cal State University, Northridge. Two years later, Lizbeth and three others became the first undocumented youth to risk deportation by doing civil disobedience. They conducted a sit-in inside Sen. McCain’s office to demand the passage of the DREAM Act. Despite being arrested, put into deportation proceedings, and facing the failure of the DREAM Act in 2010, Lizbeth continues to advocate for the rights of the immigrant community. She fights for the passage of the DREAM Act, and to stop the deportations of undocumented youth through NIYA’s “Education Not Deportation” Campaign. She firmly believes that in order to create the kind of change that we all want to see, the people that are most affected by the issue must lead the way and must take ownership of their struggle.
Natalia Jaramillo (@latinaglasses) is a native Colombian and a passionate communicator for social issues. She worked for nearly 6 years in Latin America in Communications for Development, and has been involved in the immigrants rights movement in Florida since 2010. Currently, she works as Communications Manager for the Florida Immigrant Coalition.
Ravi Ragbir is a NYC immigrant rights activist who has helped hundreds of people as an organizer with the New Sanctuary Movement. He works directly with those who are facing deportation to educate them about their case and to empower them to struggle against their deportation. He has trained numerous advocates from various immigrant and allied organizations on the impact of these terrible immigration policies. Working with these groups Ravi has organized Know Your Rights and community forums to educate and empower communities to advocate for the individual but more importantly to advocate for a fair and humane immigration policy. Ravi has first hand knowledge of the deportation proceedings because he is facing removal. He is fighting to remain here with his family, friends and supporters.
Meghan Blickman (@megmccue), born and raised in Silver Spring, MD, is an immigration organizer with Greater Birmingham Ministries, one of the members of the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice. Meghan focuses on organizing faith groups in Alabama to build the effort to repeal HB56. She began immigration organizing with PAZ en Accion during their Faith, Hope, Vote campaign in response to SB1070. Prior to moving to Birmingham, Meghan organized with Groundswell (formerly the D.C. Project) to grow sustainability in Washington, D.C. When not organizing, she enjoys theatre (performing and attending) and drinking coffee with a good book in hand.
Camila Bortolleto (@MCamila_B) was born in Brazil and immigrated to CT at the age of 9. Now at the age of 23, she is a college graduate; having recently graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a BA in Biology and a minor in International Studies. Camila has always had a passion for social justice issues and been involved with social justice causes. In 2010, Camila along with several other students from around Connecticut founded the statewide organization CT Students for a DREAM, whose goal is to advocate and empower undocumented students and their families. The organization's goals are to edvocate, educate, and empower. As part of the organization Camila was actively involved in the campaign for the recently passed In State Tuition Bill for Undocumented Students. She currently holds the position of Public Relations/Media coordinator. Her main responsibilities include being responsible for CT Students for a DREAM's media presence and image in the public eye.
Armando Bellmas (@bestillplease) is a father, husband, landowner, artist, lover, friend, advocate, and Cuban-American (not in that order). He stares at screens way too much but can't get enough of the awesome power that lives within them. His life is bilingual and so is the music he listens to. He believes that brown is beautiful and works from 8:00 am to midnight most days trying to convince the world that it is, one way or another.
Angy Rivera (@AskAngy) is a Colombian born New York raised undocumented immigrant. From volunteering at homes and after school programs to leading school clubs; Angy has always been involved with her community. Most recently, she became an active fighter within the New York State Youth Leadership Council through media, outreach as well as arts and self-expression. She started the first and only undocumented youth advice column called Ask Angy and is a part-time super hero trying to inspire and make a difference.
Laila Abdelaziz is the Central Florida Field Coordinator for EMERGE USA, a national voter advocacy non-profit that works to empower and engage the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities in our political system. Laila is also the co-host of the weekly radio talk show, The Muslim Street, which broadcasts from Clearwater, Florida and is also available through iTunes Podcasts. She immigrated to the Unites States from Palestine at the age of five, and is of Palestinian and Russian decent studying Peace and Conflict Resolution. Laila is a dedicated activist within the American MASA (Muslim, Arab, and South Asian) community and hopes to further empower young community leaders such as herself to ensure a conscience and proactive emerging generation.
Ileana Salinas (@ileanamerary) is an advocate for undocumented youth and the respect of all humans' rights regardless of immigration status. She has worked for the passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) since 2006 and was in the founding board of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition. She has also participated as a spanish interpreter in several events including “Know Your Rights” and “Deportation 101” because of her strong belief on the importance of bilingual organizing.
Razan Abu-Hashish (@IrzanL) was born in Chicago, Illinois. She attended Northside College Prep for high school. Frustrated with the laws that separate our families and cause immigrants to live in constant fear of deportation, she became involved with the Immigrant Youth Justice League in her senior year of high school. Now 19 years old, she attends UIC where she is studying Political Science and Philosophy and hopes to be a future attorney. Razan is also the Online Communications Director at the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, as well as an Ask Big Questions fellow on campus.
Maxima Guerrero was born in Mexico, and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She is currently a student at Phoenix College, and is also a DREAMER. In early 2010 Maxima began her activism work with the Arizona Dream Act Coalition; an immigrant youth led organization in Arizona fighting for the Dream Act and immigrant youth rights. In early 2011 Maxima began her experience in electoral campaigns as she organized in the Phoenix city council elections, and later on in the year having the opportunity to organize in the Historical Recall election of Russell Pearce. Impacted by various anti-immigrant legislations in Arizona, Maxima has witnessed first-hand the intimidation tactics brought by legislators and is preparing to stay engaged, educate, and mobilize her own community. She hopes to not only develop leaders but also demonstrate the abilities and strength we already have and impact there is to be created by simply putting tactics and strategy to use.
Michael Nazario is the oldest of five siblings and the son of two hard working parents. He has lived in the state of Arizona for over 18 years and today, at the age of 23, this country is the only place he calls home; he's undocumented. He learned about his status late in his Junior year of High School when he tried enlisting in the United States Marine Corps. He didn't know much about his limitations as an undocumented student but soon after graduating he would face the economic hardships and struggles that prevented him from pursuing his dream. He managed to enroll at Phoenix College where he has been a part time student pursuing a degree in Political Science and minor in History.
In late 2009, he became involved in his community as a volunteer with Reform Immigration For America and in the spring of 2010 he would begin organizing with Promise Arizona after Governor Brewer signed the anti-immigrant Senate Bill 1070. Michael would also play an important role as the national voice for the Military portion of the DREAM Act and created the DREAM Army, a national organization of military service aspiring DREAMers. Most recently, Michael participated in the Russell Pearce recall in Mesa, Arizona and with the help of other civic organizations they managed to elect a new state senator. Michael is currently a fellow Regional Lead Organizer for Organizing for America and has also taken the leadership role of Campaign Manager for Pedro Lopez's school board campaign in Phoenix, Arizona.