I wanted to once again thank our co-sponsors, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Latino Issues Forum, Greenlining Institute and Centro Legal de la Raza. I want to also give a special thank you to the students of R.I.S.E., who provide Spanish translation throughout the program.
I also wanted to thank the members of Lucha Unida for their work, their words, and to wish them well on their trip.
I would also like panelists both for participating, and for their dedication to these issues. In response to requests for additional information on the individuals and organizations that participated in the panel, here are links to their respective bios, that are either listed below, or can be accessed by clicking on their name.
Nora Vargas (Executive Director, Latino Issues Forum)
Nora Vargas was most recently appointed as Executive Director of Latino Issues Forum (LIF), a state wide non-profit public policy and advocacy institute dedicated to advancing new and. innovative public policy solutions for a better, more equitable and prosperous society.
Ms Vargas is an accomplished public affairs and executive management professional, with over fourteen years of experience working with government entities, NGO’s, foundations, corporations and grass roots organizations. She is bicultural and bilingual in English and Spanish.
Prior to joining LIF, Ms Vargas was a public affairs and political management consultant for various successful State Assembly, municipal and community college campaigns based out of San Diego. Previously, she served as the Founding Director of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs for the City of Los Angeles. She also served as Vice President of Governmental and Political Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties.
Nora’s professional career has taken her from her hometown of San Diego, CA to serving in various capacities in Washington DC and in Sacramento as a political consultant.
Ms. Vargas is regularly invited to speak on the subjects of Latinos/as in politics and civic engagement, Mexicans voting in the U.S., Latinas and Reproductive Rights, Women in Politics and the nuts and bolts of political management and advocacy. She has served as an advisor and facilitator for the National Democratic Institute’s Political Party Trainers Program for Regional Party Renewal and the “Win with Women” project in Latin America.
Ms Vargas currently serves on the Boards of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) and the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE).
Nora is a graduate of the University of San Francisco. She has completed graduate work in both Public Administration and Latin American Studies at San Diego State University and will receive her Master’s Degree from Claremont Graduate University.
Larisa Casillas (Director, Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition)
Larisa is the director of the Bay Area Immigrant Rights Coalition (BAIRC), a coalition of member organizations based in Oakland that works to advance immigrant rights by forging strong alliances between member organizations, advocating for just policies and raising public awareness about the rights of immigrants. She is a longtime immigrant rights advocate with more than a decade of experience in policy development, media advocacy, community education and coalition building. She is the former Policy Director of Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN), a leading immigrant rights organization in San Jose where she was responsible for the development and implementation of SIREN’s policy and advocacy efforts on federal and state legislation related to immigrant rights. Prior to joining SIREN, she was employed by the Partnership for Immigrant Leadership & Action (PILA) where she served as the Campaign Coordinator for the successful statewide “Mobilize the Immigrant Vote 2004 Campaign.” From 1995 to 1998, Larisa was the Director of the San Francisco-based Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights. At ICIR she led a coalition of 200 organizational members to defend immigrant and refugee rights from a faith-based perspective. From 1998-2002, Larisa served as a Senior Policy Associate at Children Now where she conducted research on tax policy, child care and after school programs. A former member of the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission, Larisa has helped to direct electoral campaigns in the City and County of San Francisco. Larisa emigrated from Mexico City with her parents and was raised in Northern California.
Nicholas Espíritu, Judge Constance Baker Motley Civil Rights Fellow, EJS