Senior Organizer, Development From the Roots
Carmina is a community organizer at Colectivo Poder Comunitario, focusing on housing and land justice. She has experience in land-use equitable development organizing and grassroots leadership development. Carmina also sits in the Organizing and Transit Justice Committees of the Alliance for Community Transit-LA (ACT-LA) a coalition of diverse community organizations that has helped pass policies that support more development of affordable housing near transit and won the inclusion of equity goals within Metro’s Transit Oriented Communities Program. One of her current projects is organizing a coalition of local Mariachis in Boyle Heights to build a Mariachi Museum as a way to support mariachis remain and thrive in the community. Carmina was born in the neighborhood of East Hollywood in Los Angeles, and is of Salvadoran-Filipinx descent and is deeply interested in experiences of the diaspora of both, including the role of US imperialism in her respective country’s histories. She has a BA in Art and Feminist Studies with an emphasis in Science, Technology, and Medicine from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Here she was able to understand the connection between access to housing as a public health issue, as well as a human right. In her free time, Carmina paints, reads, and writes.
Carla De Paz
Senior Organizer, Movement Building and Strategy
Carla De Paz is the daughter of an immigrant single mother from Guatemala that found herself planting roots in Lynwood, CA. She had a humble but joyful upbringing, raised in a household with extended and chosen family who instilled a strong sense of responsibility, community, and lots of dancing. Her passion for organizing flourished in college while volunteering for IDEPSCA at multiple day laborer sites. After graduating with a BA in Political Science and Labor & Workplace Studies from UCLA in 2010, she started organizing nursing homeworkers with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). While at SEIU, she organized over 500 workers to win union representation through National Labor Board Relations elections.
Carla became more interested in land use and housing issues after her family lost their home during the foreclosure crisis. In 2013, she started organizing with the East LA Community Corporation and over a 7 year period she led multiple high profile efforts including the base building work for the Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign which won the legalization of street vending in 2019 and securing affordable housing and green space on all Metro-owned land in Boyle Heights. She also played a big part in shaping ELACC’s political orientation towards transformative organizing and movement building, making ELACC a prominent player within the housing justice movement ecosystem.
Unfortunately, after suffering a financial crisis that was amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization was no longer able to sustain its organizing programs. In April of 2020, Carla made the decision to lead the separation of ELACC’s organizing work into a new entity, the Community Power Collective (CPC), and now leads CPC’s operations, advocacy and coalition work. She chairs the Organizing Committees for the Alliance for Community Transit (ACT-LA), the Healthy LA Coalition, and is on the steering committee for Homes For All California.
Carla’s lived experience and learnings in the 12 years of organizing have solidified her identity as a social movement leftist and she hopes to continue building her skill sets as a strategist within CPC and to strengthen CPC’s role as a tool for winning housing and land use justice in Los Angeles. Carla enjoys reading poetry about radical free love, she enjoys summer day dancing to reggaeton, and enjoys Sundays by herself with her plants.
Senior Organizer, Cultural Power
Quetzal Flores is a Chican@ musician, producer and cultural strategist/organizer raised in East Los Angeles. He is the founder and musical director of the Grammy Award winning Chican@ band, Quetzal. From the experiences generated through his family, mentors and the Chican@ arts&cultural community he has participated in multiple moments of radical transformation. In 1997 he co-organized the historic Encuentro Cultural Chican@/Indigena Por La Humanidad en Contra del Neoliberalismo, a week long dialogue/retreat in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico. The Encuentro gathered 100 arts&culture practitioners from East Los Angeles and Mayan Zapatistas that developed multiple outward facing emancipatory cultural methodologies with tangible touchdowns into community practice. In 2000 Quetzal was part of a group of artists from East LA who built important transnational and trans local relationships with fandango communities in Veracruz. Through these relationships an important network was formed that has given way to a current thriving national system of fandango practitioners in the US. In 2009 Quetzal co-founded the Seattle Fandango Project (SFP), a participatory music and dance community instrumental in providing an intergenerational space for people of color throughout Seattle. In 2012, he co-founded FandangObon, a yearly event that brings the Chican@, Japanese and African American communities together around participatory music and dance practices.
Since 2012 Quetzal has served as a Program Manager for the Alliance for California Traditional Arts(ACTA) overseeing health and equity work in Boyle Heights. Currently, he serves on the advisory board for the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory and is a founding member and co-curator for Artivist Entertainment.
Senior Organizer, Street Vendor Justice
Sergio Jimenez has been an organizer since his late teens, having worked with student, labor, and community organizations for over 25 years. He was born in Tenochtitlan, and raised in West Los Angeles after migrating to this country. Sergio is currently attending California State University, Los Angeles, where he’s pursuing a Master’s in Latin American Studies, with a focus in Mesoamerican studies. A father of two, he is a self-identified bibliophile and film camera collector, along with being a skilled social documentary photographer. Recently, he has become an accomplished community gardener in his community.
Senior Organizer, Street Vendor Justice
Rosa Miranda was born in San Buenaventura Hidalgo / Mexico. He grew up in a large family of 9 siblings. Her family is very humble and with limited opportunities for economic improvement and education. I emigrated to the United States in 1999 where I gave birth to three children. In 2007 she joined the Passenger Union (SDP) as a member. In 2009 I am part of the School for Organizers in Training (ILO). In 2010 I was on the staff of the Labor Community Strategy Center, which witnessed great struggles for public transportation in Los Angeles, was part of the fast for justice, the fight for global warming, the prison school pipe and defeating the Measure J. In 2016 Rosa began working with the East LA Community Corporation (ELACC) in the Legalizemos La Venta Ambulante campaign, where she was part of creating a base of vendor seats throughout the city. Winning the decriminalization of informal work, the legalization of street vendor workers in the city of Los Angeles, and the state’s SB946 Act to decriminalize vendors across California, Rosa is committed to continuing to grow the immigrant working class movement.
Ana Cruz Juarez
Organizer, Street Vendor Justice
Ana Cruz was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. She came to the United States when she was thirteen years old where she finished high school. She is the beneficiary of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program which allows her to work in this country that has been her home for the last two decades. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her 2 children and husband. Several years ago Ana and family lived through a near family separation due to economic hardship. It was at this moment that Ana became a street vendor. Vending helped her to pay for the economic expenses she had in Oaxaca. Shortly thereafter she joined the Los Angeles Street Vendor Movement realizing that there are unjust laws that affect vendors. Ana has been selling and fighting for more than four years to have carts approved by the public health department and to be able to work in accordance with the law. As a vendor she 100% understands the day to day struggles and is committed to continuing to advocate so that the vendors can work with dignity without feeling harassed or discriminated against.
Organizer, Street Vendor Justice
Lucas was born on August 4, 1972 in Maria Tecun, Solola, Guatemala. He grew up in an indigenous Mayan Quiché family. His mother tongue is Quiché. He also grew up in extreme poverty and as child helped his father plant crops, and his mother sell in the markets around his pueblo. At 11 years old he was forced to move to the city of Guatemala to look for work since he did not have the resources to continue studying. His first job was as a kitchen assistant in a Chinese food restaurant with a salary of 95 quetzals a month and food rights. Lucas then dedicated himself to street vending, selling toys at the patronal festivals from town to town. He sold in many countries including El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. He lived through the wars in El Salvador and Guatemala during the 80s and 90s. In 2005, he migrated to Mexico and began vending children’s guitars. In 2006, Lucas moved to Los Angeles and dedicated himself to making vending crafts, toys and corn. In 2018, Lucas joined the Los Angeles Street Vendor Movement and has become an important and vocal leader.
Cultural Power Fellow
Eva Garcia is a long-time resident of Boyle Heights and the mother of two children who attend Los Angeles magnet schools. She is an active leader in her community and has led several efforts focused on advocating for equity and justice in the areas of education, housing, and health. Eva began to mobilize in the schools of her children, advocating that her children and other children receive the support and services necessary according to their needs. Since then, she has been active in education as a member and leader of the Parent Power Network. Through PPN, Eva has led efforts focused on driving clear and useful school information, fair and equitable school funding and expenses, and greater transparency and parental involvement. In addition, Eva is a member of the Tierra Libre Community Landtrust, the Community Power Collective (CPC), and the Eastside Leads Coalition, all focused on addressing the issues of housing insecurity. Through this work, Eva has participated in actions and has spoken publicly in support of local rent control, the fight against evictions, and efforts to reclaim unused local housing from the state. Throughout the pandemic, Eva has focused her energy on leading mutual support efforts to provide food, funds and other essentials to community members affected by the pandemic, and advocate for a health care system with SEIU-UHW.
Cultural Power Fellow
Margarita González was born in Puebla, Mexico. She is the oldest of 12 siblings who as a high school student taught classes for adults in her town. Just out of high school she enrolled in a program called Conafe which prepared her to teach preschool children in rural communities for 2 years. She began college but left after one year to have her first child. In 1992 Margarita migrated to the United States with her husband and her first born. Her first job in the US was in a sewing factory where she worked for several years. Currently, she has a small business selling gelatinas (Mexican jello) and enjoys participating in social movements such as fighting for immigration reform and racial and social justice. Margarita has been deeply impacted working in community and having the opportunity to learn about the history of her neighbors, street vendors and other workers that drive the economy of this country. In co-founding the first community land trust in Boyle Heights and East LA, Fideicomiso Comunitario Tierra Libre, she also sees the importance for women of color to participate in creating alternatives to the capitalist values in order to remain in our community with dignity and preserve our culture. Most recently, she has worked as a community documentarian for the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Sounds of Boyle Heights program collecting stories from traditional practitioners and culture bearers in Boyle Heights. Margarita is a proud mother of four children and two grandchildren.