Alejandra Gomez was born in Pomona, California to immigrant parents. Alejandra became aware of the U.S.’s broken immigration system at a young age when Prop 187 passed in her home state. Prop 187 was an anti-immigration law that targeted undocumented immigrants living in California in the mid-1990s. Alejandra’s father was undocumented at the time, and Prop 187 forced Alejandra’s family to move to Arizona in hopes of escaping the dangers of Prop 187 and other anti-immigrant sentiment.
Alejandra began her career in community organizing in 2007, during the beginning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s racially-charged criminal suppression sweeps that targeted immigrant communities. Seeing the fear and harassment her community was experiencing that was reminiscent of her own childhood, Alejandra began working with Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability to organize against Sheriff Arpaio and his unfair practices.
Since her start in organizing, Alejandra has focused her work on immigration rights through large-scale civic engagement efforts to bring out the Latino vote and direct action. Alejandra lives in Phoenix, AZ and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Arizona State University. Alejandra was the Field Manager for the Adios Arpaio campaign that registered over 30,000 Latinos to vote. Rooted in her family's immigration struggle, Alejandra lead the organizing efforts in the fight for DAPA and expanded DACA at United We Dream National Network as the Deputy Organizing Director.
Alejandra has dedicated her life to social justice and community empowerment through grassroots mobilization. Currently, Alejandra serves as a Co-Executive Director for the Arizona Center for Empowerment (ACE).
Tomás E. Robles Jr. currently serves as a Co-Executive Director of Arizona Center for Empowerment. Tomás became involved in grassroots organizing and activism after Senate Bill 1070, an anti-immigration bill that legalized racial profiling in Arizona, passed. Tomás became a community organizer in 2010, helping to promote civic engagement and comprehensive immigration reform. Since then, Tomás has worked with various organizations, working for different causes such as immigrant and worker rights, Veteran's issues, and housing discrimination.
Tomás is the son of Mexican immigrants, was born in Tucson, AZ, and raised in Phoenix, AZ. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and is a graduate of Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Transborder Studies with an emphasis on immigration policy and economy.
Abril Gallardo Cervera’s family emigrated to the United States in 2003, and she recalls having to adapt to a new culture and a new lifestyle. While this was very difficult for them, her family is strong. Abril and her family have maintained great faith alongside their church's support. However, fear was still present in their daily lives because of the state’s many anti-immigrant laws, such as SB 1070, and hateful sentiments from the people of Arizona.
Despite this, Abril was able to transform this sense of fear into a drive to get involved and organize the immigrant community in Arizona. With the efforts of hundreds of individuals such as Abril, undocumented youth were able to get Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which provided temporary relief for undocumented youth.
Abril has spent more than six years organizing and leading in her community through educational forums, legal immigration clinics, promoting Latino voting, civic education, and youth leadership development in Arizona. She was an instrumental communications team member in the Bazta Arpaio campaign that defeated former Sheriff Joe Arpaio in 2016.
Currently, Abril is the Communications Director of ACE. She also serves as the coordinator of the One Arizona Implementation Working Group, which focuses on educating, mobilizing, and demanding dignity for immigrant families.
Abril was born in Hidalgo, Mexico and is a Public Policy student at Phoenix College and Arizona State University.
Civic Engagement Organizer
“Gina” Miriam Mendez was born in San Jose, California. She is a first generation Chicana. In 2004, her family moved to Arizona for work and cheaper housing. She went to school in South Phoenix. In 2006, Gina was part of Arizona's first student walkouts at Cesar Chavez High School when students from schools across the country walked out to protest HR 4437. It was the first time she experienced racism, which later continued as SB 1070 was introduced in Arizona.
In 2010, she attended South Mountain Community College. Gina wanted to learn why several of her friends and family members did not graduate from high school. She began to take sociology and psychology classes. Soon she realized that societal structures impact first- and second-generation Mexican-Americans and Latinos and keep them from succeeding.
Gina transferred to Arizona State University, continued her studies in Psychology and Sociology, and joined the Hispanic Honor Society. She became the President of HHS. She restructured the club from and academic/professional organization to a social justice student organization that focused on issues within the Hispanic community and culture/identity. This began her organizing journey, as she began to volunteer for economic justice in the Fight for $15 campaign.
She soon became an organizer with ACE, empowering youth to create a better Arizona through advocacy and civic engagement. Gina continues to work with students, youth and people who are ready to take action for political consciousness.
Political Education Coordinator
Nicole Hale was born and raised in Arizona. She is a first-generation graduate from Arizona State University with degrees in Global Students and Justice Studies. She began organizing in college after witnessing the deep intersections between mental health and the criminal justice system. She grew up watching a close family member cycle in and out of prison because they lacked access to adequate and affordable resources that could help them cope with serious mental illness, addiction, and trauma. Thus, she is forever committed to building a new Arizona where all human beings have access to the institutions and resources they need to live dignified and healthy lives.
Nicole’s organizing experience is far and wide. She has led a successful union campaign as a hotel worker, organized massive direct actions with Fight for $15, built teams of young people that registered over 8,000 people to vote, and mobilized the vote against Sheriff Arpaio.
Nicole now works as one of two youth organizers at Arizona Center for Empowerment. She focuses on leadership development, political education, and civic engagement.
Community Schools Organizer
Pedro Paredes is a native of Phoenix, Arizona and is currently a community schools project organizer. Pedro became involved with the community in 2010 when the very infamous “Show Me Your Papers” Law, SB 1070, was signed into Arizona law.
Pedro started going door to door, talking to his community about ways they could protect their families from this racist law. Although he just was a sophomore in high school, Pedro understood SB 1070’s impact on Arizona families because of his own family’s circumstances and background as immigrants.
As a proud alumnus of the Phoenix Union High School District and product of public education, Pedro understands the importance of quality and well-funded public education for all. Pedro is not only passionate about public education, he is also aware of all the other issues immigrant families face such as immigration and economic injustices.
Community Schools Project Director
Stephanie Maldonado is a first generation Mexican-American who was born in California but raised in New Mexico. In 2011, Stephanie moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University, from where she graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science.
Stephanie grew up in a mix-status home, with two U.S Citizen siblings, a Permanent Resident father and an undocumented mother. After her mom self-deported herself and her family was separated, she felt the urge to help others.
Stephanie decided to stay in Arizona because she understood the sacrifices her parents made for her and her siblings to get an education.
Since then, Stephanie let a campaign to help register 150k voters in Arizona, and she was also instrumental in the victory to unseat former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Stephanie is now the Program Director for AZ Community Schools and hopes to help parents, students, and educators to take back our schools.
Elvin Alexis Ezrre was born in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico and emigrated to San Luis, AZ when he was 10 years old. He lived in Yuma County for 11 years before moving to Phoenix three years ago. Elvin is pursuing a degree in Urban and Metropolitan Studies from ASU.
Having lived in a border community his entire life, seeing the border fence and occasionally interacting with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol was a part of everyday life. Having experienced geographic segregation from living in a town within meters of Mexico, seeing racially segregated parts of Phoenix baffled him and sparked his interest in finding solutions to the problems that arise from high levels of segregation. Elvin finally joined politics in the 2016 Voter Registration Drive, worked briefly on the campaign to defeat Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and volunteered for the Proposition 206 Campaign that raised the minimum wage in Arizona. Elvin is now ACE’s Data and Research Manager.
Immigration Services Coordinator
Aldo Gonzalez lived as an undocumented immigrant for most of his life, and that is why the work that he does is close to his heart. As the Immigration Services Coordinator, he works directly with the undocumented immigrants and working class families in his community. Aldo is a first-generation college graduate and lives in Arizona, the home of SB 1070.
He has seen first hand how important it is to make sure his community exercises their political voice. He is unapologetic and unafraid, and his favorite thing to do is witnessing someone stand up for justice.