Erika Almiron was born in South Philadelphia to immigrant parents from Paraguay and has spent almost two decades working in the Latinx communityon issues ranging from women’s health, gentrification, prison reform, and poverty. In her youth she served as president of various Latinx leadership organizations in Norristown and Penn State University and went on to work with Latinx communities in Philadelphia. While working at the American Friends Service Committee with the Mexico/US border program, she helped start the Media Mobilizing Project on the issue of living and working conditions for maquiladora workers. Before becoming the executive director of Juntos she was the Assistant Director of the Philadelphia Student Union working with young people on leadership development and fighting for education reform.
In her spare time she is a freelance photographer and her pictures have been published and exhibited over the last several years in Philadelphia and beyond. She has documented prison conditions in South America, mountain top removal in West Virginia, homelessness in Harlem, and most recently, she received the prestigious Leeway Foundation Award to document agricultural reform and land distribution in Brazil and Paraguay.
Nicole Bañales was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, a border town with Ciudad Juárez, México and a predominantly Mexican-American community. She is a recent graduate from Swarthmore College where she majored in Sociology and minored in English Literature and Interpretation Theory. In the Spring of 2017, she studied abroad in Chile through the Middlebury College Human Rights Track, concentrating her semester in memory and gender studies and interning at Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos. Last year she served as Civic Engagement Intern for the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition in Philadelphia, assisting with voter registration for newly naturalized citizens. She is a Case Manager & Women's Organizer at Juntos as a Quaker Voluntary Service fellow.
Miguel E. Andrade was born in Buga, Colombia. He has been active in Philadelphia's Latinx-Immigrant community since late 2008 after getting involved in community activism at the age of 17, since then has become one of Philadelphia's leading young voices for immigrant rights, education equity and human rights. He honed his skills in journalism & TV hosting while volunteering with the Media Mobilizing Project where in 2010 he co-founded, produced and hosted "MMPTV" a TV news & analysis program that aired online as well as Public Access Cable starting his journey in movement communications. After joining the team of the immigrant rights nonprofit Juntos in 2011 he co-founded one of Philadelphia's only latino-immigrant youth leadership programs in the organization and helped to highlight the experiences of Latinx-immigrant youth in the city of Philadelphia. His passion for intersectional social justice also led him to work with the city's only Queer-Latinx Social Justice Organization, Galaei, first as a board member and then as Interim Executive Director. He also worked as a Paralegal at one of Philadelphia's immigration law firms where he was able to gain a a legal understanding of the country's immigration system.
Because of his work in community activism and empowerment he was honored by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014 with the "Hero Among Us". He is also on the Board of Directors of the US Human Rights Network where he serves with other human rights activists and leaders from across the country and currently is a fellow with the ReFrame Mentorship program.
Paloma Collazo-Vargas was born in Watsonville, California, a small agricultural town, known for their strawberries. Both parents immigrated from Mexico and have worked in fields and factories. She recently graduated from Earlham College as a McNair scholar this past May in International Studies with a concentration of Latin America. Having being able to work outside the United States, she has learned that immigration, racism, and oppression is an international struggle. She researched in Brazil on the advancements of Afro-Brazilians, and the human rights violations at the border of Mexico and Guatemala from the '80s to today. As well, lobbying on Capitol Hill on immigration and mass incarceration. Paloma is working at Juntos as the new youth organizer as part of the Quaker Voluntary Service.