Voz has 6 staff members and depends on the dozens of volunteers and interns throughout the year to support our efforts.
Romeo is an indigenous Mayan organizer born in Guatemala. Romeo has significant experience in grassroots organizing, leadership development, and strategic planning. He has worked as a rural researcher and indigenous rights organizer, developing Popular Education materials in Guatemala’s rural communities. He also worked as an advocate for displaced survivors of war at la Organización de Servicios de Solidaridad in Mexico. Romeo uses art as a tool to communicate the relationship between immigration and globalization and to demonstrate the economic injustices present in rural communities. As past Director of the St. Francis Church dining hall, Romeo coordinated volunteer programs, directed events, and supervised staff. Romeo Sosa is currently the Executive Director of Voz.
MLK Jr. Worker Center Director
Ignacio Paramo has been supporting, advocating for, and working within his community of immigrant Latinos in the Portland Metropolitan area for 15 years. Previously, Ignacio worked as an employment specialist facilitating workshops on navigating employment processes and career development. Ignacio also has 10 years of experience as a case manager ensuring stable housing, health, and employment for our communities. Ignacio first came to Voz as a volunteer with the Immigrant Rights Promoter Project and then transitioned into the Organizer position for the next four years. Ignacio Paramo is currently the MLK Jr. Worker Center Director.
Paul Riek is a Northern California native. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. Since then he has spent most of his life in Mexico, Paraguay, and Nicaragua. Paul founded an innovative prison program in Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico, organizing inmates as leaders to serve the prison community. He is fully bilingual in English and Spanish and has experience working as an interpreter and translator. Paul loves Latin American cultures and is a member of the musical band Bajo Salario that explores the revolutionary musical traditions of Latin America. Paul is married to Aurelia, an indigenous Zapotec woman from Oaxaca and an herbal medicine specialist. Paul Riek is currently the Organizer at Voz.
MLK Jr. Worker Center Coordinator
Francisco is originally from El Salvador. He has worked as a day labor and with the day labor community for over ten years both in Portland and in Los Angeles. Francisco was involved in the Workers’ Organizing Committee that went on to found Voz Workers’ Rights Education Project as a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Francisco has continued to demonstrate his leadership skills and dedication to economic justice for the Portland day laborer community. Francisco Aguirre is currently the MLK Jr. Worker Center Coordinator.
Andrea is a first generation chican@ originally from Hayward, California and has been living in Oregon for the past 12 years. Raised by her mother, a political refugee of Peru during the Sendero Luminoso coup, Andrea developed an international social justice perspective at a young age. As a youth she quickly learned budget management, balancing, and fundraising as a tool for her family’s survival, a skill that directly influenced her passion for development. Her passion for fundraising expanded into event direction and philanthropy within her community to combat economic injustices. Andrea also organizes youth, women, and communities across the state through socially relevant and politically conscious hip-hop performances, community open mics, workshops, and campus events. Andrea Valderrama is currently the Development Director at Voz.
Jessica relocated to Oregon in 1979 from Texas and has been active in social justice movements for over 18 years. Since 1993, Jessica has been a volunteer for Our House of Portland which provides healthcare, housing, and other vital services to low-income people living with HIV/AIDS. She currently volunteers as the bookkeeper for The Community of Welcoming Congregations which is an Oregon and SW Washington interfaith ministry and advocacy organization working toward full inclusion and equality of transgender, lesbian, bisexual, gay and questioning persons. CWC work brings together people of faith who believe in the inherent dignity and worth of every person. Jessica Lankford is currently the Bookkeeper at Voz.
Voz interns play a crucial role in the daily operations of our center and office. If you or someone you know are interested in gaining valuable experience with a local social justice organization, please contact our Executive Director Romeo Sosa.
Development and Communications Intern
Tzvi is originally from New York City but moved out to Portland four years ago to get his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Lewis & Clark College. He got interested in immigrant rights through taking classes in Latin American history at Lewis & Clark, and traveling to Latin American countries over the past four years. He plans on sticking around in Portland this summer, and then heading out to Arizona in the fall to do more work for immigrants rights groups. As the communications and development intern he will be reaching out to the allies of Voz and use social media, radio interviews, community outreach, and postings on the website to generate more interest about the work Voz is doing.
Charley is a Portland native. He recently graduated from Portland State University, and plans to begin studying for a law degree in fall of 2014. When he is not at Voz, he works as a writer for a law firm. Beginning this summer, he plans on teaching English in Asia until he can matriculate into law school.
Sara is originally from Tacoma, WA but is proud to now call herself an Oregonian. While working on her BA in Political Science at Pacific University she developed a passion for grassroots organizing around social justice issues, particularly immigrant rights and education reform. She recently returned from a year in Ecuador spent conducting research on indigenous education and is excited to join Voz as a Development Intern. Aside from Voz she works with children and studies alternative approaches to education. She intends to someday merge the skills gained from these experiences and open her own intercultural community education center.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Voz’s Board of Directors is comprised of two committees: the Executive Committee and the Day Laborer Committee. 60% of our governing board –the members that plan, implement and make policies (including our organizational budget) is a day laborer
Day laborers approve Voz’s budget, staff salaries, and personnel through serving on the Executive Committee (1/7 seats filled day laborers ).
Wilmer is originally from Honduras where he grew up in the Pequeños Hermanos orphanage. Wilmer has participated in many different committees and organizations throughout his life: in school, in his hometown to improve community health, and in his church back in Honduras where he was the treasurer. Before moving to Portland, he was a day laborer in Arizona. As a day laborer in Portland, he utilizes the Martin Luther King Jr. Worker Center and has participated in many of VOZ’s activities including the Northwest Leadership School, soccer, and neighborhood clean-ups. Wilmer is currently on the Executive Committee of Voz’s Board of Directors.
Marco is from Ecuador. In his country he was part of the popular youth movement organizing and developing leaders using Popular Education methodology. His activism extended beyond Ecuador to other countries in Latin America. He has worked with AFSC as Director of the Youth Program, developing leaders as well as working in community organizing, training, advocating for immigrant rights and building bridges among diverse groups. He is currently the Worker Power Organizer with Portland Jobs with Justice. Marco has been an active member of VOZ Board of Directors since 2006 and has been re-shaping the vision and image of Latino/a day laborers of Portland. Marco Mejia is currently the secretary of Voz’s Board of Directors-Executive Committee.
Lauren is from Portland, OR. She has a Masters degree from the Institute of Non-profit Administration at Lewis and Clark College. She worked as a development and community organizer for a number of non-profits before her 10 years as a community organizer at the City’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement. She has been working for the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability since 2006. Lauren has volunteered in Guatemala since 1993, working in a variety of community development and health promotion programs with the Mayan Quiche and Tzutuhuil communities. She spends much of her volunteer time in Portland fundraising for these Guatemalan projects and for Voz. Lauren Norris is currently the President of Voz’s Board of Directors-Executive Committee.
Peter is retired from Portland ILWU Local 8, longshore workers union. He has also been a member of the Machinist’s Union, working at Cummins Northwest as a diesel mechanic for 14 years. He has been involved in social justice and workers’ rights issues for many years, working with Portland Jobs with Justice, PCASC (Portland Central America Solidarity Committee, participating in labor delegations to Venezuela/Colombia and Mexico), and Voz. He is a co-chair of the Immigrant Rights Committee of Portland Jobs with Justice. Peter is married, has two adult children and a golden retriever. He is currently the Vice President of Voz’s Executive Committee.
Meg Heaton is an immigration attorney in Salem, Oregon. From 2005 through 2011, she was the staff attorney at the Northwest Workers’ Justice Project, where she advocated for the labor rights of low-wage, immigrant and contingent workers. She joined the Executive Committee in 2010 and currently serves as its treasurer.
My name is Juan Sop and I am from Guatemala. I began working at a young age in Guatemala; money was tight in my family and so I didn’t have the opportunity to study much. At 16 I decided to emigrate to another country and try to help my family move forward and excel even better than I could. My trip from Guatemala to here took a little more than a month walking and on buses it was very challenging and difficult because I thought a lot about my family that stayed in Guatemala but I got the strength to keep going forward and not look back from the dream of providing a better future for us.
I arrived here and tried looking for work and it was difficult. I began working and going to school at the same time because I also had to send money back to Guatemala. My move cost a lot and I needed to pay it back. In 2008 they let me go from work because of the economy and so then I decided to go to the corners and wait for work. For a year they told me about the worker center and so I went to see if it was good or not. From that day on I stayed and I liked it. I found work that was secure; on the corners workers are not sure of when they will find work and sometimes they don’t even paid. I saw in the center the opposite; we get paid.
From then on I kept excelling and I’ve done work from landscaping to sewing and I kept succeeding at the center. Then I decided to be part of the Day Laborer Committee for a while and I liked it and I from there I became more involved in activities of the center. I’ve volunteered at the center on Monday’s all day and helped all my companeros and helped distribute flyers to promote the center. I love helping out and through my work in the center I have arrived to being involved with the organization through sitting on the Executive Committee. Hopefully I continue to grow and learn more by being in this very important position.
Hector is a Ford Scholar and a graduate of the University of Oregon. He believes in social and economic justice and is active in the community working on voter registration, educational access, youth leadership development, and immigrant and labor rights. Héctor speaks three languages and most recently translated the film “Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth” into Spanish. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and raised in La Grande, Oregon, he most recently lived in Paris, France, where he recognized that immigrants and communities of color face similar experiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Hector Miramontes is excited to be a member of Voz’s Board of Directors-Executive Committee and to continue building on their past victories.
Day Laborer Committee
Day laborers direct organizational policies, legislative agenda, and programs through serving on the Day Laborer Committee (7/7 seats filled by day laborers.
He first became a member of the MLK Jr. Worker Center in November of 2012. He is originally from Torreón, Coahuila, Mexico, where he worked in auto body paint and repair. Before coming to Oregon he was a member of the Denver worker center. Before this he lived in El Paso and helped as a volunteer for the organization, “Dame un Mano”, an organization that helps families affected by domestic violence. Armando Martinez is currently the President of the Day Laborer Committee, one of two committees of Voz’s Board of Directors.
He came to the MLK Jr. Worker Center in 2011. He is originally from Mexico City, where he studied psychology and criminology, and worked as a supervisor in a grocery store. From what he makes working in the US, he is paying for his daughter’s studies in Mexico. He is an active participant in the Alcoholic Anonymous group that meets at the Worker Center every Friday; he has been sober for 12 years. Luis Chacon is currently the Vice President of the Day Laborer Committee, one of two committees of Voz’s Board of Directors.
Originally from Mexico, Hugo is a painter and roofer who dreams of becoming a contractor. Since joining Voz in January 2013, he has participated in English and art classes and a landscaping training. Hugo is currently the Secretary of the Day Laborer Committee.
Pedro Chan has been a member of the MLK Jr. Worker Center for close to four years. He is originally from Hawaii but moved to Portland after finishing high school. He has experience in sales and marketing. Pedro Chan is an active member of the Worker Center community and has been since its opening. He has participated in marketing and promotional efforts for the center as well as in neighborhood cleanups in the Central Eastside Industrial District. Pedro has been a strong advocate for a permanent solution for the MLK Jr. Worker Center in our Save the Center campaign, meeting with City of Portland Commissioners and other community leaders. Pedro Chan is currently the Treasurer of the Day Laborer Committee, one of two committees of Voz’s Board of Directors.
Experienced in electro-mechanics in his native Mexico, Rosario has worked as a day laborer since 2001 in Seattle, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. He was active with day laborer organizations in Denver and Chicago. He arrived in Portland in 2012. Rosario works hard to send money to his family in Mexico– to his mother and two chronically ill brothers, and to his son to help him open a business.
Luis was a tailor and ran a clothing factory in Mexico City, but left it all– and his wife and three children– behind to look for better opportunities in the United States. Here he has worked in landscaping and painting, and the money he’s earned he sends back to his family in Mexico. Since 2011, Luis has been at the Worker Center; when he’s not working, he attends English classes daily.
A native of India, Tony has been an Oregon resident for 20 years. He is a cook and once had his own restaurant in downtown Portland. Tony has also managed a gas station and convenience store. He has been coming to the Worker Center since 2010.