The New York State Association for Bilingual Education

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Make the Road New York (MRNY)

Senator Jessica Ramos honored women leaders in Queens District 13. (Photo by Alejandra Rodriguez)

Dear Friends,

We are excited to celebrate these powerful Make the Road New York women who received awards for their leadership in our community!

Three of our fierce members, Martha, Joselyn and Elizabeth and our ‘parents committee’ organizer Marilyn, all received proclamations from State Senator Jessica Ramos for their leadership in the Queens District 13 community, which Senator Ramos represents.

But that’s not all: later this month, another of our longtime organizers, Modesta from our Workplace Justice Team, will be honored by El Diario as part of their “Mujeres Destacadas” Awards for her successes and contributions to the Latina community.

Please join us in celebrating these inspiring women today by getting to know their stories!


Martha Sanchez

Martha Sanchez has been a member of our organization for over a decade. She is a mother of two children and is passionate about fighting for education justice for children in New York public schools. Martha has traveled to Albany dozens of times with us, while also leading programs at schools in her district in Queens. Most recently she’s fighting for New York State schools to be paid the money that they are owed in education funding and foundation aid from the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE). Martha enjoys empowering other parents in her committee, she knows that when we all fight together, we win.

Joselyn Castillo

Joselyn Castillo

Joselyn Castillo is a transgender immigrant woman from Guatemala. She moved to the United States 18 years ago to help provide financially for her family back home, including helping two brothers attend and finish college. Joselyn is part of the Trans Immigrant Project at Make the Road New York, where she fights for the rights of the transgender community. Joselyn helped lead our fight and win against Corporate Backers of Hate who profit from the detention of immigrants, including members of the transgender community. She is currently one of the leading members in the fight to decriminalize sex work.

Elizabeth Chavez

Elizabeth Chavez

Elizabeth Chavez is a trans immigrant woman and active leader at Make the Road New York. Elizabeth has been a key leader of the Trans Immigrant Project, helping lead the campaign against Corporate Backers of Hate, and also leading education workshops to raise awareness in our communities about systems of oppression, particularly for trans women. Today Elizabeth Chavez, along with community leaders, has created HOPE for TGNC, an organization dedicated to supporting transgender women who have been detained while seeking asylum at the Cibola Detention Center in New Mexico. HOPE helps the transgender community endure their detention time through letters and financial support in their commissary, and helping them find resources after their release from detention.

Marilyn Mendoza Herrera

Marilyn Mendoza Herrera

Marilyn Mendoza Herrera is the daughter of immigrant parents and is the oldest of four children. She graduated from John Jay College with a major in history and a minor in art. She has worked as a pre-school teacher and a tutor at a non-profit organization in Astoria.Marilyn began organizing with Make the Road New York in the Fight for 15 campaign making phone calls asking New Yorkers to join the movement. She is also the president of Saint Leo’s Social Justice and Peace committee where she works with members of her church in bringing resources to the community. Marilyn has joined Make the Road as an Americorps fellow, where she is the Parent Engagement Coordinator, working with parents in fighting for school funding and fair elections. During her free time she rescues animals that live on the streets or have been abandoned by their owners. She has 4 dogs, 4 cats, 4 birds and a rabbit and hopes to one day have a shelter for abandoned pets.


Modesta Toribio

Modesta Toribio is an organizer with the Workplace Justice project at Make the Road New York and a mother of three. Modesta has been organizing and supporting campaigns including the Fight for $15, the fight against wage theft, and the WASH New York with car wash workers. Modesta also organizes workers to fight against the daily abuses they face on the job and advises about their rights at work. Modesta worked in the successful campaign to stop Amazon from forcing its empire building on the neighborhood of Queens and is still fighting against the exploitation of Amazon warehouse workers. In 2017 she was honored by the Joseph S. Murphy Scholarship for Diversity in Labor as a Rising Leader. Modesta’s work has been covered by newspapers such as the New York Times as her work has contributed to changing the lives of countless exploited workers. Modesta holds a Masters Degree in teaching at Technological University of Santiago (UTESA).

We hope their stories empower you to join us our fight. Our work wouldn’t be possible without the fierce leadership from our members and organizers who help us build community with one another as we fight for dignity and justice for all. Once again, congrats to Martha, Joselyn, Elizabeth, Marilyn and Modesta, and thank you for all you do for our members and our communities!

¡Sí se puede!

— Javier H. Valdés & Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Directors

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