Who We Are

Barbara López


Originally from California, Barbara learned about the importance of her community from her Guatemalan parents, who came to the United States in search for a better life. Deeply invested in social justice, Barbara organized with Service Employees International Union locals in CT, MA, RI, MN and CA. There Barbara was able to empower thousands of health care workers, home care workers and child care providers to form unions and secure contracts. Barbara received an Associate Degree of Liberal Arts from Santa Monica College, Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master of Science in Labor Studies from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 2015, Barbara became the second co-founding organizer and built Make the Road CT. Her first undertaking was to organize the first parent committee where they launched their first successful campaign, In Our Language Please. Then as lead organizer, Barbara strategized, supported and implemented campaigns with members to fight for dignity, respect and a better quality of life. As Director, Barbara will take Make the Road CT to the next level of it's work as a statewide multi-issues and multi-generational organization.

Barbara can be reached at [email protected] 

Pronouns: She, Hers, Ella (Why include this?)


Wendy Cárdenas 

Lead Organizer 

Wendy was born in Peru and migrated to Connecticut when she was twelve years old with her family. Growing up in Fairfield County, she saw first hand the struggles that her community faced: lack of language access, affordable healthcare and college access opportunities were limited depending on your immigrant status. Wendy’s first fight was to get access to a quality education for herself and her peers regardless of their immigration status. As a result, she joined CT Students for a Dream where she was part of the organizing that passed the bill that granted undocumented students in-state tuition. Wendy has a deep passion for education equity, this brought her to work for Building One Community. At B1C, Wendy developed parent leaders from Stamford public schools, and was an essential part of creating a parent power committee. She worked with leaders to meet with stakeholders, strategize and implement a campaign that fought for public school transparency. As Lead Organizer at Make the Road CT, Wendy has the great task of training, developing and strategizing of our new organizing team! Wendy's sharp organizing skills, dedication for social justice and commitment to our members will be the foundation for her success. When she’s not organizing, Wendy enjoys spending time with her loved ones, eating different types of food, going on hikes and listening to music.

Wendy can be reached at [email protected] 

Pronouns: She, Hers, Ella (Why include this?)


Mary Elizabeth Smith 

Senior Development and Programs Manager

Mary Elizabeth, better known as M.E., was born in New Haven, CT. She grew up understanding firsthand the struggles of the working poor, when her father lost the family lobstering business and her mother tried to piece together a living wage working three different jobs. M.E. studied Environmental Studies at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Then pursued her Masters in Human Rights in Buenos Aires, Argentina at the Universidad Popular de la Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, an alternative university founded by the Mothers of the Disappeared. She then moved to Bolivia where she spent years 7 working with popular education projects and participatory curriculum design with indigenous communities in the highlands. M.E., returned to New Haven, she landed at Junta for Progressive Action and was integral to strengthening the Adult Education and Advocacy programs. As the Senior Development and Programs Manager at Make the Road CT, M.E. has the great task of identifying funding to sustain our statewide organization. As well as developing innovative programs that meet the needs of our members. 

M.E. can be reached at [email protected]

Pronouns: She, Hers, Ella (Why include this?)


Sonia Hernandez

Fight Back Organizer

Sonia was born in Honduras and migrated to the United States in 2002. She lived in New York for 14 years and that’s where her activism started. She joined the New Sanctuary Coalition in NY, where she shared her story of self, participated in rallies and was trained to do court accompaniment to support individuals with open immigration cases. She moved to Connecticut in 2018, her children entered the Bridgeport Public School District, where she experienced the lack of interpretation and a non-welcoming environment to immigrant families. She joined Make The Road CT's Madres en Accion parent committee in Bridgeport to fight for language justice. As a member, she also joined the Fight Back committee because of her past experience working with the immigrant community. As a fight back member leader, she trained other members on the accompaniment process, family preparedness plan, and along with other members hosted legal clinics. As the Fight Back Organizer at Make The Road CT, Sonia will continue to develop strong leaders in Bridgeport to fight for a better and just city where they can thrive and live with dignity. 

Sonia can be reached at [email protected]

Pronouns: She, Hers, Ella (Why include this?)


Stefan Keller

Development Associate

Stefan was born in New Haven, CT, and grew up in the small town of Bethany, where he grew up mostly unaware of the systemic injustices that many in surrounding communities faced. Stefan's exposure to these injustices began when he worked at Bassick High School in Bridgeport, where he saw the lack of resources and support available to black and brown students and the difference between Bassick and the resource-rich, mostly white school he attended. At Bassick, Stefan also met an undocumented student that got him involved in CT Students for a Dream, an undocumented youth-led organization, where he learned about how racist and xenophobic our immigration system really is. Since that day in 2014, Stefan has been working alongside undocumented youth leaders to pass legislation to give students more access to college, training educators to better support undocumented students, providing college access support, and developing youth leaders to challenge the schools and systems that oppress them. Stefan wholeheartedly believes in the leadership of youth, work-class folks, immigrants, black, brown, and indigenous people, and queer, and trans folxs, and that working together we will build the power we need to dismantle these systems and create a more liberated world. Stefan is excited to continue to learn, grow, and move towards that vision at Make the Road CT and support the work of the powerful organizers there.


Stefan can be reached at [email protected]

Pronouns: He, They, El, Elle (Why include this?)


Mwiche Siwingwa

Youth Coordinator

Mwiche was born in Zambia and later moved to the U.S. in 2001. There, she grew up in Bridgeport, CT and later moved to Stratford, CT. Growing up in Bridgeport, she faced the lack of educational resources for the academic areas she struggled in which prompted her family to move to Stratford for better quality education. She joined the Youth Power Committee in May of 2019 and was empowered by seeing youth fight for their right to quality education and continued to attend meetings to be more involved in the fight. Mwiche is happy to join the Make The Road team as the youth coordinator.


Mwiche can be reached at [email protected]

Pronouns: She,Her, Ella (Why include this?)


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