Who We Are

Barbara López


Originally from California, Barbara is a first generation American. Barbara learned about the importance of her community from her Guatemalan parents, who came to the United States in search for a better life. Barbara received a 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. 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. In 2015, Barbara helped build Make the Road CT and formed a parent committee where they launched their first successful campaign, In Our Language Please. Then as lead organizer, Barbara strategized, supported and implemented campaigns with our members to fight for dignity, respect and a quality of life. As Director, Barbara will take Make the Road CT into the next level of it's work as a statewide multi-issues and multi-generational organization. 

Barbara can be reached at barbara.lopez@maketheroadct.org 

Wendy Cárdenas 

Senior Organizer 

Wendy was born in Peru and migrated to Connecticut when she was twelve years old with her family. Growing up in the 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. This victory and experience, paved the way for Wendy to earn her Associate’s degree in General Studies and Business Administration from Norwalk Community College, and is currently in the process of getting her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Wendy also has a deep passion for affordable and accessible healthcare for the undocumented community and this brought her to work for Building One Community. At Building One Community, Wendy worked with community members to meet with stakeholders, strategize and implement campaigns. She was essential part of creating a parent power committee that fought for public school transparency. As Senior Organizer at Make the Road CT, Wendy has the great task of continuing to identify and mobilize community members to organize for real change.  

Wendy can be reached at wendy.cardenas@maketheroadct.org 

Mary Elizabeth Smith 

Development and Programs Organizer

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 Development and Programs Organizer 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 mary.smith@maketheroadct.org

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 sonia.hernandez@maketheroadct.org

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