Who We Are

Statewide: 

Barbara López

Director 

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 joined 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: (203) 520-3144 or barbara.lopez@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: (475) 238-5682 or mary.smith@maketheroadct.org

Bridgeport: 

Alison Martinez Carrasco

Youth Organizer

Alison migrated from Ecuador to Connecticut when she was four years old with her parents. Growing up in the Hartford County, her youth organizing began in 2012 with CT Students for a Dream. Since then, Alison became committed to promote social change and justice. She became a community organizer and activist that no longer allowed the stigma attached to her immigration status devalue her humanity. In 2013, she continued with C4D as their campus organizer. In 2014, she co-founded the Greater Hartford Region for C4D. There, she facilitated bi-weekly community meetings, held workshops and led a successful administrative and legislative campaign called “Afford to Dream,” to pass legislation that allows more undocumented students to attain higher education in CT. Also, understanding the need for economic justice in her community, she founded the organization’s first ever scholarship committee to fundraise for undocumented immigrant students. As the Youth Organizer at Make the Road CT, Alison will continue to use her knowledge to implement urgency for youth to organize to fight for equity and become the best version of themselves in their communities. Alison’s pronouns are: she/her/hers/ella.

Alison can be reached at: (860) 895-3849 or alison.martinez@maketheroadct.org

Wendy Cárdenas 

Community 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 the Community 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: (203) 940-2365 or wendy.cardenas@maketheroadct.org 

Hartford: 

Mirka Dominguez-Salinas 

Community Organizer 

Mirka was born in Mexico and migrated to Connecticut at the age of six. Raised in New Haven County, she saw how educational and income inequality and language barriers affected her community. She started learning about social justice when she joined the Urban Education Fellows at Southern Connecticut State University. With the group, she worked on different service projects in New Haven Public Schools and learned about culturally responsive pedagogy. From there, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Bilingual Elementary Education and a Bachelor of Science, Interdisciplinary Studies in English and Social Studies from Southern Connecticut State University. Her organizing work began with CT Students for a Dream where she became empowered and inspired to fight for her community. As the New Haven Region organizer, she held community and campus meetings, met with campus leaders, and gathered support in the fight for equal access to higher education for immigrant youth. As the Community Organizer of Make the Road CT, she hopes to support and empower members to fight for their rights and to make the path for the generations to come.

Mirka can be reached at: (203) 213-7017 or mirka.dominguez@maketheroadct.org 

Francisco Baires

Community Organizer 

Born in El Salvador, Francisco's family came to the United States when he was a baby because of the violent war that started in the 1970s. They moved to the south Texas border town of Brownsville and growing up en la frontera had life long impacts on Francisco. As Francisco grew up he realized his family was able to flee the war in El Salvador because his mother was born in the U.S. However, Francisco also realized some relatives risked everything to come to the U.S., even if that meant they had to come undocumented. Francisco dedicated his life's work to supporting and empowering immigrant communities. He went to college to study forensic anthropology and while in grad-school, he engaged in local efforts to stop anti immigrant legislation while helping identify the human remains of migrants who died crossing the border in Arizona. Francisco has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a Masters of Arts in Anthropology. Francisco then moved to Illinois and began working as a community organizer supporting local immigrant's in building their power. Together they stopped their county from participating in the "Secure Communizes" detention / deportation program, they won drivers' licenses for the undocumented and they developed a DACA service team that was the primary DACA support service group in central Illinois. As the Community Organizer of Make the Road CT, Francisco will continue to grow the membership base, foster community realtionships and develop our next community leaders. 

Francisco can be reached at: (520) 991-7151 or francisco.baires@maketheroadct.org 

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