Board of Directors
Eduardo “Eddie” Canales
Born of migrant farm worker parents, Eddie spent his early years in a rural, migrant border town outside of Texas, while his father worked in steel mills in Gary, Indiana and East Chicago. They were poor: he did not have the luxury of inside bathroom facilities until 6th grade. Early jobs included farm work, shoe shining, barber/beauty shop sweeping and the neighborhood youth corps, followed by factory work, cafeteria cleanup, and bottling plant/warehouse work. After junior college, Eddie attended the University of Houston, where he became involved with MAYO and La Raza Unida Party, beginning a long history of political activism and organizing. He has served the social and economic justice movements in many capacities and with several organizations, including the Congreso de Aztlan (the National Committee of La Raza Unida), the Texas Farmworkers, the Longshoremen, SEIU’s School District Campaign of custodians and cafeteria workers, and Centro Aztlan in Houston, where he was a Director for ten years. Eduardo has been an organizer in Colorado, New Mexico, Eastern Washington, Montana, Idaho, Texas and Wyoming; he has agitated, organized, negotiated and provided direct services around issues ranging from economic and labor justice to anti-police brutality.
Bill Chandler is the founding Executive Director of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA). An eyewitness to the brutal immigration raids of the 1950’s, he has been continuously involved in supporting the rights of immigrant workers. Bill has been an organizer for more than 50 years, beginning as a laboratory worker in 1960 when he helped build SEIU Local 434 at Los Angeles County Hospital, to working with the United Farm Workers during the 1965 Delano-based grape workers strike, to the historic, trans-national, and powerful Starr County farm workers strike in 1966. Sent as an organizer by Cesar Chavez, he witnessed first hand both the U.S. and Mexican governments’ brutal but ultimately unsuccessful attempts to repress labor justice. Since then, his organizing focus has been on the lowest paid workers in the South, including farm workers, hospitality, health care, and immigrant workers. Bill has pro-actively served the struggle for affirmative action in the Labor Movement: every union he has organized in the South has been led by women of color, and MIRA’s board of directors is a majority African-American and Latino board.
Lillian Galedo is Executive Director of Filipinos Advocates for Justice, formerly Filipinos for Affirmative Action in Oakland, CA, where she has worked since 1980 towards its mission of organizing, leadership development, service provision, and advocacy for social and economic justice. Lillian is also the national co-chair of the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE), working to win recognition and equal status for Filipino WWII veterans. Lillian is a founding board member of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR), is currently on the board of Oakland Asian Cultural Center, and is chair of the East Bay Asian Consortium. She is a recipient of the Wallace Gerbode Fellowship (1990), the Bannerman Fellowship (1997) and Eureka Communities Fellowship (1998).
Isabel Garcia is the co-chair of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos, a grassroots organization based in Tucson, Arizona, that promotes respect for human and civil rights and fights the militarization of the border region in the American Southwest. She is also the legal defender of Pima County, Arizona. Ms. Garcia has been at the forefront of immigrant and refugee rights since 1976. As a lead speaker on behalf of Derechos Humanos, Ms. Garcia holds press conferences and interviews, hosts media crews, leads demonstrations, weekly vigils, symposiums, and marches to draw attention to the unjust policies and inhumane treatment of immigrants. She works to counter anti-immigrant hysteria and to change stereotypes and misinformation about immigrants. According to Ms. Garcia, “Immigration policy has been a total failure and needs to be changed. It has not prevented people from attempting to cross the border but has put the lives of thousands of men, women, and children in serious danger. Their deaths are the direct result of U.S. policy.” Ms. Garcia has received many awards for her work, including the 2006 National Human Rights Award from the Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos de México. In 2008, she received the Cultural Freedom Award from the Lannan Foundation.
Monica Hernandez is the regional organizer for the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN). A native of Mexico with roots in both countries, Monica moved to Tennessee in 2001 to join the Highlander Center's education team. She led Highlander's immigration work, co-developing and co-facilitating the Institute for Immigrant Leadership Development (INDELI) from 2004 to 2006. INDELI's goals were to develop Laino grassroots leadership and organizations in the Southeast. She was also the lead staff person on the Threads Leadership and Organizing School from 2008 to 2010. She was the Founding Chair of the Board of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, serving from 2003 to 2007. Before moving to the South, Monica worked at the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights in San Francisco from 1988 to 2001.
Gerald is the coordinator of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), an organization founded in the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area in April 2006 to support fair and just immigration reform. He is also a co-founder of the Priority Africa Network (PAN), a Bay Area organization that advocates for progressive policies toward Africa and organizes dialogues between African Americans and black immigrants. Gerald has provided leadership for progressive causes for 30 years within the anti-apartheid movement, the anti-racist movement, the peace and solidarity movements, and electoral campaigns.
Born in Calcutta, India, Monami has been an immigrant and youth organizer and in 1999, co-founded DRUM--Desis Rising Up & Moving. DRUM organizes low income South Asian immigrants facing deportation for racial and immigrant justice. Prior to that Monami served on the Steering Committee of New York Taxi Workers Alliance and worked with CAAAV (Organizing Asian Communities). Monami also serves on the Steering Committee of Immigrant Communities in Action and the Advisory Board of the North Star Fund. In 2001, Monami received the Union Square Award and the Open Society Institute Community Fellowship of the Soros Foundation. She is currently the Director of DRUM & Organizer with its Immigrant Justice Program.
Christian Ramirez has worked for several years with the American Friends Service Committee and is the former director of Project Voice, a nationwide AFSC immigrant rights initiative. He is a columnist for Diario San Diego and Agencia Fronteriza de Noticias, and has resided in Barrio Logan, in the San Diego area, since 1999. Since 1994, Christian Ramirez has worked to promote and defend human rights for border communities and has served in leadership positions in several grassroots organizations in the region. As a prominent human rights promoter, he has been invited to speak on issue related to the border and human rights in local, national and international conferences, including a first NGO consultation on global border enforcement conditions held in Geneva in June.
Christian was born in the border city of Tijuana. At a young age, along with his family, he made the trek to the other side and lived in San Ysidro where he attended middle school. He went on to study anthropology and history at San Diego State University.
Janis is the Executive Secretary for Racial Justice at United Methodist Women in New York, and was formerly Executive Director of Families for Freedom, the immigrant defense network by and for immigrants facing and fighting deportation. Janis was born in Georgetown, Guyana. She has worked on international development and gender rights at the Tahirih Justice Center and Women for Women International. She also served as Africa Program Associate with Episcopal Relief and Development, collaborating with African partners on grassroots community development programs in primary health care, food security and post conflict rehabilitation. She has a BA in International Studies from American University in Washington, DC and a MA in Conflict Resolution at the University of Bradford in West Yorkshire, England.
Executive Director, NNIRR (See biographical information on NNIRR staff page)