Crossroads Politics Panels

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020.

9am-12noon at Camille Playhouse, Brownsville, TX

Federal Immigration Policy and it’s impact in our communities

Gaby Zavala,BS

Founder, Asylum Seeker Network of Support / Founder & Executive Director, Resource Center Matamoros

Throughout her professional career, community work and grassroots efforts have been at the forefront of Gaby Zavala’s work. With a background in community health education, organizing, and affinity for sciences, she has been able to apply all these skills to her present effort, Resource Center Matamoros.
As the numbers of refugees arriving to the Rio Grande Valley continue to grow, her organization Asylum Seeker Network of Support (ASNS) continues to respond to immediate needs in real-time. They are committed to developing and implementing practical solutions with relation to longer-term sustainability. Working in tandem with other humanitarian organizations on both sides of the “frontera” or border, ASNS acts as a compassionate bridge of humanitarian aid as we extend a helping hand to those without the tools to create better lives for themselves and their families.

Sadie Hernandez

Digital Content Coordinator, United We Dream / UWD Actio

Sadie Hernandez is a reproductive justice organizer, writer, public speaker, and digital communications specialist born and raised in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. She has worked in state and federal policy and elections around reproductive and immigrant rights in the great state of Texas since 2014.

She was honored in TeenVogue’s first class “21 Under 21,” named one of Bumble’s “Five Kickass Mexican American Women,” and has been honored to be a mentor for young women in the RGV through their journeys in the movement.

Sadie’s goal is to uplift the incredible work being done in the Valley to people across the country. You can follow her on social media at @sadieeehdz.

Michael Seifert

Co-Chair, Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network

Seifert has been a resident of the Rio Grande Valley for the past thirty years. As a Catholic priest, he worked in colonia communities from La Joya to Cameron Park. He later served as the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network Weaver. He lives safely and happily in West Brownsville, one quarter mile from the southern border.

Adolfo Flores

National Security Correspondent for Immigration, BuzzFeed News

Adolfo Flores is a national security correspondent for immigration at BuzzFeed News. He recently moved to McAllen, Texas to focus on border coverage and the effects of the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Flores has traveled throughout Mexico with two caravans of immigrants and has spent months on the Mexican side of the border with immigrants and asylum-seekers. Flores has spent time in Matamoros in recent months writing about MPP returnees living in an encampment, how the “Remain in Mexico” policy results in family separations, and lack of access inside the administration’s “tent courts.”

He previously worked for the Los Angeles Times, Pasadena Sun, and the Pasadena Star-News. A Los Angeles native, Flores graduated from Cal State Northridge.

Youth Leaders: Voter Engagement in the RGV

In Texas, people under 35 make up 52% of the electorate. For progressives, 2020 is poised to be one of the most important and historical election seasons in our democracy. Learn first hand from young people leading a movement to change the way their peers engage in the election process right here in our community.

Emma Catarina Guevara

RGV Regional Field Organizer, Battleground Texas

Emma Guevara is currently the RGV Regional Field Organizer with Battleground Texas, and is committed to registering as many voters as possible in the Valley before the 2020 election, so to make that happen she is currently the Volunteer Deputy Registrar in Cameron County with the most voter registrations.

Although she’s only been working with Battleground Texas since last April, she is no stranger to voter registration. Before working for Battleground Texas, she was a Deputy Field Organizer with Texas Rising, and just a volunteer with a few different non-profit organizations before that.

In her free time, she enjoys crossword puzzles, baking, and her cat.

Ofelia Alonso

Regional Field Coordinator, RGV- El Paso

Ofelia Alonso, 24, is Texas Rising’s Regional Field Coordinator for the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso. A former Texas Rising alumn, Ofelia is passionate about reproductive justice, civic engagement, and immigrant justice.

She holds a B.A. in History from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies. Her activism has been featured in publications like the Texas Tribune’s TribTalk, Refinery 29, and PBS NewsHour.

Andrea Juarez

Deputy Field Organizer, Texas Rising

A recent graduate of UTRGV, Andrea received her Bachelors in Psychology in 2019 and now works as a Deputy Field Organizer for Texas Rising here in the RGV.

She first began her involvement several years ago as a Student Leader on the campus chapter of Texas Rising. Her work in civic engagement and voter registration is important to her because she believes in the strong power the Valley has as a region and wants to be actively involved in empowering her community.

Andrea wants to make sure young people understand the power they hold through voting.

Denisce Palacios

UTRGV Campus Organizer, Texas Rising

LGBTQ+ Activism on the Borderlands

From Gloria Anzaldua to Brownsville’s official LGBTQ+ Task Force, this panel will bring together a handful of community leaders from across the Rio Grande Valley to discuss what it has been like to continue building upon a legacy of queer activism and advocacy on the borderlands.

Beatrix Lestrange

Dragtivist/Community Organizer

A community organizer and dragtivist (drag queen activist) based out of Brownsville, TX. Known better as his drag alter ego, “Beatrix Lestrange,” their work focuses on LGBTQ+ issues, immigration justice, reproductive freedom as well as HIV/AIDS advocacy.

Their work has been featured on Vice, Remezcla, Texas Standard, NPR and NBC Latino. Out of drag, Beatrix currently works as a Field Manager for Texas Rising in the Rio Grande Valley and as the City Liason for the artivist collective, Las Imaginistas.

Jada Josette

President, GenTex

Jada is a native-born RGV transgender woman and is currently President of an up and coming nonprofit organization GENTex (Gender Equality of Texas), whose mission is to advocate for the needs of transgender women, trans men and gender non-conforming individuals in South Texas.

Jada is motivated by her own personal journey, growing up in an evangelical home and having survived an attack by four men in the Fall of 2010. She firmly believes in doing what she can to support those within her community because no one deserves to be forgotten, and/or victimized for being their true authentic selves.

Gabriel Sanchez

RGV LGBTQIA+ Historian and curator/Co-director of Pansy Pachanga Documentary/President of South Texas Equality Project

Gabriel Sanchez is a queer, nonbinary Valley native who grew up in Starr and Hidalgo counties. Gabriel has been researching, collecting, documenting, and archiving local LGBTQIA+ history and has curated an annual exhibit on the topic for the Valley’s Pride in the Park celebration.

Gabriel is currently working on a documentary on the history of the RGV’s LGBTQIA+ community called Pansy Pachanga- set for release in 2020. Gabriel is also president of the South Texas Equality Project (STEP) and a board member of GenTEX (an organization that advocates for the local trans and gender non-conforming community). Gabriel currently works for Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid as a part of the LGBTQ+ team which includes doing outreach to the trans and queer community.

As part of this position, Gabriel actively does trainings with colleges, social service providers, and law enforcement on working with the LGBTQIA+ community. They have also worked with undocumented youth in detention and refugees



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