Leadership Without Borders

Keynote Speakers

Hamdi Mohamed (OIRA Director)—Director Mohamed is a civil servant with more than a decade of experience serving immigrant and refugee communities. Hamdi most recently served as Policy Advisor to King County, where she managed initiatives directing funds and investments in small businesses, community organizations, and COVID-19 responses. Before working for King County, she served as the Deputy District Director for U.S. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Hamdi has also worked for CARE International and the Refugee Women Alliance (ReWA) in roles dedicated to fighting poverty and empowering immigrants. 

Hamdi has a bachelor’s degree in Law, Societies, and Justice and a master’s degree in Policy Studies, both from the University of Washington. She has also earned a Global Business Certificate from Harvard Business School. In 2021, Hamdi won a historic race, becoming the first Black woman elected to the Port of Seattle Commission and the first Somali woman elected to office in Washington state. 

Karely Amaya Rios (She/Her/Ella)- Karely Amaya Rios is a first-generation undocumented Latina pursuing her Masters’s in Public Policy at UCLA. Karely is a transformational leader who grew up in a low-income immigrant community in Southern California, where anti-immigrant policies affected the livelihood of her family and community. She is passionate about advocating for those who are marginalized and hopes to build bridges between policies and communities of color. Currently, Karely is an organizer leading the Opportunity For All Campaign, a campaign to demand that the University of California provide equal access to campus job opportunities to all students, regardless of immigration status.  

Workshop Facilitators

Jhoana Avante (Architectural Designer)Jhoana graduated with her Masters Degree in Architecture from Washington State University. She now works in Seattle at an Architectural firm. Jhoana was born in Mexico City and developed a passion for the built environment and how buildings can impact people’s lives. She has won several awards in her field and is excited to share her experiences and how she got to where she is today, to anyone who may benefit from it.  

Ricardo Ruiz (Poet)Ricardo is a multi-dimensional writer of poetry and prose. The son of potato factory workers, Ricardo hails from Othello, Washington. His work draws from his experience as a first-generation Mexican-American, and from his military service. Ricardo holds an Associate Degree in Business and Accounting from Big Bend Community College, where he was recognized as Student of the Year in both Business and Economics, and English Composition. He also holds a Bachelor of Art in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. While in the military, Ricardo earned the rank of Staff Sergeant while serving on four deployments, two to Afghanistan. He is passionate about elevating marginalized voices from rural communities and takes pride in being a conduit for cultural connection. 

Ricardo Gomez—Dr Gomez is Associate Professor at the University of Washington Information School, and faculty affiliate with the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program, the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, and the UW Center for Human Rights. His research interests focus on the uses of information and communication technologies in the context of migration, human rights and social justice. He specializes in social dimensions of the use (or non-use) of communication technologies, and how they contribute (or not) to well-being and social justice. He is particularly interested in qualitative research methods and in group facilitation and process design. These methods help him find creative ways to communicate complex ideas and research results in everyday language. 

Before joining the iSchool, Dr Gomez worked with private, public, and nonprofit sectors around the world, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. He held positions with Microsoft Community Affairs, and with the International Development Research Center in Canada. He holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University (1997) and an MA from Université du Québec à Montréal (1992). 

Alina R. Méndez (UW Assistant Professor)Dr Méndez specializes in Mexican American history with a focus on migration, labor, and relational racial formation. She received her PhD in US History from UC San Diego and BA in Latin American History from UC Berkeley. Her dissertation, titled “Cheap for Whom? Migration, Farm Labor, and Social Reproduction in the Imperial Valley-Mexicali Borderlands, 1942-1969,” was the recipient of the 2018 Chancellor’s Dissertation Award for the Division of Arts and Humanities at UC San Diego and the 2019 Herbert G. Gutman Prize for Outstanding Dissertation from the Labor and Working-Class History Association. Her research has received support from the Ford Foundation, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, the Fulbright Program, the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States, and the Archie Green Fund for Labor Culture and History. 

Carolyn Pinedo-Turnovsky (Associate Professor, UW American Ethnic Studies)

Title: The Right to Work and Licensing
Description:  How can we create inclusive professional pathways for people regardless of their immigration status in Washington State? This workshop will be an opportunity for us to talk about occupational licensing. The workshop will briefly cover legislation, recent activities across the states as well as information from the early stage of my current research project. Our conversation will invite us all to consider possible remedies and/or strategies that can support that all undocumented immigrants can pursue their professional dreams and fully contribute to their communities.

Fernando Mejia Ledesma, Xochilt Lopez, and Gabby Fitz

Title: Cost Free College & the Fight to Expand Employment Opportunities for Undocumented Students

Description: Join Communities for Our Colleges (C4C) in a workshop on how to strategize, organize, and make a change. C4C is a coalition of students, faculty, and community members from across the state that fight for increased investments in and access to our community and technical college system. We center students and racial equity in our organizing and our campaign for Cost Free College. How would you change your campus? We want to come together to expand access to employment for undocumented students. Join us in a training on how to strategically organize and build a student movement!

Marcela Pattinson — Undocu Initiatives at Washington State University—Director

Title: La Bienvenida, Best Practices on Undocumented Parent Engagement: Learn about La Bienvenida and how this program can be the transformative piece connecting our Undocumented families with resources and programs.

Description: La Bienvenida is an annual two-day immersive, culturally responsive, on-campus experience for incoming students and their family members. The programing is tailored specifically to their needs, establishes key relationships with university staff, and offers guidance and support for their college journey and the best of all totally in Spanish for the parents and includes special track for mixed and undocumented families.

More than simply an orientation for parents, it presents a unique opportunity to walk in the shoes of their student and immerse themselves in campus life by sleeping in the residential halls, eating in the dining halls, and personally meeting the faculty and staff. This one-of-a-kind family engagement reduces barriers for students to attend by easing parents’ fears and uncertainties and giving them confidence that they can leave their students in the care of WSU. At least as important is the inspiration siblings experience that fosters planning for their own college education.

Mission: Colectiva Legal del Pueblo (People’s Law Collective) was founded in November 2012 by a group of undocumented community organizers, activists and immigration attorneys. We recognized the need to create an organization that provides legal support while building community power for migrant justice. We are a non-hierarchal collective organization by and for undocumented and migrant communities. We also provide legal advocacy and support to immigrant communities. 

Vision: CLP believes that migrant justice work is rooted in the right of free movement for all people regardless of borders. In this context, we struggle for the abolition of migrant imprisonment and demand detention centers to be shut down.