OPAL is pleased to announce the hire of our new Advocacy Coordinator, Maria Hernandez! Her passion for community control over decision making started at an early age: Maria comes from the small town of Cruz de Aguilar Romita Guanajuato, where only 550 individuals live, and where she says “every decision counted, whether it was painting the church to constructing the first paved road.”
“I was blessed with two amazing parents, Javier and Rosaura, who gifted me their uncompromising values to always seek the best future for myself and my siblings.” At the age of 12, Maria moved to Woodburn, Oregon with her family, and has since considered Woodburn her home. Maria’s father always tells her, “Recuerda todo el tiempo que todo se empieza con personas.” (Remember, all the time. Everything starts with people). For this reason, Maria decided to use her skills and focus her work in community engagement, connection building, and building power for communities to make decisions for themselves.
After acquiring a bachelor’s of science degree from Willamette University in Political Science and minoring in Sociology and Latin American Studies, Maria went on to do a Public Affairs Fellowship with CORO Northern California. In CORO’s Exploring Leadership Program Maria helped students build policy understanding around issues of police brutality.
Most recently, Maria was the Deputy Campaign Manager working to elect State Representative Teresa Alonso Leon, the first Indigenous Latina to represent a district in the state of Oregon.
As our Advocacy Coordinator, Maria leads OPAL’s statewide community-connecting, providing our partners access to solidarity networks and opportunities to build local power. Maria will bring together base-building membership organizations from across the state to attend the 2017 Oregon Just Transition Assembly, where they’ll help define the vision of highly-impacted communities for a just future. She’ll accomplish this by listening to the experiences of highly-impacted people. Her organizing will build capacity among individuals and communities who are affected by climate and environmental injustices, from wildfires to air toxins, to speak for themselves and find the solutions that work for them at the local, regional, and statewide levels.
We’re so proud to bring this vital addition to the steadily growing OPAL family. In 2017, OPAL has a team in place to build capacity in historically-underserved communities for Environmental and Climate Justice. We’re working in pursuit of a Just Transition from an extractive, exploitative, wasteful economy to one that is cooperative, regenerative, democratic, and living.