OPAL is so excited to introduce the newest member of our Organizing Team. Gabriela Saldaña-López (she/her) has assumed the role of the Bus Riders Unite Organizer, as we work to improve transit service, accessibility, and reduce fares across the region. Gaby is no stranger to the transit justice movement, having been a graduate of the first cohort of the OPAL Organizing Fellowship of 2019. But her experience organizing started many years ago. Read on to learn more about this new addition to our growing staff.
Gaby was born and raised in Southeast and East Portland by Mexican immigrant parents. “My parents always taught me to give back to my community, in any way that I could. This led me to be more interested in being in a field where I could support others” she says. Early on in her teenage years, she honed her passion for supporting others and regularly volunteered in her East Portland community focusing on improving food security and expanding voter registration.
Since that time, Gaby has been involved in civic participation, and became involved in elections and campaigns starting in 2011. “Getting my community involved in processes that impact them is important to me, because I’ve seen what happens when community isn’t involved,” Gaby says. “When decision makers don’t understand our lived experiences, and don’t hear from us, their decisions are not a reflection of our community. This leads to poor and inequitable decisions being made by our leadership”
In 2014, Gaby canvassed and phone-banked for ballot Measure 88, hoping to win Driver’s Licenses for All. Despite that measure’s disappointing loss at the ballot, Gaby continued to organize to fight for community self-determination. “In 2016, I worked with a group of students to do workshops, supported by Causa, to educate voters on three major Initiative Petitions by the anti-immigrant hate group Oregonians for Immigration Reform, or OFIR,” Gaby says. One such Initiative Petition was 2016-040, which would have made Oregon an English-only state. In 2018, Gaby worked with East County Rising on Gresham City Council elections, in addition to important ballot measures like opposing the anti-immigrant Measure 105 and anti-choice Measure 106.
Gaby has a double BA from the University of Oregon in Planning, Public Policy and Management and International Studies with a concentration in nonprofit administration. Prior to joining OPAL, Gaby was the Fiscal Sponsorship manager at SE Uplift working to support new small-scale projects in securing funding, and provided administrative support to realize their vision. “” Gaby says.
Gaby brings a unique perspective, connections and experience through her community organizing and event coordination roles over the years and is passionate about advancing actions that can begin to address disparities in Portland-metro area. In her new role as Bus Riders Unite! Community organizer, Gaby hopes to amplify the work being done by our members and community to improve our public transportation system.