Leadership Development
September 15, 2023

Behind the Organizing - Mayra Sarabia

Mayra Sarabia is a Mexican immigrant woman, who is very passionate about social justice and immigration. She is a mother of 3 adult children and is particularly proud of her granddaughter. She considers herself to be a lifelong learner and enjoys herbalism, nature and jewelry making. Mayra has been working as a full-time employee for the Southwest Organizing Project since 2019 but has been a leader with SWOP since 2007 (16 years). Mayra initially found out about SWOP through the Parent Mentor Program at Eberhart elementary school.

Since joining SWOP, Mayra has become a Parent Mentor Organizer, and is also a part of the Parent Engagement institute where she oversees 5 organizations across the state of Illinois. She is also a part of the Ladders of Opportunity program and does immigration work with the Illinois Family Support Project (IFSP) and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). When asked about the necessity of her work, Mayra stated that, “It’s crucial that parents are involved in their children’s education. We need to transform our communities and one of the ways to do that is by making people aware of resources and the power that they hold as community members. The impact that parents have in and out of our schools plays such a huge piece in the growth of our communities and our work empowers them and changes lives in the process.”

When asked about what sort of advice she would give to other organizers starting out, Mayra had this to share. “My best advice would be to put your passion into what it is that you’re doing. When your heart is in the work that you’re doing, you’re able to build meaningful relationships with the people you’re trying to connect to. From there, the path will show itself because you’ll be moving to action with people who want the same things.” She also shared the importance of being proactive and actively engaging in your work and with those you aim to work with.

In her final statement, Mayra shared that her goal is to continue to engage the community. “We can put together as many amazing campaigns as we want, but if we don’t get the interest of the community, we aren’t going to go very far. We need to continue to build those relationships, so that we can call upon one another and move to action.” SWOP always pushes the importance of relational meetings and engaging with leaders, legislators and each other one to one in meaningful dialogue and their organizers seem to embody that belief fully in their work.

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