Activist Spotlight: Elisa Andrade

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I am an immigrant from Mexico City, Mexico and grew up in Silverton, OR until I moved to West Salem where I’ve been since 2001. I started volunteering in the nonprofit world while I was in junior high at the Silverton Food Bank and at Silverton Together. My mother always encouraged/demanded we do something in our spare time and while we were out of school! My parents attended gatherings organized by the farmworker movement PCUN and I was introduced to the immigrant rights movement while I was in high school. I became a volunteer for Mujeres Luchadoras Progresistas/ Women Striving for Power a sister organization of PCUN and have been involved and devoted to the mission of empowering Latina and farmworker women serving on the board of directors for many terms. I worked for 9 yrs. in PCUN’s Service Center where I started as support staff and became an Accredited Representative, representing clients before U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) on family based immigration petitions. Along with my position at Family Forward, I also currently work part-time with Mano a Mano as a Resource Navigator and Certified Oregon Health Plan Community Assister.

How long have you been volunteering/working with Family Forward and how did you get started?

I learned about Family Forward through the job announcement for the Salem Organizer position. I recently had my second baby and realized that all the work and the mission that Family Forward represented aligned with what had been missing in my life. I have a 3 year-old, a 1 year-old, and an 11 year-old stepdaughter. I decided that I wanted to be a part of Family Forward, regardless if I was staff or as a volunteer. I am happy to be organizing for such important and sometimes invisible causes!

Why is it important to be involved in organizing and activism? What advice would you give others, especially moms and other caregivers, that are struggling to make time to be active in their community?

Juggling two part time jobs with life at home is definitely not an easy task but I truly believe that I am making a difference for my kids, so that they can have these rights and benefits when they have a family of their own one day. I am working to create the support systems that we all deserve as mothers and caretakers of future generations. My mother has taught me that to create change for a common good is the best way to change the world, and it is a legacy I hope to hand down to my children as well. While I may not immediately benefit from this work, I know my community will benefit and that in itself is a very gratifying thought.


Want to join Elisa in becoming an activist in our community? Join an action team in your region! Elisa is our organizer based in Salem, so if you’re specifically from the Salem area, contact Elisa at elisa@familyforward.org to learn how you can join our action team in that region. If you’re not based in Salem, you can also sign up to become an activist, and we’ll contact you to learn how you can get involved in our growing activist community.

Category: News