Staff & Consultants
Cristina Jimenez (Managing Director)
Cristina Jiménez has organized immigrant youth and workers around the DREAM Act, comprehensive immigration reform, and pro-immigrant legislation at the local and national level since 2004. She co-founded United We Dream in 2008 and previously served as chair of the United We Dream Board of Directors. Cristina also co-founded the New York State Youth Leadership Council and has served as an immigration policy analyst for the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and an immigrant rights organizer at the Latin American Integration Center, now merged as Make the Road New York. She holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from the School of Public of Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY and graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Political Science and Business from Queens College, CUNY. Originally from Quito, Ecuador, Cristina came to the U.S. with her family at the age of 13, attending high school and college as an undocumented student.
Alejandra Ruiz (Associate Managing Director)
A native of Colombia, Alejandra Ruiz came to the U.S. at the age of seven with her mother and younger brother. She was raised in the multicultural neighborhood of Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City and learned about the DREAM Act as valedictorian of her high school and an undocumented student. Alejandra was part of the New York State Youth Leadership Council from 2005-2006 and volunteered with AmeriCorps VISTA, running an after-school center at an affordable housing complex in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She also worked as a youth organizer with the Latin American Integration Center, now Make the Road New York, where she later returned as an Education Justice Organizer, launching their overcrowded schools campaign. Prior to joining the staff of United We Dream in June 2012, she completed the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs in San Francisco, California. Alejandra holds a B.S. in Urban & Regional Studies, a B.A. in Spanish Area Studies and concentrations in Inequality Studies, Latino Studies and Latin American studies from Cornell University.
Adrian Reyna (Data and Development Manager)
Adrian was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico and came to the U.S. with his parents in early 2004. He graduated from Humble High School in Humble, TX in 2009 and then began his studies at the University of Texas at Austin, focusing on Cultural Anthropology and Government Adrian joined the University Leadership Initiative at UT-Austin and co-founded and served as founding coordinator of the Texas Dream Alliance (TDA), the statewide network of immigrant youth organizations in Texas. He now lives in New York City and continues ethnographic work on intercultural relations and the clash of cultures in migration.
Lorella Praeli (Advocacy & Policy Director)
Originally from Ica, Peru, Praeli immigrated to the United States at the age of 11 to receive medical treatment. After advocating for the adoption of anti-bullying measures at the legislative and community levels, she joined the student immigrant rights movement and came out as “undocumented and unafraid.” Lorella co-founded and directed Connecticut Students for a Dream and led the public advocacy campaign for the passage of the Connecticut in-state tuition bill. Her advocacy efforts and leadership with United We Dream played a key role in forcing the Obama administration to deliver reprieve from deportation and work permits to 1.4 million DREAMers through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Lorella graduated summa cum laude from Quinnipiac University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology.
Amanda Gutierrez (Advocacy Analyst and Manager)
Amanda has been supporting the immigrant youth movement since she was an undergraduate at UNC Chapel Hill. She represented faith leaders in the successful legislative campaign for in-state tuition in Connecticut and worked with UWD’s affiliate on a campaign to provide financial aid for undocumented students in the state. As a student at Yale Law School, Amanda represented day laborers in a federal civil rights lawsuit against local police and immigration law enforcement officers, advised workers with unpaid wage claims and provided policy support to labor unions and community-based organizations on a number of legislative and organizing campaigns. Prior to joining United We Dream, Amanda worked on immigrants’ rights at the Center for Justice and International Law. She holds a B.A. in Mathematics and Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
Julieta Garibay (Legislative Affairs Associate)
Julieta Garibay moved to the U.S. at the age of 12 from Mexico City and lived in Texas for 20 years before moving to Washington, D.C. She holds a Master’s degree of Science in Public Health Nursing and a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Texas, where she graduated with honors. She’s held a license as a Registered Nurse in the state of Texas since 2004. In 2005, she co-founded the University Leadership Initiative (ULI) at the University of Texas- Austin, one of the first undocumented youth-led organizations in the nation. ULI promotes higher education and civic participation amongst immigrant youth and Julieta is currently a member of ULI’s Executive Board. She was also a founding board member of United We Dream.
Myrna Orozco (Field Director)
Originally from Ciudad Juarez, in Chihuahua, Mexico, Myrna Orozco immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of 4. She currently resides in Kansas City, MO, where she serves as Board President for the Immigrant Justice Advocacy Movement, the only immigrant-led, interfaith community organization that is solely focused on immigration issues in the Kansas City metro area. She is a recipient of the First Annual John Backer Award from Church World Service for outstanding advocacy for immigrants’ and refugees’ rights.
Michele Rudy (Organizing Director)
Michele Rudy has been organizing for over ten years on issues affecting the immigrant community. She was an organizer in Boston, MA with the Student Immigrant Movement, where she developed and implemented statewide organizing campaigns on federal, state, and local issues with 100+ organizational members and managed statewide campaign for access to higher education. In 2010, she managed the 2010 DREAM Act Lame Duck Session Campaign for United We Dream with 200+ dreamers and national allies. In 2010, Michele also organized with Promise Arizona, where she led the Promise Fellows program, recruiting over 100 volunteers to Arizona for month-long fellowships. In 2007, she was part of the Industrial Areas Foundation National Organizing Training in Chicago. She attended the University of Michigan, where she obtained a bachelors of Arts in Communications and was a teaching fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she taught Public Narrative: Identity, Agency and Action and Organizing: People, Power and Change.
Maria Fernanda Cabello (Organizer)
Maria Fernanda Cabello is an Organizer for the United We Dream Network. She was born in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, where she lived for 12 years until she moved to Houston, Texas. In 2009, she graduated fifth in her class from Nimitz High School and enrolled at Texas A&M University, where she studied Political Science. At Texas A&M, Maria joined the Council for Minority Student Affairs, going on to become president of the DREAM Act advocacy organization. She also received the “Student of the Year” award from the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee at Texas A&M. Maria previously served as coordinator for the Texas Dream Alliance and Campaign Manager for the “I am a DREAM Voter” campaign, the first-ever DREAMer-led civic engagement project.
Jorge Gutierrez (Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP) Coordinator)
Jorge Gutierrez is originally from Nayarit, Mexico and currently resides in Los Angeles. Jorge began organizing and advocating for the rights of immigrant youth and LGBTQ communities in 2007 with the Orange County Dream Team. He co-founded DeColores Queer Orange County and has worked to highlight the importance of intersectional organizing between the LGBTQ and immigrant rights movements. The Huffington Post named Jorge one of the national LGBTQ Latino leaders to watch. He has also previously served on United We Dream’s Board of Directors and holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from California State University, Fullerton.
Carolina Canizales (END Our Pain (END) Coordinator)
Carolina graduated from the University of Texas- San Antonio in 2012 with a B.A. in Technical Communication and Highest Honors. She is an undocumented organizer and has lived in San Antonio, Texas since the age of 10. She was part of the founding team of the San Antonio Immigrant Youth Movement, which seeks to provide educational and legal resources, and guidance services to local community. Carolina leads UWD’s END program, helping stop the deportation of DREAMers and parents and fighting against the daily injustices of family separations.
Carmen Caneda (Operations & Finance Director)
Carmen Caneda first joined United We Dream in August 2012 as the project coordinator for UWD’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Campaign. She has been involved in immigrant issues since 1986, when she helped applicants apply for amnesty under the 1986 law. Prior to working with United We Dream, Carmen worked for the Service Employees International Union in its leadership development and organizational change program as the Deputy Director for Strategy and Operations. In addition she staffed the SEIU Ethics Commission that developed a comprehensive Ethics Code and Policies for Ethical Behavior. Other work experience includes involvement in the charter school movement and work with victims of domestic violence. Carmen holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota.
Hafid Dumet (Operations and Administrative Coordinator)
Since 2010, Hafid Dumet has been an activist around local and national issues that affect undocumented immigrant youth and their families. Hafid was part of the in-state tuition campaign in Connecticut, winning tuition equity for undocumented students in the state. He co-founded CT Students for a Dream and Somos CT. Hafid is originally from Ica, Peru, and graduated from Western Connecticut State University with a BBA in Accounting in 2012. Hafid has previously worked as a community organizer at Junta for Progressive Action through the Dream Summer Program.
Kristin Ford (Senior Communications and Online Strategist)
Kristin has helped DREAMers and advocates communicate their message to the media and win key political battles. She was the communications director for Educating Maryland Kids, the coalition which successfully defended the Maryland DREAM Act at the ballot, the first ballot victory for in-state tuition equity in the country. Prior to that, she was Director of Communications Strategy at Faith in Public Life, working with religious groups to change the narrative and win on immigration, health care, economic inequality, and a range of other issues. She grew up in Springfield, Virginia, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in English and Political Science, and lives in Washington, D.C.
Celso Mireles (Online Strategy Coordinator)
Celso Mireles came to the U.S. at the age of 3, when his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona to start a new life away from the NAFTA-destroyed Mexican economy. Celso graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University in 2009. Celso started his own company, Computer Dude Services LLC, after graduating from college, repairing computers and providing online consulting. Celso was a founding member of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition in 2009 and played an active role in the beginnings of the DRM Action Coalition. He helped lead online organizing around United We Dream’s Right to Dream campaign, which helped pave the way for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program announced by the White House in June 2012.
Jassiel Perez (Online Organizer)
Originally from Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, Jassiel Perez immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 2 months old. He lives in Lakeland, Florida and is part of United We Dream: Tampa Bay, a grassroots organization founded by undocumented immigrant youth in Florida. Jassiel started his own business, Florida New Media Solutions, LLC, which specializes in offering affordable graphic design and web development solutions to grassroots organizations and small businesses. He is dedicated to creating social change through online organizing and social media. In addition to his online organizing work with United We Dream, he has also worked with numerous organizations in Florida and across the U.S. including the Florida Immigrant Youth Network (FLIYN), Students Working For Equal Rights (SWER), The Hillsborough School Employees Federation (HSEF).
Reyna E. Montoya (Organizer)
Reyna E. Montoya was born in Tijuana, Mexico, moved to Nogales, Mexico at the age of ten, and then moved to Mesa, AZ at the age of thirteen. She graduated from Arizona State University (ASU) in 2012 with degrees in Political Science and Transborder Studies (U.S. and Mexican Regional Immigration Policy and Economy) and a Dance Minor. During her years at ASU, she was part of the Dean’s List of Outstanding Scholars for five consecutive semesters. She was also part of the Wells Fargo Transborder Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies Research Scholars 2010-2011, named the Dean’s Circle Scholar from the School of Transborder Studies 2010-2011, and recognized at the Hispanic Convocation as the Jose Ronstadt Outstanding Undergraduate Student. While studying at ASU, she taught catechism at her local parish for three years and has been an active member of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition since the summer of 2010.
Juan Pablo Orjuela (Organizer)
Juan Pablo Orjuela came to the United States at the age of 3 from Colombia and grew up in New Jersey. He attended Bergen Community College, where he was a student organizer with the Student Government Association and the Latin American Student Association. After coming out as undocumented in an interview with Univision, he became involved with the student immigrant movement and the New Jersey Dream Act Coalition. He previously served as the END (Education Not Deportation) Coordinator for New Jersey and as a Mid-Atlantic representative to the United We Dream National Coordinating Committee.