María Rodriguez | Executive Director
Maria has worked to defend basic human rights of low-income and migrant peoples for 25 years. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where Maria was active in the anti-apartheid and Central America solidarity movements. She connected with Tenant and Workers’ United, where she became the lead organizer on a campaign to create a housing cooperative. She has worked to defend public health care coverage and promoted the growth of award-winning free clinics: La Clinica del Pueblo in Washington, D.C. and Good News Care Center in Florida. She also served as Deputy Director of the Human Services Coalition in South Florida. Maria has been a Board Member for Florida New Majority, ACLU of Florida, New World Foundation Board in New York, and the Highlander Center in Tennessee. She founded FLIC in 2005 and is the mother of Dante.
Isabel Vinent Grimany | Deputy Director
Isabel was born in Honduras and has lived in the US intermittently since 1983. In almost 30 years of social justice work, she has experience working with grassroots organizations (youth, indigenous, immigrant, women, rural) in the US and Central America. She earned a Ph.D. in Education in 2001 in Spain. Her areas of expertise include popular education, gender training, participatory research and project evaluation. She has also taught university graduate and postgraduate courses. Isabel and her husband founded a popular education team called “La Tapizca” in Central America and “Popular Education Consultants” in the US to assist social organizations in creating and implementing educational and organizational capacity building processes. Isabel is also a Board member of the Palm Beach County Coalition for Immigrant Rights (PBCCIR). She joined FLIC in 2008.
Rita Mendez | Director Of Services
Rita was born in Mexico City where she studied Telecommunications Engineer at UNAM. Passionate about Technology, Education and Online activism. Her primary responsibilities are implementing and maintaining the FLIC information technology infrastructure, providing support for staff and members. Collaborated in projects like Plazas Comunitarias and CCIME where she was part of the Education Committee , Project Manager for the National Immigration Conference 2013 and member of the POC Techies program with the Progressive Technology Project (PTP).
Francesca Menes | Policy & Advocacy Director
Francesca is from Miami’s Little Haiti community. She earned a B.A. in Political Science and Women’s Studies and her Master’s in Public Administration with a certificate in Community Development from Florida International University. With FLIC, she has coordinated the Florida Wage Theft Task Force, coordinated a national network campaigning for Temporary Protected Status for Haitians, successfully led the statewide campaign “We Are Florida’s Future” to pass in-state tuition for undocumented students in 2014, developed and implemented a 2014 Voter Engagement Program in 2 counties and 5 cities knocking on over 45,000 doors. She is the FLIC representative to various national organizations, including the Black Immigration Network, she also is the co-coordinator of #Rights4ALLinDR. Francesca served on the board of South Florida Jobs with Justice and was appointed by Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally A. Heyman to the Commission for Women and appointed by Miami-Dade County Chairman Jean Monestime to the Community Action Agency. Francesca has received numerous honors and recognitions, including being name one of the 20 under 40 Emerging Leaders in South Florida by the Miami Herald.
Paola Calvo Florido | Communications Manager
| (305) 571-7254 ext. 213
Originally from Bolivia, Paola and her family moved to St. Petersburg, Florida in 2000 to pursue better opportunities. Pursuing journalism from a young age, she was first published at the age of 15, becoming a Senior Editor by the age of 18. Paola graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications and Media Studies with a concentration in journalism. As a college student, she became engaged in social justice movements while working at the SPCA of Tampa Bay. Paola has worked on a wide range of issues including animal rights, student rights, farmworker rights and immigrant rights. In 2010, she joined the Florida Immigrant Youth Network and Students Working for Equal Rights and helped coordinate mass mobilizations to Tallahassee and Washington DC in support of immigration reform. Shortly after graduating, she joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida as their central Florida regional organizer where she led outreach efforts for immigrant communities on racial justice issues, LGBT rights and other constitutional-based fights. She also contributed to MiACLU.org, the Spanish national resource for the ACLU. Paola held a Board of Directors position at the Florida Immigrant Coalition for 2 years before stepping down to continue to serve immigrant communities in Florida under the Communications Manager role.
Felix Espinal | IT Specialist
Felix migrated to US when he was in his twenties with a Computer Engineering background. Since then, he’s been helping communities by volunteering with different organizations as Salvation Army, Miami Worker Center and Miami Dade Public Library System. In this era he joined FLIC as IT Wizard, slaying bugs and error trolls, melting frozen computers with dragon fire, empowering member organizations with the right bunch of tech potions to cure their technology thirst.
Pamela Gomez | Central Florida Community Organizer
Pamela Gomez was born in the Dominican Republic. Her family immigrated to the Virgin Islands in the early 1990s in search of better educational and economic opportunities. Her family relocated to Tampa in 2005, where she completed her undergraduate education in Sociology and is pursuing graduate studies in Latin America and Caribbean Studies at the University of South Florida (USF); focusing on race, gender, migration and education issues. In 2010, she joined the Florida Immigrant Youth Network and Students Working for Equal Right. Pamela has coordinated civic engagement efforts, with Democracia USA (2010) and Mi Familia Vota (2012), achieving voter participation goals of over 12,000 registered voters and hundreds of community members. She has also worked on parent engagement and empowerment initiatives with the Florida Institute for Community Studies (2013) and Hispanic Services Council (2014). She’s part of the membership and leadership of LULAC Florida and Dominican Association of Tampa.
Julio Calderon | Access to Higher Education Organizer
Born in Honduras, Julio Calderon arrived the United States as an unaccompanied minor in 2005 escaping poverty. Julio started his work with Students Working For Equal Rights (SWER) by pushing for the DREAM Act in 2010. Years after He served as the END (Education Not Deportation) Coordinator for the State of Florida, which also helped to build a campaign around DACA. After DACA he became the Outreach Coordinator for DACA eligible immigrants and successfully helped turn out more than 450 applicants during the first clinic.
In 2014, Julio joined other students in Tallahassee to fight for in-State tuition. The strategy and mobilization allowed them to win the campaign. Julio is now the Access to Higher Education Organizer for the Florida Immigrant Coalition. He is working on his Bachelors in Economics at the Florida International University.
Patricia Bernal | Office Manager
Patricia is originally from Colombia and came to live to the United States 14 years ago. With a Bachelor in Marketing and Management and a publisher diplomate. With more than 25 years of experience in Management with multinationals companies in Colombia and 12 years as property Manager in Miami. She got involved with the U.S. social justice in Colombia, since she was a teenager. As a volunteer she joined the YMCA (Young Women Christian Association)– Asociacion Cristiana Femenina Colombia and the Red Cross- in Colombia, helping with programs for poorest people around Bogota. Her work at FLIC began in 2013 and in 2014 became an Office Manager and recently start as a volunteer for the detainees visitation program at BTC through FOBD org. Her primary responsibilities are implementing and maintaining the FLIC Office organization, providing support for staff and financials. Volunteers Management, liaison with Colleges and Schools, recruit and coordinate volunteers work.