Gabriela Castillo, Coordinator
Gaby has been working with immigrant and working class communities for many years in different capacities. As an attorney, she represented and worked extensively with immigrant victims of crime and those facing possible removal from the United States. From 2007-2013, Gaby worked as a Staff Attorney with Legal Services of Southern Piedmont in Charlotte, North Carolina where she represented immigrant families before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and Immigration Court.
Having grown up in Long Island, Gaby felt the need to return to New York to continue working with the immigrant community. In 2014, she began working as an attorney with SEPA Mujer, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the empowerment of Latina immigrant women on Long Island. It was through this organization that Gaby began to connect her legal work with community organizing and began to get involved in advocacy/policy work around issues that impact the everyday lives of those most vulnerable in our communities.
fa In 2015, Gaby joined Make the Road NY as a Senior Staff Attorney where she continued representing immigrant families while engaging in advocacy and outreach work. In January 2016, Gaby took over the role of Coordinator for the Long Island Civic Engagement Table. While practicing law for almost a decade was extremely rewarding, she understood that the issues facing her community required not only a deeper level of advocacy, but also a constant challenge to existing systems. Gaby firmly believes that one of the most important and effective ways to create lasting change and to empower our community is through civic participation and education.
Alejandra Sorto, Organizer
Alejandra is an Organizer committed to social justice and challenging systems of oppression that target those most vulnerable. Driven by her passion for women's human and reproductive rights Alejandra began her Organizing efforts as a teenager as part of campaigns that targeted the deep-rooted corruption within the judicial system and the lack of prosecution against crimes towards women and girls.
She holds a degree in Communications and Journalism from University Jose Simeon Cañas (UCA). Educated under the ideals of Ignacio Ellacuria’s Liberation Theology, she dedicated her studies and work towards understanding the root causes of inequality, violence, immigration and the gang phenomenon in her home country El Salvador and seeking strategies that would provide structural changes and solutions, haven herself immigrated twice to the U.S. first due to the Salvadoran civil war in the 80's and subsequently due to gang violence in her early 20's.
After immigrating in 2012, she began to work as a freelance journalist for local publications on Long Island, NY. Moved by the unjust reality that immigrants and people of color faced in the United States, she returned to her organizing roots, now as part of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table in 2015, and focused her efforts in building leadership and grassroots political power in diverse communities. She believes in the immense power of education as a resource for communities to assert their power and take active roles in changing the status quo, and in the inherent need for communities of color to unite and become the relentless voice of social justice.
Our Project Board
LICET works collaboratively with dozens of organizations to build community power in working class immigrant and communities of color. The Project Board includes our core partners in this effort, who help build LICET's strategic plan and carry out key parts of the work. Each brings a deep history of civic engagement, empowerment, and grassroots organizing to the table:
The Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) is a non-profit providing immigration legal services and advocacy that assists the immigrant community on Long Island in its effort to become full participants in the community's life. With offices in Hempstead and Brentwood, CARECEN is the leading organization of its kind in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Make the Road New York (MRNY) is the largest participatory immigrant organization in New York, with approximately 16,000 members. With vibrant community centers in Bushwick, Brooklyn; Jackson Heights, Queens; Port Richmond, Staten Island; and Brentwood, Long Island, MRNY gives voice to thousands of immigrants and working-class New Yorkers through community organizing, educates tomorrow's leaders and provides services to support families.
New York Communities for Change (NYCC) is a coalition of working families in low-and moderate-income communities fighting for social and economic justice throughout New York State. By using direct action, legislative advocacy, and community organizing, NYCC members work to impact the political and economic policies that directly affect us. Through neighborhood chapters and issue-based committees, NYCC works to ensure that every family throughout New York has access to quality schools, affordable housing, and good jobs.
Our Advisory Board
LICET's Advisory Board comprises incredible local organizations working to build power and develop new leaders in African-American and Latino communities across Long Island. To further our goal of building long-term infrastructure and powerful homegrown leadership, we meet quarterly with these core allies to (1) share resources and deepen our partnerships, (2) strategize and carry out campaigns of mutual interest, (3) and identify areas of shared need, to which LICET responds with training curricula, technical assistance, or long-term capacity support. The Advisory Board comprises Choice for All, SEPA Mujer, and STRONG Youth.