Dolores Huerta Foundation Staff
Ms. Chávez is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF). From the DHF headquarters in Bakersfield, Ms. Chávez oversees training for low-income community members in the areas of leadership and organizing skills specific to civic and electoral participation so that they can become catalysts for change in their own communities.
The ideals of non-violence, selfless motivation and personal responsibility were instilled in Camila by her parents Richard Chávez and Dolores Huerta. Camila grew up at the UFW Headquarters of La Paz where those same ideals were reinforced through the actions of people like her Uncle Cesar E. Chavez.
After graduating early from High School in spring of 1994, Camila participated in the UFW’s historic 343 mile Pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento. The goal of the Pilgrimage was to show the world that in spite of the passing of Cesar E. Chávez, the union was alive and well. During the twenty-five day pilgrimage, Camila performed nightly as a member of Teatro Peregrino to convey to workers the benefits of creating a union in their own workplace.
Camila’s academic career led her next to Mills College in Oakland where she successfully balanced her undergraduate studies with her passion for working to achieve social justice. She served as a campaign coordinator for the Stop Prop. 209 Campaign, which fought to save Affirmative Action in California.
After graduating in 1998, Camila worked in the public health arena for five years promoting Medi-Cal, Healthy Families and other health coverage programs for low-income and undocumented families in San Francisco and Alameda Counties.
In 2003, Camila returned to the Central Valley to establish the Dolores Huerta Foundation with Dolores Huerta. Camila is convinced that it is our responsibility to take advantage of every opportunity to develop leadership, in ourselves and our communities, by building consensus around a common set of principles, values and priorities. It is the process of pursuing a life of principle we are able to ensure human rights.
Some of Camila’s accomplishments with the Foundation include:
- Establishment of over 40 DHF grassroots community organizations in six communities in Kern and Tulare Counties working on neighborhood improvements and community projects, including a youth leadership program.
- A successful campaign for just wages which resulted in a wage increase for farm workers in Southern Central Valley in 2005
- The Defeat of Propositions 73, 85 and 4 which would have amended the California Constitution to impede women’s reproductive rights.
- Defeat of an anti-immigrant resolution proposed in the Bakersfield City Council in September, 2007.
- Establishment of first micro-lending pilot project targeting farm workers in the Central Valley.
- Development and implementation of teen pregnancy prevention campaign.
Amaranta Campos grew up and attended elementary school in Lamont, California. She graduated from Arvin High School and is currently enrolled at Bakersfield College. At a young age she got involved with the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Noticing all the positive changes her parents were able to achieve in their community, inspired and encouraged her to begin volunteering in the communities of Arvin and Lamont. She participated in several projects with the Dolores Huerta Foundation Vecinos Unidos. She helped with the campaign to pass Measure C. This enabled the school district to build a gymnasium and add fencing around the schools in Weedpatch, California. She helped pass Measure L, in Arvin, which provided the city with funds for safety and recreation such as: paving of streets, street lights, and park improvements. In 2012, she begin working with the DHF as a canvasser on statewide campaigns. She worked to pass of Proposition 30 and informed community members about new healthcare coverage options under Obamacare. She is now on the staff of the Dolores Huerta Foundation and hopes to continue to improve the community for generations to come.
Timoteo “Timo” Prado is a native of Nayarit, Mexico and currently lives in Weedpatch, CA. A father of 6 children, he is an organizer for the City of Arvin, CA.
Timo was introduced to the Dolores Huerta Foundation during a Weedpatch house meeting. “When I met the Foundation” Timo comments, “I realized the needs of my community and began to organize.” Timo continues, “Especially after Camila (DHF Executive Director) entrusted responsibilities to me, I thought ‘oh wow! I cannot fail.’”
As a volunteer, Timo helped the community of Weedpatch attain the installation of public lights, drinking fountains filters in schools, fences around the schools, and a gym. Some of his other victories include the passing of measure “L” which provided the city with funds for safety and recreation, paving of streets, street lighting and park improvements. Furthermore, Timo has been able to improve relations between communities and public entities such as schools, city councils and the police.
Gerald Cantu was born in San Antonio, Texas. His parents left Texas when he was twelve to come to California in search of work. After a shaky late adolescence, in which he dropped out of high school, he attended the Bakersfield Adult School for a year-and-a-half and obtained his high school diploma in 1996. Thereafter he began his undergraduate studies at Bakersfield College in 1997 and went on to study philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. His education culminated in 2010 when he obtained a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine.
Having experienced what it takes to succeed at each of these college levels, Gerald became keenly aware of the importance of getting a head start in one’s education. Children and adolescents need an environment which values education, which exemplifies the appropriate role models, and which has schools with adequate resources. Equalizing education opportunities begins, therefore, by addressing the socio-economic inequities among those individuals on the lower rung of the economic ladder, because it is they who tend to lack the preconditions of a successful education.
He returned to Bakersfield after obtaining his Ph.D., and has committed himself to the pursuit of social justice. He interned for the Dolores Huerta Foundation in 2012 and came on board as staff in August 2015. He will be providing support to the Dolores Huerta Foundation and Kern Education Justice Collaborative’s pursuit of education justice in Kern County Schools.
Tulare Organizer Irlanda Ramirez is a seasoned organizer with the Dolores Huerta Foundation, she is bilingual in English/Spanish. She is from Venezuela, where she was trained as a teacher. Irlanda previously worked with the Education Department in Venezuela for fourteen years, and has worked in schools as an elementary teacher. In the United States, Irlanda served as an organizer for the Parents Institute for Quality Education, and was also a PIQE parent. She has organized community members in both Lindsay and Woodlake since 2010 and 2013 respectively. She has established education committees in Woodlake and Lindsay and has successfully coached them to achieve the Healthy Thursdays Program. She worked with Woodlake parents who successfully advocated for simultaneous translation at school board meetings as well translation of all written materials in Spanish. Irlanda is also received Train the Trainer training from Jane Alvarado-Banister on Sugary Sweetened Beverages and provided the training to 15 parents and youth. Irlanda also graduated from the Sierra Health Foundation’s leadership program in 2016.
Yesenia “Jess” Contreras is a long-time resident of Arvin, California. Active in sports, she benefited from Title IV programs. She was one of a few girls on the Arvin High School Freshman Football Team. She was a founding member of LINK Crew, which mentored incoming freshmen. After graduating high school, she coached Arvin Little League Baseball for two years.
She became active in Civic Engagement as a canvasser for The California Vote Project, which registered over 12,000 voters in the Kern County area. She went on to work on various election campaigns, including Leticia Perez, for Kern County Supervisor, Rudy Salas for State Assembly, and Willie Rivera for City Council.
She began working with the DHF as a canvasser for Yes on Proposition 30 in 2012. She continued on as a volunteer, and was soon hired as a Team Lead to run the Obamacare outreach campaign. Her team pre-enrolled over 200 people into Obamacare.
In May of 2014, she joined the DHF team as a full time Community Organizer. In October 2014, she ran the campaign for Yes on Prop 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. Her team contacted 9,433 voters and identified 5,844 in support of Prop 47. They recruited 107 volunteers to walk precincts in South Kern and Bakersfield on Election Day.
Juanita “Juana” Chávez
Juanita served as a board member of the DHF since its inception in 2003. Daughter of civil rights activist, Dolores Huerta, and niece of labor rights leader, Cesar Chavez, she was raised a “movement child.” Her first steps were on picket lines and marches in support of the United Farm Workers. She is an alumni of San Francisco State University. While there, she served as a mentor for “at-risk” youth as part of the Real Alternatives Program. She worked in collaboration with the Chicano Moratorium to provide guidance and secure support and resources for Bay Area youth who successfully organized to demand increased funding for education and ethnic studies. She took a year off to intern at the Feminist Majority. Upon graduation, she earned a teaching credential and taught at Mission High School in San Francisco where she co-founded and served as staff advisor for the first Gay Straight Alliance. She also taught in inner-city public schools in Los Angeles for a little over a decade where she served as UTLA chapter chair for several years.