Board of Directors
DEBORAH AXT, Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York
Deborah Axt is Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York, the largest immigrant base-building organization in New York State. Deborah leads Make the Road’s new worker organizing and low-wage worker policy work, as well as the organization’s legal, services, finance and development operations. She is one of the architects of the WASH NY campaign to organize car wash workers in NYC, and she led the successful campaign to pass the Wage Theft Prevention Act in 2010. Deborah first came to Make the Road as a summer intern in 2000, then graduated magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center and joined the staff full-time in 2002. She built the organization’s legal department, serving as Legal Director and then Deputy Director before becoming Co-Executive Director in April, 2012. Before law school, Deb worked for four years as a union and community organizer, serving on the leadership teams of industry-wide initiatives in West Palm Beach, Florida; Los Angeles, California; and New Orleans, Louisiana. She also teaches Civil Litigation and co-leads the Law, Organizing, and Social Change Clinic at the New York University law school. She is the mom of Elijah and Zoe.
ANA MARIA ARCHILA, Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy
Ana María joins CPD from our sister organization Make the Road New York (MRNY) where she served as Co-Executive Director since its formation in 2007. Before that, Ana María was the Executive Director of the Latin American Integration Center (LAIC), which merged with Make the Road by Walking to create Make the Road New York. During Ana María's 13 years at MRNY, she focused on shaping MRNY’s electoral vision, organizing model, expansion into Long Island, and LGBTQ organizing work. Ana María also co-directed the Make the Road Action Fund.
Ana María emigrated to the U.S. from Colombia at the age of 17 and has become a leading advocate for civil rights, health care access, education equity, and immigrant rights in New York State, and nationally. She was awarded a Coro fellowship in 2004, the year after she became Executive Director of LAIC. Under her leadership, LAIC tripled in size and strengthened adult literacy, youth development and health access services to immigrants in Queens and Staten Island. Ana María helped LAIC to successfully increase immigrant political participation and power-building through voter mobilization, popular education and community organizing.
AARON DORFMAN, Board Vice Chair, Executive Director, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
Aaron is executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), a research and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. NCRP works to ensure America's grantmakers are responsive to the needs of those with the least wealth, opportunity and power. Before joining NCRP in 2007, Dorfman served for 15 years as a community organizer with two national organizing networks, spearheading grassroots campaigns to improve public education, expand public transportation for low-income residents and improve access to affordable housing. He holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Carleton College (where he studied under the late Senator Paul Wellstone) and a master's degree in philanthropic studies from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Dorfman frequently speaks and writes about the importance of diversity in philanthropy, the benefits of foundation funding for advocacy and community organizing, and the need for greater accountability and transparency in the philanthropic sector.
ANDREW FRIEDMAN, Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy
Andrew comes to CPD after 15 years spent building Make the Road New York into the leading democratically-run, immigrant-led community organization in New York State. Since co-founding Make the Road in 1997, Andrew helped grow the organization from a small, volunteer-run effort to an $8 million organization with over 11,000 members, 100 staff, and four community-based centers in New York City and Long Island. Andrew helped oversee all aspects of Make the Road’s work, including organizing, legal services, adult literacy, workforce development, operations and finance departments of MRNY.
Andrew has worked with the Latino Workers’ Center, the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, the Center for Urban Community Services, the Government Benefits Unit at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, and MFY Legal Services Mental Health Law Project. Andrew has been awarded the Union Square Award of the Fund for the City of New York, the Cornerstone Award of the Jewish Funds for Justice, and the Community Health Leaders Award of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for his work at MRNY. Andrew was a Skadden Public Interest Fellow, a Senior Fellow at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and a Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School. He has worked as an adjunct professor in New York University School of Law’s Clinical Program, NYU’s Wagner School for Public Service and the New School for Social Research, and serves on the Board of Directors of Make the Road New York, and the Make the Road Action Fund. Andrew is a magna cum laude graduate of Columbia College and a cum laude graduate of the New York University School of Law.
BRIAN KETTENRING, Co-Executive Director, Center for Popular Democracy
Brian served as Executive Director of Leadership Center for the Common Good Prior to its merger with CPD in 2013. As the Director of Common Good, Brian and his team built from scratch an organization that works with partner organizations in 18 states and 45 cities nationally. Common Good and its partners played essential roles in campaigns for economic justice, Wall Street accountability, education reform, environmental justice, and much more. During his 18-year organizing career, Brian helped run four living wage campaigns, three campaigns against predatory lending, and a range of other campaigns, including: urban school reform, campaign finance reform, tenant legislative protections, adoption of a progressive federal budget, passage of a federal economic recovery package, and smart growth/environmental justice. Brian’s first work in organizing came through the Midwest Academy training program in Chicago, IL. Later, Brian worked for the Rogers Park Community Action Network and the REACH project, an effort to leverage tenant deposit holdings for affordable housing. From 1995-2009, Brian worked for ACORN, initially in Chicago (1995-97), and later in Oakland (1997-99), Sacramento (1999-2002), Florida (2003-2008), the southern US (2005-7), and in Washington, DC (2009-10). Brian received a BA in African and European Intellectual History from Carleton College.
CHRISTINA LIVINGSTON, Executive Director, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
Christina has been organizing throughout California since 2004. She first became interested in organizing while studying for her B.A. in Sociology at UC Berkeley. (Later she earned an MA in Sociology from Cal State Los Angeles). Her first organizing work was through Union Summer where she worked with the AFL-CIO’s community arm, Working America. Soon thereafter she began organizing with Los Angeles ACORN where she worked across South Los Angeles recruiting members, developing leaders, and running local campaigns for community improvements. Along with other dedicated staff and members she helped open the statewide California community organization ACCE (Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment) where she served as both Field Director and Deputy Director. She was recently appointed to the position of Executive Director by the ACCE board of directors. Her current work focuses on coordinating ACCE’s statewide campaign calling on big corporations and the wealthy to do their part to end the foreclosure crisis, restore communities, and refund California.
PETER MARKOWITZ, Professor of Law, Benjamin Cardozo School of Law Immigration Justice Clinic
Peter is the founder and director of the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic and Clinical Associate Professor of Law and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. His clinic represents individuals facing deportation and community based organizations seeking systemic reform related to immigration enforcement issues. He joined the faculty at Cardozo in 2008. After graduating from the New York University School of Law, magna cum laude, with the University Graduation Prize and the Sommer Memorial Award, Professor Markowitz clerked for US District Judge Frederic Block of the Eastern District of New York. From 2002 to 2005, he was a Soros Justice Fellow and staff attorney at the Bronx Defenders, where he developed the nation’s first in-house full-service immigration project housed in a public defender office and served as a part-time staff attorney at the Immigrant Defense Project. From 2005 to 2007, he was Acting Assistant Professor at the New York University School of Law, where he also served as supervising attorney for the Immigrant Rights Clinic. After his time at NYU he founded and directed the Immigrant Defense Clinic at the Hofstra School of Law. Professor Markowitz has published widely on immigration enforcement issues and on the intersection of criminal and immigration law.
SAMIRA RAJAN, Treasurer, Brooklyn Cooperative Credit Union
Samira Rajan is CEO of Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union, a certified CDFI that offers affordable and transparent financial products to thousands of low to moderate-income people. She is also the Director of the credit union's 501c3 affiliate, Grow Brooklyn. Samira has been with the credit union from its first year when she served as an Americorp*VISTA volunteer. After the year of service was complete, she joined as full-time staff in 2002 as Loan Officer and has taken on increasing levels of responsibility ever since. In 2010, Samira was recognized by Crain’s New York magazine as one of New York City’s top 40 business ‘rising stars’ under the age of 40, a testament to her leadership of the credit union during an extraordinarily difficult time for any financial institution. Her educational background includes a BA from Bryn Mawr College and an MPP from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. She was raised in Queens, New York, and currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.
RAMON RAMIREZ, President, PCUN
Ramon co-founded PCUN in 1985 and has been PCUN President since 1995. He has received numerous recognitions, including the Jeanette Rankin Award for lifetime activism from the Social Justice Fund Northwest in 2008, a Leadership for a Change World award from the Ford Foundation in 2003, and a Charles F. Bannerman Fellowship in 2000. Ramon co-founded CAUSA, Oregon’s immigrants rights coalition, in 1996 and has served as one of it principal leaders. Ramón has served as board president of Farmworker Housing Development Corporation since 1995 and he is a former Board President of the Western States Center. He is board chair of Farmworker Justice, and he serves on the boards of the Center for Social Inclusion, the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations, and the UFW Foundation. Ramón was founding board president of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, at the center of the immigration reform debate. A native of East Los Angeles and became politically active as a teenager following the anti-Vietnam War march there on August 29, 1970. Ramón has lived in the northwest for thirty-five year and he attended St. Martins College, University of Washington, and Colegio Cesar Chavez.
ALICIA RUSSELL, Board member, Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA)
One of 11 children born and raised in Arizona to Migrant Farm workers. In 2006, I served as the Treasurer and Spokesperson for the Arizona Minimum Wage Coalition, which successfully established a minimum wage, with automatic annual indexing to the cost of living through ballot initiative. I have led the community in a campaign for participation and civic engagement to increase latino voter registration and I assisted in reforming the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and I have also assisted thousands of legal permanent residents apply for citizenship at citizenship fairs.
JAVIER H. VALDÉS, Board Chair, Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York
Javier oversees the organizing and policy work at Make the Road New York in the areas of civic participation, civil rights, education, housing, environmental justice, and immigration. He also supervises MRNY’s administrative and operations functions. Previously, Javier served as the Director of Advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), where he oversaw the policy and budget agenda, as well as work in the areas of housing, immigration and parks. While at the NYIC, Javier’s work was instrumental in the passage of the Safe Housing Act and Executive Order 120. Javier also led the Immigrant Advocacy Fellowship, a leadership program for emerging immigrant leaders in the city and state. Until August 2005, Javier was the Program Officer for Latin America at the Synergos Institute where he worked extensively in the US-Mexico border region, Dominican Republic and Ecuador. Prior to joining Synergos, Javier served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala, and worked with Banco Nacional de la Vivienda in the Dominican Republic in the design, presentation, and administration of urbanization projects. He holds a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from New York University and has two sons.