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Partner Update: Texas Organizing Project Appoints New Executive Director

In late May, the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), a Center for Popular Democracy partner organization, announced a major transition in leadership as they appointed a new executive director, Michelle Tremillo.

Tremillo, a fourth generation Mexican-American from San Antonio, began her career as a community organizer fourteen years ago registering people to vote at her local grocery store. In an introductory email to TOP members and allies, Tremillo relayed her experience being raised by a single mother who worked multiple low-wage jobs, struggling to make wages to support the family’s basic needs.

When Tremillo entered Stanford University in the 1990s, her formative experiences and their stark contrast with the majority of her classmates’ prompted a political awakening. When California passed anti-immigrant legislation (Prop 187 and Prop 209), it hit home: Tremillo knew that she would commit her life to leveling the playing field for families like hers and fight for the rights of the working poor.

This is a critical moment in our state and our country,” Tremillo said. “The political environment we live in is increasingly hostile toward the poor and people of color. Just like I was politicized in the mid-'90s in California, millions of people are angry and looking for a way to channel their energy. As the next leader of the Texas Organizing Project, I’m going to make sure we capture that energy and convert it into power in our neighborhoods, cities and the voting booth.”  

With Tremillo at the helm, and outgoing ED Ginny Goldman remaining on through 2016 to work on strategic initiatives, TOP is moving forward an ambitious agenda. In the fall, TOP will pilot the first community school in Dallas, putting the city on the path to have 20 community schools by 2020. Additionally, they are poised to win municipal ID ordinances in Dallas and Houston, providing immigrants a layer of protection in dealing with police and accessing essential services. 

Heading into the election season, TOP is leading an innovative approach to voter registration, having formed a new coalition in Harris County to address systemic ways to add hundreds of thousands to the voter rolls. Their voter turnout program will launch in September with TOP and core allies targeting more than 500,000 infrequent voters of color in key Texas counties.  

Michelle Tremillo is a leader with experience, talent, and verve and CPD welcomes her leadership within our expanding network of partners.