Our Staff

Francisco Segovia

Executive Director

Francisco E. Segovia, for over two decades, has been building networks and coalitions with and across diverse communities in order to collectively change the conditions that limit people’s choices. After fourteen years of acting as the director of Waite House Center- in South Minneapolis where he used his passion, vision, and experience to facilitate grassroots leadership development, deliver asset-based services, foster self-sufficiency and advocate for system change at both the city and state level, Francisco left to build COPAL, a grassroots statewide organization whose mission is to unite Latinxs in Minnesota in active grassroots communal democracy that builds racial, gender, social and economic justice across community lines. Francisco currently serves on the board of Take Action Minnesota, participates in The Minnesota Civic Studies Initiative; a project of the College of Education & Human Development of the University of Minnesota seeking to encourage conversation among leaders representing various political viewpoints. Francisco has continued his work to create a more just society with a local vision and global perspective and has a solid track record of implementation.

Contact: franciscos@copalmn.org

Rico Durán

Senior Lead Organizer

Rico Durán practices in the areas of Community Organizing and Youth Leadership development. With COPAL, Rico is developing a program with the Latino community to promote family and youth participation in Civic Programs, Popular Education and Arts. Rico brings a diverse and creative background to his work. He studied with “Fe y Vida Institute” and Saint John’s University where he started a Master in Pastoral Ministry. Rico has been a Resource and Consultant for those schools with Youth summer programs. Rico’s experience working with nonprofit organizations includes “Habitat for Humanity” in Haiti in 2011 and 2013, Guatemala in 2014. “Mano a Mano”, in Bolivia 2016. His work and collaboration with local media in Radio, TV and printed news, allows him to collect and bring stories.

Contact: ricod@copalmn.org

Carolina Ortiz

Communications Director

Carolina was born in Zacatecas, Mexico and brought into the United States by her mother in 1994. She is a 2011 graduate of Richfield High School. Carolina is a DACA recipient who is currently studying business part-time at Normandale Community College while working full-time as a GED Advisor at Pearson VUE and the Communications Director for COPAL. In addition to her recent founding of the Mírame | LOOK.AT.ME project, Carolina is a community activist who has contributed her time and talents to organizations such as Youth Frontiers, Youth Link, Sharing and Caring Hands, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and Saint Johns University since she was a teenager. Carolina is very passionate about her family and friends and engaged in her jobs, her education, and Mírame. But she is also interested in connecting with others who share her interest in social justice.

Contact: carolinao@copalmn.org

Elba Castillo

MPS Parent Organizer Manager

Originally from Guadalajara Jalisco Mexico, is actively involved with the Mexica Yolotl group as the Lead Cultural and Dace Instructor.  Elba has extensive experience in the area of human and workforce development. Currently works for Community Action as a lead Financial Specialist Coordinator and manage at COPAL the Latinx parent organizing project. 

Contact: elbac@copalmn.org

Marco Hernández 

Environmental Justice Organizer

Marco Hernández is originally from San Pablo, CA. His father is an immigrant from Puebla, Mexico and his mother is an immigrant from San Salvador, El Salvador. He moved to the Twin Cities in order to attend Macalester College. Marco recently graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Latin American Studies. With the knowledge he gathered, he will use it to recycle his success in the communities that need it most. Currently, Marco is the Environmental Justice Organizer at COPAL and will work to fight for environmental issues with racial and economic disparities in mind. Will urge environmentalists and elected officials in the Twin Cities to think globally and act locally.

Contact: marcoh@copalmn.org

Ryan Perez 

NationBuilder Consultant

Ryan Perez was born in Chicago, IL, and moved to the Twin Cities to attend Macalester College in St. Paul. Since moving to Minnesota, he has been deeply involved in campus organizing, winning the Newman Civic Fellowship for his voter engagement work and his leadership in Students Demand Action. He now serves as a Student Advisory Board member for the Campus Vote Project. Ryan also brings staff experience from a congressional campaign and volunteer experience from Chicago-based campaigns and organizations. The son of a Puerto Rican immigrant, Ryan emphasizes racial and economic justice in all of his work. He believes vision must be met with movement, and he is working to elevate COPAL’s movement capacity with tools and technology.

Contact: ryanp@copalmn.org

Gaby Cuate

Citizenship Class Instructor

Gaby Cuate was born in Puebla, Mexico. She works at Pearson as a GED Advisor. She began volunteering for COPAL and has recently become the coordinator of the Citizenship program. Her passion is to promote education and motivate her community. She strives to help permanent residents in the country move forward to achieve their citizenship and personal goals in hopes of increasing civic participation. When she is not working or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Gaby States, "Our goal is to have our voices heard and keep building stronger communities. La union hace la fuerza!"

Contact: gabyc@copalmn.org

Our Board of Directors

Mónica Maria Hurtado

Mónica is originally from Colombia, and has been living in US/Minnesota since 2001. She is a health and racial justice community organizer doing work on policy, advocacy and community based research. She is part of efforts to create a multiracial, multiethnic coalition to address issues around immigration.

Henry Jiménez

Henry is the proud son of parents who were undocumented. His father from Tepic Nayarit, Mexico is a truck driver and his mother from El Departamento de La Libertad, El Salvador is a housekeeper at a hotel. His parents were finally able to purchase their first home when Henry was in high school in Las Vegas, NV. Where he soon after earned a scholarship to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and earned a dual degree in Women Studies and Political Science. Henry has called Minnesota home for 8 years. During this time he has earned a Masters in Advocacy and Political Leadership from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. He came to Minnesota with no family but now has a family of his own. He is married to Jennie Jimenez and has a beautiful 8 month old, Lucía Jimenez. Henry was appointed by the Legislative Coordinated Commission to his current position as Executive Director at the Minnesota Council of Latino Affairs on December, 2015.

 Erika Hernandez

Preferred Pronouns: She/Her/Hers 

As a first-generation Xicana college student pursuing Chicane and Latine Studies at the University of Minnesota, Erika Hernandez is determined to create safe and brave spaces of solidarity and self-empowerment for and by brown Latine youth. From a stranger in her own land to the student president of the Latine student organization at Minneapolis College, Hernandez’s most recent work is centered on the Raíces Youth Development Program at Centro Tyrone Guzman. Through her community-driven advocacy and leadership, her desire is for her youth to see their potential to unapologetically reclaim their space and stories. As the most recent board member of COPAL MN, Hernandez has been accepted to represent the organization at the 2019 cohort of the Movement Politics Leadership Program by Take Action MN. Hernandez is excited and humbled by this opportunity and is looking forward to learning and collectively work towards building and achieving a sustainable and equitable Minnesota for all. 

Felipe Illescas

Felipe is the Legislative Director for MCLA (Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs). He has worked on state and federal policy for the past 12 years in the subjects of immigration, education, revenue, and others. Felipe has held leadership roles in federal, state, and local electoral campaigns in Minnesota; and has led numerous voter engagement efforts He has a Bachelor's in Business Administration and a Master's in Business Management.

Peggy A. Ponce

Peggy is actively involved in social and cultural activities with the Ecuadorian and Latin-American communities in Minnesota, developing strategies to empower them. Prior to moving to Minnesota, Peggy played an active leadership role in youth movements advocating for social, economic, political and cultural development of underserved communities in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Peggy earned an Associate Degree in Social and Political Economy from the University Madres de Plaza Mayo, and she holds a Master’s in Food Engineering and a Doctorate degree in Food Chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Peggy currently works as a Senior Scientist in the Dairy Industry, where she leads strategic technical activities.

Ruth Meza 

Proud daughter of two immigrant parents, her father is from Mexico and her mother from El Salvador who meet and wed in California, then migrated further north to the beautiful state of Minnesota. Born and raised in the diversity that is the Twin Cities, she was the first in her family to graduate from High School, obtained an Associates Degree from Century College and a Bachelors Degree from the University of Minnesota. She is a youth worker for a dual immersion charter school in Saint Paul, a Lead Facilitator in workshops with a non profit Irreducible Grace Foundation and partner with COPAL.

Miguel Mejias

I have been living in the United States since 2002. My parents are originally from Veracruz, Mexico, same place I was born. I have lived in Minnesota for almost 14 years, and I have a 9 year old son named Christopher. I have worked in different food processing factories like Tyson, Golden Plump, Schwan's, Turkey Valleys Farms and Cargill - and I have held various positions, from worker to site manager. I have been taking classes for the past 6 years in order to support and improve my English writing and speaking skills. I like volunteering with organizations that offer information that benefit our community - at the moment I support COPAL from Albert Lea in Southern Minnesota.

Our Volunteers

Misael Hernandez

Misael is originally from Mexico City. He began volunteering at COPAL as a citizenship facilitator right after the 2016 elections. When he is not volunteering, he enjoys watching movies and spending time with his yellow labrador named Boss.