CIRC is grateful for an incredible team that enacts our mission to build a unified statewide voice to advance and defend justice for immigrants and refugees in Colorado. Staff members are listed below by alphabetical order of last name.
Erika Blum, Grassroots Fundraising Manger and North Region Support Person
Erika Blum grew up in Seattle, where she graduated from a unique high school founded on the principles of social justice with an emphasis on the Central American sanctuary movement, where the students also made the lunches, cleaned the bathrooms and vacuumed the hallways. At Vassar, she majored in Sociology and Africana Studies, and was active in the anti-apartheid movement on campus. She studied abroad in Zimbabwe, and wrote an undergraduate thesis on post-revolutionary Zimbabwe.
In 1991 Erika earned a master’s in African Studies from UCLA, and then worked as the managing editor of the Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers Project, a book series chronicling the history of the 1920s era black nationalist leader. In 1998 she became the Assistant Director of Indiana University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, then stopped working outside the home after the birth of her daughter in 2000, becoming involved in the local homebirth movement in Bloomington, IN. In 2001 she moved with her family to Leon, Nicaragua for one year, and then moved to Boulder in 2006.
Through friendships formed in her children’s school community, Erika got involved in the struggle for tuition equity for undocumented students in Colorado, and as an ally organizer with Boulder VOICE: Voices of Immigrant Children for Education and Equality. She became a CIRC board member in 2010, as well as a field organizer for HEAA: Higher Education Access Alliance. In August of 2012 she resigned from the board and became staff. As Grassroots Fundraising Manager, Erika oversees CIRC’s efforts to build successful individual donor cultivation and grassroots fundraising strategies. As North Region Support Person, Erika supports North Region members to engage in strategic campaigns.
303-922-3344, erika (at) coloradoimmigrant (dot) org
Sophia Clark, Campaign Manager and Rocky Mountain Region Point Person
Sophia grew up in western Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley. She started learning Spanish at age 5 in a bilingual elementary school program. At Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, Sophia’s studies focused on migration, the US-Mexico border, race in the US and global capitalism. It was in college that Sophia began cultivating an understanding of privilege, oppression, and the ways history shapes current struggles. Reflecting on her home community, where immigration is one of the primary sites of intersecting inequalities, helped Sophia identify how her own privilege contributes to systems of inequality. Sophia is now dedicating herself to a lifelong path of critical awareness and action to dismantle the systems that gave rise to extreme global inequality and environmental devastation.
In 2011 she went to Chiapas, Mexico, with the Mexico Solidarity Network, learning about Mexican social movements and living in autonomous communities in rebellion. This experience shaped her understanding of how globalization connects immigrants’ struggles in her hometown to struggles in other countries. She spent her senior year of college interning at Don Bosco Workers, a day labor center in Portchester, NY, fighting wage theft. She also volunteered on the US-Mexico border with No Más Muertes, an invaluable experience that brought the violence of US nationalism, xenophobia, classism and racism manifested in immigration policy to a visceral level. After graduating college, Sophia moved back to Colorado to be involved in immigrant rights in her home community. She got involved with AJUA (Asociación de jóvenes unidos en acción), a group of amazing young people that have become some of her most important teachers and also her family. Sophia started working for CIRC in summer 2013 and enjoys organizing in the mountains. During her free time she plays music with her friends and reads. As Campaign Manager, Sophia is responsible for overseeing the Campaign to Unite Colorado which includes IMPACT legislation and Documenting Abuses. As Rocky Mountain Point, Sophia supports and mobilizes Mountain members in strategic issue campaigns. 303-922-3344, sophia (at) coloradoimmigrant (dot) org
Juan Gallegos, Director of Civic Engagement & Legal Services
Juan Gallegos immigrated to the United States on the fourth of July 2001, when he was 12 years old. He Attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney, pursuing a Bachelors of Art-Multimedia, a minor in Visual Communications and Design, and a minor in Spanish. In 2009, Juan started volunteering with immigrant rights organizations and more specifically in support of the DREAM Act. In 2010, Juan came out publicly as undocumented in an interview with local television.
Juan has helped to organize students in the state of Nebraska and on a national level with the United We Dream network. As founding member of the Nebraska DREAM Alliance, an immigrant youth organization, Juan was able to help win state legislative battles in Nebraska, including the right for DACA youth to obtain a driver license. After college, he started working on creating a local organization that would address the needs of a diverse community in his hometown of Hastings, Nebraska. Juan has always felt the need to help others in whatever capacity he can specifically in the immigrant rights field. From 2012 to 2015, Juan worked as the Communications Coordinator for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition where his work was published regularly in different outlets throughout the state including the Denver Post, and at the federal level on Congressional Record.
More recently Juan moved to Nebraska to fight his dad’s deportation and to engage Latinos in the political process. He worked as a Paralegal at a private law firm and continued to publish his voice and opinion in state and local news outlets. In 2016, Juan returned to Colorado and to CIRC as the Civic Engagement Coordinator. Juan helps oversee the non-partisan campaign on citizenship and naturalization, voter registration, and voter mobilization. 303-922-3344, juan (at) coloradoimmigrant (dot) org
Victor Galvan, Director of Membership and Engagement
Victor is a Rocky Mountain native, born in Chihuahua, Mexico and a graduate of North High School in Denver. He began organizing in the immigrant community in 2008 at age 16 through Padres Y Jóvenes Unidos. In 2012, Victor joined the CIRC team to help mobilize Latino and immigrant voters in the general election and was instrumental in the campaign to win ASSET in-state tuition equity in 2013. Victor’s voice helped to ensure that ASSET included state-funded scholarships for undocumented students. Victor is a directly impacted member of the CIRC staff and proudly calls himself a DREAMer. Victor dreams of one day finishing his college education, as he qualifies for ASSET. 303-922-3344 / Victor (at) coloradoimmigrant (dot) org
Brendan Greene, Campaigns Director
Brendan Greene graduated from Denver East High School before going on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Latino American and Latino Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Following college, he worked for three and a half years directing a national boycott against PictSweet Mushroom Farms in Oxnard, CA for the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO. After the signing of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with PictSweet, Brendan moved to North Carolina and began organizing with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO with H-2A “guest worker” tobacco pickers.
In 2004, he was a part of a historical organizing drive that succeeded in pressuring the North Carolina Growers Association (NCGA), the nations largest H-2A recruiter, into signing a CBA representing 7,000 H-2A tobacco pickers. This represented the first time in the nations history that guest workers had successfully organized to win a CBA. As a part of this victory, Brendan was sent to open an office in Monterrey, Mexico to oversee the extremely complex recruitment system of the H-2A program and ensure worker protections were enforced on both sides of the border. Brendan’s experience as a “transnational” organizer has given him a unique insight into some of the intricacies and problems facing the guest worker program and comprehensive immigration reform. Brendan is responsible for strengthening CIRC’s base by developing and mobilizing members in strategic issue campaigns. 303-922-3344 / brendan (at) coloradoimmigrant (dot) org
Kyle Huelsman, Policy and Advocacy Manager
Kyle Huelsman was born and raised in Jefferson County Colorado, and moved to Boulder to attend the University of Colorado. Raised by two Kansas farmers, Kyle was a first generation college student where he pursued degrees in Economics and Ethnic Studies. In 2010, Kyle organized with local immigrant rights activists to fight for Colorado ASSET, mobilizing a diverse university student coalition to garner CU Regent support for the legislation.
Prior to joining CIRC, Kyle co-founded the statewide nonprofit Food Rescue Alliance. He consulted food security organizations in Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs, and also worked with national food retailers to develop tax credit legislation for fresh food donations. During the 2015 legislative session, Kyle worked as the legislative aide for a Democratic state representative, supporting policy issues around equal pay and economic justice. Most recently, he held a position with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, developing health equity policy for Colorado Medicaid.
As the Policy and Advocacy Manager with CIRC, Kyle manages the legislative and advocacy components of the strategic campaigns, including coordination with our contract lobbyists and elected officials, developing policy related materials, and overseeing the annual advocacy day at the state capitol and national delegations to Washington D.C. 303-328-5638 / kyle (at) coloradoimmigrant (Dot) org
Sonia Marquez, North Region Organizer
Born and raised in Longmont, CO, Sonia comes from a strong supportive family. Her father is a hard working noble man from Babicora, Chihuahua Mexico. Her mother is a strong, loving, opinionated Chicana from Longmont, CO. Sonia became involved in her community at a young age, working with youth groups, community projects and learning about her culture and the importance of having a sense of belonging. Sonia is currently enrolled at Metro State College of Denver where she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Human Services with an emphasis in High Risk Youth.
Sonia has worked with youth ages 11-21 in various capacities including teaching, literacy, mentor, intervention, group facilitating, program leader and leadership groups, and focuses on culture through dance, art, music, elements of Hip-Hop, theatre, and poetry. She began as a volunteer with CIRC and the Reform Immigration FOR America campaign in September 2009 and joined the staff team in December 2009. Sonia made the decision to take a semester away from school to focus on the urgency of Immigration Reform. She is delighted to be a part of the CIRC team and to be working on a movement that is so important to her and her family, friends, students and community. As North Region Organizer, Sonia is responsible for supporting and mobilizing North members in strategic issue campaigns. 303-922-3344 / sonia (at) coloradoimmigrant (dot) org
Nicole Melaku, Executive Director
Nicole Melaku is the Executive Director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. Nicole was introduced to organizing and fundraising as a volunteer in Aurora public schools and was inspired to bring her skill set to the immigrant rights movement in 2010 when she served as the Fundraising and Communications Coordinator for CIRC member Rights for All People (now Colorado People’s Alliance). In 2012, she joined CIRC as the Director of Programs and Administration from until 2016 where she worked on CIRC’s naturalization and immigrant integration programs and to build the capacity of CIRC’s governance, financial systems and membership structures. Prior to taking this position, Nicole was on the staff of the Latino Community Foundation of Colorado, where she oversaw grant-making and special initiatives including the Colorado Immigrant Funders Collaborative. Nicole is excited to bring her passion, commitment, and family back to immigrant rights work as a first generation Coloradan, and proud granddaughter of immigrants from Chihuahua Mexico.
Nicole is an alumna of the University of Colorado, Boulder where she studied Latin American Studies and Spanish. She was part of the 2015 Colorado Cohort of the New American Leaders Project (NALP) and serves on the Executive Committee of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM). Nicole is also the Executive Director of CIRC Action Fund, CIRC’s sister C4 organization. 303-922-3344 / nicole (at) coloradoimmigrant (dot) org
Ariadma Segura, Citizenship Coordinator
Ariadma Segura is originally from Durango, México and immigrated to Denver at the age of seven. Immigrating to the United States and adapting to a new culture and language impacted her interest in cultures, languages and global studies. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Individual Studies: International Culture and Politics with a minor in French from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2016.
Throughout college, Ariadma worked as an Individualized studies peer mentor with the Center for Individualized Studies at MSU Denver. She assisted and oriented students in the process of creating their own Individualized degrees. As part of the Center for Urban Education, she was a high school tutor and college readiness camp mentor. Working with Denver Public school students and encouraging them to attend college encouraged her to become more aware of community engagement and education equity. Ariadma has taken part in many volunteer opportunities like participating in the Alternative Spring Break program, assisting the African Community Center by interacting with the program’s youth. In September of 2016 she joined CIRC as a family defender, engaging voters and informing community members about CIRC’S IDrive Colorado and Immigration Reform campaigns. Engaging the community and representing these campaigns motivated her to pursue the Citizenship Coordinator position with CIRC in order to advance the social and political representation of immigrant communities in Colorado. As a Citizenship Coordinator, Ariadma is responsible for supporting and coordinating CIRC’s Citizenship workshops.
Tel: 720-507-8293 / ariadma (at) coloradoimmigrant (dot) org
Karen Sherman Pérez, Development Director
A Western Colorado native, Karen has been devoted to working with the immigrant and migrant farmworker communities since returning to Montrose in 2003, after spending five years working as a Peace Corps Volunteer and ESL instructor in El Salvador. During the last three and a half years Karen has coordinated the collaborative efforts of Project Common Ground, a Mesa County community and immigrant integration project, as part of the statewide Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families Initiative. Since 2006, she has been actively involved with the Western Colorado Justice for Immigrants Committees working to achieve just and humane immigration reform as well as to promote immigrant participation and leadership in the process.
Karen has served on a number of CIRC committees and has been active in regional and statewide activities and campaigns including planning for Welcoming Colorado, and has created a strong network among community organizations as well as the U.S. born and immigrant communities. Before assuming the role of Development Director, Karen served as CIRC’s Western Colorado Coordinator for 2 years where she was responsible for overseeing regional campaign and coalition efforts of CIRC member organizations in the Western Slope. Karen now oversees CIRC’s development efforts to build successful structures for grant writing, individual donor cultivation and grassroots fundraising strategies. 970-249-4115, karen (at) coloradoimmigrant (dot) org