Jorge Barón has served as the Executive Director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) since April of 2008, having previously worked as a staff attorney with the organization for two years. NWIRP is a legal services organization dedicated to advancing and defending the rights of low-income immigrants and refugees. NWIRP has been in the national spotlight recently for their fierce opposition to unjust executive orders like the travel ban. Jorge helped NWIRP spring into action to secure the release of travelers at SeaTac airport who were facing deportation, challenge the legality of President Trump’s orders in court, lead community education efforts across the state, and more. Jorge’s passion for advocating for immigrants and refugees comes from his own experience of immigrating from Bogotá, Colombia to the United States at age 13. Jorge is a graduate of Yale Law School and Duke University and lives in Seattle with his wife Tyler and their three children Isabella, Luna, and Luca. We are proud to be able to present Jorge with the Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award. He has exemplified working for multi-racial unity through his dedication to our immigrant and refugee community.
Erin Okuno is the Executive Director of the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition (SESEC), a coalition of organizations, schools, educators, leaders, parents, caregivers, and SE Seattle residents. SESEC works to eliminate opportunity and achievement gaps through racial equity, community building values, and by engaging communities of color. Their mission is to improve education for all children, especially SE Seattle and those farthest away from opportunities. SESEC organizes cohorts to use data in advocacy and policy work and present their findings to boards, committees, and commissions. Recently, SESEC advocated against an amendment that would divest funds meant to support students of color: they called for racial equity, rather than a race-neutral strategy that would perpetuate institutional racism. Prior to joining SESEC, Erin worked on developing K-12 and early learning education policy, supporting public libraries and developing education coalitions. Through these experiences, she developed a deep interest in racial equity, which prepared her to lead SESEC and the coalition in its efforts to address poor educational achievements and unequal investments in SE Seattle schools. Erin is also a Seattle Public School parent, residing with her family in South Seattle. She is part of the team that blogs about fakequity (fake-equity) at fakequity.com. With her focus on social justice, racial equity, and inclusion in education, Erin is an inspiration to all of us at El Centro de la Raza as a Roberto Felipe Maestas Legacy Award Recipient.