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Diverse Community Leader Award Honoree

Minerva Gomez (La Habra)

Minerva is a prime example of what positive change looks like in Orange County. When Minerva was 17, her home-life was devastated when her parents were deported.  However, even at this young age, Minerva still found the strength to go to college and start advocating for the rights of undocumented youth. Minerva, an undocumented minor herself, fought for a dream and did not miss a beat. She started a group called Student Movement Organization (SMO) at Santa Ana College, which eventually became the Orange County DREAM Team (OCDT). Since 2001, Minerva has worked tirelessly to support, engage, unite and transform the immigrant rights movement.

In 2004, thanks to Minerva’s leadership, the Dream Team launched various fundraisers to support undocumented youth with academic expenses, and each year provides scholarships to low-income undocumented students.

Today she works as the Lead and Immigrant Right Organizer at the Orange County Congregation Community Organization (OCCCO) Minerva leads some of the most powerful work for immigrant rights that the interfaith community has seen. She has created, established, and cultivate interfaith, labor and community partnerships that will have a long-lasting, positive impact on low-income immigrants in Orange County.

With OCCCO, Minerva has led campaigns to hold local elected officials accountable to the people and has been instrumental in organizing local teams in OC to help win statewide initiatives such as, PROP 47, PROP 57 and SB10.

Although her family still lives in limbo due to a mix of immigration status; Minerva herself is now eligible to become US Citizen and continues to search for new ways to created positive social change in OC and now is pursuing a law degree.

About the Award

Our annual Diverse Community Leaders Award honors individuals and groups who have made extraordinary contributions to Orange County in human or civil rights.

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