We are thrilled to announce two very special guest speakers at our Anniversary Celebration: West Siders Javier Morillo-Alicea and María Isa Pérez-Vega.
Join us on Sunday, November 5th to hear from them as we celebrate 50 years of community power (RSVP here).
Javier Morillo is a 23-year resident of the West Side, where he lives across the street from Humboldt High School with his husband John Stiles and their everybody-loving pitbull, Chulo. He has served on the Board of Directors of WSCO and originated the “West Side 100” campaign to increase voter engagement in the neighborhood.
He served as president of SEIU Local 26 in Minnesota, a property services union that doubled its size to 8,000 members under his leadership, a role he stepped down from in 2019. He has been a central figure in forging innovative community-labor partnerships in Minnesota and has translated that experience to his consulting work with national and state-based organizations and campaigns. He is a well-known political commentator in local media, appearing as a regular panelist on “Almanac,” which airs on Twin Cities Pubic Television.
His work as a storyteller has been featured on National Public Radio's "The Moth Radio Hour," and his recent work on police unions, written in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, has been influential nationally and noted in The New Yorker and National Public Radio's Planet Money. He is the creator and co-host of the bipartisan podcast, Wrong About Everything, which covers Minnesota and national politics. Javier originally moved to Minnesota in 2000 for a predoctoral teaching fellowship at Carleton College. He is ABD in Anthropology and History from the University of Michigan, where he studied colonial cultures and wrote about colonial archives and the Late 19th Century Spanish Empire.
María Isa Pérez-Vega is a lifelong Minnesotan, raised on the West Side of Saint Paul. She is a cultural community organizer, international recording artist, and youth worker running as the DFL-endorsed candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives District 65B.
María Isa currently directs the mentorship program for the Twin Cities Mobile Jazz Project which empowers young people through music and a cultural curriculum. She also serves on the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board Public Engagement Advisory Task Force, working to ensure the Capitol is a welcoming space for community.
A Type 1 diabetic and insulin organizer, she has been a prominent leader in the fight for affordable health care in Minnesota. In April 2020, she played an integral role in advocating for the passage of the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act, and she continues her leadership within the Minnesota #Insulin4all Chapter.
She is an alumni of the prestigious Wilder Foundation Community Equity Program, which brings together Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to advance their knowledge and skills to build community power and solidarity at the Capitol.
For her outstanding work with Youthrive Live!, educating incarcerated youth throughout the state of Minnesota, she received the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s “Rising Latina Star" award.
María Isa lives with her daughter Loíza Rosa and her dog Esko on the West Side.