The Executive Team

Javier H. Valdés

Co-Executive Director

Javier H. Valdés is Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York (MRNY) and Make the Road Action. He leads MRNY’s organizing and supervises the youth program, including community schools and after-school youth programs, as well as the group’s administrative and operations functions. Javier has been critical in securing new policies that limit the local presence of federal immigration enforcement, improve the quality of affordable housing, expand translation and interpretation services at government offices, and reduce biased policing. He was also critical in securing the creation of the largest municipal identification card in the US and dramatically expanding guaranteed paid sick days for low-wage workers in New York City. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded Javier the White House Champions of Change Cesar Chavez Award. Before joining MRNY, Javier was the Director of Advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). He is Chair of the Board for the Center for Popular Democracy, Vice-Chair of the Movement of Immigrants of America (MIA), and Vice-Chair of the Flushing Meadow Corona Park Alliance; and sits on the boards of the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), El Museo del Barrio, and Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM). He is also the Secretary of the Working Families Party in New York State. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and his three sons.

Deborah L. Axt

Co-Executive Director

Deborah Axt is Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. Deborah leads Make the Road’s low-wage worker organizing and policy work, as well as the organization’s 50-person legal department, all other education and survival services, and finance and development operations. She is one of the architects of the car wash campaign to organize car wash workers in NYC and the Committee for Better Banks, a national bank worker organization that helped to win abolition of predatory sales goals at Wells Fargo. She led the successful campaign to pass the Wage Theft Prevention Act in New York State; has helped to craft and win passage of numerous other pieces of city and state legislation; and is considered to be one of the nation’s leading experts on community-based worker organizing, wage theft, and workers’ rights enforcement. Deborah first joined Make the Road as a summer legal intern in 2000, then graduated magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center and joined the staff full-time in 2002. She built the organization’s legal department before becoming Co-Executive Director in 2012. Before law school, Deborah worked as a union and community organizer, serving on the leadership teams of industry-wide initiatives in West Palm Beach, Florida; Los Angeles, California; and New Orleans, Louisiana. She teaches the Law, Organizing, and Social Change Clinic at the New York University law school. She helped to launch and now helps support Make the Road New Jersey, Make the Road Connecticut, and Make the Road Pennsylvania; and serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Popular Democracy. She is the mom of Elijah and Zoe.

Theo Oshiro

Deputy Director

Theo oversees the services departments at Make the Road New York, including Adult Literacy and Health Advocacy, and serves as our lead health policy expert. A Peruvian immigrant raised in Queens, Theo has been recognized several times for his contributions to immigrant communities, winning the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s Felix A. Fishman Award. Theo was appointed by Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to serve on city- and state-level policy task forces focused on immigrant health and health disparities. Theo joined Make the Road in 2005 after receiving a Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago. Since he began at Make the Road, he has been a leading fundraiser, building MRNY’s health access team from the ground up and expanding the organization’s overall services infrastructure by tripling our staff size across Legal Services, Health and Adult Education, and expanding services for members into our Long Island office. Theo helped lead Make the Road’s expansion into New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. From his post at Make the Road, Theo has been a leader in improving language access policies in New York City and State. Theo led MRNY’s advocacy that resulted in the passage of a city-level law and the state-level SafeRx legislation to require comprehensive interpretation and translation services to limited English proficient patients at chain and mail-order pharmacies.

Arlenis Morel

Chief of Staff

Arlenis immigrated to the United States from Venezuela in 1992. She is a long-time resident of Bushwick, Brooklyn. In 2003, Arlenis joined MRNY’s staff as a part-time receptionist. She became more and more involved in MRNY, taking advantage of the organization’s leadership development trainings, and eventually worked her way up to lead the organization’s Operations department. In 2015, she stepped into the role of Chief of Staff, overseeing the Operations, HR and IT departments. She is leading the implementation of MRNY’s strategic plan and is responsible for maintaining overall day-to-day operations of MRNY. Arlenis has trained at Coro’s Immigrant Civic Leadership Program and Columbia University’s Senior Leaders Program for Non-Profit Professionals. She represented District 24 in Queens on the Community Education Council for two years. She holds an Associate’s Degree from Kingsborough Community College.

Javier H. Valdés

Co-Executive Director

Javier H. Valdés is Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York (MRNY) and Make the Road Action. He leads MRNY’s organizing and supervises the youth program, including community schools and after-school youth programs, as well as the group’s administrative and operations functions. Javier has been critical in securing new policies that limit the local presence of federal immigration enforcement, improve the quality of affordable housing, expand translation and interpretation services at government offices, and reduce biased policing. He was also critical in securing the creation of the largest municipal identification card in the US and dramatically expanding guaranteed paid sick days for low-wage workers in New York City. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded Javier the White House Champions of Change Cesar Chavez Award. Before joining MRNY, Javier was the Director of Advocacy at the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). He is Chair of the Board for the Center for Popular Democracy, Vice-Chair of the Movement of Immigrants of America (MIA), and Vice-Chair of the Flushing Meadow Corona Park Alliance; and sits on the boards of the Association of Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), El Museo del Barrio, and Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM). He is also the Secretary of the Working Families Party in New York State. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and his three sons.

Deborah L. Axt

Co-Executive Director

Deborah Axt is Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. Deborah leads Make the Road’s low-wage worker organizing and policy work, as well as the organization’s 50-person legal department, all other education and survival services, and finance and development operations. She is one of the architects of the car wash campaign to organize car wash workers in NYC and the Committee for Better Banks, a national bank worker organization that helped to win abolition of predatory sales goals at Wells Fargo. She led the successful campaign to pass the Wage Theft Prevention Act in New York State; has helped to craft and win passage of numerous other pieces of city and state legislation; and is considered to be one of the nation’s leading experts on community-based worker organizing, wage theft, and workers’ rights enforcement. Deborah first joined Make the Road as a summer legal intern in 2000, then graduated magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center and joined the staff full-time in 2002. She built the organization’s legal department before becoming Co-Executive Director in 2012. Before law school, Deborah worked as a union and community organizer, serving on the leadership teams of industry-wide initiatives in West Palm Beach, Florida; Los Angeles, California; and New Orleans, Louisiana. She teaches the Law, Organizing, and Social Change Clinic at the New York University law school. She helped to launch and now helps support Make the Road New Jersey, Make the Road Connecticut, and Make the Road Pennsylvania; and serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Popular Democracy. She is the mom of Elijah and Zoe.

Theo Oshiro

Deputy Director

Theo oversees the services departments at Make the Road New York, including Adult Literacy and Health Advocacy, and serves as our lead health policy expert. A Peruvian immigrant raised in Queens, Theo has been recognized several times for his contributions to immigrant communities, winning the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest’s Felix A. Fishman Award. Theo was appointed by Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to serve on city- and state-level policy task forces focused on immigrant health and health disparities. Theo joined Make the Road in 2005 after receiving a Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago. Since he began at Make the Road, he has been a leading fundraiser, building MRNY’s health access team from the ground up and expanding the organization’s overall services infrastructure by tripling our staff size across Legal Services, Health and Adult Education, and expanding services for members into our Long Island office. Theo helped lead Make the Road’s expansion into New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. From his post at Make the Road, Theo has been a leader in improving language access policies in New York City and State. Theo led MRNY’s advocacy that resulted in the passage of a city-level law and the state-level SafeRx legislation to require comprehensive interpretation and translation services to limited English proficient patients at chain and mail-order pharmacies.

Arlenis Morel

Chief of Staff

Arlenis immigrated to the United States from Venezuela in 1992. She is a long-time resident of Bushwick, Brooklyn. In 2003, Arlenis joined MRNY’s staff as a part-time receptionist. She became more and more involved in MRNY, taking advantage of the organization’s leadership development trainings, and eventually worked her way up to lead the organization’s Operations department. In 2015, she stepped into the role of Chief of Staff, overseeing the Operations, HR and IT departments. She is leading the implementation of MRNY’s strategic plan and is responsible for maintaining overall day-to-day operations of MRNY. Arlenis has trained at Coro’s Immigrant Civic Leadership Program and Columbia University’s Senior Leaders Program for Non-Profit Professionals. She represented District 24 in Queens on the Community Education Council for two years. She holds an Associate’s Degree from Kingsborough Community College.

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