Ana Maria Archila
Co-executive Director, Make the Road New York
Like many New Yorkers, Ana Maria Archilas life changed after the Sept. 11 attacks. She had always worked in immigrant rights, striving to give voice to the voiceless, but working to identify those victims of the attacks that were undocumented helped galvanize her mission in life.
Even in death they were invisible workers, they were invisible New Yorkers, she said. That was an experience that helped me decide that, even though I was an immigrant myself, I had an easier life that I should put to good use, for people who could be my brothers and sisters.
Archilla, who came to New York from Columbia at age 17, started out her professional career with a Latino immigrant-rights group, based in Staten Island and Queens. She saw the potential for more. Merging her group with Make the Road By Walking, another grassroots immigrant organization, they formed Make the Road New York in 2007. Since then, Archila and her allies have been steeped in the fights for paid sick leave and to end wage theft, among many other battles.
Along the way, she has remained amazed at the level of passion and commitment that exists among the citys immigrants.
I understood that there was tremendous levels of political energy, she said.
How did past jobs get you to where you are now?
The experience of working directly with the people who are most affected by the policies we have in our city helped me clarify my valuesthe fact that I really believe these people need to have a voice at the table.
What will your business card say in five years?
I want it to say Co-executive Director of Make the Road New York. I still have a lot of work to do.
If you werent in politics, what would you be doing?
I would love to be a jazz singer. Or maybe Bossa Nova.
What is your spirit animal?
A worker bee. Theyre very communal and they work together.