Immigration legislative advocacy and strategy; Latino electorate, voter mobilization, and participation; state advocacy efforts; coalition-building and management
Master’s degree, public administration, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; bachelor’s degree, diplomacy and world affairs, Occidental College; Salzburg Seminar Fellow
Current Position: Oversight of work on immigration and efforts to expand opportunities for Latino engagement in civic life and public policy debates; board member, DEMOS; steering committee member, Rights Working Group
Previous Position(s): Manager of the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, a broad network of national, state, and local organizations committed to advancing policy solutions on immigration; NCLR Director of State/Local Public Policy, managing state policy advocacy efforts and civic engagement work; Public Policy Coordinator, Southwest Voter Research Institute (William C. Velasquez Institute); Assistant Director, California-Mexico Project at the University of Southern California; Organizer, International Ladies Garment Workers Union; Union Representative, Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) Local 11.
Eliseo Medina is described by the Los Angeles Times as "one of the most successful labor organizers in the country" and was named one of the "Top 50 Most Powerful Latino Leaders" in Poder Magazine. He is currently leading the Service Employees International Union's (SEIU) efforts to achieve comprehensive immigration reform that rebuilds the nation's economy, secures equal labor- and civil-rights protections for workers to improve their wages and work conditions and provides legal channels and a path to citizenship.
Called a "quietly charismatic" leader "who is helping immigrant workers win union representation and make their voice heard in the political arena" by the Sacramento Bee, the issue of immigration reform is very personal to Medina. When he was 10-years-old, he came to the United States from Mexico with his mother and siblings to join their father, who was an immigrant farm worker.
Working to ensure the opportunity to pass comprehensive immigration reform does not slip away, Medina led the effort to unite the unions of the Change to Win federation and AFL-CIO around a comprehensive framework for reform. Serving as a leading voice in Washington, frequently testifying before Congress, Medina has also helped to build a strong, diverse coalition of community and national partners that have intensified the call for reform and cultivated necessary political capitol to hold elected leaders accountable. Medina has also helped strengthen ties between the Roman Catholic Church and the labor movement to work on common concerns such as immigrant worker rights and access to health care.
Medina's career as a labor activist began in 1965 when, as a 19-year-old grape-picker, he participated in the historic United Farm Workers' strike in Delano, Calif. Over the next 13 years, Medina worked alongside labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez and honed his skills as a union organizer and political strategist; eventually rising through the ranks to serve as the United Farm Workers' national vice president.
His interests in strategic organizing brought him to SEIU in 1986, where he helped revive a local union in San Diego--building its membership from 1,700 to over 10,000 in five years. He was a key strategist in the Los Angeles strike by SEIU Local 1877's building service workers, who in April 2000 won the largest wage increase in the 15-year history of SEIU's Justice for Janitors campaign. He also helped more than 100,000 home care workers in California advocate for the best quality care for the people they serve remain independent in their homes by securing funding to improve their quality of life.
Medina has served as international executive vice president of the SEIU since 1996, when he made history by becoming the first Mexican American elected to a top post at the 2.2 million-member SEIU. His work has helped make SEIU the fastest-growing union on the West Coast and the largest union in California. Since 1996, more than 1.2 million workers across the country have united with SEIU, the nation's largest union of health care workers and the union with the largest membership of immigrant workers.
Medina has also headed SEIU's efforts to help workers in 17 states across the southern and southwestern United States--including Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Colorado, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia--unite in SEIU so they will have the strength to improve their jobs and the services they provide in their communities.
Medina splits his time between L.A. and Houston. He is married and the father of three children.
Gebe Martinez joined American Progress in the fall of 2009 following a 33-year journalism career.
Most recently she wrote a column on Hispanic politics and policy for Politico, a news group that focuses on Congress, politics, and lobbyists.
Gebe also provided news analyses for public affairs programs on all major broadcast networks including PBS and National Public Radio after having watched the ups and downs of both political parties since coming to Washington, D.C. in 1994. She reported on government and politics in Texas and California before working in Washington.
She is a native Texan and a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, TX.
Karen K. Narakasi is the President and Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), one of the nation’s leading voices advocating for the rights and interests of Asian Americans. Based in Washington, D.C., AAJC is a proven expert on issues of direct importance to Asian Americans of all ethnic groups in communities across the country.
Ms. Narasaki serves in a number of leadership positions in the civil rights and immigrant rights communities. She is vice chairwoman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the nation's oldest and broadest civil rights coalition. She heads the Rights Working Group, a coalition of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and immigrant rights groups working to address the erosion of civil liberties and basic rights of immigrants since 9/11. In addition, she is a member of the Federal Communications Commission's Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age.
Ms. Narasaki also serves on the board of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and is a past-board member of the Independent Sector. She also serves on the National Commission on Adult Literacy, a project of the Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy which promotes adult literacy across the country.
As chairwoman of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, Ms. Narasaki is a widely renowned leader in the Asian American community. She has also served as the immediate past chairwoman of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.
She is also a member of the Asian Pacific American Advisory Council, a group of nearly a dozen community, civic and business leaders who advise Nielsen Media Research, an international provider of television audience measurement and advertising information services. The Council advises Nielsen on a range of issues involving the sampling of Asian Americans for television audience measurement while assisting Nielsen to reaching out to Asian American communities.
Through her work, Ms. Narasaki is a nationally respected expert on immigrant rights, voting rights, affirmative action and civil rights issues. A regular guest on News & Notes with Ed Gordon, Ms. Narasaki has also appeared on ABC and CBS News, Fox News, PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, America with Dennis Wholey and National Public Radio shows including Talk of the Nation and Powerpoint. She has also been quoted by national newspapers including: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, The Houston Chronicle, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Los Angeles Times.
Recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the “100 most powerful women in Washington” in 2001, 2006 and 2009, Ms. Narasaki has received numerous awards and accolades. She was the 2005 recipient of the American Bar Association Spirit of Excellence Award, and has received the Congressional Black Caucus Chair's Award, International Channel We the People Award, and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Asian Americans of the Decade” by A Magazine.
Ms. Narasaki is a graduate, magna cum laude, of Yale University and Order of the Coif, of the UCLA School of Law.