Pomona Economic Opportunity Center

PEOC Staff

Executive Director

Fernando is the Executive Director for the PEOC since January 2015. He has an extensive background and experience in community organizing on immigrant rights and workers rights. Fernando lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant for 21 years since the age of 8. As of August 2015, he is accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to conduct document preparation and at low-cost for immigration benefits. He was the Director for the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice from 2011 to 2015 where some of the most prominent work was that of the crisis of the Migrant Children and Families in Murrieta, CA during July 2014. As an undocumented student at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), he studied creative writing and journalism and was a co-founder of FUEL, the first AB 540 support group at CSULB, co-founder of the independent, on-campus publication focused on Latina/Latino students El Reflejo and the video blog project for undocumented youth Dreamers Adrift.

Associate Director

Claudia was born in a small rural community in Zacatecas, Mexico, migrated to the US at the age of 11, and worked alongside her farmworker parents in the avocado groves of Southern California during middle school and high school. Claudia became highly interested in social justice during her college years at UCLA. She graduated in 2009 with a double BA in Political Science/ International Development Studies and a minor in Labor and Workplace Studies.

Claudia moved to Phoenix, AZ, during the early years of SB1070 and became involved with the hotel workers’ union, UNITE HERE, as a labor and political organizer. She also worked with the United Farmworkers (UFW) Legal Department as a paralegal. Claudia came back to Los Angeles in 2014 when she joined the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) as the Regional Campaign Coordinator for the Los Angeles Region and, later, the State of California.

During her time at NDLON, she built a workforce-development project for day laborers—through a partnership with local community colleges and labor unions—to create a pipeline to more stable job opportunities. She also worked in local efforts to combat the criminalization of immigrants by law enforcement in Los Angeles and beyond. Claudia also coordinated Chant Down the Walls, a ser ies of concerts outside of immigrant detention centers and prisons created to bring attention to the injustices ingrained in the prison industrial complex and the mass deportation machine.

In 2019, Claudia graduated with a Master’s in Social Welfare from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs with a focus on social and economic justice.

Lead Organizer, BIA Accredited

After majoring in languages at UCSB, Benjamin returned for a Master’s in Education and his teaching credential. While at Santa Barbara, he became involved in the grassroots organization PUEBLO, ultimately serving on board of directors. He returned to his Inland Empire community to teach high school and eventually transitioned to a career in community organizing, at first with a faith-based organization. He transitioned into PEOC in 2012. Benjamin’s activities as community organizer include to coordinate and facilitate meetings with collaborative partners, hold leadership trainings for members and leaders, and create civic engagement opportunities for our leaders to advance different campaigns. As of August 2015, Benjamin Wood is accredited by the BIA to conduct document preparation at low-cost for immigration benefits.

Day Laborer Center Coordinator

Javier is the Jobs and Workforce Development Coordinator at the PEOC. Javier understands the immigrant struggle. Living in the shadows for over 15 years, he empathizes with working class people, especially those who have given up their birth place and adopted this country as their own. He knows what it is to be stigmatized in a strange land. Javier’s beliefs and values revolve around making a difference and utilizing his various skills and passions to brighten the future for all those that strive to better their lives.

Inland Empire Organizer

Fanelly has a Communications background but started her career early on with nonprofits in Pomona.  She was first a youth advocate for the Community Wellness Partnership and then became a community liaison for the Pomona Valley Center for Community Development (PVCCD).  More recently, she was a Traffic/Production coordinator at a Hispanic ad agency.  As a DACA recipient herself, she knows and understands the plight of low-wage workers & the immigrant community.  She hopes to continue promoting health, safety, and well-being through her volunteer work with the Pomona Valley Runners/Pomona 5K/10K as well as continuing to serve her community through her new role at the PEOC.

Household Worker Organizer

Born and raised in San Bernardino to two immigrant parents, Nataly and her siblings grew up helping her mom clean houses after school and fixing yards with her dad on the weekends. Her commitments to her community and the working class struggle are shaped by these formative years and rooted in comunalidad. Nataly received her B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA in 2015 where her research focused on the transnational migration of her Zapotec community from Oaxaca to the U.S., and the growing diaspora in the global north. She previously worked with the jornalero community of Cypress Park in Los Angeles with IDEPSCA as an outreach organizer where she helped organize community centered relief efforts to address the need of day laborers.  Nataly joins PEOC as the household worker Organizer and is elated to work alongside the Pomona and IE community towards a liberated future. 

Health Access Coordinator

Jayra was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and immigrated to Pomona California alongside her family in the year 2000. Growing up in a low-income family without status, Jayra never believed that going to college was possible. She lived alongside her three-siblings and mother in a small bedroom for most of her adolescence. Thus, the need for income obliged her to push school to the side and begin to work at the age of fourteen. Before the passing of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Jayra worked under the table for below minimum wage. She remained working these low-paying jobs for years because they were the only source of income in her single-parent household . 

The CA Dream Act and Deferred Action for childhood arrivals passed during Jayra’s senior year of high school. She enrolled at Mt. San Antonio College after graduation and had the opportunity to establish relationships with leaders in the community. During her first semester at Mt. SAC, Jayra obtained a job at the Dream Center mentoring other undocumented students. This position allowed her to discover her passion for immigrant rights and education. Jayra served as Chair for the undocumented student group, I.D.E.A.S., where she had the opportunity to organize alongside other undocumented students and advocate on behalf of the immigrant community. 

Jayra pursued a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from UCLA after graduating from Mt. SAC. She continued on serving the immigrant community by becoming an active member of I.D.E.A.S. at UCLA, as well as serving as part of the leadership for the AB540 Project and Proyecto De Jornaleros. Jayra graduated from UCLA in 2020 and is now fulfilling the role of Covid-19 Health Access Coordinator at the PEOC.

Educational Outreach Coordinator

Jose has been with the PEOC since 2007. He came to the PEOC as a day laborer and after rising through the leadership ranks he has become an invaluable asset for his knowledge and commitment to the day laborer and low-wage, immigrant worker community in Pomona. Jose has been pivotal in various campaigns including the passage of AB 60 in 2013 at the state level as well as the grassroots advocacy for rent control and tenant protections in Pomona.

Bookkeeper

Mariela is the Bookkeeper at the PEOC and has been in that position since 2005 to present. She has a Master’s degree in accounting from the Universidad Autónoma de Nayarit (Nayarit University). She works for the PEOC on a part-time basis and has been with PEOC for over 10 years. She is also a full-time accountant at PMS in West Covina, CA.

Migrant Children Community Advocate

As an immigrant to this country, Ingrid understands the importance of working to uplift migrant communities. Since graduating with B.A. in Gender, Ethnic, and Multicultural Studies from Cal Poly Pomona, she has worked at community-led organizations in LA County and the IE. She joined the PEOC as the Migrant Youth Community Advocate to support the children at the Fairplex EIS in Pomona. Since then, Ingrid has led volunteer programming, donation distributions, and facilitated meetings between county, state, federal, and community stakeholders. Ingrid hopes to continue to work in support of the migrant children in LA County, the Inland Empire, and surrounding areas.

Immigrant Services Coordinator

Laura was born and raised in Santa Ana, CA.  Growing up in an immigrant family and community, she has been exposed to injustices at a young age.  In 2006, she participated in the LA protests against HR 4437 when her mother took her to her first protest.  It was here that Laura saw immigration issues were a lot more complex and affected different people from around the world.
In 2007, she graduated high school and moved to San Diego, CA, to go to San Diego State University.  As a college student, Laura participated in political organizations, like MEChA.
Laura has been a basketball coach to middle school students, a tutor, a Janitorial Union Organizer with SEIU-USWW, and recently had worked with UNITE HERE Local 30 as their Immigration Coordinator.  During the 13 years Laura was in San Diego, she also participated in community organizing and was Chair of San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC), and continued to be their Ex-officio Chair for several years.
Now in the Inland Empire, Laura and her family recently moved to this community and is proud to be part of the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center as one of their Immigrant Services Coordinator. 

Housing Justice Coordinator

Debra has been part of the PEOC Volunteer community since 2017 and joined the organizing team in July of 2021 as Housing Justice Coordinator.   Debra was instrumental in helping pass the City of Pomona ordinance that safeguarded the immigrant community from ICE raids and has been part of various local campaigns including the grassroots advocacy for rent control and tenant protections in Pomona.  Most recently she was the Census Field Manager for the cities of Pomona, Diamond Bar, LaVerne, Claremont, and Glendora ensuring that ALL residents are counted and represented.