(Photo taken by Abel Valladares) Julizza Ramirez, TURNista, in front of the CLI

The CLI’s first year of operation has produced many successes thanks to you and our many partners across the country. One of those partners is the Universalist Unitarian Veatch Program at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, New York. Veatch has been a major contributor to our movement generally, and, in particular, to establishing the CLI.

The Universalist Unitarian Veatch Program is so excited about our work underway that they’ve offered the CLI a $5,000 matching grant. Their match offer is motivated by their desire to see the CLI get off to a powerful start in its new home and they’re calling on others to help make that a sure thing. Can you help us?

Your support will help us continue to develop leaders like Julizza Ramirez, a 16 year old from Woodburn, Oregon. “There are a lot of issues in my community I want to help change. I want to learn to organize, engage with city leaders and create the changes necessary to make our city healthy and vibrant, “said Julizza.

Julizza is one of several youth enrolled in the CLI’s TURNO Program. TURNO is a new initiative that’s creating a path for capable and motivated youth to embrace and prepare for long-term movement leadership. Despite joining TURNO only a few months ago, Julizza has wasted no time putting in practice her leadership skills. Julizza and several of her peers are leading a campaign to change the City of Woodburn’s sign ordinance to allow for publicly displayed murals. The law change would allow the CLI to paint a mural on the building wall looking at Young Street and on other parts of the Institute exterior.    

 “It is stories of young leaders like Julizza’s that inspire us to support organizations like the CLI. They are in the front line cultivating leaders to create positive change in their communities,” said Victor Quintana, the senior Program Officer at the Universalist Unitarian Veatch Program.

To receive the grant from the Universalist Unitarian Veatch Program we need to raise the matching $5,000 dollars by August 25th, 2012, the CLI’s Grand Opening date. We hope you can help us meet our goal. Thank you.

Here are the two ways you can make a tax-deductible donation to support the CLI:

  1. Send a check payable to “Willamette Valley Law Project” to 300 Young St., Woodburn, OR 97071
  2. Go to www.pcun.org/getinvolved/donate and make an online contribution to WVLP
  3. Or Click on the green “donate” button on the top right half of the page.

In unity and with gratitude,


Laura Isiordia
Executive Director
CAPACES Leadership Institute


P.S- You are invited to our Grand Opening on Saturday, August 25th. The ceremony begins at 5:00 PM and will take place in 356 Young St., Woodburn, Oregon. To RSVP please contact Dalila Ortiz at dalilao@capacesleadership.org(503)980-5724 or online: www.eventbrite.com/event/3777719260

Year One: Steady As She Grows…


(From Left to right) Abel Valladares, Dalila Ortiz, Laura Isiordia (Exec. Dir.), Maricela Andrade, Jaime Arredondo, and Ranfis Villatoro

One year ago, today, the CAPACES Leadership Institute was “born” as an independent entity.

Since we gathered on July 13, 2011 in PCUN’s Risberg Hall to sign the articles of non-profit incorporation, the Institute’s staff has taken shape.  Laura Isiordia became Executive Director in August and by February, the staff numbered five, two full-time and three part-time

On July 1st, a Jaime Arredondo joined the CLI staff as the third full-timer.  He brings to the Institute his seven years of community organizing and fundraising experience at Farmworker Housing Development Corporation (a CAPACES network organization), as well as his deep commitment to the farmworker struggle.  Jaime came to Oregon from Michoacan, Mexico when he was eight.  He worked in the fields with his parents and siblings where he first encountered PCUN.  His parents are long-time PCUN members and, today, Jaime serves on PCUN’s board.

Jaime will co-lead the Institute’s “Foro de Liderazgo” or “Leadership Forum,” a sort of test kitchen for leadership recipes.  He’ll also be front and center at the Institute’s upcoming supporter gathering in Oakland, August 12th at the East Side Arts Alliance.  If you live in the Bay Area and would like more information—or know someone there who might take interest in the Institute, please email Abel Valladares (abel@capacesleadership.org).

Jaime, Abel and PCUN Vice President Brenda Mendoza will be in the Bay Area then to present at the “GIFT” conference, organized by the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training.  The conference brings together hundreds nationwide to explore the intersections of fundraising and grassroots social change.  Our team will share lessons learned from the successful CLI capital campaign and from PCUN’s quarter century of membership dues and services which have generated over $2,000,000 from farmworkers to support their union.

Have you RSVPed yet for the CLI Grand Opening at 5:00 PM on August 25th?  If not, decide today that you’ll join us, and email Dalila Ortiz at dalilao@capacesleadership.org.

Jaime—and the rest of us—promise that the Grand Opening will be a celebration you won’t want to miss!

A Sprint to the Finish Line

On Saturday, August 25th—just under two months from today—we’ll welcome folks from near and far as we formally open the CAPACES Leadership Institute’s permanent home.  We hope you plan to join us, so please mark your calendar (“5:00 PM”) and RSVP to Dalila Ortiz, dalilao@capacesleadership.org.

The building’s exterior is pretty much finished.  Plants are growing on the living roof.

The “sprint” is the final stage of the construction marathon.  For a few weeks in May, we were stuck in “leak sealing”, pressurizing the interior space to find those elusive spots where air seeped out (and therefore, could seep in when the pressure in normal).  We’re happy to report that, thanks to extraordinary efforts of Greenhammer Construction and our construction crew, we’re on track to meet the “Passivhaus” standard called for in the building design.

With sealing finally done, the interior is rapidly taking final form and finish.  By July 13th—the first anniversary of the Institute’s birth as an independent non-profit—the inside walls will be painted, the concrete floor scrubbed and sealed, bathroom tile done, and the doors and transoms installed.  The door casing and baseboard will be in place ready for painting.  That will leave only light and plumbing fixtures and HVAC system.  Grounds work, including parking lot and side-walks, will be done before the end of July.

It’s taken villages—1,300 volunteers so far, with more still stepping forward as we press to the finish. Meanwhile, we’re planning the Grand Opening festivities.  We’ll have exciting announcements about that in the weeks ahead.


CAPACES Leadership Institute in One Page

A union of Mexican immigrant farmworkers called “PCUN”

…in Woodburn, Oregon,
…constructing a unique building…
… the first “Passive House” commercial or office structure in the United States,
…with no debt, thanks to volunteer labor, donated or discounted supplies and services,
…sourcing innovative, unconventional and salvaged materials,
…to house a grassroots leadership institution,
…dedicated to engaging community leaders—current and future,
…about the values and big ideas that guide the farmworker movement and
…equipping those leaders with the skills to put the big ideas to use,
…leading and growing the CAPACES network of nine sister organizations with 60 staff,
…organizing for workplace justice, building housing, operating an FM radio station,
…providing services, pressing for immigrants’ rights and public education reform:

That’s the CAPACES Leadership Institute.

 The CAPACES Leadership Institute builds on three decades of community organizing led by Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), Oregon’s farmworker union.  PCUN has created and united a network of nine community-based organizations that we call the “CAPACES” network.  Among the CAPACES organizations’ accomplishments are:

  • Building and managing 188 units of farmworker housing,
  • Building and operating Radio Movimiento (a low-power FM radio station),
  • Assisting 6,000 immigrants to gain legal immigration status,
  • Defeating dozens of anti-immigrant legislative proposals,
  • Training 1,000 immigrant parents for school involvement, and
  • Registering 3,000 Latino voters.

80% of our 100 key leaders are Latino immigrants or from immigrant families, 60% are women, and 50% are under 35 years of age.  Most had no prior leadership experience and no formal leadership training.

Now open, the Institute will prepare leaders to add to these accomplishments:

  • Building or acquiring 88 more units of low-income housing in three communities, a nearly 50% increase by 2013, and Expanding resident leadership training;
  • Collaborating with the new Center for Popular Democracy, based in New York, taking out leadership methods to a national level;
  • Deepening the “CAPACES de Verde” dialogues:  “green” developers and immigrant workers, answering questions like “where do ‘green cards’ fit in the ‘green’ world?”