New Director to Spearhead Disaster Relief Efforts for Ventura and Santa Barbara Immigrants 

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VENTURA, September 20, 2021 — In response to the devastation of wildfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters,  Mixteco/Indigenous Community Organizing Project (MICOP), the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), and Future Leaders of America (FLA)—, with leadership support provided by the McCune Foundation, appointed and welcomed Maria Melo as Executive Director of 805UndocuFund, a collective effort by these trusted community grassroot organizations to ensure that undocumented individuals and families impacted by disaster have the support and resources necessary to recover from disasters in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. The Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) is providing fundraising and fund administrative support.

“Since its creation in 2018, the 805UndocuFund has not only distributed over $8.3M to 6,147 families but has also become a trusted and familiar source of support for the immigrant community when disaster hits,” said Genevieve Flores-Haro, Board Chair of 805 UndocuFund. “That is why we are thrilled to welcome Maria to move this work forward. Maria is a bilingual (English/Spanish) and bi-cultural Latina immigrant policy advocacy professional who is passionate about her community and has over 20 years of experience in the non-profit and government sectors in Southern California, Washington D.C. and Latin America.”

Maria has a proven track record bringing the right partners and resources together to advance the programmatic and policy priorities of organizations such as the Los Angeles American Red Cross, one of the largest regional American Red Cross teams in the nation, and most recently, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the largest provider of LGBT specific services in the world. Ms. Melo has dedicated her career to translating her passion for social justice and mission-driven work into tangible deliverables serving underserved communities.

“The fact is Hurricane Katrina and so many disasters that have followed—including the Thomas Fire, the COVID-19 pandemic and now Ida on the East Coast—have demonstrated that socio-economic factors such as low-wage jobs, language accessibility barriers, a broken immigration system, as well as fragile and high-density housing, increase risk and recovery,” said Maria Melo, Executive Director of 805UndocuFund. “Recent studies and our own lived experience show that including the Central Coast’s immigrant communities in planning for disaster preparation, mitigation, and response is essential. I look forward to working with key stakeholders and immigrant community members to make this happen and move 805UndocuFund’s disaster relief work forward. ”  

Originally from Colombia, Maria lives with her wife and two young children in Ventura, California, having relocated from Southern California last year. Maria is also the former Deputy Consul for Colombia in Los Angeles. She holds an M.A. in International Relations from the Universidad Complutense of Madrid, Spain, and more recently completed a fellowship with Southern California Coro’s Women in Leadership Program. She is also a board member at the Pacific Pride Foundation.  

To donate to 805UndocuFund and learn more, please visit: https://805undocufund.org/donate/

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