“What happened to my son taught me to keep pushing forward to reach more students…”
Felipa’s life changed dramatically in 2009 when her twenty-year old son, Angel, was killed by street violence. While Felipa had been organizing to make life better for low-income families and low-wage working women for years, as a day-labor activist and POWER-PAC leader, this heartbreaking event impassioned Felipa to dedicate herself to stemming community violence. Working with COFI and other activist mothers, Felipa created the Wells High “Peace Center”, where Angel had attended. For five years, twice each week, she works with high school students in peace circles, providing a safe place to talk about what’s happening in their lives, receive mentorship from leaders, increase their self-esteem and learn peacemaking-skills. Participants credit Felipa’s efforts with keeping them in school and helping them navigate relationships.
Additionally, as POWER-PAC’s Co-Chair, Felipa mentors immigrant, Spanish-speaking mothers to become policy change leaders in Chicago. She is a key leader in both the Elementary Justice and Early Learning Campaigns. She is also a Lead Head Start Ambassador, going door-to-door each summer to help connect low-income and immigrant families with early learning resources.
Felipa believes that this work is all interconnected and that it is all helping to stop the cycle of poverty and violence that disproportionately affects women of color and immigrant women and their families.
For this work, in 2013 Felipa was awarded the Chicago Foundation for Women’s Impact Award. Felipa was featured in the above video and report by the Just and Fair Schools Fund, “Communities Turning the Tide on School Discipline.”