As we’ve deepened our work at the Meyer Foundation to advance racial and economic justice over the past six years — and especially since we began to organize our grantmaking around geography rather than issue areas — we’ve come to understand that immigrant communities and their experiences are central to our partners’ work in Virginia.
So, when we set out to hire a new Virginia Partnerships and Strategy Director last year, we knew that in addition to finding someone with deep knowledge and relationships across our funding areas in Virginia, we also wanted someone who understood the unique experiences of immigrants in our region and the ways they are affected by structural inequities.
But our wish list didn’t end there. Given our focus on building power in communities most directly affected by racial injustice, we also identified knowledge of and commitment to community organizing and advocacy — key tactics in this work to build power — as an important set of skills to bring to the role. And we hoped to hire someone who could connect their personal and professional experiences to the Foundation’s mission and values.
As we posted the job announcement, we crossed our fingers and hoped that we hadn’t created a job that only a unicorn could do.
We didn’t. There were many good candidates for the job who brought different combinations of these skills and experiences to their applications. But Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, Meyer’s new Virginia Partnerships and Strategy Director as of March 1st, brings all of them to the Foundation.
Edgar comes to Meyer from the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) where he has been the Senior Lead Organizer for the past 15 years. He brings extensive experience in and knowledge of immigrant communities in Virginia, through both his organizing work at LAJC and the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations, as well as his own lived experience as an immigrant to this country from Peru. He created and led the Drive Virginia Forward campaign, the successful seven-year grassroots campaign that has made it possible for undocumented immigrants in Virginia to obtain driver privilege cards. He is a co-founder of the Virginia Coalition of Immigrant Rights (VACIR), and created the Virginia Immigrant Advocates Summit, an annual event now in its 11th year.
Edgar’s credentials and many accomplishments will serve him well in this role As you’ll read below, Edgar’s drive and motivation to do this work grows out of his values and his deep commitment to equity and justice.
We are thrilled to welcome him to our team.
By: Edgar Aranda-Yanoc
My passion for social justice work is rooted in a deep respect for and commitment to those impacted by injustice and helping to open avenues for them to become their own advocates for change.
As an immigrant from Peru, I am aware of the cultural and structural barriers that often divide communities as well as policies and practices that criminalize lives. I feel fortunate to support work in Virginia that addresses the root causes of those barriers, including work that empowers communities to advocate for their rights and push for a new social contract with policymakers.
Prior to my position with the Foundation, I worked as an immigrant rights advocate, organizer, and educator with the Legal Aid Justice Center where I developed successful campaigns in support of immigrant rights and built coalitions of advocates and allies to push for communities that welcome and respect the rights of all of their residents. With the Meyer Foundation, I will continue to seek partnerships to promote collective action that values cooperation, collaboration, and inclusivity, always seeking to open new forums for others to have their voices heard.