From Our Electeds

It is an absolute pleasure to extend my greetings as you gather with Make the Road New York (MRNY) to celebrate its Dignity, Community, and Power Awards Gala. I am proud to stand with Make the Road NY, an exemplary organization fighting hard every day to achieve  dignity and justice for New York’s immigrant and working-class communities of color.


Through community organizing, policy innovation, transformative education and the  provision of legal and survival services, Make the Road New York plays a vital role in the continued growth and strength of our state’s diverse communities. Though this year has been  severely challenging, Make the Road New York demonstrated true resilience and organized  multiple efforts to support the vulnerable, particularly our frontline and essential workers. It is through the dedication and generosity of everyone joining tonight that MRNY can continue its  noble efforts to enhance the lives of countless New Yorkers and its efforts to advance  progressive public policy victories. I especially want to spotlight this year’s honorees, the Hunger Strikers who fought for the first-in-the-nation Excluded Workers Fund, Jerry Maldonado of the Ford Foundation, and Amy Goodman & Juan González of Democracy Now. Thank you all for your commitment to the mission of Make the Road New York and for  working to meet the evolving needs of our communities.


It makes me proud to say that MRNY has provided a second home for its members  regardless of immigration status, race or sexual and gender identity. Through your community  organizing and political action, you have made New York a greater and more just and more equitable state; thank you for your essential work. I am confident that Make the Road New York  will continue to serve and strengthen our communities for many more years to come. Best wishes for a wonderful gala.


— Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer

I am pleased to join you in celebrating Make the Road New York’s Dignity, Community, and Power Awards Virtual Gala. You continue to change our state and nation for the better with your unwavering commitment to promoting a more just and equitable society and to empowering our immigrant and working-class communities.


I am deeply grateful for the work that your board, staff, and members do every day to fulfill the goals of this important organization. Under the new leadership of Co-Directors Arlenis Morel, Jose Lopez, and Theo Oshiro, you have fortified immigrant New Yorkers with a bold and visionary agenda. 


I am with you in spirit tonight and look forward to continuing to work together. You have my commitment that I will keep lifting up your voices and fighting for our shared priorities in Washington, DC. I send my congratulations to the honorees on their well-deserved recognition, and my best wishes to you all for a joyous event and many more years of continued success.

— Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Congratulations! MRNY was one of the first organizations in Bushwick I partnered with in the fight for social and economic justice back in 1997. I recall the membership was about 50 people then; today it has more than 24,000. It’s amazing and reaffirms that in unity there is strength.  It has helped shape policies that have bettered the lives of New Yorkers. Its record is unmatched, but there is more work to do. It is inspiring to know that MRNYs new leadership team – Jose, Arlenis and Theo are legacy young leaders who are committed to social justice. I have no doubt that MRNY will soar to new heights and continue to challenge the systems that perpetuate bias and deny equal opportunity for all.


I also want to thank and congratulate this year’s honorees: the Hunger Strikers from the historic campaign to Fund Excluded Workers, Jerry Maldonado with the Ford Foundation and Amy Goodman and Juan González (Democracy Now) for their public service, activism and reporting the stories of our immigrant and working- class communities.

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez 

We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Make the Road New York for all it does to lift up, empower and strengthen our immigrant and working class communities. Thank you for your tireless efforts, and working to ensure that New York and the nation builds back better as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Together, we will keep up the fight to make sure that immigrant and working class New Yorkers are not left behind.

Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens)

Make the Road is a transformative organization. In a world that is run by corporate interests and the powerful, MTR puts the voices of working class people first. The brilliant leadership of the organization is constantly on top of the most strategic points and levers for policy and community-powered change.


We must grow this movement and deepen the people’s power in the effort of self-determination. There are too few organizations that do the work with this level of integrity and at this authentic grass roots level.


Thank you for supporting community and transformative change from the ground up!


Congressman Jamaal Bowman

Team AOC extends their deepest appreciation and congratulations to the honorees of this year’s Make the Road’s Dignity, Community, and Power Awards Gala: the courageous hunger strikers who were pivotal in the passing of the historic Excluded Workers Fund, Jerry Maldonado of the Ford Foundation, and Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman and Juan González. 


As we remain in the grip of a deadly pandemic that has disproportionately affected  immigrant and working class communities of color, we applaud the selfless work and determination of the honorees and Make the Road New York to build power, dignity and justice for every New Yorker. Team AOC shares these same goals and looks forward to continuing the work together.


— Team AOC

Congratulations to Make the Road New York (MRNY) on another successful year and in recognition of this year’s annual gala.


This year’s theme: Dignity, Community, and Power speaks to the challenges and perseverance of families throughout our communities who have worked to rebuild their lives back better and stronger than ever before.


MRNY has been tremendously successful in its efforts to organize members of Latino communities around the nation while providing educational services, support, and legal resources to help implement innovative policies and programs to address immigration, poverty, and help improve the lives of immigrants and working-class New Yorkers. Over the course of the pandemic, MRNY truly stepped up to provide resources for families during this crisis and as a result has made a significant impact throughout New York’s Latino communities.


I am grateful that MRNY has continued along its mission to ensure justice, unity, and support of our immigrant communities in New York and across the nation, and I look forward to our continued collective efforts to help improve the lives of all the residents who call New York City home.

— Congressman Adriano Espaillat

I am pleased to join you in celebrating this year’s Make the Road New York Dignity, Community and Power Awards Gala. 


Tonight’s event gives us a great opportunity to celebrate the outstanding success Make the Road New York has had in fulfilling its mission to help our city’s immigrant and working-class communities achieve dignity and justice. 


I would also like to extend my own congratulations and deepest thanks to this evening’s honorees: the brave hunger strikers who forced the passage of the Excluded Workers Fund, Jerry Maldonado of the Ford Foundation, and Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman and Juan González. Your work alongside Make the Road New York in support of the most vulnerable communities has been beyond essential to the lives of countless New Yorkers. 


On behalf of the Borough of Manhattan, I wish you all another year of success and tireless service to the New Yorkers who need it most.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

I would like to congratulate all the honorees tonight. These individuals exemplify what it means to be leaders in their field and upstanding citizens of the community, and I am thankful for their many contributions, which have helped Make the Road New York have such a wonderful impact. Thank you to all attendees for making tonight’s event so successful, Make the Road New York is well-served by your involvement.

—  NYS Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

On the occasion of Make the Road New York’s Annual Gala, we celebrate your great work and historic accomplishments fighting for a fairer state. 


Make the Road New York served working class and immigrant New Yorkers during an incredibly difficult year. We continue to build off our recent successes – including our nation-leading establishment of a $2 billion Excluded Workers Fund to help those in need during the pandemic, as well as our Green Light Law and DREAM Act, which will all serve to make our state fairer and more just.

NYS Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris

2021 was an incredible year for Make the Road, and I feel incredibly honored to have had them as a partner in the fight for our community. We mobilized to get our neighbors counted in the census, bringing the dollars home for our schools and hospitals, and libraries. We not only fought together to create and pass the first Excluded Workers Fund in our nation’s history but also implemented that fund and dispersed $2.1 billion dollars back to the working people of this state. Make the Road turns the care they have for our community, and turns it into power. Congratulations on an amazing year, I can’t wait to see what we build together in 2022.


NYS Senator Jessica Ramos

Congratulations to Make the Road and the attendees on your Dignity, Community & Power Awards Virtual Gala.  Make the Road has been an indispensable partner in fighting for more just and equitable communities and policies.  This impact has been particularly powerful throughout the pandemic when so many community members have suffered so greatly.  Particular congratulations to the honorees, the Hunger Strikers, Amy Goodman & Juan González, and Jerry Maldonado.  Each of you has had a profound impact on policy and people’s lives.   I honor Make the Road’s historic achievements and recognize the strength of your members. I appreciated working with you on important initiatives this year and look forward to our future work together!  Congratulations again on your gala!

NYS Senator Shelley B. Mayer

Make the Road New York has continued to prove that there is an unshakable power in a community standing together to fight for justice. Their extraordinary victories this year were triumphs of solidarity, of courage, and of conviction.


Nowhere is that more evident than in tonight’s honorees, the hunger strikers who fought for — and won — the Excluded Workers Fund. Their sacrifices, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of such blatant injustice, changed the lives of so many families across New York.


That fund is only the beginning of their impact though. The legacy of their fight now also lives in everyone who was inspired by their fierce demonstration that every community has both dignity and power, and that together we can bend the arc of history towards justice.


Congratulations to the hunger strikers and to Make the Road New York! I look forward to continuing this fight with you in the new year.


—  NYS Senator Jabari Brisport

I want to extend my deepest appreciation to this year’s Make the Road Honorees: Amy Goodman, and Juan González from Democracy Now!, Jerry Maldonado from the Ford Foundation, and all of those who participated in the hunger strike for excluded workers. Through each of their efforts, they have made New York a more just and equitable place to live. 


Make the Road has been a crucial and effective partner for progressive causes in the state, helping to ensure the repeal of the Walking While Trans Ban, passage of the Protect Our Courts Act, and the creation of the Excluded Workers Fund. Our work is not done, but MTR continues to serve as an incredible example of what progressive grassroots advocacy can achieve.


Enjoy tonight’s 2021 Dignity, Community and Power Awards Gala!


NYS Senator Brad Hoylman

A huge congratulations to Make the Road New York and to tonight’s honorees for their incredible contributions towards building up and empowering our immigrant and working class communities. I am incredibly grateful to the board, staff, and members of Make the Road for their tireless efforts to build a New York that serves all of us, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, or immigration status. From the creation of the historic $2 billion Excluded Workers Fund to fighting for the DREAM Act, Make the Road New York has always stood for what is right and worked for the betterment of our state. Once again, congratulations to all of tonight’s honorees and to Make the Road New York. I look forward to standing with you all in our collective fight for justice.


— NYS Senator Alessandra Biaggi



I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Make the Road New York (MRNY), its membership, and its honorees as they gather to celebrate its annual Dignity, Community, and Power Awards Gala.


For decades, Make the Road New York has dedicated its efforts to empowering immigrant and working-class New Yorkers by providing them an array of services designed to uplift them. Further, MRNY has been a leader in coming up with innovative policies to combat poverty and improve the lives of our immigrant communities, especially during these unprecedented times.

Tonight is also a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to your distinguished honorees. It is my pleasure to congratulate this year’s honorees, Amy Goodman and Juan González of Democracy Now!, Jerry Maldonado Director of Cities and States at the Ford Foundation, and the Hunger Strikers who valiantly fought to create our first-in-nation Excluded Workers Fund.


I look forward to continuing working with Make The Road New York and all the communities they serve in our fight for justice and equality.


NYS Senator Gustavo Rivera

As we continue to open doors for everyone in this country, I’m proud to celebrate Make the Road NY that fought hard to give a voice to the voiceless by helping pass legislation for the excluded workers fund. Everyone in this country was affected by COVID-19 regardless of their immigration status. Let us continue to move forward together.


— NYS Assemblymember Phil Ramos

¡Felicidades to the Board of Directors, Staff and all the friends and supporters of Make the Road New York (MRNY) on the occasion of your 2021 Annual Gala!


This last year has demonstrated the power of community and solidarity culminating in several victories that center our most vulnerable neighbors in the ongoing fight for liberation. Your organizing led to a first-in-the-nation Excluded Workers Fund and relief for undocumented New Yorkers who have been ignored for too long. Tonight, we celebrate the outstanding success Make the Road New York has had in fulfilling its mission to build power amongst our city’s immigrant and working-class communities to achieve dignity and justice.


Tonight is also a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to your distinguished honorees. Congratulations!


I hope everyone in attendance enjoys tonight’s Annual Gala and I wish everyone who is part of Make the Road New York‘s familia continued progress towards liberation together.


— NYS Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

I am tremendously honored to be a part of Make the Road NY’s Dignity, Community and Power Awards Gala tonight.  Make the Road has been a driving force in my community for many years, providing direct and critical social services to my constituents, as well as city, state and nationwide advocacy on the issues most imperative to our immigrant neighbors.  They provide a voice to the voiceless, family and community to our most vulnerable, and are a beacon of hope to our immigrant brothers and sisters.  I am proud of the work we have done together both in the District and in Albany, and I look forward to our partnership into the future.


— NYS Assemblymember Catalina Cruz

I want to thank Make the Road for all the work they do in our community. They are continuously fighting for and helping our neighbors on a daily basis. They make sure that our neighbors receive equal rights and help them achieve the American dream.

NYS Assemblymember Brian Barnwell

I write to offer my congratulations to Make the Road New York and your leadership team Co-Executive Directors Jose Lopez, Arlenis Morel and Theo Oshiro. We are so fortunate to count on the dedicated advocacy of Make the Road New York in the relentless fight for dignity and justice for immigrant communities. Tonight, I join friends from across New York State to celebrate your “2021 Dignity, Community & Power Awards.”


Tonight, we honor your work and collective resistance dedicated to the empowerment of the most marginalized people in our state. It has been an honor to fight along your side as we delivered the historic Fund for Excluded Workers. Our work is far over and I look forward to our continued partnership as we work to deliver dignity and justice for our communities.


I am delighted to congratulate tonight’s honorees: The Hunger Strikers, who we watched put their bodies on the lines in order to ensure that immigrant workers are excluded no more. Mr. Jerry Maldonado of the Ford Foundation and Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now.


Assemblymember Carmen de la Rosa

I am so honored to celebrate virtually with Make the Road New York at another amazing gala. Make the Road’s work is crucial to the health and safety of immigrant New Yorkers, LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers and communities of color. The work that Make the Road has done to secure a historic first-in-the-nation excluded workers fund is a testament to their dedication and commitment for liberation for all. 


The work that we do as legislators it’s not possible to achieve without the ground work from many of the members at grassroots organizations, such as Make the Road. I am honored to be in the struggle with you all and give you my commitment to make this state a more equitable one for all people.

NYS Assemblymember Harvey Epstein

Dignity, community, power: not only the name of tonight’s gala but a fitting description of Make the Road NY’s transformative work over the past year, and every year. Without the moral clarity and profound courage of your members, we would never have passed the historic Excluded Workers Fund. And there’s so much more we are going to accomplish together. I’m proud to fight alongside Make The Road for a better future for all New Yorkers. My heartfelt congratulations on your gala!

NYS Assemblymember Emily Gallagher

Congratulations to this evening’s honorees – the Hunger Strikers from the fight to Fund Excluded Workers, Jerry Maldonado of the Ford Foundation, and Amy Goodman and Juan González from Democracy Now. We need to celebrate and recognize the hard work, dedication, and strong morals and values of all of these honorees who are literally changing lives for the better. I am proud to be working toward these same goals and am looking forward to all we can accomplish in the future.

NYS Assemblymember Chris Burdick

Make the Road is doing the vital work of building power across our working class immigrant communities. They spearheaded this year’s fight for an Excluded Workers Fund, a victory which consequently made a deep impact in the lives of our undocumented neighbors by finally delivering to them the benefits they had long been denied. A truly historic accomplishment, and one which served as an inspiration and a template for so many other struggles across our city. I was, and continue to be, deeply inspired by the courage of the hunger strikers, including my colleague and dear friend Marcela Mitaynes. I look forward to fighting for justice together in the upcoming legislative session. La lucha no termina!


— NYS Assemblymember Zohran K. Mamdani

It is my pleasure to extend best wishes to all attending Make the Road New York’s Annual Dignity, Community & Power Awards Virtual Gala.


For nearly three decades, Make the Road New York (MRNY) has done outstanding work to support immigrants and underrepresented communities across the five boroughs. MRNY is committed to advocating for critical policy reform on behalf of thousands of New Yorkers every day. From taking to the streets for criminal justice and immigration reform to supporting workers and social services, MRNY has made a positive impact for so many. I am confident MRNY will continue to make a positive impact on New York City’s immigrant communities for years to come.


Congratulations to tonight’s honorees: Amy Goodman, Juan González, the Hunger Strikers, and Jerry Maldonado. Their commitment to the Make the Road New York is evident in all they do.

Thank you to Make the Road New York for bringing us together tonight to celebrate community and service. Please accept my best wishes for continued success.


NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer

Congratulations Make the Road New York on another tremendous year of delivering for your community in the face of such adversity. Congratulations especially to the hunger strikers whose courageous organizing forced our state to deliver on an unprecedented survival fund for immigrant New Yorkers.  From the fight for excluded workers to the marches for citizenship to the students organizing for police-free schools, Make the Road members are leading the way for an NYC that is a safe and supportive home for all its residents. I’m inspired by the tenacity and love for community that grounds your work every day, and committed to continue fighting with you for a more just and equitable city.

NYC Comptroller-Elect Brad Lander

The World’s Borough isn’t just Queens’ nickname. It’s a statement of fact — our very identity.


Here in Queens, nearly half of our 2.4 million residents were born somewhere other than the United States. More than 190 countries are represented here, with hundreds of languages spoken in our homes and on our streets. To adequately and effectively support our diverse immigrant community is no easy task, but the incredible work Make the Road New York does to empower our immigrant neighbors every single day is nothing short of heroic.


From leading the legislative charge on laws like the New York DREAM Act to the creation of the New York State Excluded Workers Fund, Make the Road has been indispensable down this critical path of progress. This work often comes with sacrifice, as those who led a hunger strike in support of excluded workers displayed, but you are saving lives every day and Queens could not be more grateful.


Congratulations to tonight’s honorees, Jerry Maldonado, Juan Gonzalez, Amy Goodman and the Fund Excluded Workers Hunger Strikers. Queens is a stronger, fairer place because of you and all our partners at Make the Road.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr.


Make the Road New York continues to be the go-to non-profit where thousands of New Yorkers turn to in times of real need. Make the Road New York helps residents with the real issues of our time, things like, immigration justice, housing justice, and equity in education. Make The Road New York is at the vanguard in taking the fight against those who prey on vulnerable communities and I am proud to stand with them as they continue their great mission helping our City.

— NYC Council Member Ben Kallos

It is a pleasure to congratulate the honorees for the work they are doing for our immigrant communities. I thank Jerry Maldonado of the Ford Foundation, Amy Goodman, and Juan González of Democracy Now for using their platforms and influence to bring about change and awareness to important issues impacting immigrant New Yorkers.


I especially would like to not only congratulate but thank the FEW Coalition Hunger Strikers who put themselves on the line to bring the resources immigrant New Yorkers rightfully deserved. As an immigrant myself born and raised in another country I know firsthand the struggles many of my immigrant brothers and sisters have gone through. I look forward to continuing to work alongside Make the Road NY and ensure we are protecting and expanding the rights of all immigrants.


— NYC Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez

Congratulations Make The Road New York on your 2021 Gala and an incredible year of victories!


Since its founding, your organization has been essential in defending immigrant, LGBTNCNB and working class communities throughout New York City. Your comprehensive model offers a wide variety of culturally competent and multilingual programs that support our most marginalized New Yorkers. I am proud to be your partner and will continue to lend support in our collective fight for our communities. Accept my best wishes for a great event, as well as another great year of success.


Please extend my congratulations to your stellar list of honorees; Hunger Strikers from the fight to Fund Excluded Workers, Jerry Maldonado from Ford Foundation and Amy Goodman and Juan González from Democracy Now.


—  NYC Council Member Carlina Rivera

Make the Road is a home to so many New Yorkers – a safe and supportive family that provides meaningful education, legal services and the boots on the ground to make real, progressive, policy changes. All New Yorkers are better off with Make the Road in their community.


—  NYC Council Member-Elect Jennifer Guttierez

From successfully demanding resources for excluded workers to helping drive the national effort for comprehensive immigration reform, MRNY is always at the forefront of the fights that truly matter. Immigrant families and working people across New York State and beyond are profoundly fortunate to have a champion as powerful, effective, and determined as MRNY. I have had the great privilege of working in partnership with Make the Road New York for many years and I remain as inspired as ever by MRNY’s courageous and visionary leadership. Congrats to my friends Arlenis, Jose and Theo and the whole MRNY family on your many victories!

— NYC Council Member-Elect Lincoln Restler

Congrats to the Make The Road family on your hard won victory this year winning support for our Excluded and Essential Workers! It was an honor to take part in powerful and heartfelt actions with your members and to witness the passion of your organizers who never missed a single beat.


Make the Road has been a cornerstone institution in my community by providing a safe space for our youth to step into their political power, creating an organizing home for workers to fight for their rights, and for families to stay together. It is so important that we continue to support this organization that has touched so many lives.

NYC Council Member-Elect Sandy Nurse

Big congratulations to Make the Road New York on celebrating another monumental year in extraordinary movement building and securing powerful wins for working-class immigrant New Yorkers. I am especially excited looking ahead to the inside/outside strategy we’ll forge together as I join the City Council, and for us to set an agenda for recovery that puts immigrant and undocumented New Yorkers first, particularly Black and brown women and youth. 


To this year’s honorees — the Hunger Strikers in the fight to fund excluded workers, Jerry Maldonado, Amy Goodman and Juan González: thank you for making New York City better and choosing to dismantle status quo politics. You continue to show unwavering commitment in the face of right-wing forces, and your display of camaraderie and care in collective power gives me hope for justice and a multiracial democracy in our City.


—  NYC Council Member-Elect Shahana Hanif

From providing direct services in our most at-need neighborhoods to advocating for legislation that uplifts all New Yorkers, Make the Road has been at the forefront of advocating for dignity and justice in immigrant communities. As we come together to celebrate a year of policy victories for immigrant New Yorkers, I’m proud to join Make the Road in the ongoing fight for social, economic, and racial justice and look forward to joining with my colleagues in the new City Council to empower immigrant communities.


— NYC Council Member-Elect Sandra Ung

My heartfelt congratulations to the Hunger Strikers, who spent weeks without food so that many others could eat. I am especially grateful to all of you, and our district thanks you. ¡La lucha sigue!

NYC Council Member-Elect Alexa Avilés

Congratulations to Make the Road New York and to tonight’s honorees on another impactful year building the dignity, community, and power of immigrant New Yorkers. From Amy Goodman & Juan Gonzalez, co-hosts of a revolutionary progressive news program, to Jerry Maldonado, whose grants have powered so many campaigns for immigrant justice, to the hunger strikers at Make the Road, who won billions in life-saving relief for our excluded workers together we have shone so much light over so dark a time. 


And just this past week, we won another major battle for immigrant communities. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, after hunger strikes, protests, and arrests, secured more than $200 million in medallion debt relief from the city. Time after time, action by action, standing shoulder to shoulder, we have proven the power of el pueblo unidoBut there is more to be done. We cannot accept anything less than citizenship for millions. We cannot accept one more deliverista run down on the street. We cannot accept one more drowning in a flooded basement apartment. We must not stop fighting when our lives are at stake.


Tonight we celebrate. Tomorrow we march on, caminantes. I will always fight by your side. Pa’lante!


— NYC Council Member-Elect Shekar Krishnan