Congrats to Make the Road New York on 22 years of working to support and promote the achievements of immigrants in our communities. BlueHub Capital is honored to partner with you on the construction of your new community center and our team is looking forward to the day when we can all celebrate together.
LISC NYC is proud to partner with Make the Road New York on our Bridges to Health Equity initiative. Make the Road’s staff consistently shows passion, creativity, and determination in their work to help local residents live healthy lives, and to tackle tough problems of health disparities in our city. Congratulations on your gala, and here’s to many more years of fruitful collaboration!
— LISC NYC
A huge thank you to Make the Road New York for all the outstanding and tireless work it does to lift up and empower immigrant and working class communities including those in Queens. It is an honor to work with its dedicated team!
This year, I want to especially commend Make the Road New York for all the selfless efforts it has made during the COVID-19 pandemic. From providing resources on immigrant and workers’ rights to critical information on housing, food assistance and health care, Make the Road New York has continued to be there for the people it serves, and has worked to help them get through this crisis.
I’m proud to salute all that Make the Road New York does, and I look forward to continuing to partner with its staff and supporters in the fight for dignity and justice.
I also thank its Co-Executive Directors Javier Valdés and Deborah Axt and congratulate incoming Co-Executive Directors Jose Lopez, Arlenis Morel and Theo Oshiro.
Warmest wishes for a wonderful gala and continued success!
—U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng
Cohen, Weiss and Simon LLP honors Make the Road New York for building power for New York’s working class and immigrant communities. We also congratulate tonight’s honorees, Greisa Martinez Rosas and Cristina Jimenez from United We Dream, for their advocacy on behalf of immigrant communities. ¡Sí se puede!
—Cohen, Weiss & Simon LLP
Congratulations Make the Road New York for your great work in the Brooklyn and Queens communities. Thank you for your collaboration with our Community Health Worker (CHW) and food insecurity efforts.
—New York Presbyterian
Healthfirst is proud to support the 2020 Dignity, Community and Power Awards Gala.
We celebrate the spirit and mission of Make the Road New York and their dedication to providing safety, support, and solidarity to the community.
Healthfirst is New York’s largest not-for-profit health insurer, providing Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, managed long-term care plans, qualified health plans, and individual and small group plans to more than 1.6 million members.
We first learned about Make the Road NY’s work through our friends Elan & Jonathan Bogarin, the brother-sister filmmaking team behind the documentary 306 Hollywood. Their film is an ode to their late grandmother—an immigrant herself—and the dignity and heart with which she raised her family in the US. When we asked the Bogarins about charitable causes we could support alongside their film, they immediately chose MTRNY because of their core belief in the dignity of immigrant & working class families. We’re proud to support them and we’re proud to support MTRNY’s work.
— Chicago Media Project (CMP)
NYC and Make the Road walk hand in hand to a better future. Thank you to all of you!
— Anne Delaney
“The only recognizable feature of hope is action.” – Grace Paley
Thank you to all at MRNY for the hope you make visible in our troubled world.
— Sally Gottesman
Congratulations to Make the Road NY for all of the great work you have done this year to help immigrant communities during these challenging times. We look forward to continuing our partnership to improve health care access for all New Yorkers!
— The Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering
Congratulations to Make the Road and thank you for all you have done over 22 years, especially for your support of our undocumented sisters and brothers! A special thank you to Javier Valdés and Deborah Axt for your leadership!
— Rabbi Barat Ellman, Ph.D.
Congratulations to Make the Road NY on 22 years of building community and power among immigrant communities.
Congratulations to Make the Road NY on 22 years of building the power of immigrant and working class communities to achieve dignity and justice. I am so grateful for all that you have done to support working families in Croton-on-Hudson and across New York State.
— Brian Pugh, Mayor, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Thank you MRNY for blazing a path toward justice and dignity for all people, and for leading from the ground up with such brilliance and heart. Special thanks to Deb and Javier for your incredible leadership and to Theo, Arlenis, and José for bravely stepping up to shape the next chapter! Congrats and gratitude to all of tonight’s honorees.
Much love and power to the whole MRNY family,
—Sierra Stoneman-Bell & Fernando Aguilera
We are pleased to have the chance to honor Deborah Lynn Axt and her hard work and dedication to Make the Road NY. We are proud of all that Deb and the organization have accomplished over the past years. You have had a positive impact on so many. We wish Deb much success and fulfillment as she transitions to new endeavors and continued growth and service.
— Bob and Carolyn Axt
A huge thank you to Make The Road NY for your sustained work to support immigrant and working class communities throughout COVID and beyond!
Deb, You make me so proud. You have committed your entire adult life to helping others have the opportunity for better lives. In that effort, you have made countless personal and professional sacrifices yourself while never wavering in your commitment to the well-being of others. I am humbled and amazed by the tremendous impact you have had on the lives of so many, both directly yourself, and through the work of the organization you have led so selflessly all these years. There is no doubt that Make the Road New York is a better organization because of your leadership and will continue to have a great future because of your mentorship of the next generation of leaders. Love, Your Brother
— Michael Axt
Javier — Congratulations on nearly a decade of serving as Co-Executive Director at Make the Road. We are so proud of you and where the organization has gone under your leadership. The legislation passed, the fights won, the millions of lives made better– it is beyond anything I could have imagined sitting beside you in our Community Organizing 101 class 16 years ago. Thank you for the example of passion and determination and calm that you are to our children. I am inspired by your relentless drive to restore dignity and bring justice to black and brown communities.
Always in your corner,
Tina, Karim, Louka, and Camilo
I’ve looked up to you since we were kids. Both you and Santi were role models to me in a way you’ll probably never know. I watched everything you did and how you did it and emulated you in many ways. I saw how you always stayed true to what you believed in, which is a notable trait, but you took it a step further and acted on your passion through your work. Not many people get to do what they love and be successful at it. Javi, we hope you can look back at the last ten years and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, and look to the future with a great sense of opportunity of what you can accomplish.
— Jime y Mandae
Querido sobrino y primo Javier,
Te saludamos en tu partida de Make the Road New York. En casi 10 años como codirector ejecutivo sabemos de la invaluable lucha y el aporte realizado. Y confiamos que en tus próximos desafíos seguirás aportando e inspirando a quienes te rodean, comenzando con tu familia y tus colegas de trabajo. Adelante con lo nuevo!
Seguramente continuaremos escuchando noticias tuyas desde Córdoba, Argentina!!!
— Daniel, Romina y familia.
We are exceptionally proud of the work that Make the Road has done and is continuing to do to help and support the disenfranchised in New York and other states. As one of the leaders of this organization, Javier Valdés, helped MRNY grow not only in the New York City area but other states as well. This support is particularly vital in the last years when the immigrant community has been harassed by the current administration. Furthermore, they have made strategic attempts to deprive them of their rights as members of the American community. The new center, being built in Queens will provide a focal point for providing support to the community for all of their needs: legal advice, education of future leaders.
Javier, you have done extraordinary work, particularly during these last four challenging years, defending immigration rights, securing housing, health care and food and encouraging political engagement from all the members
You have had a long commitment to the disenfranchised community since you were in college, being a member of a service fraternity at Texas A&M continuing as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala. When you returned to the United States you went to graduate school at NYU where you met your future wife, Tina, and immediately started working with several non-profit organizations whose work was focused on the immigration communities and then to Make the Road.
In all of these activities your perseverance and passion are unmatched. We are certain that you will continue this in the future in whatever you decide to do.
Estamos muy orgullosos de ti. Con el amor de siempre
— Mama y Papa
A mi querido sobrino Javier, con motivo de su partida de casi 10 años como codirector ejecutivo de la gran organización Make the Road New York. Hemos observado y apreciado sus logros desde Buenos Aires, Argentina con orgullo. Estamos muy inspirados por el gran trabajo que has realizado y lo que harás en tu próximo paso.
Que siempre continuemos escuchando de tu gran trabajo. Te deseamos muchos éxitos en tus actividades futuras.
Con todo nuestro amor,
— Graciela y Familia
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Después de tantos de compromiso en la organización, comienza una nueva etapa Javi.
Pero solo te vas físicamente porque tu legado no solo queda en ti sino en todas las personas que has ayudado a crecer en estos años.
Mucha suerte en esta nueva etapa!!
— Familia de las Heras – Valdés
Querido sobrino :
Tomamos conocimiento que estás finalizando luego de casi una década, tu gestión en el cargo de co-director Ejecutivo de una de las organizaciones pro inmigrantes más importantes de la ciudad de Nueva York. Alta responsabilidad que has asumido en su momento, y donde has dedicado tanta pasión y compromiso. Recibe un profundo reconocimiento por lo que has realizado y nuestras felicitaciones, porque lo logrado solo se puede hacer con involucramiento genuino, convicción, mucha capacidad de trabajo e idoneidad en el ejercicio del liderazgo.
En nuestra familia siempre estamos atentos y seguimos de cerca tus actividades. Nuestro profundo agradecimiento por tus visitas frecuentes a nuestra ciudad, donde se encuentra la mayoría de tu familia paterna y donde no solo compartías con nosotros las gratas y amenas reuniones, sino también, trasladando a nuestra gente tus experiencias con la generosidad que siempre te ha caracterizado: En el interior de la provincia del Chaco,
dando charlas enriquecedoras de gestión y liderazgo y en nuestras organizaciones políticas transmitiendo tus experiencias de conducción en instituciones tan importantes y complejas como lo es “Make the Road New York”. Tampoco nos olvidamos cuando reciénte iniciabas y acompañabas al interior de la provincia de Corrientes, interesado por las actividades en la gestión de política universitaria.
Ahora iniciarás una nueva etapa, seguramente cumpliendo otro rol, pero siempre con la pasión, compromiso y sensibilidad hacia los temas-problemas sociales. Empatía y capacidad de liderazgo te sobra. Nosotros, orgullosos de nuestro sobrino seguiremos
atentos a lo que haces.
Recibe un fuerte y afectuoso abrazo de Oscar, María Dora y familia.
Co-Director Ejecutivo Javier Valdés
En este ciclo que se cierra queremos que sepas que tus familiares en Argentina se sienten muy orgullosos de los logros de la organización durante la gestión, estos han logrado una mejora sustancial a la inclusión de los inmigrantes en suelos estadounidenses. Que te valió la obtención del premio Cesar Chávez, Campeones del Cambio de la Casa Blanca.
Tu compromiso desinteresado para la comunidad, que se remonta muchos años antes a tu ingreso a MRNY, como tu actividad por la comunidad en América Central, ha demostrado tu sensibilidad por los sectores más vulnerables de la sociedad, lo fue fuente constante de admiración entre tus seres queridos.
— Jose Luis Valdes y Familia
Javier es arquitecto, casado con Tina y completa su familia con 3 lindos hijos. Nos visitó en Córdoba y lo pusimos en contacto con Miguel Roca, famoso arquitecto reconocido mundialmente, para reunirse varios días y conversar sobre la profesión.
Si bien Javier habría sido un gran arquitecto, eligió ayudar a gente desposeída por las desigualdades que ocurren en nuestro continente. Viajó a Centro América para educar habitantes excluidos del sistema. Allí permaneció un tiempo alojándose en viviendas desfavorables que era lo que había en el lugar enseñando a los lugareños cómo mejorar su calidad de vida. Desafortunadamente tuvo un accidente que lo obligó a retornar a EEUU, su país natal, para una cirugía delicada en la columna cervical afectada por el traumatismo y que podría haber producido una cuadriplejía (parálisis de todo el cuerpo desde el cuello hacia abajo).
Posteriormente, se trasladó a Nueva York y comenzó una gran tarea de ayuda a los inmigrantes con problemas de extradición, discriminación y falta de derechos. Esta población emigra de sus países por ausencia de las necesidades básicas como salud, educación y falta de seguridad. Sin embargo, en buena medida son los que se ocupan de tareas despreciadas por los norteamericanos. Actualmente aún no se sabe qué pasó con los cientos de niños separados de sus padres extraditados durante la presidencia de Trump.
Su interés por ayudar a esta gente lo llevó a ocupar el cargo de Director Ejecutivo de la organización Make the Road. Su labor fue premiada oficialmente y tuvo el honor de visitar la Casa Blanca y saludar al Presidente Obama. Después de años de dirigir la organización exitosamente, Javier dará un paso al costado en abril 2021 para dar lugar a otros miembros comprometidos en continuar esta labor humanitaria que viene desarrollándose de manera desinteresada.
Nosotros como padrinos de Javier estamos orgullosos por sus logros y lo felicitamos calurosamente y hacemos extensiva esta congratulación a Tina, sus hijos y sus padres que lo apoyaron en esta cruzada.
— Ana María y Luis Alday
Deb – Thanks for being the best colleague and friend imaginable, and especially for your fierce and pure commitment to low wage workers in New York. You and Javier are leaving behind a substantial and powerful organization that will continue to fight for justice and make lives better. I pledge to continue to support Make the Road and to honor the work you did there. We know that you are leaving the organization but not the struggle.
With love and solidarity, Justin
Deb uses these words really frequently but I think they describe her quite well- she is a bad ass and a rockstar… an ambitious, tenacious leader who pushes far past what others believe is possible and somehow manages to bring a lot of other people- me included- along for the ride. She has an intimidating intellect and work ethic, while being kind, vulnerable and super warm at the same time. She sometimes crinkles her nose like a rabbit- lol. Deb’s the kinda person I always want to fight alongside on a picket line and then have a drink with after.
— Meg Fosque
I am so blessed to have had an amazing time working alongside you at MRNY. You’ve done so much incredibly great work as a badass Executive Director – without you working to launch Aliadxs, we would have never met or had our Montepulciano and Buffalo wings! You dedicated love, cariño, time, and energy into developing wonderful relationships with each and every Aliadxs – me included. I am so deeply grateful for all our moments together – thank you for your loving guidance and leadership! Sending you and your fam mucho amor y “virtual” abrazos. Love you, Deb!
JV: I’m not forgetting you! Lobo is the best nickname I’ve ever had. So sorry we won’t get to see you rock sneakers with a sharp suit at the Gala this year – haha. Thank you for all the support and encouragement! Hope we can all get together again once La Rona is gone.
— Tania Wolf
Javier, for 10 years we have watched you march, lead, organize, and even marathon for justice with MRNY.
you bring beautiful gifts to the work: a mind for strategy, an ability to build relationships across issues and identities, persistent hopefulness, a determination that means you never give up. at the heart of it all, you bring a true belief in what people can do together, and a deep love for our communities even when the rest of the world discounts us. you inspire us to keep loving and keep fighting. we are so proud of who you are, and all you’ve accomplished. congratulations, cuñado. may the light of your heart illuminate the path forward. we love you!
— mariam & lynn
I’m extremely proud of you, Javier Valdes: a man of compassion, integrity, selflessness and enormous energy to do right for the disadvantaged and the community.
Your tireless efforts for bringing justice to immigrants speaks to this endless drive.
Your tenacity to oppose individual greed and prevent the building of the Major League Soccer stadium so that the park could remain for the community brought joy to many.
Your seal of leadership was to ensure Make The Road built a first-class building for all your associates and members.
I am proud to have you as my son in law.
I love you,
“What we do in life echoes throughout eternity.” -Marcus Aurelius
Javier exemplifies this thought having dedicated his life to improving humanity. His selflessness to help those in most need is a shining light to all that America has to offer. All one can do is hope to have lived a life full of purpose and one that improved the planet. Javier continues to show that changing the world is possible. Cheers to Javier. I know we all stand excited to see what more he will do to improve this world.
— Hector Valle
Thanks to Deb, everyone in New York can see, plainly, Amazon’s misdeeds to immigrants, workers, our air, our public coffers and our democracy. Thanks to Deb’s tirelesness and tenacity, Athena is building a force to fights back harder and dream bigger, about what we might have instead of this Amazon economy. Congratulations, Deb on all you’ve accomplished!
Congratulations Javi! We are very proud of all your accomplishments at MTRNY. Your dedication to all the families that depend on MTRNY to improve their lives is admirable. The passion you have to make sure that everyone has a fair chance to succeed is contagious and shows in how the people taking over have ascended through the ranks at MTRNY. You leave a legacy that others can use to build upon and continue to improve the everyday life of everyone y’all help. We wish you luck in your new endeavors and know that Big things are ahead!
— The Valdes-Hillers
Javier and Deb took the reins at one of the strongest organizing groups in the country and took it stratospheric. The members and leaders make up the heart and soul of the organization, and Deb and Javier deployed their strategic brilliance and strong management to bring the organized voices of communities to bear on the most important issues of our time: full immigrant inclusion, education, racial justice, housing, political voice, inequality, gender equity, and much more. Congratulations to the both of you!
— Brian Kettenring
Congratulations on all the work you’ve done to build Make the Road, Deb, and for leaving the organization in such great hands. We first met before you took on co-leading MTR, and it’s been awesome to watch the organization grow under your leadership. I’ve always been impressed by your razor sharp strategic thinking, and your commitment to building power for MTR members. Congrats, I hope you get a BREAK, and I can’t wait to see where you go next!
— Ilana Berger
Mazel tov to Make the Road New York, Deb and Javier. Deb, I am so proud of your fierce activism, commitment and leadership. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to make our world more just and equitable, one in which no one is left behind. You are an inspiration! May Make the Road go from strength to strength and continue its incredible work for decades to come!
— Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann
Thank you Deb for your incredible contributions during your decade building Make the Road with Javier. With your vision, drive, solidarity and decency, you and MTR’s members have helped transform New York in so many ways. From city and state policy wins too numerous to count, to helping build the new progressive movement that’s starting to change state and local politics, to putting big ideas on the national policy landscape, you’ve been one of the movement and thought leaders who have left the biggest marks on New York in recent years. Thank you for all you’ve done – and I look forward to your next act.
With gratitude and solidarity,
Paul Sonn, National Employment Law Project
Deb and I first met in 2005 after she ignored my application for a summer internship, so I called her directly. Not many legal directors would take the time to talk and listen to a cold-call candidate, but I am grateful she did. And in that first interaction I experienced much of what made and makes Deb such an impressive and impactful leader. Deb: congratulations on your remarkable tenure. Your tenacity, wisdom, and kindness are second to none. You very much have made the road by walking it.
— Geoff Davenport
Deb and Javier have been visionary leaders of an organization that has made a real difference to the people of NYC. MTR, under Deb and Javier’s leadership, has provided concrete, life-altering support, legal support, eviction prevention support, to so many immigrants and working people in NYC, offering the kind of advocacy and direct action that is so very needed. MTR has also emerged as a major source of energy in moving various progressive causes forward in NYC, policy and other efforts that center the needs of workers, immigrants, women and people of color. Deb is also a friend and a neighbor who, despite her intense job, always found time to be a good friend and a good neighbor. She lives the MTR ethos personally and it has been an honor to witness her leadership and partnership as she and Javier have made NYC a better place to live for all.
I have had the honor of working with Deb and Javier over the last decade to build power for immigrants and working people in NYC and the entire mid-atlantic. There is no one I would rather be in the trenches with. Their ability to combine strategic instincts, smarts and a deep passion and love for their members is unique. i know that they are leaving Make the Road a stronger, more powerful organization than it was when they got there and i can’t wait to see what they do next and how the members of Make the Road continue to build upon their legacy.
— Arnold Rodriguez III
Congratulations to Deb on her tenure at Make the Road. As a longtime friend and running partner, I can say that Deb’s casual friendliness and modesty belie the impressive force within. From quelling corruption at Wells Fargo and calling out worker exploitation at Amazon, to organizing car wash workers and championing immigrant rights, she leads and inspires and is always, always a team player. She will apply her formidable work ethic to whatever comes next, and I wish her the best, but also hope she will get some time away from her laptop, more sleep, and more time to run!
— Rachel Wolfe
Deb Axt is our ocean. We rise with her. When we harness her force, we marvel as the landscape shifts with her. Her tides carry us, shape us, keep us raw and aware, and comfort us. Her saltwater can sting or buoy (depending on your intention). Her resolve is both natural and eternal. We cannot attempt to hold onto the vast ocean – but we can stand at her shoreline in awe, exhale in deep gratitude, and smile knowing that she will be with us forever.
Summer. 1994, Nashville, TN: Deb, a recent graduate from Vanderbilt and me from the University of Vermont. We were working side-by-side at a not-for-profit. I sat across from Deb the first day we met and during a break’, I blurted out, “Do you want to live together?” I didn’t know anything about Deb. I didn’t know if she had allergies, a pet – nothing! But what I did know is that I was drawn to Deb’s intellect, warmth and determination. Like many of you, I am gob smacked by her grit to fight the modern day Goliaths’ again and again. I am in awe of her love for her family – Mik, Zoey, and Elijah. As a friend, Deb is always there. At the height of MRNR fight against Amazon, Deb squeezed in a quick meal with me. Deb casually took a call/interview and when she finished I asked her, “who was that?” She answered, NBC. Mind you, I responded to a tinder message while she was changing the world.
Deb, I admire you. I love you. I celebrate you.
— Kimberly Penharlow
We’ve been so thrilled to see Deb’s leadership in support of Make the Road’s incredible growth and accomplishments. Thank you for your work with faith communities to bring more justice and dignity into our world! We’re proud to call you a friend and partner. Can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.
Thank you Deb Axt for almost two decades of organizing, leadership and action. You show us all the importance of smart and strategic leaders who keep the long view in their sights and the determined commitment to the long haul to make it happen. And, of course, with damn good organizing every step of the way.
With great admiration,
Donald Cohen, In the Public Interest
Te deseo lo mejor para esta nueva etapa tan importante en tu vida! Siempre has sabido elegir con inteligencia, solidaridad, y un gran corazón trabajos que han dejado huella en los más necesitados como lo hiciste en Guatemala y en esta organización de New York.
Siempre también admire tu virtud de caerle bien a todas las personas, tanto así que mis amigos en aquellos épocas querían pasar las anécdotas que hemos compartido contigo, (andate a tu casa Pablo y deja al don con nosotros, me decían, jajaja). Estoy seguro que encontrarás sin perder la fe ni la esperanza una oportunidad de hacer algo que te apasione por tu gran capacidad y experiencia. Tienes además una hermosa familia detrás apoyándote siempre.
Un fuerte abrazo fuerte de tu primo Pablo. Cariños y éxitos de parte de toda la familia.
From the very first Aliadxs meeting to the very last, you have never wavered in your support, enthusiasm, and vision – without you, the program could never have achieved all that it did. Thank you for putting in the time and the work to get to know us, thank you for challenging us and never being shy about having high expectations, and thank you for trusting us and letting us join you in supporting MRNY on the tumultuous journey that has been these last few years. We wish you all the best – you truly deserve it.
Deb, you are such a sharp, committed, and tenacious organizer. Like so many of us in New York’s progressive movement, I’ve learned so much from you over the years. Congratulations, dear Deb, on a decade of powerful and effective organizing! I hope we can find a new excuse for our highly productive 8 AM meetings.
The most innovative organizing in the country is coming from Deb and Javier. When I was hired to run digital for the Better Banks campaign it was through Make the Road and that was because it’s a space investing in creative online campaigning. So many organizations weren’t comfortable adopting the flexibility needed to do successful digital organizing but they are.
I was always blown away by the staff and member education work they lead. Who else gives staffers readings from Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Black Panther handbooks to prepare for an all-staff meeting? But that’s the sort of leadership Deb and Javier have: one that respects staff and members’ intelligence and leadership.
Your JFREJ family is kvelling, Deb! Thank you for your extraordinary leadership these 15 years, for your fierce dedication to immigrant and worker justice, for kicking so much tuchus in our shared commitment to keeping Amazon out of NYC, and for being such an incredible partner and big sister to JFREJ in the fight for a just city and state. We are deeply indebted to you for all you’ve done to advance a transformative agenda where all of us have the freedom, opportunity, and resources to thrive. Mabrook on your stellar tenure – may you go from strength to strength! Onwards, comrade!
— Audrey Sasson / Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ)
Deborah Axt is a fierce fighter for justice, a leader who brings grace and integrity to everything she does, a brilliant strategist, and a person whose love and commitment help us all show up as our best selves. I learned such an incredible amount in my years working for Deb — from how to be a mentor and supervisor, to how to pass groundbreaking state-level labor reform in record time! And the amazing leadership she has exercised with Javier — and how they’ve built Make the Road into an even more powerful force — has been so inspiring.
With so much love,