top of page

Nuestros miembros reflejan una amplia diversidad de pensamiento, experiencia y conocimientos, enriqueciéndonos a cada uno de nosotros individualmente y fortaleciéndonos colectivamente.


Irma Márquez Trapero

Director ejecutivo

LatinoLEAD es una organización sin fines de lucro de líderes latinos de todos los sectores que se unen para crear estrategias innovadoras para impulsar y definir políticas y percepciones que promuevan la influencia, el éxito y el poder colectivos de los latinos.

Irma es una inmigrante de Culiacán, México. A la edad de nueve años, su familia emigró a St. James, una pequeña ciudad rural en el sur de Minnesota. Ella es una orgullosa receptora de DREAMer y Deferred Action (DACA). Le apasiona el avance de Latinx en el estado de Minnesota y cree en la oportunidad que tiene Minnesota para garantizar que este continúe siendo un gran hogar para la comunidad Latinx.

Irma tiene más de 10 años de experiencia sirviendo en las áreas de organización comunitaria, políticas y trabajo de campañas políticas, leyes de inmigración y empleo, organizaciones sin fines de lucro y educación. Más recientemente, se desempeñó como directora de talento en Hiawatha Academies, una red escolar de alto rendimiento, durante una fase de crecimiento y expansión significativos.

Irma tiene una licenciatura en ciencias políticas de Gustavus Adolphus College. Además, actualmente se desempeña como presidenta de la junta directiva de Immigrant Law of Center of Minnesota (ILCM), una organización sin fines de lucro que brinda asistencia legal de inmigración a inmigrantes y refugiados de bajos ingresos en Minnesota.


Karen Velez Barron

Chief Operations Officer

Karen Velez is an accomplished organizer and immigration advocate whose passion for human rights earned her the distinction of being named “40 Under 40: Latinos in American Politics” by the Huffington Post. Before joining Women Winning, Karen has years of experience working in operations and has managed grassroots fundraising programs and organized successful donor events as Deputy Finance Director. Her own immigration story and frustrations with America’s broken immigration system helped drive her efforts as the face of DACA Sin Miedo, a Minnesota awareness campaign for DACA recipients, while she was still a high school student. 

Karen grew up in the suburbs of Minnesota surrounded by a large and close-knit family and eventually moved to Washington D.C. While in D.C., she majored in Political Science at George Washington University and worked as a paralegal at the nationally renowned, full-service immigration law firm, Benach Collopy. Karen’s experience in D.C. helped her build well-rounded experience managing various teams and legal research. Despite her love for the nation’s capital, Minnesota is home. She returned to be closer to her beloved family and to help Minnesota maintain its status as the Midwest’s progressive firewall.

Outside of her busy work life, Karen loves trying new, locally-owned Twin Cities restaurants, listening to her favorite podcasts, and of course, you can always find her spending time with her close friends and family.

Screenshot 2024-03-19 at 11.11.14 AM.png

Melissa Vazquez

Communications & Community Engagement Manager

Melissa Gonzalez Vazquez is a polished individual and human rights advocate whose personal experiences with diverse immigrant communities drew her to nonprofits that celebrate and synergize Latine leadership from wide age ranges. Drawing from her firsthand encounters with the transformative impact of Latine-focused nonprofits, Melissa is dedicated to enhancing our community’s access, visibility, and success through purposeful programming, cross-sector partnerships, impactful narratives, and cross-cultural coalition building efforts. She’s passionate about building and showcasing Latine collective power across the Western Hemisphere and believes that Minnesota is an excellent hub to foster Latine leadership infrastructure and strategies. After building professional experience alongside leadership campaigns in Illinois, California, Florida, and throughout Texas, she is dedicated to connecting emerging vanguards across industries and highlighting our Latine community’s assets.


Melissa spent her childhood in Houston where she was immersed in ‘Tex-Mex’ culture and other international identities before relocating to Northfield, Minnesota to study at Carleton College. Upon completing her undergraduate degree in Political Science–International Relations, she stayed in Minnesota and focused her professional career on non-profit communications. Her background in congressional campaign communications and designing nationwide Latine leadership programming reinforced her passion for aligning Latine efforts and amplifying its collective influence through narrative writing, digital marketing and graphic design. 

Beyond her professional pursuits, Melissa finds joy in hanging out with her cats, attending high energy concerts, discovering hidden gem nature trails, and delving into the enchanting realms of fantasy literature during her leisure time. In the summer, you’ll likely find her swimming in  a nearby lake!

Brenda Headshot 2024 (1).jpeg

Brenda Sanchez

Director of Leadership Programs

Brenda Sanchez serves as the dynamic Director of Leadership Programs. Most recently, she worked at the University of Southern California (USC) Race & Equity Center, where she supported K-12 racial equity programming and played a crucial role in the development of the Compton College Faculty Prep Academy. Prior to her time at USC, Brenda served as the coordinator for Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan's Children's Cabinet at the Minnesota Department of Management & Budget. Brenda also served under former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) in Washington D.C. Wanting to serve her Minnesota community, she also served U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. Through the City of Minneapolis Urban Scholars program, Brenda served in diverse roles, from working at Minneapolis Animal Control to contributing to youth and leadership development programming in Governor Dayton's Office. Through CHCI, Urban Scholars, and USC, she discovered her passion for pipeline programs, noting the potential they hold in shaping future leaders. With her extensive background in public sector roles, coupled with her participation in leadership programs for people of color, Brenda brings her expertise to LatinoLEAD. 


Brenda holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Southern California and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Sociology and Political Science from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

bottom of page