MIRA Board of Directors…Bios Coming Soon!
Remember to click on the Board Members’ name to check out their affiliated websites!
Kate Berger, Treasurer
Lynda Callon has been Director of the Westside Community Action Network Center (Westside CAN Center) in Kansas City since 2000. One of the programs of the Westside CAN Center is the oversight and management of a day laborer center for migrant immigrant men.
The WCAN Center was instrumental administrative policy changes whereby the City, Kansas City MO, Jackson County, MO and the KCMO Police Department would accept consular identification cards or matriculas as an acceptable form of identification to do business with the City or County and as an acceptable ID for law enforcement officers to accept. The WCAN Center was instrumental in changing the City of KCMO’s theft ordinance to include theft of wages. She has been advocating in Jefferson City, MO and Topeka KS on behalf of beneficial legislation for immigrants and refugees since 2002. She is a founding member of MIRA and co-coordinates MIRA activities in Kansas City.
Attorney Jim Hacking represents individuals and companies working the immigration maze. He is in private practice with an office in Webster Groves. Jim enjoys helping his clients with family and employment based visas, obtaining lawful permanent resident status and citizenship. He also spends a significant portion of his work time on deportation cases.
Jim is married and has four children. He coaches little league baseball and is a leader with Cub Scout Pack 305.
Co-founder of IFCLA in 1982, Marilyn has been Program Coordinator since 2006. She lived in Chile (1975-76) and has traveled to a number of Latin American countries taking students to Central America since 1994. IFCLA works on issues related to Immigration, Trade Justice, Anti-militarism and Accompaniment of Latin Americans in their struggles for social justice and human rights.
A native of St. Louis, she is a retired Theology teacher/campus minister with volunteer/ board experience with St Louis Women in Ministry, International Partners in Mission, the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma, the Alexandra Ballet Company, Inter-Community Justice Ministry, Professional Latino Action Network, Honduras Solidarity Network, Missouri Association for Social Welfare and the World Community Center. She is recipient of the Shalom Award from Eden Seminary and the Mary Rhodes Award from the Loretto Community.
A native of Colombia, Juan Montaña is an art entrepreneur who has dedicated his time to providing creative photography services in the St. Louis metro area. Juan and his wife Erin own Cherokee Photobooth. www.cherokeephotobooth.com
Juan has put together several community events such as Free Easter Pictures and Free Halloween Pictures. With his wife Erin, he also photographed every wedding at the St Louis Courthouse for six months during 2011.
He has participated on the Cinco de Mayo Festival, International Dine Around and the May Day Festival on Cherokee Street. He has worked for several non-profit organizations such as the Red Cross of Greater St Louis, The Incarnate Word Foundation and St Louis Artworks. He has also done work for various corporate clients and other local commercial clients such as Purina, Red Latina and STL STyLe.
Juan also works as a Union Organizer and representative for SEIU.
Peggy Munson, Secretary
Joan Suarez, Chair
Born in Minneapolis in 1938, Joan spent her teen years in San Diego. She returned to Minneapolis in 1958 to finish an undergraduate degree in political science and a master’s degree in industrial relations at the University of Minnesota. Her first job was as a Labor Education Specialist at the University of West Virginia.
Joan went to work for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America as an Education Director in 1962. She first arrived in St. Louis in 1964. She met and married her husband, Joseph Suarez, and, in 1971, the union sent them to organize in Texas. A “wildcat walkout” at the Farah Manufacturing Company in the midst of an organizing campaign in 1972 escalated into a twenty-two month strike and boycott during which Joan had the opportunity to put into action the community coalition building skills she had been teaching at central labor bodies in West Virginia a decade earlier. Farah workers, almost all of whom were first and second generation Latino, succeeded in gaining union recognition and a collective bargaining contract in 1974.
During the next ten years, Joan led successful organizing campaigns in south Texas at a number of apparel plants along the border of Mexico. She was named District Director for the union in 1981. Elected to the National Board of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and president of the San Antonio Labor Council, Joan organized voter registration and get-out-the vote efforts for working families throughout south Texas. In 1987, Joan returned to St. Louis as Regional Director for the Southwest and was elected as an international Vice President of ACTWU (now UNITE-HERE). She also served as the international union chairperson for nation-wide bargaining for Levi Strauss workers. Levi Strauss plants were mostly located in southern states, with concentration along the Texas –Mexico border. During her tenure as Regional Director, she had oversight for numerous successful industrial and service industry organizing campaigns throughout the Southwest, bringing thousands of Latino workers into union membership.
After her retirement in 2001 Joan became a volunteer leader in Jobs With Justice, a coalition of some 85 unions, community and faith-based organizations. She serves as co-chair of the Worker Rights Board. As chair of the JwJ Immigrant Rights Action Task Force, she helped organize the 2003 Rally to Welcome the Immigrant Worker Freedom Riders as they came through Saint Louis on their way to Washington, D.C.. In the Fall of 2006, JWJ hosted a meeting of immigrant rights advocacy and service organizations that led to the formation of the Missouri Immigrant & Refugee Advocates. Joan chairs this new state-wide coalition, which now has over 40 organizational affiliates across the state of Missouri.
An anti-war activist since the Vietnam War, Joan is a member of the Board of Directors of the Peace Economy Project, has served on the steering committee for Instead of War and is a Co-Convenor of Labor Against War. She is also a Board member of the Interfaith Legal Services for Immigrants and the Consumer Council of Missouri.
Joan’s ethnic background on her maternal side is Norwegian. In 1980, she stood, with her mother, on the site of her great grandfather’s farm just outside Bergen, Norway where an anthrax outbreak killed all of the sheep that this young farmer and his new bride had invested in and led to the family’s emigration to the United States to make a new start. Several years ago, Joan had the opportunity to visit a bookstore/library in Belfast, Ireland, where she was able to trace her paternal ancestors to a County in Northern Ireland. Family history speculates that her father’s ancestor’s first arrived in the United States as indentured servants. Her husband’s family emigrated from Mexico to St. Louis during the Mexico civil war in 1910.