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Powerful Women Making a Positive Impact and Pushing Boundaries

April 29, 2022

Marin Magazine featuring Air Gallegos

by Donna Berry Glass

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, San Rafael’s Canal District was hit disproportionately harder than other areas in the county. At the center was Canal Alliance, a nonprofit organization based in the neighborhood that empowers immigrants to break the generational cycle of poverty in Marin. As a key member of Canal Alliance’s leader-ship team, Air Gallegos held fast to her biracial Chicana background to find the strength and resolve to help Canal’s mostly LatinX community members who, on average, live 200% below the poverty line, through pandemic hardships. “Prior to the pandemic, our community faced educational inequities; lack of access to infra-structure, such as digital connectivity, housing instability and basic needs instability; and layers of trauma from experiences of racism, poverty and migration,” Gallegos says. “Yet the pandemic pulled back the veil of deep systemic inequities (even further), and while we were balancing the pain that was happening, we also found places of opportunity to create lasting change.”

During the pandemic, Canal Alliance distributed more than $3 million dollars in financial support to families in dire need, plus offered rental assistance, online educational support, and an entire mesh internet network for local families to access vital health and resource information. It also engaged in criti-cal policy and advocacy work to change the systems that have been causing inequities in the first place. Gallegos attests that being a leader during the pandemic was both the biggest challenge and accomplishment of her career. “The pan-demic has forever changed my leadership; it has pulled out what has always existed within me but was quieter: integrity, justice, advocacy and adaptability,” she says. “The last two years have been an incredible practice in change, and have pushed me to stay true to myself and the community I work in partnership with while holding the dream of a more just future.”

Read the full story on Marin Magazine here:

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