Who is COFEM?
Get to know us.
The Council of Mexican Federations in North America (COFEM) is a non-profit organization aimed at creating opportunities for Latino Immigrants in North America, with a special focus in California. We are a community-based umbrella organization established by a league of federations or groups of people who share ideas and have continually participated in efforts to improve educational, health, social, and political conditions for our communities.
COFEM has defined specific themes, priorities, and the needs of greatest impact and interest to the Latino immigrant community, including binational economic development, civic participation, education, health, and organizational development.
Bi-national Economic Development
COFEM's bi-national economic development programs provide immigrants with the necessary tools to work and prosper within the context of America's complex financial and banking system. The bi-national economic programs also assist COFEM's member organizations with technical assistance to facilitate economic development projects in Mexico.
COFEM's civic participation programs are aimed at strengthening the Latino community's role in the political process and ensuring that the Latino immigrant's voice is included in decision-making forums at state and federal levels in both the United States and Mexico.
COFEM's educational programs are intended to increase educational opportunities for children and adults in the Latino immigrant community. A critical aspect of children's academic success is parent involvement. In recognition of this, COFEM's educational programs target the high drop-out rate of Latino students by involving parents in the educational process. COFEM also promotes early childhood education programs and initiatives.
COFEM's health initiatives focus on wellness and disease prevention. The objective of these programs is to foster a culture of health and wellness and, at the same time, address the economic, educational, linguistic, and cultural barriers that affect the distribution of health services.
COFEM's organizational development programs are aimed at strengthening COFEM's internal organizational structure, processes, and overall functioning. This emphasis on organizational development ensures a vibrant, resilient, and enduring organization, which in turn places COFEM in a powerful position to assist the Latino community through current and future service offerings. Moreover, as COFEM embraces additional Clubs and Mexican Federations, COFEM can play an even stronger role and wield more significant political influence on behalf of the Latino community.
Meet the Team
Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, Francisco has resided in Los Angeles for 36 years and has 22 years of experience as a community leader and activist. He studied law at the University of Guadalajara and television production in Mexico City. Francisco became COFEM's third Executive Director in 2020.
Sendy Hernández Orellana Barrows
Conservation Program Manager - Coachella Valley Office
Originally from Jalisco, Mexico, Sendy grew up in the Coachella Valley and is a passionate advocate for land conservation, diversity, and inclusion in the outdoors. She leads the expansion of the Conservation Program by overseeing land conservation advocacy efforts and creating and implementing community educational and recreational opportunities.
Rafael Fabian, D.V.M.
Immigrant Integration Program Coordinator - Los Angeles Office
Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, Rafael graduated from U.M.S.N.H., School of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnics in 1990. He migrated to the United States in 1992. Before joining COFEM and obtaining accreditation with the Department of Justice (DOJ), Rafael was a representative of Saber es Poder (SEP) at the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles.
Omar Gabriel Huitzil
Program Assistant, Immigrant Integration
Los Angeles Office
Gabriel has been assisting applicants with the naturalization process for the past 15 years where he has worked and volunteered with countless non-profit organizations, law schools and colleges to help residents become US Citizens. He is currently pursuing his education at Cerritos College with an emphasis in Chicano Studies and Political Science. He is fascinated by different languages and is currently learning Korean.
Jose Francisco Manzo
Conservation Fellow - Coachella Valley Office
Jose attended Humboldt State University in Arcata, California where he graduated with a B.A. in Native American Studies and Liberal Studies Elementary Education. Studying in the heart of the redwoods, his passion for nature and land conservation grew quickly. He assists COFEM in creating conservation advocacy through education and outdoor recreation.
General Manager, Los Angeles and Coachella Office
Ianai Molina joined COFEM in March 2017 after being a continuous volunteer with the organization for four years. She is Program Manager with the Immigration Integration Program. Mrs. Molina is a DOJ-accredited representative; she assists with the application completion for DACA, I-90 renewals, and Citizenship. She continues to participate in trainings to expand her knowledge of immigration practices. Mrs. Molina attended Glendale Community College and she is currently attending Pasadena Community College to achieve certification as Social and Human Services Assistant. She is married and has a daughter attending LAUSD. These days she is volunteering with Anahuak Youth Sports Association to help in soccer practice and develop knowledge of open spaces in the community.
Field Organizer, Los Angeles Office
Omar has been a longtime resident of South East LA. Omar has been dedicated to public service in social issues such as immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, education, and conservation for the past 15 + years. He has worked in the community to advocate for the DREAM Act, increase voter registration, organize higher education programs for students and parents, conservation of public green spaces and promote public participation in the legislative process. He believes in empowering low-income communities by building power through collective action and like his saying goes "An organized community is an empowered community".
Operations and Administration Coordinator
Bio and picture coming soon.
Mental Health Program Assistant, Coachella Valley Office
Originally from Puebla Mexico and raised in the Coachella valley. She has a passion for Mental health which is why she decided to obtain her AA in Psychology from College of the Desert, she is now pursuing her BA in Psychology at California State University of San Bernardino. Her passion lies in mental health awareness within the Latin community, while trying to break the stigma that shadows it. She believes that we can create a society that embraces and supports mental well-being and lead a way in a new era of healing and resilience among our diverse community
Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She has been working in the non-profit sector since 2011. In her previous role as a program coordinator for the Center for Civic Education, a national organization, she's learned the practical skills necessary to coordinate with nationwide partners, effectively oversee grant implementation and reporting, and plan and execute programs based on grant requirements. Through her many roles, she's learned that no one entity can fix our broken systems. Through partnerships and meaningful community investment, we strive to address social justice issues with the goal of advancing our communities.
Jessica graduated from Cal State University, Northridge, with a Master's in Public Administration and received a Bachelor's from the University of California, Riverside, with a double major in Philosophy and Political Science.
Originally from Totonicapán, Guatemala. She migrated to the United States in 2016 as an unaccompanied minor. Yessenia recently graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish, Community, and Culture. She is passionate about social justice and hopes to positively impact her community.
Immigration Integration Program Assistant, Coachella Valley
Citlali joined the team in June of 2023 and is a former volunteer and scholarship recipient at COFEM. She comes from a long bloodline of Mexica (Aztec) dancers and advocates. Her passion towards the Eastern Coachella Valley and Immigrant Dignity is the reason she became a community organizer at the age of 16. She obtained two associate degrees in Political Science from College of the Desert and Social & Behavior Science from California Indian Nations College. She holds a certification in Entrepreneurship and Non-Profit Managment from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) and a certification in Mental Health Aid from the Riverside University Health System. Currently, Armenta is working towards her accreditation with the Department of Justice and continuing her studies in Public Policies and Behavior Science at UCR. Her career goals are to grow within COFEM, become a Lawyer and Public Policy Advocate in efforts of helping the immigrant community.
Office Manager, Coachella Valley Office
Bio coming soon.
Higher Education Community Organizer, Coachella Valley
Originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, Marisol grew up in the Coachella Valley. She graduated with a BA in Sociology from the University of California, Riverside becoming the first in her family to graduate from a University. Marisol has dedicated her life to serving our community. She recently joined our team as the Higher Education Community Organizer where she will help high school and college students in the Coachella Valley attain their goal of pursuing a college education and being successful at that through workshops, providing resources and through advocacy efforts in pursuit of equitable and inclusion policies and practices in higher education systems in California. Marisol understands how difficult it can be navigating college especially as a low-income, Latinx student and wants to instill into other students that a higher education is within their reach..
Board of Directors
Carlos Iván González, Federación de Nayaritas en Estados Unidos
Dr. Ilan Shapiro Strygler, AltaMed
Idelfonso Gastelum, Fraternidad Sinaloense de California
Xóchitl Castañeda, Ph.D., UC Berkeley
Regina Vega, Federación de Guanajuatenses
Jaime Lucero, Mi Casa es Puebla (NY)
Luis Escalera, Federación de Michoacán
Maria Elena Serrano, 24 Hour Real Estate
Imelda Beltran, Fraternidad Sinaloense de California
Francisco Moreno, Council of Mexican Federations in North America (COFEM)