Welcome Lucia Martel-Dow, Our New Board Member
Ritter Center is proud to announce that Canal Alliance Director of Immigration and Social Services Lucia Martel-Dow has joined our board. Recently we had the opportunity to sit down with Lucia and connect on what drives her work both personally and professionally.
How did your life story begin and how does it currently connect to Ritter Center?
“I’m originally from Venezuela and always had a passion for social justice issues and human rights. I knew that I wanted to dedicate myself early in my career to be a public servant or work for some organization that wanted to improve people’s lives. While my career has spanned law school in Venezuela and working in Europe and the US, it is immigration that has always held a personal and professional interest for me. Some of my past work involved lack of access to health care for immigrants and part of that experience spurred me to return to law school to get three masters in law degrees!”
Tell me about your focus on work around the compelling issue of immigration.
“When I came to Canal Alliance, I knew that my passion for immigration law would be a primary focus. I am director of the immigration legal services department and now I also oversee the social services department. This is important because the issues immigrants face are not only related to the law, but to so many other key factors like economics, financial stability, health care access, social justice, services, jobs and living wages. It is my goal that immigrants have the same access to opportunities as everybody else. This is what draws me to Ritter Center. We must help people to overcome poverty. We must work to provide access to health care and substance abuse services, and homeless prevention for the immigrant community that is already disproportionately affected by many things, especially COVID.
Describe the impact of COVID on your work at Canal Alliance.
“The way in which these stark disparities and vast inequities are affecting people is where my training and education in humanitarian issues comes in. As I connect the dots, I see how much work we have to do. How can we handle logistics to deploy help as fast as possible to support our community? With the outbreak of COVID in the Canal area, we asked ourselves at Canal Alliance how we could make the first testing center in the Canal area of San Rafael. What is it we need to do? Canopies? Tables? Bring the tests and we’ll make it work. We closed a parking lot and had it up and running in less than a week! I am very grateful for the partnerships with the City of San Rafael, Marin County and all of the community organizations that we work with in the region.”
What inspired you to join the board of Ritter Center?
“I am so excited to join the board of Ritter Center. I hope to bring that same flexible, dynamic and adaptable spirit to Ritter. The work Ritter is doing aligns perfectly with my passion for inclusivity, health care access, preventing homelessness and helping people experiencing homelessness to overcome it. Working with Ritter Center and this community takes my entire life story, career pathway, personally held beliefs and melds them together into the perfect passionate role for me to work on these critical issues and continue to make a difference.”