About Us

College should be free. We organize students, faculty, and community to win it.

Communities for Our Colleges (C4C) is a multiracial student-centered campaign in Washington State that works to improve the state’s community colleges by engaging students, faculty, staff, and the community to advocate for improved funding, access, and racial equity.

Communities for Our Colleges (C4C) is a multiracial student-centered campaign in Washington State. We work to improve the state’s community colleges by engaging students, faculty, staff, and the community to advocate for improved funding, access, and racial equity.

Washington’s thirty-four community and technical colleges are engines of local economies, individual advancement, and racial justice. Community colleges are essential to successful four-year colleges. They serve communities of color and low-income communities. They prepare tomorrow’s workers. And they offer opportunities to the underserved. Our community colleges benefit all Washingtonians. Full and equitable funding for our colleges is an investment in a prosperous and equitable future for the state.

Our campaign includes a coalition of student, community and labor organizations from around the state who are committed to the fight for our colleges.

Communities for Our Colleges is a campaign of Just Strategy, 501 (c)(4). Our 501(c)(3) partner organization is Alliance for a Just Society.

Our team

Fernando Mejia Ledesma


Fernando is the Campaigns Director for the Alliance for a Just Society. He has twenty years of organizing and policy experience with many labor, community, and racial and economic justice organizations in Washington State and across the U.S. Fernando migrated from Mexico at sixteen years old and recently became a U.S. citizen and voted for the first time in 2021. He sits on the board of the Tubman Center for Health & Freedom and the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

Xochilt Lopez

Central WA Organizer

Xochilt Is an Organizer for Communities for Our Colleges. She emigrated from Jalisco, Mexico in 2009, and is a mother of three. She worked in Yakima-area packing warehouses for many years. Xochilt pursued a community college degree at Yakima Valley College in order to improve her English, find a job supporting her family, and help the community. At YVC, she founded Connection Bridge, a student club that helps students navigate their college experience. 

Gabby Fitz

Western WA Organizer

Gabby (she/her/ella) is an Organizer for Communities for Our Colleges. She is originally from Boise, Idaho, and began working for Alliance for a Just Society in 2022. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Spanish from Seattle University. Gabby’s values align with AJS’s work in community organizing and empowering self-advocacy. During her downtime, you can catch her happily immersed in the art of crocheting.

Lina Ulloa

Organizing Fellow

Lina was born in Bogota, Colombia where she was a business administrator with a specialty in marketing. She moved to the US in 2020. She lives in Yakima and is taking English as a Second Language classes. She wants to revalidate her studies from Colombia to study Social Work. She has a baby, which is her motivation to continue with her studies. She has immense support from her family and through personal experiences she likes to help others and prove to herself that with small actions big changes can be achieved.

Paul Ryan Villanueva

Organizing Fellow

Paul recently graduated with my master’s degree in Public Administration at the University of Washington, and is a graduate of Green River College. He studied environmental policy and equity processes within public policy during his time in graduate school. Paul’s work experience has mostly been with activism on undocumented immigrants and labor rights. Currently, he’s the civic engagement director for EmpoweringAPI, an undocuLed organization based in Los Angeles. He has worked with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) Seattle Chapter on mostly organizing and project coordinating.

Edith Uscanga Morales

Organizing Fellow

Edith Uscanga Morales is originally from the City of Mexico. In the U.S., Edith has worked in the agricultural fields, as a waitress, and daycare provider. She is currently attending Yakima Valley College in Grandview to learn
English and then to pursue her GED. Her goal is to work at the state legislature or become a lawyer to be able to help her community. Edith is excited to be a fellow with C4C and hopes to engage other CTC and high school students in the fight for free college.

Dafne Piñon-Guzman

Organizing Fellow

Dafne was born in Mexico City and moved to Washington before the age of 2. She is currently a student at Everett Community College. Once she is done, she plans to transfer to Washington State University, where she will finish her major in athletic training. Her dream job is to work for a professional soccer team, ideally the Seattle Sounders. Helping out those around her is something she is passionate about. She wants to be able to share her story and experiences with others to show them anything is possible if you put your mind to it. In her free time, she loves spending time with her loved ones. This can include anything from watching movies together to going out and trying new foods to going on hikes.

Former Organizing Fellows

Maria Barrios (2024): Maria was born in Hidalgo, Mexico. Her goal is to advocate for undocumented immigrants in her community. She recently graduated from Heritage University with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Psychology. Maria’s ultimate goal is to become a dentist and contribute to her underserved community. To achieve this, she plans to continue her education at Yakima Valley College and obtain a second bachelor’s degree in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. Once her immigrant status is resolved, Maria hopes to apply for the PNWU School of Dental Medicine and become a dentist. When Maria is not working towards her goals, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, hiking, and cooking.

Min Young Sung (2024): Min (she/her) is currently an engineering student at UW. She was born in Seoul, South Korea and moved to Washington with her family in 2007. Min recently graduated from Shoreline Community College with her associate’s degree, and as a first gen immigrant, she values highly the importance of accessible education for all. In her free time she loves crocheting,  watercolor painting, photography, and all things artistic.

Rae Watkins (2023): Rae is a student at South Puget Sound Community College student. They are returning student studying music and education. As a returning student, accessible education is important to them. They are fortunate enough to have a highly affordable living situation with their family. Even with scholarships, minimal bills, and multiple on-campus jobs, making ends meet in today’s world is tricky at best. They joined the C4C to represent students like themself, their friends, and their colleagues. From running start to returning, all students deserve the best chance at success. 2023

Noemi Correa (2023): Noemi was an Organizing Fellow from Yakima Valley College. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and migrated to Washington State in 2019. She is also a mother of two college students. She supports free college because a college education prepares young people to make important contributions to society.

Zoe Hawkins (2023): Zoe Hawkins was a fellow with C4C and a student at South Seattle College. She believes in free college because all education, including higher education is a right that should be available to everyone for free. Most entry level jobs require at least an Associates Degree if not higher. Yet, so few people can go to college because of the costs. Having an educated and talented workforce will only benefit the economy, yet our society refuses to invest in the education of younger generations. We need free college for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Lourdes Villa Perez (2023): Lourdes was born in the health clinic of Atotonilco El Grande, Hidalgo, Mexico. She is the youngest daughter of 6 children. In January 2015, Lourdes arrived in the U.S. , and currently lives in Yakima, Washington. She has attended Davis High School where in the 9th grade started taking ESL classes to learn English. She is the first member of her family to learn English and graduate from a school in the U.S. She began cosmetology school, but had to step back; she then went to work at an apple packing warehouse for 5 years and is currently a farmworker. She’s excited to go back to school in the fall of 2023 at Yakima Valley College. 2023

Kamila Rubio (2023): Kamila was born in Mexico and lived and studied there most of her life. She came to the United States at the age of 15 because her mother married, and they moved here as a family. She left behind her other family members and friends. Also, she had to restart some of the classes she had already taken in Mexico, all while learning a new language. In 2021, she received Washington State High Achieving Migrant Student of the Year Award for her determination to overcome obstacles and reach her education goals. Her short-term goals are to get a bachelor’s degree in business administration while continuing to maintain good grades. Obtaining her degree will help ensure that she can support herself financially and provide a comfortable life for herself. She has many passions, some of them are riding horses, exercising, singing, reading, drawing, solving math problems, and swimming.