Tara Parrish joined Pioneer Valley Project in 2012 as Director and Lead Organizer. Born and raised in Washington state, Tara has worked for racial and economic justice in communities across the country and internationally.
Since the mid 1990s, Tara has been developing grassroots leaders from rural south Louisiana to suburban Chicago, from Pueblo reservations in New Mexico to Hartford, Connecticut and now in Springfield, Massachusetts. At the center of Tara’s work is the belief that all people should have a voice in the decisions that impact their lives.
Tara has a long track record of bringing diverse groups together to work for a common goal. While working in Hartford, Tara led organizing efforts that resulted in the passage of ground-breaking local and state immigrant rights legislation in Connecticut. Tara has also organized successful campaigns around education, housing, community safety, utility reform and refugee rights. Tara also taught high school social studies in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
In addition to her organizing work, Tara has successfully pursued other interests which include co-founding the Capitol Cinema Collective and directing the Hartford International Film Festival. Tara has also worked with leaders and refugees in South Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia to improve educational and economic opportunities for communities impacted by conflict.
Tara earned a Bachelor of Sociology from Western Washington University. She holds a Master of Education from Louisiana State University.
Emily Rodriguez is originally from the Dominican Republic and came to the U.S. when she was 9 years old via Puerto Rico. Emily grew up in the Bronx and moved to Miami, Florida in 1999, where she lived for 11 years. Emily moved to Springfield, MA in 2010 to be close to her family and started working for her father as personal care assistant (PCA) and became involved with SEIU 1199. It was during this time that Emily became involved in her community by supporting PCA programs, participated in local campaigns and continues educating people about the importance of having a voice in their community and about voting rights.
Emily started organizing with Pioneer Valley Project in 2015. Emily’s work is focused on developing immigrant leaders and allies in the community who can be a voice for change and social justice.