Our members reflect a wide diversity in thought, experience and expertise – enriching each of us individually and strengthening us collectively.
Irma Márquez Trapero
Irma Márquez Trapero is the Executive Director of LatinoLEAD, a nonprofit organization of Latinx leaders across all sectors who join together to create innovative strategies to drive and define policies and perceptions that advance Latinx collective influence, success, and power. Irma is an immigrant from Culiacán, México. At the age of nine, her family emigrated to St. James, a small rural farm town in Southern Minnesota. She is a proud DREAMer and former Deferred Action (DACA) recipient. She’s passionate about the advancement of Latinx in the state of Minnesota and believes in the opportunity that Minnesota has to ensure this continues to be a great home for the Latinx community.
Irma has over 15 years of experience serving in the areas of community organizing, policy and political campaign work, immigration and employment law, nonprofit, and education. Irma holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Gustavus Adolphus College. She was also a 2015-2016 University of Minnesota's Humphrey Policy Fellow Alum and serves as a member of Make It. MSP Leadership Council, an initiative to have our region become a Top 10 metro at attracting and retaining talent, especially people of color. Most recently, she was accepted as a 2022 participant into Harvard Business School's Young American Leaders Program and was the winner of the 2023 Outstanding Community Builder Award recognized by the Minnesota Council of Latino Affairs and presented by Governor Tim Walz.
In her spare time, she enjoys musicals and live concerts, being with family, and exploring new places with friends. Her happy place is throwing down in the kitchen and you will likely find her exercising and biking outdoors in the summer.
Ph.D. Carla Manzoni
Director of Leadership Development
Dr. Carla Manzoni, PhD, MA, is the Director of Leadership Development at LatinoLEAD. An equity-centered strategist and community-based researcher and educator, Carla ’s goal is to create the infrastructure needed for more Latinx leaders in Minnesota to expand the success, influence, and power of our community. Carla started as LatinoLEAD’s Community Engagement Manager, where she successfully built community by bringing people in, helping educate and empower Latinx and allies and nourishing deep-rooted transformational connections. As the Director of Leadership Development, Carla continues to expand Latinx access, visibility and success via intentional programming, connections, partnerships and coalition building. Carla has co-created a pipeline to have more Latinx leaders in MN which includes the Avanzando Liderazgo Program (8 month leadership program for emerging and established leaders), events, collaborations and strategic convening to align efforts and boost collective power.
An immigrant and scholar with global connections and transnational lived experiences in South America, North America and Europe; Dr. Manzoni’s research has delved into marginal groups, memory, representation, gender, human rights, film & art, narratives of community and inclusive pedagogy. She is an expert narrative-building strategist focused on expansive allyship, pride and power. As educator and advising specialist, she impacted the lives of more than 800 students at the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College and Metropolitan State University.
A mom in Minneapolis, Carla is a leader of her community. She has volunteered to increase the representation and educational equity of the local immigrant, Spanish-speaking and Latinx populations.
Carla loves being in community. She enjoys celebrations, food, mate, exploring art with her family and friends, traveling, and dancing to very loud music.
Karen Velez Barron
Director of Finance & Operations
Karen Velez is an accomplished organizer and immigration advocate whose passion for human rights earned her the distinction of being named “40 Under 40: Latinos in American Politics” by the Huffington Post. Before joining Women Winning, Karen has years of experience working in operations and has managed grassroots fundraising programs and organized successful donor events as Deputy Finance Director. Her own immigration story and frustrations with America’s broken immigration system helped drive her efforts as the face of DACA Sin Miedo, a Minnesota awareness campaign for DACA recipients, while she was still a high school student.
Karen grew up in the suburbs of Minnesota surrounded by a large and close-knit family and eventually moved to Washington D.C. While in D.C., she majored in Political Science at George Washington University and worked as a paralegal at the nationally renowned, full-service immigration law firm, Benach Collopy. Karen’s experience in D.C. helped her build well-rounded experience managing various teams and legal research. Despite her love for the nation’s capital, Minnesota is home. She returned to be closer to her beloved family and to help Minnesota maintain its status as the Midwest’s progressive firewall.
Outside of her busy work life, Karen loves trying new, locally-owned Twin Cities restaurants, listening to her favorite podcasts, and of course, you can always find her spending time with her close friends and family.
Senior Communications Strategist
Elizabeth Godefoy is a Florida native who came to the Twin Cities to pursue her career working in the realm of social services. She has an extensive background in visual design and branding where she helped create the visual identity of several non-profit organizations in South Florida throughout her early career.
First-generation Cuban-America, Elizabeth was raised by immigrant parents and a family who came to the U.S. in aims of living outside the boundaries of the Castro Regime. With her grandfather being exiled from Cuba during El Mariel, Elizabeth's mother came to the states in the midst of high school. Her mother and father both inspired an admiration of education as well as a curiosity in socio-political climate.
Elizabeth was able to get an education in Mass Communications early on, attending a technical high school where she learned fundamental knowledge of media and visual communications. In her early years of college, she took several classes in journalism which helped her understand what career she wanted to pursue using a versatile set of skills. Elizabeth graduated with her degree in International Relations from Florida International University to pursue a career in the public sector.
She enjoys the outdoors, making a good cafecito, enjoying some good food with friends and spending the summer days on a paddle board and autumn nights star gazing around a fire, with a s'mores in hand of course.