About us

Our Mission
NAVIGATE is a non profit organization that builds power for immigration and education justice. Our community organizing and leadership development framework centers the realities of undocumented and mixed status Latinx families.
Navigate MN envisions a visible Latinx community that is recognized by it’s contributions to the state and the nation, with clear vehicles and tools to keep building intergenerational socioeconomic, cultural and political wealth that contributes to the wellbeing and the prosperity of all Minnesotans, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, immigration status, dis/ability and gender identity.


Our Staff

Emilia Gonzalez Avalos Executive Director

emiliaEmilia Gonzalez Avalos is a Mexican immigrant. Born in Mexico City, raised in Irapuato, Gto. and Minnesota, she joined her father in Minnesota years after he left their town looking for better job opportunities and a better future for his family. Family separation, border consciousness and transnational economy shaped her to become an immigration activist, feminist and advocate for human rights.

Emilia’s awards include Mano Amiga from Latino Economic Development Center, Advocate of the Year by Bush Foundation and CLUES, the 2017 Outfront Innovator Award and the 2016 MLK Distinguished Service Award by Governor Dayton’s Council on MKL. Emilia is alumna of the Hubert H. Humphrey Public Policy Fellows Program, the Roy Wilkins Community Fellows and current Emerging Leader Fellow with America Votes.  Emilia also builds community with her partner Daniel, her sons Joaquin and Daniel and daughter Miranda as members of Kalpulli Ketzalcoatlicue a traditional Aztec dance learning community for youth and their families.


Atom Robbinson Operations Manager

AtomAtom Robinson is the Operations Manager for Navigate MN. Before coming to Navigate, Atom organized for a wide variety of faith, labor, and community organizations on social, racial, and economic justice issues. He has his Master’s degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership from the University of Minnesota – Duluth and studied philosophy at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. Atom is a musician, and lives with his wife and daughter in St Paul.


Estefania Navarro Immigration Justice Organizer

foto estefaniaEstefania E. Navarro Hernandez is a proud Xicana first generation immigrant living with DACA status who draws upon her lived experiences as a community organizer, educator and community healing coach and to advance systemic change through community-centered policy.  She has attained an Associate in Arts from Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), and is working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Individualized Studies at Metropolitan State University. During her time as a student at MCTC she was recognized by the state-wide Minnesota State College Student Association as “Student Leader of the Year” for her dedicated organizing efforts statewide. One of her more recent accomplishments was completing training to become a certified Community Coach in Healing Justice through Joi Unlimited. In her spare time, Estefania loves to practice radical self-care.


Isaac Martin Senior Community Organizer

IsaacIsaac Martin has been an activist and organizer for over more than 17 years. He’s worked with diverse groups of youth, parents and community members on Environmental Justice, Education, Housing and Tenants rights campaigns in Los Angeles. Now as the Senior Community Organizer for Navigate MN, he continues to build on this work in his current home of Minneapolis, and is also a Direct Action trainer with the Ruckus Society.


Jose Alvillar Education Justice Organizer

joseJose Alvillar is an Education Justice Organizer for Navigate MN. As an individual with DACA status, he knows and recognizes the reality that many undocumented families have faced. During his high school years, he participated in the collective walkouts, marches, and rallies that eventually pushed for the Prosperity Act of 2013. Jose studied Studio Arts, Philosophy, and Architecture at Augsburg University and currently attends Hamline University for his M.A. degree in Education. His work in the education sector has resulted in education organizing work for the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers as well as working on the Every Student Succeeds Acts with Education Minnesota and MN Department of Education to provide Latinx voices and representation. During his spare time, Jose presents workshops on dance, identity, and culture with Kalpulli Ketzalcoatlicue a community of indigenous Mexica dancers who are joined together by the desire to learn, share, and live the Aztec and Mexica dance traditions. Jose plans to continue his education and pursue his Ed. D and one day be able to push for an educational revolution.


Board of Directors

  • Iris Altamirano, Board Chair
  • Jessica Espinosa, MN State Colleges & Universities
  • Cindy Morales, Wilder Foundation
  • Irma Marquez, Hiawatha Academies
  • Brianna McPhee, MPS
  • Didi Malaga, SPPS
  • Daniel Perez, St. Louis Park School District


Our Story
Beginnings: Navigate was created in 2007 to address the growing need for resources that help immigrant students, regardless of immigration status, in Minnesota to pursue higher education. With that in mind, Navigate meets students and families where they are from the moment of our birth, and continues to do:
– Presentations to high school students, their families and educators about college access for students.
-Community service internships that develop leadership and professional skills.
– Scholarships for students who do not qualify for federal or state funding.
– Annual NAVIGATE Leadership Development and College Access for Young Immigrants in MN Conference.
– Regional Summits for Allies of MN Undocumented Students.
-Civic and voter engagement opportunities
In 2014, we sat down to create a plan to uplift a leaderful generation of Latinx folks. We have worked hard on visioning, arm teams, studying and applying models with a clear collective/community interests of moving power into prosperity with and for our communities. With new additions to our team both in staff and board, a merger soon to be anounced and intentional organizing infrastructure, we are almost ready to launch. #LatinxPoliticalPower STAY PUT!

http://thuginpastels.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/navigate-founders.jpgNAVIGATE Founders (Left to Right): Ulises, Victor, Linea Palmisano, Maria, Davis, & Juventino Meza (2007)


Some of NAVIGATE MN Partners
SEIU Local 26
Augsburg College
The Citizens League
College Possible
Conversations with Friends
Divine Mercy Catholic Church
Latino Economic Development Center Scholarship Program
Minneapolis Foundation
The Page Foundation
Minnesota Minority Education Partnership (MCAN)
Mounds View Public Schools
The Mexican Consulate in St. Paul
The Minnesota Department of Education
TORCH of Northfield
University of Minnesota, Office of Equity and Diversity
University of Minnesota Extension
Wellstone Action
Girl Scouts
Dakota County
Austin Public Schools District
Roseville High School
Neighborhood House in St. Paul
La Conexion
Centro Inc.
Childrens’ Defense Fund
League of Women Voters
Diversity Coalition of Faribault
Hope Center of Faribault
Centro Campesino
Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
La Raza Cultural Center of the University of Minnesota
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Chicano Studies, U of M
Inver Hills Community College
Mayflower United Church of Christ
Chaska High School
Richfield High School
El Colegio Charter School
Park Center High School
Richfield High School
Bel Air Elementary School
La Raza, U of M
Hopkins School District
Radio del Pueblo
Mujeres en Liderazgo
Minnesota Association of Counselors of ColorMinneapolis Public Schools – Global Education, Engagement Office
Green Central Park School
Corpus Christi Church, Roseville, MN
St. John Neumann, Eagan, MN
Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
Concordia University, St. Paul
Anderson United Community School
Brooklyn Junior High in Brooklyn Park
Macalester College
Casa Esperanza
Aqui Para Ti
Garden City Elementary School, Brooklyn Center, MN
Normandale Community College
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Metro State University
Jefferson Community School
South St. Paul High School, Abriendose Camino
Richfield High School
Macalester College
St. Cloud State University
North Park Elementary, Columbia Heights
Richfield Middle School
Gustavus Adolphus, Saint Peter, MN
Ramsey School, MPLS
Washington Technology Magnet
Hennepin Technical College
Cedar Park Latino Family Advocate
The Minnesota ESL, Bilingual & Migrant Education Conference
Mounds View Public Schools
Hamline University
Centro Inc.
Hiawatha Leadership Academies
Columbia Heights High School
Andersen United Community School

2 thoughts on “About us


    I met you all years ago while I was working at Youth Venture in 2007 when you brilliant idea was passed before one of our selection panel boards. I now work at Roosevelt High School and see flyers for your organization everywhere.

    I am TRHILLED to pieces with your success and how far you’ve been able to take your idea and dream.

    You all are truely an inspiration. I hope you are as proud of what you have accomplished as I am of you. I smile everytime I see your signs in our counseling office.

    Best of luck to you and NAVIGATE MN!

    Jessie R.

  2. Thank you! Feel free to invite us to speak with your students and of course share with them any materials!

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