Maria Elena Ramirez was born and raised in Othello, WA. An avid Real Change reader since 1994, Maria Elena appreciates what a community asset Real Change is and has been an active volunteer since September of 2012. Time spent in the vendor program quickly led to her getting to know and befriending many of the vendors. She is interested in supporting the advocacy program by providing them with many skills and support needed, to have their voice heard regarding unmet social services needs by their elected officials. A graduate of the University of WA, Maria Elena’s professional experiences include the healthcare field with the Epilepsy Foundation NW. She also has experience with outreach and advocacy efforts among communities that are marginalized and disenfranchised, including people with a physical and/or mental disabilities, people with a criminal record which makes housing, employment and educational opportunities near impossible, people of color, recent immigrants, and vulnerable children and adults. Maria Elena has served as a resource for Latino, first generation high school graduates pursuing a post K-12 education, as well as an education equity advocate to the Latino community, in eastern WA. Maria Elena looks forward to deepening her relationships with vendors and watching their self-confidence grow as they continue to inform and inspire people from all walks of life in Seattle to join them in bringing about real change in our hearts and actions.