In its annual report, The Boston Foundation (TBF) decided to profile leaders of social justice and public service from across the city.
One of those remarkable leaders profiled was Gloribel Beatriz Rivas, who serves as a legislative aide to Rep Adrian Madaro.
Rivaas was born in El Salvador and grew up in Eastie after immigrating to the United States with her family at the age of five. As a child, she attended Boston Public Schools, graduating from Boston Latin School and then University of Massachusetts Boston.
While in high school she got her first taste of activism after attending a workshop that Lily Huang, Executive Director of Jobs With Justice facilitated on social justice.
“I saw Lily’s session online and I was beginning to get more interested in social justice,” Rivas told TBF. “ had always been curious about the way that economic injustice impacts us. My parents are union members; they are janitors in Boston. They work in skyscrapers in the city. I grew up poor and I knew the impact that had on me—especially at a place like Boston Latin School, where so many of my peers had parents who could enroll them in very expensive tutoring to help them with their classes…We were just high school students, but I started realizing how much is stacked up against poor kids, especially in the public school system, so I became more interested in learning about income inequality and racial justice, based on these incredible discrepancies between the resources that were available to me and the resources that were available to my peers…So, when I saw that Lily was hosting this workshop on social justice, I became really excited. It turns out that she creates a space for so many young people to be involved and she gives us all a voice. Her workshop was one of the first times that I was really moved to look at social justice issues related to my community and the communities around me. That was a transformative moment, because I began to realize how a lot of history and social power structures had sort of caused the outcomes that a lot of us experience.”
Throughout college, she was an active and dedicated volunteer at the East Boston branch of City Life/Vida Urbana, a non-profit dedicated to helping people stay in their homes in the face of eviction or foreclosure.
“At City Life, I became involved in housing justice work, and after my internship, I stayed on and I continued to volunteer throughout my time in college,” she told TBF. “City Life did a lot of work in conjunction with Jobs With Justice and so I continued to do work with JWJ. I remember during my internship when my supervisor said that we were going to go to a protest against poor labor relations at McCormick and Schmick at Faneuil Hall.”
Rivas also worked as a volunteer on the campaign of Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards.
After graduating from college, she worked as a paralegal at FitzGerald Law Company, an immigration, personal injury, and criminal defense firm in Boston, where she was responsible for processing immigration cases, allowing her to gain a thorough understanding of the immigration process. Rivas is also a member of the Boston SPARK Council, Mayor Martin Walsh’s millennial advisory group.
In 2018, Rivas was hired by Rep. Madaro so serve as his legislative aide
“It’s been very challenging with the pandemic,” Rivas told TBF of her recent work with Rep. Madaro. “I do a mix of things, such as constituent services, which includes helping people access unemployment benefits, for example. I serve as a liaison between the Department of Unemployment Assistance and residents and ensure things are working properly. I also work with people who need housing and people who need assistance with issues related to the RMV. Then I also help with social media and communications, ensuring that information about our work is getting out to the community. For the first time, we’ve been able to provide information in Spanish, which I feel really good about, because more than 50 percent of East Boston’s residents are Latinx and many only speak Spanish. Then, there is budget work—trying to get things in the budget. It’s a challenging job, but it’s definitely rewarding. And I like working for Rep. Madaro who represents my home town of East Boston. I attend a lot of community meetings to ensure our office stays abreast of the community’s concerns and I also provide input on policy.”
You can read Rivas’s full interview with TBF at https://www.tbf.org/news-and-insights/reports/2020/november/2020-annual-report/gloribel-rivas-transcript.
Congratulations to Gloribel Beatriz Rivas, my all-star legislative aide, on this well-deserved recognition,” said Rep. Madaro. “I am fortunate to work with someone so committed to social justice and public service, and our entire community is extremely proud of you.”