Wilnelia Rivera holds both a B.A. in International Relations and Women's Studies and an M.A. in Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning from Tufts University, as well as a past Mel King Fellowship recipient at Massachusetts Institute for Technology’s CoLab, where she focused on public policy research related to urban politics, economic democracy, community planning, and sustainable community economic development. 
Wilnelia Rivera was the Political and Policy Development Director at Neighbor to Neighbor MA, where she led the organization’s coalition and alliance development, policy building, legislative advocacy, and electoral campaigns.
Wilnelia was born in Puerto Rico to Dominican and Puerto Rican parents. She grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts and graduated from the Lawrence Public Schools. Growing up in the forgotten pockets of the Commonwealth, her childhood was defined by injustice and discrimination. She earned a B.A. at Tufts University gaining a pragmatic lens in International Relations and social consciousness in Women’s Studies. Currently, she is a candidate for a Masters in Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning at Tufts University. She has also been a member of a prominent national Latina organization that helps mentor, support, and develop Latina leaders at the undergraduate level. Upon graduating from college, Wilnelia moved to Chicago, where she learned the nuts and bolts of organizing from AFSCME Council 31. During her time at the union she organized health care and child workers in Chicago and Detroit, nurses to push for a statewide safe staffing bill, recruited community based organizations into the union campaign to address community needs, and developed dozens of Latino laundry and childcare worker leaders.
Wilnelia joined N2N-MA in 2006 and has become an accomplished and expert senior staff focused on budget, health care, and CORI reform work for the past four years. In addition, she played a key role on the 2006 Governor's race, helping identify over 2,000 low-income voters in support of Deval Patrick in Worcester.
Following this victory, she was part of the senior team that in eight weeks identified over 3,000 supporters to help elect Jim O'Day as State Representative in Worcester. Supervising the Campaigns Department staff, she manages the organization’s program work and is responsible for high-level fundraising. As part of the organization’s leadership team, Wilnelia is helping guide the strategic vision of N2N-MA and working to integrate electoral and legislative campaigns with their community organizing campaigns. She also worked with staff, members, and national allies to expand the electoral program for the 2010 electoral season. Currently, she leads a statewide frequent voter electoral program that includes congressional, statewide, and district level races. She works directly with N2N-MA Organizing Director to coordinate with the infrequent voter program in the neighborhoods where N2N-MA works. Moreover, she successfully led the Commonwealth CORI Coalition and other allies to victory in 2010. This victory led to one of the most progressive criminal justice legislations adopted in decades in the state of Massachusetts.
Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward
Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward was a phone in webinar organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization in the wake of the 2016 election.
- Now what? We’re all asking ourselves that question in the wake of Trump’s victory. We’ve got urgent strategizing and work to do, together. Join Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the Movement for Black Lives and Freedom Road, Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Jodeen Olguin-Taylor of Mijente and WFP, Joe Schwartz of the Democratic Socialists of America, and Sendolo Diaminah of Freedom Road for a discussion of what happened, and what we should be doing to build mass defiance. And above all, how do we build the Left in this, which we know is the only solution to the crises we face?
- This event will take place Tuesday November 15, 2016 at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central/6pm Pacific.
Those invited, on Facebook included Wilnelia Rivera.
Pressley campaign launch
At-large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley kicked off her campaign for the 7th Congressional District at a Cambridge restaurant Feb. 13 2018, vowing to push against the political climate in Massachusetts that favors incumbents over insurgents.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 300 at the restaurant La Fábrica Central, Pressley pledged to work on rising health costs, access to capital for small businesses, income inequality, the growing wealth gap, systemic racism and the Greater Boston area’s crisis of housing affordability.
At her kickoff event, Pressley demonstrated considerable support for her congressional bid. She was joined by District 7 City Councilor Kim Janey, At-large Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, state Rep. Evandro Carvalho and Chelsea City Council President Damali Vidot. Other political activists from Boston and Cambridge included gubernatorial candidate Bob Massie, political activist Suzanne Lee, former state Rep. Gloria Fox and longtime Caribbean Carnival Association of Boston President Shirley Shillingford.
Veteran campaign strategist Wilnelia Rivera, who is serving as the Pressley campaign general manager, says her effort will focus on one-on-one contact with voters in the district.
“We’re excited to build a grassroots movement to talk to voters across this district,” she said.
Janey, who says she will volunteer on Pressley’s campaign, said she expects Pressley to have broad support throughout the district.
CORI reform/Ballot changes
Access is proud that our grantees engaged in two campaigns that ended in victory at the State House thanks in large part to grassroots women leaders who organized alongside men to make major gains for ballot access and CORI reform.
After years of organizing, voter engagement, grassroots advocacy, marches, and community events, grantees Boston Workers Alliance, EPOCA, Neighbor to Neighbor, and Union of Minority Neighborhoods got policy enacted to remove questions about arrests and convictions from job applications. The policy also allows criminal records to be sealed after ten years (was 15 years) for felonies and five years (was 10 years) for misdemeanors. Law enforcement will still have access to CORI records for sex and homicide offenders.
For many years, grantee Chinese Progressive Association (Boston) has fought for Asian American voting rights by advocating for bilingual ballots to improve access to voting. Thanks to their strong leadership, on July 31st, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law legislation requiring the City of Boston to prepare ballots in Chinese and Vietnamese for all federal, state and local elections. The measure, a Boston home-rule petition, also calls for Chinese ballots to be transliterated by the Boston Board of Election Commissioners to include Chinese characters that represent the phonetic equivalent of the syllables of an English name.
We applaud the efforts of the many women that worked on these campaigns and we name a few of our grantee leaders in recognition of their outstanding leadership:
- Maggie Brown, Boston Worker’s Alliance
- Delia Vega, EPOCA
- Wilnelia Rivera, Neighbor to Neighbor
- Cathy Hennessey, Union of Minority Neighborhoods
Ballot Access for Chinese and Vietnamese Voters:
Neighbor to Neighbor connection
Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts (N2N-MA) members stood alongside Governor Deval Patrick on August 6 2010 as he signed CORI (criminal record) Reform into law. With the passage of this bill, Massachusetts becomes only the second state in the nation to prohibit both public and private employers from asking about a person’s criminal history on an initial job application.
Members of Neighbor to Neighbor have been organizing for CORI Reform since 2006, and "over the past week, doubts had grown about whether the legislation would pass in time for the end of the session on July 31st. The bill was finally approved by the House of Representatives and Senate in the last hours of the session."
Angela Estrada, a Neighbor to Neighbor member from Worcester who has a CORI record said, “This is a huge victory for Neighbor to Neighbor and all of the people that have worked hard for years to make this reform happen. We have made history today by changing this law. We know that when we all unite, we can win.”
Wilnelia Rivera, Campaigns Director of Neighbor to Neighbor spoke at the event, “This victory represents the power of people to make a change on Beacon Hill,” she said. “When people come together and get organized, they can win. This is our goal at Neighbor to Neighbor, and we’ll keep fighting until all residents of the state have access to jobs, housing, health care, and a quality education.”