Building a powerhouse community of young, Latinx organizers in Orange County.

Who is Chispa?

Launching in 2017, Chispa operates with a focus in three tiers; base building, policy, and elections. By creating an infrastructure for young people to engage in policy campaigns, and taking a position on candidates, Chispa is an organization that represents young Latinos / Latinx in all levels of government. 

The 2016 election became a catalyst for many movement organizations and communities, and it was no different in Santa Ana, CA. This was one of the first years when police unions intervened in the closure of a detention center. While the campaign centered on a strong debate, it was not enough to face the policy fight by the police union. It was this defeat that motivated local organizer Hairo Cortes to create an organization that filled two gaps that the campaign lacked- policy and youth voices. 

In 2017 Chispa launched as a digital-focused organization. Naturally, it has become a political home for young Latinx people, engaging the local community on issues that impact them the most. Chispa endorses candidates that align and represent the organization’s values. From housing, immigration, policing, and more, Chispa focuses on three tiers; base building, advocacy, and impacting elections. 

By creating an infrastructure for young people to engage in policy campaigns, and taking a position on candidates, Chispa is an organization that represents young Latinxs in all levels of local government.

Meet the Team

Hairo Cortes, (He/Him/His)

Founder and Executive Director

Hairo is the Founder and Executive Director at Chispa. Originally from Guerrero, he is an organizer at heart and has led local, statewide, and national campaigns against deportations and immigrant detention, and for police accountability and transparency. He is a published columnist and opinion writer.
 

Why I love working at Chispa: I love working with our entire team (members and staff) on campaigns. I love seeing how much people have grown as organizers and strategists over the course of the last several years.

 
My favorite snack: Chicken wings.

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Penélope Lopez, (She/Her/Ella)

Organizing Director

Penélope Lopez (She/Her/Ella) is the Organizing Director of Chispa. Her journey as an organizer is rooted in the values and teachings that her parents instilled in her from a young age and led her to organize for equitable access to higher education at her college campus. Penélope is a proud young mother to a Capricorn baby, wife, and the eldest daughter of two Otomí immigrants. She hopes to build a future of justice, joy, and equity alongside young people for the next generation.
 

Why I love working at Chispa: I love welcoming new Chispa members and getting to know them. I am inspired by the love that young people in the Chispa membership program have for our community and their commitment to making lasting progressive change.

My favorite snack: Ice cream.

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Isuri Ramos, (She/Her/Ella)

Development & Operations Director

Isuri was raised in one of Santa Ana’s densest neighborhoods and grew up understanding her community’s resilience. She attended Santa Ana public schools and the University of California, San Diego where she earned degrees in International Studies – Political Science and Urban Studies Planning. Since returning to Santa Ana Isuri has worked with various non-profits, alongside residents, and served on City Commissions to improve the quality of life in her community. In her free time Isuri enjoys resting, exploring nature, traveling, and learning about financial independence from people of color. 
 

Why I love working at Chispa: My favorite thing is helping the organization continue to develop. As Chispa grows so does its positive impact on our local communities.

My favorite snack: Bionicos.

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Hector Bustos, (He/Him/His)

Communications Director

Hector identifies as a queer youth organizer of color. Hector is a recent graduate from the University of San Francisco where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Politics and a minor in Public Service and Community Engagement. The pandemic brought Hector back to his Santa Ana community in 2020 and since then, he has been working with Chispa.
 

Why I love working at Chispa: My favorite thing about working with Chispa is being able to organize in the community that I grew up in. It’s also great to organize around other young like minded individuals.

 
My favorite snack: Fried pickles.

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