Ericka Portillo

From: Matamoros, Mexico  Current City: Mankato, MN
"I understand that if we’re going to life in peace, if we’re all going to reach our potential, then we have to start working together regardless of what our backgrounds are."
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The life of Ericka Portillo has been filled with countless hardships, ranging from bullying at school to losing her house in a fire. These challenges have taught her to persevere and instilled in her a desire to help others.

Ms. Portillo was only nine months old when her family moved from Mexico. Her father worked as a police officer but wanted a change when he noticed an increase in violence and corruption. Utilizing new provisions from the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Ericka’s family moved to Florida to find work in agriculture.

When Ericka first arrived in the United States, her family did not have a car or a place to live. She started kindergarten and was immediately overwhelmed by feelings of exclusion and discrimination. From her peers to her teachers, everyone made clear she was “an other”.

Since then, Ms. Portillo has moved to Minnesota. She is employed as a Coordinator for Leadership and Development at Centro Campesino. Through her career, she channels her unique perspective and personal experience to help others with similar life stories. She takes pride in helping build diverse and inclusive communities for all citizens.

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