Franca Muller Paz was born in Lima, Perú and immigrated to the USA at the age of 1 to a working-class factory town called Paterson, NJ. Her father, a construction worker, worried about the troubling conditions of Paterson schools and feared drug-related violence affecting their family. In a life altering event, a friend offered her family a chance to move into his home just 20 minutes away, giving Franca the opportunity to attend well-resourced public schools.
Growing up between two worlds, the power of one’s zip code became overwhelmingly clear. Paterson's schools were in disrepair, lacking basic supplies, textbooks, and computers. Meanwhile, students at her suburban public school, only miles away, had access to the critical resources every child deserves. The injustice was undeniable. This experience laid the foundation for Franca’s passion and drive for educational, racial, and economic justice.
I am an award-winning teacher and community organizer leading a progressive campaign for Baltimore's 12th City Council District. Since becoming a teacher in 2010, I have been a fierce advocate for students, families, and educators, served as a 3-term elected Baltimore Teachers Union representative, and advised several youth-led movements, such as Students Organizing a Multicultural Open Society (SOMOS). Together, we have fought tirelessly to empower communities to take their rightful place at the tables of power and successfully demanded City Hall to re-allocate money to where we need it most.
As an immigrant from Perú, my American journey started in the factory town of Paterson, New Jersey. I watched as my parents sacrificed everything, working construction shifts day and night, with no health insurance, struggling to keep the lights on, and battling eviction threats, just to ensure we could move to a neighborhood where I would feel safe and have a quality education. But your zip code shouldn’t determine your destiny, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice it all to live a decent life.