Green Festival Speakers
Guillen is a widely recognized farm worker and rural justice leader and advocate. The oldest of eight, she was born in Texas and spent her first decade in Coahuila Mexico. Her family migrated to LaConner, Washington in 1960 and she began working in the fields of Skagit County at the age of ten.
Guillen dropped out of school as a teenager to marry and subsequently cared for her two young sons as a migrant farm worker in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Guillen eventually enjoyed a banking career at Skagit State Bank for 16 years in their data processing department. In 1993 she relocated to Sunnyside, Washington to support a struggling farm worker organization. She directed a national boycott and worker organizing campaign that won the firstever union contract for farm workers in Washington State in 1995.
Guillen continued working with farm workers in Washington State and California as a leader in Cesar Chavezs United Farm Workers of America (UFW), was elected to that unions executive board and became the UFWs policy director. As part of her organizing and advocacy work on behalf of farm workers and the development of sustainable social justice practices in agriculture, she has met with agricultural worker organizations in Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Costa Rica, The Netherlands, Denmark and Austria, as well as throughout the U.S.
Guillen is now the fulltime executive director of Community to Community Development (De Comunidad a Comunidad), an organization she cofounded in 2003 with other women activists in the region. The central projects of her organization are the Food Justice Alliance, developing collaborative strategies that unite family farmers and farm workers in creating selfsustaining food systems with social equity, and the Aguila del Norte Immigrant Justice Project, with the mission to end the marginalization of immigrants by developing socially just processes for the integration of immigrant families into every level of society in our communities.
Guillen has three sons, seven grandchildren and resides with her husband Joseph in Bellingham, WA.