Ellie is a community organizer for educational rights and co-owner of Pueblo Café, a pop-up coffee cooperative business that focuses on reimagining how Black and Brown communities can empower themselves and leave behind labor practices that exploit disenfranchised neighborhoods like South Central Los Angeles.
Ellie’s parents migrated to the United States from Colima, México, to South Central, where she was born and raised. As a Nahuatl Chicana, she has a deep connection with the land and gleans from ancestral knowledge as she practices herbalism and gardening. Growing up in South Central, Ellie fell in love with the resilience and autonomy of the community whose members persevere despite everyday struggles. After witnessing the effects of the school-to-prison pipeline through her brothers’ educational experiences, she grew passionate about advocating for educational justice. As a result, when she attended the University of Southern California, where she studied Ethnic Studies and Political Science, she began working with young people as a community organizer to create equitable and just schools. This experience challenged Ellie to reflect on the extractive economic business models that negatively impacted her community.
Being in social justice spaces, like the LA Co-op Lab and other collectives, opened her mind to the possibilities of alternative business models that can exist. Along with her colleagues, she aims to create a transformative community space that highlights the beauty of South Central, nurtures connectivity, and provides a safe space for conversations that challenge systemic injustices, all while sharing a cup of coffee. Ellie’s deep connection to coffee stems from memories of her grandfather working on a coffee farm and helping her grandma grind coffee in the mornings. As a result, coffee is intertwined with her roots and continues to be part of her family’s story.
From a young age, Ellie has defied the limited expectations placed on her for being a girl and is taking advantage of her time and place in history to do what her mom and grandma couldn’t do. Ellie wants other women to feel empowered and not let self-doubt get in the way. Her message to other women of color is, “Honor your autonomy and follow your intuition, whatever that curiosity may be, big or small. I think there's something beautiful about being curious and following your intuition.”