Maria Elena Manzo
Maria Elena Manzo is the Program Director for Mujeres en Acción, a women’s economic self-sufficiency and leadership development program. This peer-to-peer support and leadership development program unlocks the full potential of women in Monterey County who are living below the poverty line. Through weekly capacity building and mentorship meetings, Mujeres generates opportunities for hard-working, yet vulnerable, women to live healthier, more dignified lives and develop their leadership skills to engage effectively in public life. Recently, as part of SIEDI, (Salinas Inclusive Economic Development Initiative), she used her Mujeres en Accion network to successfully connect members of the Salinas Valley labor force to Joby Aviation’s Manufacturing Apprenticeship program.
Mrs. Manzo came to Monterey County in 1974 to work as a farm worker; she has 4 children and 4 grandchildren; she has lived in Monterey County for over 30 years. Maria Elena was co-chair of COPA’s founding assembly in 2003 and continues to be a key leader in this regional non-profit organization consisting of 27 dues-paying member institutions across Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties formed to develop leaders to engage in civic life. Maria Elena led the organizing strategy for Monterey County’s Esperanza Care which has provided health care access to 4,500 immigrants since 2017. She led the Mujeres en Accion team in responding to Covid through hundreds of outreach phone calls, and by sharing these stories with County Supervisors and strategizing with COPA leaders, advocated for the creation of the VIDA project, the community health worker program.