Sin Barreras announces the hiring of its first-ever Executive Director, Edgar Lara. Lara is a Marine Corps veteran and former business finance consultant who is passionate about empowering Latinx families in our community with resources and services to help them prosper. He has been serving this community as both a long-time volunteer and Board Member of Sin Barreras and co-directs UVA’s “Conecta2” Latinx leadership technology program. He begins the new role on October 1st.

Sin Barreras opened in 2012 as an all-volunteer organization, but professional staff (client service reps and a volunteer coordinator) have joined the team to meet the steadily increasing numbers of new immigrant families who desperately need services. The pandemic has been a disaster for the Latinx community; the workers who provided essential services throughout the pandemic have paid a terrible price in lives lost and face even greater financial insecurity than before. Sin Barreras’ 2020 call volume went up an overwhelming 245% over 2019, and 2021 has seen only slightly lower call volume than 2020.

Fanny Smedile, Sin Barreras Board Chair and co-founder, is tremendously excited by the organization reaching this milestone. “The Board recognizes the need to accelerate our growth to meet these ongoing and escalating needs. Edgar is one of our community’s most credible, respected and recognized voices, and we know he has the wisdom, work ethic, and discipline to plan and direct the day-to-day growth, and/ lead us into the future.“

“This work is very personal to me,” says Lara. “When all the men went to war in WWII my Grandfather was one of the Mexican ‘Braceros’ the federal government recruited to work the land and keep our country fed; they were called ‘lifesavers’ at the time, but once they were no longer needed after the war ended, they were forced to leave the country. My Mother followed the same farmworker recruiting pipeline to the US; I grew up as a farm worker in California’s Central Valley, helping my Mom pick fruit from a young age. It was understood for decades that Latinx immigrants could work in the US so long as we were silent and accepted whatever hard, dangerous, and low-wage jobs we were offered. This has been a big part of the Latinx experience in the United States and something Sin Barreras is dedicated to changing.”

Lara sees the organization’s biggest immediate challenges as:

  1. Finding urgently needed outside funding sources to help support our ongoing efforts to increase the reach and quality of our programs and services.

  2. Generating support from other community groups to develop Central Virginia’s Latinx leaders for our mutual benefit.

  3. Lara enjoys strong working relationships with most area community and governmental leaders from his years of past work on community goals with Sin Barreras. Delegate Sally Hudson notes “Sin Barreras is an indispensable pillar of the Charlottesville community, and we’re all so fortunate to have Edgar Lara at the helm. I’ve been blessed to work alongside Edgar in serving our local residents and securing statewide reform. In all his work, Edgar fuses boundless compassion and respect for the dignity of each and every person with the broad perspective and strategic savvy needed to achieve systemic change. The impact of his leadership will no doubt resonate throughout our region and across Virginia.”(Other sample quotes below).

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About Sin Barreras

Sin Barreras is a nonprofit serving greater Charlottesville’s immigrant (mostly Latinx) community, founded in 2012 because there was no organization adequately addressing Hispanic immigrant issues, including language barriers inhibiting receipt of needed social services. Its mission is to empower immigrants and their families in Central Virginia with a focus on the Latinx population, by educating, advocating, and supporting their needs. Immigrant families have many unmet needs, and we help them obtain educational, legal, advocacy, health, and other services, easing their stress and anxiety and assisting their integration and full participation in our society.