Steve Alfaro

2022 Unstoppable Voters Fellow Steve Alfaro is getting Atlanta Latinx communities to taco ’bout voting

Unstoppable Voters 2022 Fellow Spotlight: Steve Alfaro
Video by Good For You Productions
Steve Alfaro. Photo by Liz Vanderstel.
Steve at the Black Lives Matter Plaza in 2020. Photo by Jolie Abreu.

Steve Alfaro is the son of immigrant parents from Guatemala and grew up in South East Los Angeles. He currently lives in Washington D.C. with his partner and two daughters.

Steve went to art school for graphic design and got involved in artistic activism and the political space during the 2006 immigration marches. He has been working in the civic engagement space since 2008, focusing on the Latinx millennial generation and online audiences. He began his career in the entertainment industry by working at the SiTV Network (now FUSE TV), where he worked on TV and Digital Campaigns to engage Latinx youth. For his work at the network, he was awarded by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences a Webby Honoree Award; the award was for Crash the Parties, a contest that sent two people to report on the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

Upon moving to Washington D.C., he worked at Voto Latino for 12 years, where he developed visual design systems, campaigns, public service announcements and social media presence as a digital first organization. He has been an Art for Social Justice Fellow at the Sanctuaries, a Ricardo Salinas / Aspen Ideas Festival Fellow, and has received the Bronze Pollie Award for Best Innovation for Voter Technologies. His social justice art has been featured in The Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy, GOOD Magazine, the Washington Post, and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. As Founder and Creative Director of Unique Shift Creative, he has provided creative and graphic design support for over twenty Latinx civic and social justice organizations.

He currently serves as the Creative and Digital Consultant at Poder Latinx, a civic and social justice organization building Latinx political power in battleground states. At Poder Latinx, he works alongside the digital team to co-lead and produce all creative digital campaigns that have an art and culture connection. They use technology and multiple lenses that speak to the complex and diverse Latinx community of today and create programs that educate and engage their audience on their website and social media platforms.

To digitally engage the Latinx community in advance of the 2020 elections, Steve co-led and produced multiple creative and innovative programs with the Poder Latinx team, including an award-winning virtual art gallery, a web comic and PSA, and two civically and politically-themed music videos. Their virtual art gallery was a three room virtual exhibit featuring a curated music experience and art from Favianna Rodriguez, Lalo Alcaraz, Ernesto Yerena, and many more Latinx artists from across the country, using their craft to address civic and social justice issues including issues of environmental, immigration, and economic justice and voting rights. This campaign earned them a Bronze Pollie Award for Best Innovation for Voter Targeting in the Technology category last year. That same year they produced a web comic and PSA starring comic book shero La Borinqueña. They featured the web comic on their website, and actresses Rosario Dawson and Aida Rodriguez lent their voices to bring the character to life for their PSAs. For the runoff special election, they produced one more PSA with La Borinqueña and created new characters called Las Poderosas, for whom Cristela Alonzo, Maya Murrillo, and Maria Elena Salinas lent their voice. They ended that year by producing two music videos with Las Cafeteras, for their politically-themed hit songs “Long Time Coming” for the general election and “Georgia on Mind” for the runoff election. Both of these music videos also featured 30-second spots with calls to action to register to vote.

As they approach the midterm elections, they have relaunched the virtual art gallery and are building upon past success to develop innovative creative projects that reach and mobilize the Latinx community to make their voices heard in the 2022 midterm elections.

Poder Latinx

Poder Latinx is a civic and social justice organization. Our vision is to build political power for the Latinx community to become decision-makers in our country’s democracy to win on our issues at all levels. Our mission is to work to build a sustained progressive voting bloc of Latinxs in battleground states across the country. We do this by leading a voter-integrated engagement program where all aspects of voter engagement, issue-based campaigns, leadership development, voting reform and protection, and narrative change form a continuous cycle of political consciousness. Through our work, we empower and equip the Latinx community to become agents of change now. Founded in 2019, Poder Latinx operates in Central Florida, including Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, and Polk counties, Arizona East Valley of Maricopa County, and in Georgia including Gwinnett, Cobb, Dekalb, Fulton, and Clayton counties. Through our powerful team, all Latinx and hired from the communities where we work, we have registered 34,292 new voters, knocked on more than 60,000 doors, called close to 4 million Latinx voters, partnered with 412 organizations, gained 2,702 advocates, and reached 7.3 million people online.

In recent years, the Latinx community has grown significantly, changing the demography of the United States. Today, Latinxs are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S electorate and the country’s second-largest voter bloc by ethnicity. Unfortunately, the Latinx electorate does not have the political power we need and the small political system we have built is under attack. We are seeing: a lack of sustained civic consciousness, drop-off in voting on midterms and municipal elections, rightward drift, increased political polarization, widespread misinformation about the Latinx community, and stalled progress on legislation necessary to protect our communities. Through an integrated voter engagement model including voter engagement, issue-based campaigns, leadership development, voting reform and protection, and innovative creative programs, we are well-poised to build upon the power of our quickly growing demographic and address the existing gaps preventing our community from achieving its full potential. 

We currently lead several creative and innovative programs that achieve our pro-voter goals and we plan to replicate and expand these efforts in 2022. For instance, our award-winning virtual art gallery has been recently relaunched to feature new artists and musicians covering themes of Pride, Immigration, Latina empowerment, Latinx heritage, Dia de los Muertos, and more. We hope to expand this art program by launching in-person mobile art galleries in Arizona, Georgia, and Florida in the weeks and months leading up to the midterm election to strategically reach, energize, and engage our local communities, introduce Latinx community members and allies to our communications narratives, inspire new civic engagement and advocacy behaviors, and produce a powerful cultural and artistic experience. Our virtual art gallery includes Latinx artists from across the nation and predominantly includes artists from Arizona, Georgia, and Florida; each in-person mobile art gallery will include art exclusively from artist activists within that state. Additionally, we currently have multiple music partnerships, such as music videos with Las Cafeteras, and plan to expand these partnerships by creating new pro-voter music videos with Grammy award-winning Latinx musician Ozomatli. We are also looking towards hosting live musical performances, including a concert for Vote Early Day. We will continue to expand our La Borinqueña webcomic and PSA series and have additional plans to develop short documentaries and video series on the midterm elections and our issue areas, with calls to action to register to vote and GOTV. Lastly, the Drag y Vota program, a civic leadership program led by drag entertainer ambassadors targeting LGBTQ+ Latinx voters, was originally a Arizona-specific program co-led by Poder Latinx and ArizonaDrag.Com. In 2022, we plan to independently lead this program and expand to all three states where we work with the goal of increasing the participation of LGBTQ Latinx voters ages 18-40 years old. With over 9 million LGBTQ registered voters, 22% of which are registered LGBTQ Latinx voters, we know it is essential to put in place the right tools and outreach strategies to ensure everyone can vote.

The Votaco Pledge

Through Unstoppable Voters, created a VOTACO: Georgia Vota event to get the Latinx community to… taco bout voting! On Vote Early Day in October, Steve and his Poder Latinx team provided tacos for free and asked folks waiting in line to text 3 people about voting. Poder Latinx partnered with VoteRev and used their QR Code tool to generate the text message box with a pre-written text.

In just a short period of time, they connected with 55 people, who sent 165 text messages! The call to action was inclusive and participants felt appreciative and were able to get out the vote.

Steve posing at the event’s photo station

Steve on being an Unstoppable Voters Fellow

I’m excited to learn and unlearn and to gain new knowledge that I can use for myself but also share with others I work with in this space.

I’ve been stuck for a while doing the same thing, and this fellowship has helped me look at my work differently, but it also has challenged me to take my work a step deeper.

– Steve Alfaro, Creative and Digital Consultant, Poder Latinx
The VOTACO team in Atlanta on Vote Early Day