Butterfly Lab For Immigrant Narrative Strategy

Stylized monarch butterfly with faces in the wing on a background of radiating orange and yellow stripes. Text: migration is beautiful
Favianna Rodriguez

Race Forward’s Butterfly Lab brings together pro-immigrant leaders to build power for effective narratives that honor the humanity of migrants, refugees, and immigrants, and advance freedom and justice for all. In the Lab, the cohort will develop, test, and scale immigration narratives that meet our current political moment and that advance our vision for the world we want to build.

Why The Lab?

Anti-immigrant forces have been winning the narrative battle. These narratives bolster a government administration whose policies terrorize migrants, refugees, and immigrants emotionally, economically, and physically. We believe a majority of Americans support continued immigration and protections for immigrants, and have been shocked by images of jailed children and spectacles of hate violence. And we believe that by advancing narratives that connect Americans back to their core beliefs and values, we can compel them to act and confront attacks on migrants, refugees, and immigrants, support humane and transformative action, and foster a pro-immigrant culture. Our Lab is named after Favianna Rodriguez's butterfly image which inspires us and reminds us that migration is beautiful.

How It Works

The Butterfly Lab brings together a select cohort of 16 leaders from work in advocacy, the law, organizing, policy, human rights, the arts, and popular culture. Cohort members develop, test and scale immigration narratives to meet our current political moment. Their projects will be supported with research and impact evaluation, and the cohort’s learnings will be broadly disseminated to build capacity, skills, and knowledge within the pro-immigrant movement. The Butterfly Lab is funded by Unbound Philanthropy, Luminate, the Open Society Foundations and the Oak Foundation.

For more information, see Race Forward’s announcement of the Butterfly Lab.


Aisha Shillingford | Artistic Director, Intelligent Mischief
Anshantia Oso | Senior Communications Strategist, Action Center on Race and the Economy
Becca Heller | Co-Founder and Executive Director, International Refugee Assistance Project
Carly Pérez Fernández | Communications Director, Detention Watch Network
Cecillia Wang | Deputy Legal Director, ACLU 
Christinamaria Patiño-Houle | Lead Visionary and Strategist, Las Imaginistas
Cristina Jiménez Moreta | Co-Founder & Executive Director, United We Dream
Elizabeth Grizzle Voorhees | Interim Co-Executive Director and Managing Director, Creative Initiatives, Define American
Juanita Cabrera Lopez, Maya Mam Nation | Executive Director, International Mayan League
Lorella Praeli | President, Community Change Action & Vice President, Community Change
Marielena Hincapié | Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center (NILC) And NILC Immigrant Justice Fund
Mark Gonzales (M.Ed) | Chair, Department Of The Future
Mónica Ramírez | Founder and President, Justice For Migrant Women
Omar Offendum | Rapper and Spoken Word Artist
Paola Mendoza | Film Director, Activist, Author, Co-founder, The Women’s March
Saket Soni | Founder And Director, Resilience Force