Luz Gallegos is the Community Program Director at TODEC Legal Center, one of the Inland Empire area’s leading immigrant-assistance organizations. A community organizer and advocate since childhood, she focuses on immigrant rights and civic engagement issues. Before joining the panel at a Zócalo/The California Wellness Foundation event, “Will the Inland Empire’s Sprawl Create the Community of the Future?” Gallegos talked about why she appreciates Coachella, her admiration for her parents, and how she loves to sing.

Q: What’s your favorite place in Riverside County?
Coachella—for the resilience of its people.

Q: Who do you look up to?
I look up to my parents. My parents migrated here from Mexico from the state of Michoacán. They migrated because they wanted a better life for their kids. My mother was a community organizer and she started getting involved. When they migrated here there were injustices and they started organizing the farm workers, and I saw how they really made a difference and gave a voice to the immigrant community … I’ve always admired them.

Q: If you could be any animal, what would you be?
I would be a butterfly because butterflies migrate from place to place, and it seems like they are always full of energy … as they flap their wings you see all their beautiful colors.

Q: Do you prefer the mountains or the ocean?
I would say the mountains because the steeper the mountain, it’s more difficult to climb, but once you are up at the top you seem so fulfilled.

Q: How do you like your steak?

Q: Do you to prefer to drive, bike, or walk?
Walk. I don’t like driving but I have to drive.

Q: What do you wake up to?
My kids, and my husband, and my dogs.

Q: Do you have a hidden talent?
I would say singing, just because I love to sing. It’s something that I was brought up with as a child. If you were riding with my parents in the car, my parents always sang. Now my husband and I sing in the car. It’s a way to elevate emotions and heal your soul. When you are sad, you can sing a sad song; when you are happy, you can sing a happy song.

*Photo by Michelle Frescas.