Occupation: Stay-at-home mom and co-owner of an information technology firm.
Family: She and her husband have two sons, 22, and 9.
Community work: No Safe Seats, a community group of suburban moms in North Fulton and Cobb counties. Georgia Familias Unidas, a group working with undocumented workers at poultry plants in Gainesville, Ga. Member of Protect The Vote Ga.
When Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon was arrested last month for knocking on the governor’s door as he signed a controversial election reform bill, Stella Silva-Garcia was there. She didn’t go home until Cannon was released from jail around midnight.
Silva-Garcia was there shortly after the deadly nitrogen gas leak on Jan. 28 claimed six lives at a Gainesville poultry plant. She helped with a food drive that raised $70,000 and went around the community telling workers about clinics that offered financial, medical, and immigration help.
She also was there, along with friend and fellow community activist Shelby Swan, to place flowers at the site of the March 16 spa shooting near Acworth. They attended a vigil where she met and comforted the families of the victims.
There aren’t many community or social issues in Georgia that the Alpharetta housewife and mother of two hasn’t witnessed or worked on to make better.
“I’ve always had an avid hunger for social justice,” Silva-Garcia, who grew up in Miami, told Atlanta Civic Circle. “It’s important to find what drives you and what inspires you and what you’re passionate about and go out there and do something about it. Be the voice to represent those who don’t have the same privilege as you. Representation matters. If you don’t have a seat at the table then be prepared to be the meal.”
After a year of being waylaid by the pandemic, Silva-Garcia, the daughter of immigrants from Paraguay and Uruguay who came here in the late 60s, early 70s, was “dying to get back out there.”
Double-masked, hand sanitizer at the ready, Silva-Garcia and her husband, John, set out earlier this year canvassing with the group Poder Latinx (Spanish for Latin Power) to get Latinx voters out to the senate runoffs. They went to a lot of drive-ins and rallies to make sure people had a plan to vote, translating information so they would understand. Their efforts helped reach more than 300,000 eligible Latinx voters.
“After [my] 2020 literal exile, the runoff set me and my activism in motion again.”
Silva-Garcia’s activism reaches back to the days shortly after the Columbine school shooting on April 20, 1999. It was the year her oldest son was born.
The new mom joined Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement that advocates for public safety measures that protect people from gun violence.
From there, her life has been consumed with nonstop causes. Most weekends, she’s out — often with her husband and nine-year-old son – involved in a cause, often canvassing. Through her work with various organizations, Silva-Garcia learned about the controversy over Georgia’s restrictive election bills. She quickly enlisted the protest.
“Monday through Friday, noon to one, we were protesting at Liberty Plaza,” she said, but the causes are unending.
“You don’t get a chance to breathe,” she admits. It’s never done. You try to do one thing and another thing comes up. We don’t do this to get noticed. We do it to amplify the issues.”
As first-generation Americans, she says she and her husband “have exceeded the dreams our parents had for us.”
They now want to help others do the same.
She and her family’s move to metro Atlanta in 2005 were eye-opening.“It was very suburban and very conservative,” she recalled. By 2016, change was bubbling up, boosted by a number of events over the next few years.
“Trump’s election and the Parkland shooting and Jon Ossoff’s first run for Senate ignited all of these progressive, liberal women living in north Fulton to get out and get involved,” Silva-Garcia said. “We found each other. We were fighting to change representation and get Stacey Abrams elected governor.”
Her community organizing and activism have linked her to “a coalition of diverse people of all economic levels.” She’s tackled a host of issues: police brutality, immigration and deportation, voter suppression, school shootings, and writing emails, and sending postcards during the 2020 Presidential election. Silva-Garcia has also worked to get such people as U.S. Sen. Jon Ossof and state Rep. Mary Robichaux elected.
This begs the question — does she see a political future for herself?
“It’s not my interest to run for office,” she said. “I have a very full life with my children, husband, and the business.”
Want to get involved? You can visit Georgia Familias Unidas or follow the organization on Facebook or Instagram.
Silva-Garcia suggests checking out the “Action Items” section of various community organizations to find upcoming events and what they’re doing.
Know someone who is engaged in civic activities or causes and has an interesting story to tell? Let us know. Send their name and contact information to Tammy Joyner.