“Carolina! Who do you protect? Who do you serve?” chanted several dozen demonstrators Thursday afternoon outside Congreso de Latinos Unidos, the largest Latino-serving organization in Philadelphia.
A small head occasionally emerged from a fifth-story window. Whether it belonged to Carolina Cabrera DiGiorgio could not be determined from across the street, where angry community members and activists called for her resignation.
“This woman does not live our lives,” said protester Valentina Rosario through a loudspeaker. “She only knows privilege. She has the best healthcare, probably, and we’re on Medicaid.”
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
Thursday’s demonstrators included members of Juntos, Galaei and the Black and Brown Workers Collective. Former and current Congreso employees joined in the chorus. They questioned DiGiorgio’s support for Trump. They questioned her ability to lead a Latino organization and they even questioned her marriage to a Republican.
DiGiorgio made headlines last month after being photographed at President Donald Trump’s rally in Harrisburg. She took photos with her phone while he promised audience members to “build that wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Honduras-born CEO of Congreso likely didn’t anticipate the maelstrom that would follow. First, a Philadelphia Weekly reporter questioned why she attended the rally. The answer, she said, was simply to support her husband, Valentino DiGiorgio, the chairman of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party.
Then came the calls for her to step down or be fired.
Among the protesters was former Congreso employee Elicia Gonzales, who is also the former executive director of Galaei. She urged others inside Congreso to join the movement against DiGiorgio and force the board to oust the embattled CEO.
“We see you and we are here with you. We want you to know that your voice does not need to be silenced,” she said. “You may or may not lose your job, but you cannot stand for this gross injustice to the community any longer.”
Inside the walls of Congreso, some staffers are grumbling about what is seen as a betrayal, an employee said. The worker asked to not be named for fear of losing their job.
“I’m here because when the community hurts, I hurt,” the employee said. “If they’re shouting that something needs to be done, then something should be done.”
The organization’s leadership has done little to assuage concerns about DiGiorgio’s politics other than issue a brief statement to the media last week.
"While we do not support any administration's policies that could negatively impact the Latino community we serve, we do remain supportive of and confident in Carolina's leadership and vision for Congreso", said Esperanza Martinez Neu on behalf of Congreso's board of directors.
CORRECTION (June 1, 2017, 8:50 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the name of Galaei's executive director.