Marilyn E. Alvarado is the daughter of a Salvadoran mother and a Honduran father. She is a first generation college graduate from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She has earned a degree in Forensic Psychology and an honors minor in Latin American studies and Human Services. During her time in college, she became a recipient of the Pinkerton Fellowship and worked with court-involved youth throughout New York City. In her senior year, she was selected for the Prison-to-College Pipeline Program that allowed her to take courses alongside incarcerated students providing her with an insight on the U.S. criminal justice system and education.
Her work with Safe Passage Project began as a U-LAMPER (Unaccompanied Latin American Minors Project), which led to her current position as a paralegal. In December 2016, she traveled 80 miles southwest of San Antonio to the small town of Dilley, Texas, to volunteer at the South Texas Residential Facility; a detention center that houses immigrant mothers and children. There she and other colleagues provided legal assistance and bore witness to the stories of Central American women and children who were victims of domestic violence, child abuse, extreme poverty, and state neglect, in their home countries. In May 2017, she was accepted as a Humanity in Action Fellow and spent time in Poland and Germany to develop her understanding of human rights outside of the United States. She is currently a Beyond the Bars Fellow with the Center for Justice at Columbia University. There she explores and deepens her understanding of the intersections and effects of mass incarceration by collaborating with activists, scholars, and academics to develop the annual Beyond the Bars Conference. Her experiences while working with both the immigration and justice system have inspired her to pursue law school.