“The women in my life initially brought me to RJ – my mother taught me to be a feminist, my college friends showed me what it meant to be a Chicana feminist (a Xicanista) and I have watched my mentors be powerful in service of themselves and their communities. Even now as I watch my daughters navigate the world as young Afro-Indigenous Latinas, I am reminded every day that I work for Reproductive Justice so that they can choose and claim all of the experiences that they deserve and so that they can be freed of the reproductive oppressions that our ancestors survived.”
Laura Jiménez has worked with women of color organizations across the country on issues of reproductive justice, including the National Latina Health Organization (Oakland), the Dominican Women’s Development Center (New York) and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective (Atlanta). Laura is passionate about issues of immigration, environmental justice, and birthing and parenting, as they intersect with reproductive justice. She is proud to be a California native, but holds dear the time she spent in New York and the South learning about traditions of resistance from powerful women nationwide. She holds degrees in Ethnic Studies from both UC San Diego and San Francisco State University. Laura is a proud mother to four awesome people and is the compañera of a gifted musician. She loves to support pregnant and birthing mamas, loves adventures in food (especially if the food goes well with avocado) and aspires to someday crochet an entire blanket all by herself. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Susy Chávez Herrera
“I am a firm believer in FeminismS as fundamental to achieving a more egalitarian society for all. I believe that without an intersectional lens we become myopic in our struggles at a time when we need to stop compartmentalizing and forming alliances. In our families and communities we can’t talk about reproductive health without talking about immigration, the school to prison pipeline, poverty, environmental racism, etc. I didn’t become a feminist, I was born a feminist.”
Susy Chávez Herrera has worked on issues of social justice with a race and gender lens on both sides of the U.S. Mexico border. She has spent time organizing, sharing, listening, being inspired and learning from the experiences of the mujeres she has worked with on both sides of the border. As CLRJ’s Communication Manager, she is responsible for all of CLRJ’s communication efforts including all media relations, website content management, and social media updates. She holds a BA in Studio Arts from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and a MA in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. In her spare time she grows food, rides her bike and has recently begun experimenting with linoleum print making. Email: email@example.com
“Reproductive Justice (RJ) is what I live and breathe. As a first generation Latina who majored in women’s studies, I recognized the beautiful connections that can be manifested from reading, learning, listening and sharing life stories, but noticed that the voices of women of color were continuously lacking. RJ opened and continues to open up a space for me, as a woman of color, to learn from the experiences and realities of those around me and reminds me to always bring my whole and authentic self to any space I enter.”
Myra Durán is the Policy Manager for California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. Myra graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Women’s Studies with a concentration in Women of Color Feminism and a minor in Labor and Workplace Studies. Myra also served on the Young Women’s Leadership Council for the Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP) to ensure that the interests and voices of young women, transgender & gender non-conforming young people were included. She is a strong advocate for passionate politics where love is at the center of the work and believes in the power people can co-cultivate in order to achieve full liberation from oppressive systems. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging with her familia back in her hood of Pomona, reading, and organizing in the community with her revolutionary sisters from AF3IRM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate Director of Programs
“The patriarchy in my family and religious upbringing was so stifling that I developed a gender lens from birth. Witnessing the poverty and lack of opportunities in my community, contrasted starkly with the opulence and privilege that many of my college peers experienced, cemented my commitment to do “something” to make the world more equitable. Knowing personally that reproductive oppression to control communities is not a thing of the past, I came to reproductive justice because it allows me to express my intersectionality, claiming ALL of me – class, gender, nationality, race, and insert a quality of “other”- in the battle for our human rights.”
Marisol Franco is California Latinas for Reproductive Justice’s (CLRJ) Associate Director of Programs and also one of its founding members. In her current role, Marisol oversees CLRJ’s programmatic efforts to ensure alignment and advancement of CLRJ’s mission. Marisol was previously CLRJ’s Director of Policy and Advocacy and worked to connect Latin@ communities across California to policy efforts and decision-makers in order to promote Latinas’ reproductive justice. As a first generation Mexican woman raised in a Los Angeles working class immigrant neighborhood, Marisol passionately believes all people have the right to a living wage, healthy community, health care, education, and affordable housing. She works so that all have the opportunity to build strong families, live free of state, sexual, gender, race and all other forms of violence and oppression. Prior to joining CLRJ as staff, Marisol worked to mobilize and train community leaders to address local community concerns with the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). In addition to her work in community mobilization and empowerment, Marisol has significant experience conducting policy analysis, coordinating advocacy efforts and campaigns on statewide and regional issues. Marisol’s previous experience includes working on policy analysis and advocacy on critical statewide and regional access to health care issues with Community Health Councils, Inc. and Latino Issues Forum (LIF). In 2009, Marisol was recognized as Emerging Leader of the Year by the California Coalition for Reproductive Freedom. Marisol graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Latin American Studies. She was also a Women’s Policy Institute Fellow through the Women’s Foundation of California. She is also CLRJ’s resident foodie and IT mujer. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, hanging with family, and playing with her godchildren.
“I grew up in East Los Angeles, in modern times a hub for hard-working Mexican immigrant families, political activists, talented musicians, creative artists and muralists, and of course delicious food! But East LA’s (including my family’s) stories of survival, our strong work ethic, and our effervescent ambiente are masked by stereotypes that weigh us down. Being angry and impassioned to make a change about the stereotypes of Latina teen pregnancy, along with the systemic problems of poverty, lack of quality education – particularly comprehensive sex education – and the need to motivate young womyn to become activists of our community, brought me to RJ.”
Nancy Sanchez is the Associate Director for California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ). She oversees CLRJ’s organizational health and sustainability, and works in the areas of non-profit management, finance, grants management, and fundraising. Nancy was CLRJ’s first staff, and previously served in other positions providing programmatic support for CLRJ’s policy and advocacy priorities, and special insight to CLRJ’s programmatic work in the areas of youth and sexuality education. Nancy is a firm believer in social justice, and has dedicated her entire career to reproductive justice, educational justice, and racial and gender equity. Prior to joining CLRJ, Nancy worked for UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education, & Access (IDEA). Nancy’s community work includes interning for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, where she taught comprehensive sex education for middle school students across Los Angeles County. She also served as Project Director for Latinas Guiding Latinas de UCLA, where she developed and lead a curriculum that promoted higher education, cultural awareness, reproductive health, and a positive self-image for mostly under-served or first generation young Latinas in East Los Angeles. Nancy graduated from UCLA in 2005, majoring in History and Women’s Studies with an emphasis in race, class, and gender. Nancy has followed in the footsteps of the strong womyn in her familia, and is known to be very vocal in the name of reason and fairness – earning her the nickname “Regulator” by her colleague Ena. Nancy enjoys following UCLA sports, dancing to House music, going to musicals, and singing with Mariachi; and secretly wishes ice cream was its own food group.
Ena Suseth Valladares
Director of Research
“A very good friend got pregnant the summer before we started high school. Although a bit shocked as to how she got pregnant since sex was still an abstract concept, it never crossed my mind that ‘her life was over’ or that she would have to drop out because of her pregnancy. In fact she didn’t think so either and despite what others told her and the challenges she faced, she stayed in school. I had no idea at the time how much her determination would inspire me and plant the seeds towards my life work in fighting for reproductive justice!”
A firm believer that quality health care and community-based health services are a right that all individuals deserve, Ena is responsible for CLRJ’s research projects and activities, which specifically address Latinas’ reproductive and sexual health priorities and are reflective of the Latin@ community’s needs. In addition to gathering fun data, Ena likes to share random (nerdy) factoids, is a bit of a tree-hugger and really LOVES LA.
Finance and Development Associate
Frances Lepe graduated from California State University, Los Angeles in the fall of 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She chose to study gender in the diversity of human experience as her upper division theme which focused on the representations of sex and gender specific to the multitude of cultures and societies making up the human experience, both historically and today. Over the summer of 2014, Frances got involved with CLRJ through their non-profit management internship program in which she assisted the Associate Director with their annual fundraiser. She joined their staff as the Finance and Development Associate in the spring of 2015. In her new role, she is responsible for the daily financial operations of the organization and is critical in supporting the organization’s development efforts and goals toward long-term sustainability. Although she may not have a direct hands-on role in the RJ movement, she feels honored to be a part of such a dedicated organization. Frances is an avid Dodgers fan, who loves classic rock music, with an unhealthy obsession for $1 jewelry found at the Santee Alleys in Downtown L.A.