These Latina Champions Are Working To End Sexual Violence

According to a report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2009, 77 percent of the Latinas said that sexual harassment was a major problem in the workplace. That's over three out of four Latinas! #TimesUp, Mujeres! Here are 16 Latinas working to end sexual violence. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, here are 16 Latinas working to end sexual violence for our community!


1. Karla Altmayer

"Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Capitol Hill are under fire for sexual harassment, but people in the lowest income bracket are up to12 times more likely to experience sexual violence than their higher-earning counterparts."

As a co-founder and co-director of Healing to Action, Karla Altmayer leads a multidisciplinary and community-driven model to motivate societies to break the silence of gender-based violence. As a daughter of a single mother from Mexico, Karla experienced firsthand the consequences of sexual violence, poverty. and incarceration. "Gender violence can uproot a person's life and shape them forever. I know the impact all too well because it happened to me and my family.
My personal experiences made me hard-working, creative, resilient, and an activist. But it was my community of love that made the difference in my life. I am now an attorney turned community organizer, working across movements to build community for others, and mobilizing to end gender-based violence."

Karla has represented farmworker women survivors of workplace sexual violence, and survivors in immigration custody fighting deportation. Altmayer also educates on the intersection of gender-based violence and race, poverty, migration, and public health in the United States. Altmayer has been quoted in news outlets like Univision, WBEZ, and Crain’s Chicago Business. In 2017, the Medtronic Foundation named her a Bakken Invitation Honoree for her cutting-edge approach to combat gender-based violence. Altmayer is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, College of Law and Loyola University Chicago.

2. Liliana Arroyo

Liliana Arroyo is the daughter of Mexican parents who emigrated to the United States and dedicated their lives to work in the different agricultural fields of the states of Arizona and California.
In November 2010, she became interested in community welfare and started as a health promotora or "advisor" in the non-profit organization, Campesinos Sin Fronteras.
Throughout her career as a promotora she has become skilled in many areas such as prevention of congenital malformations (use and consumption of vitamin B9 folic acid), prevention and control of diabetes, prevention of cardiovascular diseases, prevention of skin cancer, prevention of child sexual abuse, as well as prevention of addictions and domestic violence.
Her vast experience in helping her fellow Latina has led her to focus imost recently on supporting victims of domestic violence. Her focus is on the prevention and awareness of child sexual abuse via the new MESA (Moving to end sexual assault) initiative. Her mission is to serve the well-being of the community as well as to help develop Latinas personal capacity.

3. Blanca A. Bañuelos

Blanca A. Bañuelos is a leading farmworker attorney who spent her childhood accompanying her mother and father while they picked vegetables in California’s Central Valley. Blanca has made it her duty to protect farmworkers as the Director of the Migrant Program for California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA). The attorney represents working women who have been sexually harassed, sexually assaulted and raped in the fields. In a legal system that is often stacked against low-wage workers, and where 80% of farmworker women have been sexually harassed on the job, Blanca helps ensure these brave women’s voices are heard. She has helped to recover millions of farmworker women fighting against sexual harassment and assault with her legal expertise. Bianca has helped workers recover stolen wages and stand up against retaliation. Her legal work has helped millions of low wage workers and immigrants. 

4. Elvira Carvajal

Elvira Carvajal is a migrant-rights activist and leader in South Florida. She has worked for the Farmworker Association of Florida since 2006 where she has helped to provide thousands of workers with information about general worker rights, such as minimum wage protections, protections against pesticides and information about retaliation. Additionally, she has supported farmworker women and their leadership development through her mission to address gender discrimination, including workplace sexual violence.

Carvajal was raised on her family’s farm with her six brothers and sisters, in Michoacán, Mexico. At 19 years old, Carvajal migrated to the United States where she worked on Floridian lemon farms and nurseries for over 20 years. She taught herself English and obtained a high school diploma to help her support her children in 1998. It was then that she made the decision to dedicate her life to improving the lives of migrant families and children. Apart from all of her work on behalf of workers, women, and children, she has been a pivotal voice and leader on immigration and its effects on farmworker families.

5. Lisa Cisneros

Lisa Cisneros is currently serving as California Rural Legal Assistance’s LGBT Program Director,  after being appointed by Governor Brown. The program strongly emphasizes advocacy on behalf of LGBT communities in rural, low-income, heavily immigrant regions of California, like the Central Valley and Central Coast. Cisneros is a legal representative for community-based advocacy that addresses workplace harassment, school climate, and sexual and other forms of violence impacting LGBTQ individuals. At CRLA, Lisa has represented LGBTQ individuals in the workplace and school harassment and discrimination cases, as well as immigration cases for LGBTQ survivors of serious crime. Lisa helped litigate large employment and antitrust class actions, as well as mass tort cases in her private practices. She even represented civil and constitutional law professors in an amicus brief filed in Hollingsworth v. Perry, (the Proposition 8 case) before the Supreme Court. The program also develops LGBTQ leadership in rural communities.

6. Rosie Hidalgo

Rosie Hidalgo, J.D., is the Senior Director of Public Policy for Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities which is a national resource center with a focus on providing training, research, and policy advocacy to end domestic violence and sexual assault. She also serves on the Biden Foundation’s Advisory Council on Ending Violence Against Women.

Rosie served as the Deputy Director for Policy at the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) at the U.S. Department of Justice and with the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Before joining OVW, she worked as the National Policy Director at Casa de Esperanza and served on the Steering Committee of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence during the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 2013. Rosie has also worked as an attorney at legal services programs for low-income families in New York City and in Northern Virginia. Rosie received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree from New York University School of Law. 

7. Kimber J. Nicoletti-Martinez

Kimber J. Nicoletti-Martinez, MSW, LCSW is the Founder and Director of Multicultural Efforts to end Sexual Assault (MESA). On the Purdue University campus, MESA aims to end sexual violence and child sexual abuse in Latinx immigrant, farm worker and multicultural communities in Indiana and throughout the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognized Nicoletti-Martinez, as one of the founding members of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas and the first advocate dedicated to sexual violence prevention in migrant farm worker communities. Nicoletti-Martinez is also a member of the Just Beginnings Collaborative that focuses on eradicating child sexual abuse. Kimber’s work has been instrumental in creating child sexual abuse prevention efforts in low wage immigrant and farmworker communities. As the former chair of the advisory council for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, she has served in various leadership positions. She is currently a faculty member for the Advocacy Learning Center at Praxis International. The National Association of Social Workers-Indiana Chapter awarded Nicoletti-Martinez the 2017 Indiana Social Worker of the Year. 

8. Diana Ramirez

Diana Ramirez is a native of El Paso, Texas and her volunteer work has focused on at-risk young girls and immigrant services through her church.

She is currently the Deputy Director for Campaigns at the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United. She and the ROC team have been leading campaigns to eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers in New York, Michigan, and the District of Columbia.

Ramirez holds an MBA from the University of Texas at El Paso and has over 15 years of experience in the legislative processes, board relations, fundraising, youth education initiatives, economic development, and community-building. Her previous work experiences include the US House of Representatives, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Texas House of Representatives, the City of El Paso, Quixote and Associates (a political consulting firm), and Public Citizen. The esteemed Tejana was also a Senior Fellow at the Mexican and American Solidarity Foundation in Mexico, D.F. and is a graduate of the Women and Politics Institute at American University in Washington, D.C.

9. Mónica Ramírez

Mónica Ramírez is the co-founder and President of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas. She focuses on ending gender-based violence in the workplace and achieving gender equality. Mónica has served farmworker, Latina, and immigrant women as an attorney, organizer, and advocate. She has a long history promoting women’s leadership and political power, including leading the LatinasRepresent project, which is aimed at increasing Latina representation in public leadership positions.

Mónica is the founder of many projects, including Esperanza: The Immigrant Women’s Legal Initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center and The Bandana Project, which use art to communicate awareness about sexual violence against farmworker women. Mónica wrote a letter on behalf of the members of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas to women working in the entertainment industry who disclosed sexual violence by powerful individuals in their industry. The letter, which was originally published in TIME magazine in November 2017, went viral and bolstered the TIME'S UP movement’s work to secure workplace safety and equity for workers across industries. Mónica is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago, The Ohio State Moritz College of Law and The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She also serves as a Commissioner on the Montgomery County Commission for Women. 

10. Maritza Reyes

Maritza Reyes is the director of the Sexual Assault Program at Mujeres Latinas En Acción, a 45-year-old Chicago based organization. Reyes has been working in sexual violence prevention for more than 20 years and has been at Mujeres for more than 15. She strongly believes that everyone deserves to feel safe from sexual violence regardless of where they are or how they are viewed. 

Having grown up in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago with immigrant parents has shown Reyes the need to continue to provide for her community, especially as that need has increased in recent years. She hopes the #MeToo narratives and the focus on sexual violence will include Latinx voices and shed a light on what the Latinx community has been experiencing for countless years.

She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from National Louis University.


11. Olivia Tamayo

Olivia Tamayo is at the forefront of the farmworker women’s rights movement. She was the very first farmworker woman to have a sexual harassment case against an agricultural employer decided by a federal judge. Tamayo brought her case against Harris Farms for not protecting her from sexual harassment by her supervisor and for not to resolving the problem once they were aware of it. Tamayo's victory in her lawsuit against the company made her a role model to thousands of farmworker women throughout the United States. She has also provided many advocates with her advice and expertise. The Southern Poverty Law Center presented her with the Esperanza Award in 2006 and honored her courageous efforts to seek justice against sexual harassment and encouraging other women to do the same.

12. Mily Treviño-Sauceda

Mily Treviño-Sauceda is Vice-President and Co-founder of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Inc, which is the first national farmworker women's organization in the United States. She is credited with founding the farmworker women’s movement in the US in 1988. Treviño-Sauceda co-founded “Mujeres Mexicanas” (Mexican Women), in the Coachella Valley, CA in the late 1980’s. With support from CRLA Foundation, she co-founded Líderes Campesinas, a unique state-based grassroots farmworker women's organization that became a movement. She served as the Executive Director of Lideres Campesinas for 12 years and became President of Emeritus after she left the organization.

Treviño-Sauceda grew up in a migrant farmworker family where she began working in the fields when she was just 8 years old. She organized with the UFW in '70s and '80s and with youth groups through her church. She earned a Masters Degree in social sciences focused on Rural Development and Capacity Building, Women’s Leadership and Oral History from Antioch University. 

13. Daniela Contreras

Daniela Contreras is an organizer with the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She is an immigrant from Mexico and the daughter of a domestic worker. She has been a domestic worker on and off since she was 16 years-old. On various jobs, she experienced sexual harassment. The first time was when she was just a teenager and by her boss, the father of a child she was caring for. The last time was five years ago by the owner of a restaurant in New York City, where many other women were sexually harassed but were afraid to complain due to their immigration status and their inability to speak English. She said, “For many years, I felt too ashamed to speak out about it. But I don't want sexual assault to happen to my daughter. I don't want future generations to go through this. We need more laws to protect domestic workers at the local and federal levels.”

14. Etelbina Hauser

Etelbina Hauser is housecleaner and immigrant from Honduras who has lived in the United States. for over 18 years.She has experienced abuse both sexually and physically from a young age which continued into her profession as a domestic worker, specifically in housecleaning. These series of events made her feel that it must be something about her but now she realizes that these violations were not her fault. She is actively participating in a campaign to pass the first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in Seattle, which will support domestic workers obtain better pay and more resources to fight against sexual harassment.

15. Dr. Rebecca Ward

Dr. Rebecca Ward directs the Center for Assistance to Victims of Violation of the Puerto Rico Department of Health since 2001. She has worked with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence for 25 years as a clinical psychologist, director of the RPE Program and a health professional. She also directs the Institute of Prevention and Control of Violence of the Department of Health.

Dr. Ward is a member of the Advisory Council of the National Resource Center on Sexual Violence, through the Multilingual Access Project (MAPA), an organization sponsored by the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (National Sexual Violence Resource Center. She is also an advisory member of RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). Dr. Ward was part of the Advisory Council for the publication of the "Guide for the Prevention of Sexual Assault during Natural Disasters" sponsored by NSVRC and the CDC and collaborated in the adaptation for Puerto Rico of the publication of the manual "Engaging the Bystanders in Sexual Violence Prevention" of Tabachnick published by the National Resource Center on Sexual Violence (NSVRC).

16. Christy Haubegger

Not only is Christy Haubegger the founder of Latina, she is also a founding member of Time’s Up, an initiative that addresses systemic inequality and gender-based injustice in the workplace. “Time’s Up was founded on the premise that everyone, every human being, deserves a right to earn a living, to take care of themselves, to take care of their families, free of the impediments of harassment and sexual assault and discrimination,” Haubegger told TIME.

After having founded our publication in 1996, Haubegger moved on to become the Head of Multicultural Business Development at Creative Artist Agency, where she provides insight on diverse markets to the agency’s clients. At CAA, she has worked to expand diversity in Hollywood and is now spreading her #LatinaMagic in Hollywood and beyond.