I was born and raised in Hurricane, West Virginia, where my parents often struggled to make ends meet. Early on, I understood the difference between the “haves” and the “have-nots” because I saw how hard my parents had to work for the little they got in return.
Driven to achieve by that sense of unfairness, I became the first in my family to attend college, thanks to scholarships and Pell grants. Knowing that I wanted to fight for families like mine, I enrolled in law school – another first.
I graduated at the top of my class and began my legal career serving Spanish-speaking women and children in immigration and domestic violence matters in Charlotte. I eventually followed my future husband to his hometown and became the Spanish-speaking attorney in South Carolina Legal Services’ Columbia office, where I handled family, immigration, and public benefit matters for low and no-income folks.
We ultimately relocated to Greenville, where I joined a non-profit serving crime victims and established a first-of-its-kind legal program serving sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. I was one of the first attorneys in South Carolina to provide crime victims with representation in criminal proceedings, and established new law that requires judges to safeguard survivors’ privacy.
Often feeling like I was putting band-aids on wounds that wouldn’t heal, I left direct services work in 2017 and shifted my focus to policy and advocacy work. Since, I have organized around clean energy, affordable housing, local food, and transportation policy and am now building a program that will influence local and state education policy for years to come.
I have co-founded multiple initiatives, including the Greenville Food and Farm Coalition, our local food policy council, and the Greenville Civic Project, aimed at growing Greenville’s civic knowledge and participation. I also serve on the South Carolina Food Policy Council, the Greenville County Board of Zoning Appeals, the GVL2040 comprehensive plan steering committee, and recently completed the inaugural Greenlink Citizens Transit Academy.