Alumni Spotlight: Juana Rose Cavero

Juana-Rosa-CaveroJuana Rosa Cavero is the Director of the Reproductive Justice Coalition of Los Angeles. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2003 with degrees in International Affairs and Spanish for the Professions, and a Business minor.

Read more from Juana here:

How were you involved with Choice USA? 

I was involved with Choice USA through my organizing work with the United States Student Association and again as Co-Chair of the Board of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity for Reproductive Rights.  While with USSA, I was co-chair of the National People of Color Caucus and was introduced to the possibility of organizing on women’s rights on my campus. With COLOR, we were able to create a whole new way of integrating reproductive justice into other social justice organizations with the LUZ Reproductive Justice Thinktank. LUZ was a collaboration of social justice advocates that believed that the reproductive justice framework strengthened all social justice movements. We believed that through collaboration and by working at the intersections of oppressions we would be more effective in combating the root causes of disparities in Colorado communities. It was a great initiative, which brought together a core group of leaders, that continue to work on RJ in various forms.

What do you do now and how do you bring a reproductive justice frame to the work you do?

Since 2010, I have been the Director of the Reproductive Justice Coalition of Los Angeles (RJCLA). The Reproductive Justice Coalition of Los Angeles (RJCLA) is comprised of over 25 reproductive health, rights and justice organizations. Many of our member organizations are led by women of color or serve a primary constituency of women of color. Our mission is to advance reproductive justice by engaging inclusive, reproductive justice strategies to mobilize young women, women of color and immigrant women to secure reproductive health services, policies and resources for autonomous reproductive decision-making. With limited opportunities for women of color-led organizations to strategize collaboratively, RJCLA provides a critical space for women of color-led and social justice organizations to apply reproductive justice strategies to current health, rights, and justice issues. Through our consistent monthly meetings and an emphasis on relationship building, RJCLA members educate, engage and mobilize diverse constituencies on myriad issues by applying an RJ lens of race, class, gender, sexuality, immigration and geography to questions of access for reproductive health.

What other things have you done since graduating?

In 2009, I was accepted as a Fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute of California and successfully passed legislation to protect farm workers from overexposure to pesticides. I was also on staff at the Pacific Institute of Women’s Health where I led communications and outreach efforts to community-based organizations throughout the U.S. and around the globe, including Sudan, Uganda, Peru and Guatemala to advance the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls.

Prior to coming to Los Angeles, I served as Co-Chair of the Board of the COLOR and guided the organization through its first executive director and initial program development. Again, it was here that I co-found the LUZ Reproductive Justice Think Tank to integrate reproductive justice issues into Colorado’s social justice organizations.

Aside from RJ, I have extensive experience in reducing tobacco related health disparities as Policy Manager at the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance and as Education Coordinator at the Latino/a Research and Policy Center. I provided technical assistance to community-based organizations, local health agencies and advocates to implement tobacco prevention and control policy initiatives.

In 2012, I won the Emerging Leader Award from the California Coalition for Reproductive FreedomI also completed the Regional Institute for Health and Environmental Leadership, a yearlong leadership development program in public health and the White House Project Training Program, which prepares women to run for elected offices.

What skills or knowledge did you learn from Choice USA that you use in your current work/life?

The biggest skill that I gained from CHOICE is the need to integrate and incorporate reproductive health and rights into all aspects of policy. Keeping it separate only serves to continuously alienate the needs of the women. We must continue to make reproductive health and rights a basic need, not a special need only relevant to women. CHOICE gave me confidence in taking the RJ frame to reach out to other social justice movements about how  reproductive health and rights was relevant to their mission.

What are your top priorities in politics and/or reproductive justice?

My top priority is to strengthen the infrastructure of women of color led advocacy groups, so that our efforts can be more impacting. There are so many groups, coalitions, and organizations that are doing phenomenal RJ work. However,  funding, technical assistance, advocacy training and organizational development are resources that many times we can not acquire.  I believe that we have those resources among us, we just need to exchange such information in efficient ways. RJCLA is an example, of how organizations can come to exchange such resources and skills to support each other’s work.

Who inspires you?

Right now, working moms inspire me. With two babies under 3, I am in a phase in my life where I ask myself “how did the mothers before me change the world?” I feel that I must take the lessons of grandmothers and great-grandmothers in that they fed their children, fed themselves and fed their communities with their wisdom. They did it. It can be done. It will be done.