Movement Mujeres is a joint initiative of Deeds Not Words, the nonprofit led by Former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis that stands for women’s equality, and Jolt, an organization that increases civic participation of Latinos in Texas to build a stronger democracy and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. Deeds Not Words and Jolt Initiative are two of the only organizations in the state of Texas dedicated to organizing and developing the leadership of young women through an intersectional framework.
Movement Mujeres sought to build the organizational muscle and leadership pipeline necessary to transform Texas and make the state a national leader on policies to protect and expand the rights of working class communities of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ, women and the environment. It also sought to create a model of change by demonstrating that investment in women of color leaders is the path to driving systemic change. However, to achieve this ambitious vision, we must invest in the infrastructure to make change possible: the leadership of women of color, their organizations and growing their voices so that they are able to use their power to transform the state over the next decade.
After announcing our new fellowship program, Movement Mujeres received over 245 applications. From these, 25 unstoppable young women were selected from across Texas to make up our inaugural class. Our fellows ranged in age from 21-35 and came from 14 different cities throughout the Lone Star State! Learn more about them below!
Sanam Batool Anwar
#changemakers | Sanam Batool Anwar
Sanam is originally from Austin and now lives and works in Houston as an Environmental Engineer. She is a graduate of Wellesley College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences and Cornell University with a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering. As a scientist and political thinker, she plans to address the climate crisis through both science and policy reform in Texas and the U.S.
#changemakers | Lillian Byas
Lillian Byas is a Community Service Specialist for Juvenile Probation where she creates curriculum on economic empowerment. She is an advisory board member for TCSA, CASA Advocate, speaker and mentor to youths. Currently, she is a master’s candidate in Public Administration with a focus in Nonprofit Administration and Leadership at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Lillian is committed to advocating for improved programs and policies that help young people in Texas.
#changemakers | Jasmin Estrada
Jasmin Estrada is a first generation college student who went on to earn a Masters in Social Work and attain her LCSW. She now works as a Psychotherapist within a non-profit hospital system. Through her personal experiences, extensive study, and professional career, Jasmin is passionate about American healthcare reform, especially as it intersects with immigration and the Latinx experience in the US.
#changemakers | Andrea Flores
Andrea Flores was born and raised in Dallas, TX. She is a first-generation graduate from Texas A&M University in College Station with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications and Journalism. During her studies at Texas A&M she was the first Latina to serve the institution’s Senior Class President. She has a strong interest in having more women of color elected to community boards and political positions in Dallas. Andrea is currently studying for the LSAT and will pursue a J.D. in immigration or civil rights law and will be in law school in the fall of 2021.
#changemakers | Jessenia Garcia
Jessenia Garcia is a Houston native and proud daughter of Mexican and Salvadoran immigrants. She is a mental health counselor and current doctoral student at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research focus includes addressing educational inequities and supporting underrepresented students in higher education. Jessenia has organized and led several initiatives on college campuses including events for sexual assault and domestic violence awareness month and programs challenging mental health stigma.
#changemakers | Melissa Garcia
Melissa Garcia serves as the Community Initiatives Coordinator at Break the Cycle, where she coordinates the organization’s national training, technical assistance projects, social media platforms, and the national youth movement, Let’s Be Real. Melissa has led multiple programs to end gender-based violence at the state level in Texas, around the U.S. and internationally in Mexico. She obtained her B.A. in Psychology from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and has centered her work on amplifying the voices of young people and marginalized communities.
Denise M. Hernández
#changemakers | Denise M. Hernández
Denise M. Hernández is a fifth-generation San Antonian Xicana who hails from the Westside and currently works for District 1 Councilman Roberto C. Treviño. She has been an activist for many years, and found community organization Maestranza in 2015 to engage Texans with education, history, and collaborative efforts for a better tomorrow. She spoke on the TEDx stage in 2016 about implicit biases and how they affect our communities, and was named a “Rising Star in Their 20’s” by MySA.com. Her passions include community-building, writing, organizing, and dancing.
#changemakers | Biviana Hurtado
Biviana Hurtado is a native Dallasite and a proud product of a working class neighborhood. Biviana learned early in life about the importance of receiving a education from her single mother who worked endlessly to ensure Biviana and her sisters had their basic necessities met. Biviana took her mother’s lesson to heart. Now, she advocates for greater access to educational scholarship opportunities, advancing equitable education policies, and works to close the achievement gap for low-income students in Dallas. She currently sits on the Scholarship Committee of the LULAC Education Council of Dallas and is a current broad member of the Dallas Mexican American Historical League. She earned a dual Bachelors of Arts degree in Political Science and Psychology from the College of the Holy Cross. When Biviana is not advocating for the preservation of historically Mexican- American neighborhoods in Dallas or raising money for deserving students in need you can find her at a local coffeeshop reading and discussing her favorite Latinx authors.
#changemakers | Belén Iñiguez
Belén is a proud queer Mexicanx. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico and became a naturalized citizen in 2018. Shortly after registering to vote, she became a VDR in 3 East Texas (ETX) counties and registered over 100 latinxs to vote. In 2019 she interned at the Texas Legislature as a LUNA scholar for the 86th Legislative session. She joined other naturalized citizens in MALDEF’s lawsuit against the Texas Secretary of State, Governor, and Attorney General for improperly and baselessly questioning their eligibility to vote. The culmination of these events has lead her to become a co-founder of Este Poder, an East Texas nonprofit focused on amplifying the civic power of communities of color in rural – often forgotten – areas. The utter lack of representation in the Texas capitol made her want to pursue a career in legislation. After graduating in May, she plans to go to law school within the next year to become an immigration lawyer and eventually run for state or local office to represent the latinx community in rural ETX.
Marla Gloria Lopez
#changemakers | Marla Gloria Lopez
Marla is the daughter of Mexican and Honduran immigrants and a first generation college graduate from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently she is working in Houston as the Census Organizer for Mi Familia Vota and with a coalition of nonprofits under the umbrella organization, Houston in Action, to increase awareness and participation in the 2020 Census. She has worked with many progressive organizations including Worker’s Defense Project, Jolt, and Movement School to increase and uplift the empowerment and pride of the latinx and allied communities around their rights and social justice. Her intention is to grow her experience to support ongoing efforts for justice and empowerment in Brownsville, where her family still resides less a few miles from the border.
#changemakers | Cathryn McClellan
Cathryn McClellan is a community builder, storyteller and impact maker. She works as the Leadership Program Manager for the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Young Professionals Program, where she builds the next generation of business leaders by creating and executing high-quality professional development and personal growth opportunity for young professionals across the DFW metroplex. She is a member of the Dallas Fort Worth Urban League Young Professionals and a founding member of the Heritage Giving Fund, housed at the Dallas Women’s Foundation, she works to empower and educate communities of color of their economic, philanthropic and civic power to create change.
Mercedes G. Molina
#changemakers | Mercedes G. Molina
Mercedes Molina is a first-generation college student and graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas and current District Director for State Representative Ramon Romero, Jr. in Fort Worth, Texas. From her role as a high school college/career coordinator through the UT Dallas Department of Community Engagement to her role as the lead education policy staffer for Representative Romero in the 86th Legislative Session, Mercedes has utilized her own experience to help fellow first-generation students obtain the tools to pursue higher education. A member of the LULAC, NAACP, and Movement Mujeres Fellow, she is a dedicated advocate for her DFW home region. With plans to attend law school in the fall, Mercedes hopes to better serve her community through the public interest sector and be another strong example of all the things her nieces and nephews are capable of.
#changemakers | Maria Oliveira
Maria Oliveira is a Latinx and formerly undocumented entrepreneur and activist living in Austin, Texas. She is the co-founder of Passport Vintage, a nationally recognized online and brick and mortar vintage shop and a co-founder of Laissez Fair, Austin’s premier vintage market. Oliveira is a volunteer with Jolt and is a Steering Committee member of Our Revolution Texas.
#changemakers | Edith Rahimian
Edith moved to Texas over thirteen years ago where she taught for 8 years, was an administrator for 4 years, and now works in the education nonprofit space. Her drive for ensuring educational equity for all students, despite family background and zip code, stems from her own personal journey. She is an Iranian immigrant and the first one in her family to graduate from college. Edith’s dedication goes beyond her current role as she is committed to ensuring that all students from all communities across Texas have access to great schools and educational programs.
#changemakers | Saleeta Rajwani
Saleeta is a first-generation South Asian-American and first-generation college graduate with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California. Drawing from her own personal experiences, she is driven to make systematic change for low-income families. She is also focused on empowering youth in her Shia Ismaili Muslim community to be proud of their identity and currently serves in multiple volunteer capacities within her community.
#changemakers | Erika Ramirez
Erika received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Texas in Austin and her Master of Public Administration degree from the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at the George Washington University. She has served in various policy roles with state agencies and currently works in the nonprofit sector in policy and advocacy. Erika is committed to improving programs and policies that help our communities’ most vulnerable populations in the state of Texas.
#changemakers | Lauren Rangel
Lauren earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science at Columbia University where she was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow. Her undergraduate studies focused on interrogating the systemic causes of poverty and inequality of opportunity. Upon graduation, Lauren was a Senator Kirk Watson Campaign Academy Fellow and subsequently served as a Legislative Aide and Scheduler in the Texas House of Representatives during the 85th legislative session. Lauren is now a Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities Public Policy Fellow at Easterseals Central Texas where she specializes in policy research and advocacy to support early childhood development. Her experiences as a teenage mother inform her work, and she aspires to support other low-income families by advocating for policies that adopt a two-generation approach to addressing upward intergenerational mobility. Her three young children inspire her everyday to use her voice to create a more equitable society.
#changemakers | Jasmine Robinson
Jasmine is the Executive Director/Founder of the grassroots 510c3 the “Collegiate Mom Coalition”, speaker, community organizer and mentor to college mothers. Originally from Houston TX, Jasmine Robinson moved to Austin Texas with her 2 daughters Kenadie (10) and Kimora (8) after getting married to her college sweetheart, Tracey Robinson. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Architecture and received her Masters of Science in Community Development at Prairie View A&M University.
#changemakers | Stephanie Villanueva
Stephanie was born and raised in Houston, TX, in the East End area of the city, before moving to Cypress, TX with her family. She is a fourth-year, first-generation undergraduate student at The University of Texas at Austin majoring in Public Health. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants, and proudly embraces her beautiful, Mexican culture every day.
#changemakers | Dorothy Villarreal
Hailing from the border between the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Tamaulipas, Dorothy Villarreal currently works at Paul Quinn College as an adjunct professor and Special Assistant to the Vice President. The daughter of immigrants and a product of her community, Dorothy strongly believes in the importance of public education and civic engagement to bring about positive change. A graduate of Harvard College and the University of Pennsylvania, Dorothy is excited to join in the great work happening in Texas pushing for a stronger representative democracy.
#changemakers | Veronica Whitehead
Veronica Ray Whitehead, M.Ed., CHES is Reproductive Justice and health equity advocate as well as the Director of Programs at the North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in Teens (Ntarupt). In this role she oversees sexual health education programs for parents, adolescents and youth-serving professionals with the goal of changing the stigma around talking about sex. Additionally, Veronica is a program coordinator for the Dallas Young Women’s Advisory Council, a local leadership development program for young women of color between the ages of 17-24. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist with an emphasis in promotion, education and advocacy related to sexual and reproductive health and healthcare access. Driven by a desire to create a better Texas for women and girls of color, Veronica believes inclusive, trauma informed comprehensive sexual health education and healthcare access is basic human right of all people. She is a current Movement Mujeres fellow and a United States of Women Ambassador representing North Texas. Veronica earned a Bachelors of Science in health at Texas A&M University and a Masters of Education in Community Health Education at Texas State University. She is TEDx speaker and a group fitness instructor at Dallas Grit Fitness.
Kwentoria A. Williams
#changemakers | Kwentoria A. Williams
Kwentoria A. Williams currently serves as Communications Director and Healthcare Liaison for the Honorable Al Green, U.S. Representative for the Ninth Congressional District of Texas. Although currently residing in Houston, she hails from the notorious ‘Oak Cliff’ neighborhood of Dallas, Texas, where her affinity for underserved and underrepresented communities finds its roots. Kwentoria holds a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Studies with dual concentrations in Public Health as well as Administration from the University of Texas at Dallas and a Master of Healthcare Administration from Texas Woman’s University. Kwentoria is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Higher Dimension Church, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as well as a Board Member for the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas (WHFPT). In her free time, she enjoys sleeping, trying new things, and spending time with her family and friends (which she affectionately refers to as her ‘framily’).