Karla Cativo

Karla serves her community as an organizer with the County Street Vendor Pilot Program at the Community Power Collective. As an organizer and educator her vision is to support underrepresented communities via advocacy projects, mentoring, and other activities that support growth, health and wellness. Previously, Karla rejoiced in her role as the Outreach and Organizing Manager with the Salvadoran American Leadership and Educational Fund(SALEF) where she supported underrepresented communities via mentoring, educational opportunities, and resource referrals for leadership development and empowerment. In 2019, Karla served as an Instructor at Cal State Northridge in the Central American Studies Department where she taught courses on the history of political organizing and social movements in the region. In 2020, Karla joined the faculty at her alma mater Cal State LA where she taught a course on the Cultural Impact of Development in Latin America. Her dedication to academia stems from a desire to break with traditional forms of teaching/learning to motivate a revolutionary and radicalpedagogy based on collective principles and love. Karla received an MA in Latin American Studies from Cal State LA, and a double BA in Latin American Studies and Urban Studies and Planning from UC San Diego. Karla grew up in North Hollywood. She was born in El Salvador just as a 12-year civil war unraveled. As a result of multiple threats on behalf of the Salvadoran death squad, her parents made the tough decision to flee their homeland in the midst of growing political unrest and tension. Karla was four months upon arrival in the United States. She and her parents crossed the Tijuana-San Ysidro border by foot and undocumented, since like many Central Americans during the eighties, they were not granted political asylum by U.S. authorities, despitewidespread violence and repression in the region. In 1987, Karla and her mother traveled to El Salvador tocomplete their green card process, a trip she often remembers as having enamored her of the tiny country – the vibrant colors, the lively cumbias, the late nights playing with other children in her beloved Jayaque. Visits to El Salvador thereafter further fomented her love for her roots and exploration of it. In addition, Karla is heavily involved in a variety of projects within her community. In 2019, she participated in the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) Leadership Institute. In 2020, she joined the LAS Girls in Action Board, to support women’s empowerment through education in El Salvador and throughout Latin America. Additionally, alongside other organizers, artists, and scholars she co-founded La Cherada, a cultural project that promotes a critical intergenerational dialogue about historic memory in order to cultivate a true and inclusive historyof the Central American region to inspire healing and reconciliation. Her drive to promote healing and concientizacion via cultural memory activities has also led her to participate in a local radio project calledResistencia Comunitaria alongside fellow Central American activists. Moreover, her passion for advocacy and projects geared towards impulsing social justice globally prompted her to become a volunteer with the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). In 2015, Karla and her mother, alongside other relatives and friends founded AJayacLA, a hometown association focused on aiding and empowering seniors and local youth in Jayaque, La Libertad, El Salvador. In her free time Karla enjoys Karaoke, yoga, jogging, soccer, dancing, eating, and spending time with loved ones. She is motivated by a fervent determination to combat fear, and is inspired by revolutionary love.

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