Katrina Mendoza is an independent mother to three young activists, an adventurer, a justice activist, an organizer, a community healer, and an ordained minister. But that’s not all! In her day job, Katrina supervises health education and outreach at a community health clinic. Her clinic focuses on preventing and helping individuals living HIV/AIDS (especially in the Black and Latinx MSM community). Her clinic also concentrates on preventing Type 2 diabetes for Latina women, and supporting women’s health broadly. Here’s our Q&A with Katrina, who will also be joining us in Los Angeles two weeks from now!
Q: What drives you?
KM: I’m motivated and energized most by the work I do in and for community. I replenish my spirit working as a community healer, organizing with my neighbors to fight gentrification and displacement; and promoting sisterhood, strength, and support through the Indigenous Women Women of Color table through West Side Community Organization.
Q: Who are your three favorite changemakers in history (living or deceased) – and why?
KM: Three you won’t know:
- My mother: An undocumented woman who became a pillar in the community, a healer, a promoter of love and faith, and most of all a reminder to see humanity in each other above all else.
- My eldest daughter: An unapologetic, fighter for justice. She’s resilient and a phoenix who finds strength, perseverance, and ways to turn pain and darkness into love and light.
- My youngest daughter: An unintimidated force who refuses to give up when the world would understand if she did. She carries hope, fight, faith, and determination in every move she makes.
Three you should look up if you don’t know:
- Sylvia Rivera
- Sonja Sotomayor
- Dolores Huerta
Q: What’s the last issue you personally advocated for – and why?
KM: Recently my daughter gave birth to my grandson who lived only 46 minutes.
While the experience from labor/delivery through the cremation process was filled with love and support, the treatment after was horrendous. She received “congrats on your new baby” postcards. The assistant at her checkup cheerfully asked how her baby was. The billing department decided that the payment was more important than my daughter’s trauma. They pretty much said, “Too bad. You are the mother, so you still have to pay this $1000+ bill. You should have gotten medical coverage for him.”
Needless to say, we fought all of those actions, have been apologized to, and were not made to pay the medical bill. We move forward on helping other grieving parents so they don’t have to be re-traumatized by holding businesses, health care professionals, and everyone in between accountable. We continue the fight!
Q: If you could invite any group or individual to Upswell, who would it be and why?
KM: I would invite my two daughters, my son, and my partner. When a family is called to the work, it’s powerful. When avenues are cleared and barriers are removed for them to do that work, it is a force! While we all move in the world as fighters for justice in different arenas, we at least are able to carry the work of our ancestors and the work of each other while we move through the world. Imagine what it would like to have the wisdom of elders, the voices of youth, the experiences of aunts/uncles and cousins, siblings, etc. all in one space—learning, sharing and fighting together!