Presenting the HOPE Latina Advocates
HOPE, in partnership with leading California legislators, annually recognizes a select group of Latinas making significant contributions to their communities through the HOPE Latina Advocate Award. These Advocates are being honored for their outstanding leadership and the positive longstanding impact they have made in their communities.
The Latina Advocates will be recognized during a special reception at HOPE’s 24th Annual Latina Action Day held in Sacramento on May 23, 2018.
Advocate: Mayra Cuevas
Owner, Tax Express and Cuevas Insurance Agency
Selected by Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, District 13
Mayra Cuevas has been in business for 25 years in south Stockton. A mother of three children, a mentor, and an innovator, she is the proud owner of Tax Express and Cuevas Insurance Agency. Mayra came to the United States at the age of 8 with her parents. Since, she has been able to build her business from the ground floor with then-husband Jose Cuevas. Today, Tax Express and Cuevas Insurance Agency is a multi-faceted family business that is known for its professionalism, producing results for its clients and giving back to the community.
Mayra has exemplified her dedication to providing for her family and community by helping found Comerciantes Unidos, a coalition of small business entities in Stockton who do advocacy work, community service, as well as provide annual scholarships for Stockton students on their way to college. Mentoring and job experience are other experiences afforded students as a result of the efforts of Mayra Cuevas work with Comerciantes Unidos and her own company. Additionally, Mayra and her team host an annual Posada celebration for community members to come together and celebrate the holidays.
Advocate: Brittany A. Estrada
Teacher, Los Angeles Leadership Academy High School
Selected by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo, District 51
Brittany A. Estrada is an English Language Arts teacher in Lincoln Heights, in the 51st District of Los Angeles. She currently instructs AP Literature, Expository Reading and Writing, and a Gender in Film Theory course at Los Angeles Leadership Academy High School. She also conducts research for Azusa Pacific University’s Diversity Committee, where she received her B.A. and M.A. Ed. For over 10 years, she has educated students of all levels, specifically in Title I schools.
Prior, she directed a Family and Community Outreach and Development program at one of the City of San Bernardino’s largest affordable housing complexes. There, she funded the re-opening of a community center that offered programs for residents including health classes, free child care, financial literacy courses and a free meal.
She has published research in the Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching and Research and presented her findings at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Christian Educational Research Conference, and National Association of Multicultural Education (NAME) conference. She has also been awarded as teacher of the year three times. Recently, Brittany crowdfunded $5,000 to direct, produce and execute a camp called Origins. This camp took Latinx high school students to the Santa Anita Forest to learn self-directed meditation, autonomous learning through play, leadership training, and water justice rights; all while studying the Toltec ideology from the book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
Advocate: Susy Flores
Executive Director & Primary Forensics Interviewer, The Children's Advocacy Center
Selected by Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, District 48
Susana (Susy) Flores has been Executive Director of The Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) in Covina for the past one and a half years. The CAC's mission is to reduce additional trauma that child victims of abuse endure during the process of the investigation and resolution. Susy serves as both Executive Director and primary Forensic Interviewer for the CAC.
Susy's skills as an administrator, educator and interviewer, along with her compassion and commitment to serving the innocent child victims of the communities, have had a tremendous impact on the safety, health and well-being of these kids. Her dedication to empowering and protecting youth makes her a an exemplary leader for her community.
Advocate: Maria Orozco
Mayor, City of Gonzales
Selected by Assemblymember Anna M. Caballero, District 30
Mayor Maria Orozco of the City of Gonzales is the daughter of immigrant parents and a graduate of Hartnell Community College. She has lived in Monterey County for over 30 years. Currently, she serves as Project Manager working with small business owners for the City of Salinas, where she has worked for 34 years.
In 2008, she became the first Latina Mayor elected in the City of Gonzales. She has served as a City Council member for the City of Gonzales since 2001. Maria focuses her advocacy work around the issues of affordable housing, civic and youth engagement, economic development, and mental health services for underserved communities. In addition, Maria serves on numerous community, county, and regional organizations: Monterey County Restorative Justice Commision, Gonzalez Chamber of Commerce, Homeless Service Providers, Salinas Cultural Committee, and the Transportation Agency for Monterey County, just to name a few. Additionally, Maria is a the owner of Gonzales Gift Shop, a small business in the City of Gonzales.
Advocate: Mary Helen Ybarra
Vice President, Corona Norco Unified School District Boards
Selected by Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes, District 60
Mary Helen Ybarra is a dedicated advocate and collaborator for the children within the Corona Norco community. Mary has been a passionate advocate for students, parents, teachers, and all stakeholders of Corona Norco Unified School District through her 25 plus years as a member of the Parent and Teachers Association, and as Vice President of CNUSD. Not only has she done advocacy work for her local community, Mary has also done statewide advocacy work by traveling to Sacramento numerous times to advocate for “20 to 1” and to voice other educational concerns.
She was also appointed to the State of California Health Professions Education Foundation by the California Senate Rules Committee, and has been a dedicated volunteer to various organizations such as, Corona Fire Safety Foundation Executive Board, Bicycles 4 Kids Committee, California Latino School Board Association, Corona High School “Every 15 Minutes” Community Coordinator, and in the National Hispanic Council of School Board Members.