Minneapolis, MN — Blanca Martinez Gaviña questioned the poverty and other systemic barriers that her family encountered coming to a country of abundance. She experienced the paradox of a progressive and financially healthy state with significant gaps for marginalized communities. She learned how policies can mark the direction of someone’s life and that those most impacted are seldom involved in the creation, process, and implementation. Her strong record of success includes supporting negotiations to protect homeowners in Minnesota and developing solutions to address structural racism in the City of Richfield. She seeks to better understand how power is built and how it can be shared to shift policy outcomes that impact historically marginalized communities. She wants to develop tools to humanize policymaking and integrate ancestral wisdom. To build capacity to lead large-scale change, she will pursue a Ph.D., seek mentorship from leaders of color, and root herself in the stories and culture of her ancestors.
What has informed your approach to leading change in your community?
From a very young age, I saw my family members, especially women, questioning people in authority in an effort to gain more rights for themselves and our community. I’ve always been an inquisitive person, and I never understood why my community, and others around me, experienced so many barriers despite the abundance around us. We have a human right to experience a life of joy - this is how I approach leading change.
What advice would you give leaders who want to impact their communities?
You need to understand when it’s the right time to take a step back. One of the biggest gifts you can give to yourself, and your community, is to take the time you need to rest and heal in order to be present for the long journey. This really is the only way to sustain the fight.
What is your favorite quote or expression?
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.