YWU Staff

Tannia Esparza, Executive Director

Tannia Esparza is a Queer Xicana from Santa Barbara, CA who is proud to come from an immigrant family of strong, determined women. For the past four years she has been honored to have found home in the brave, resilient layers of brown in Nuevo Mexico. She is the Executive Director at Young Women United (YWU), where she leads policy, community organizing and culture shift strategies to build communities where all people can make real decisions about their own bodies and lives. Tannia has been active in social justice movements for over 17 years working on racial justice, immigrant rights, gender justice, and LGBTQ liberation. She is a writer who reclaims storytelling and embodied knowledge as trauma healing tools in her reproductive justice work. Her most recent writing can be found in Latina Magazine, NBC News, New Mexico’s Greenfire Times, and the Malpais Review. As a recent fellow of the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice Cohort, she is committed to living as an act of love and more inspired than ever by reproductive justice leaders who are fiercely and lovingly envisioning a world where we can all thrive.

Denicia Cadena, Policy and Cultural Strategy Director

Denicia Cadena is a queer Chican@ born and raised in Mesilla, New Mexico. Denicia is the Policy Director of Young Women United (YWU), an organization that leads community organizing and policy efforts by and for young women of color in New Mexico. Denicia leads the design and implementation of YWU’s change making strategies. She works to make sure the voices and expertise of those most impacted by an issue are centered in decision-making spaces. Denicia has deep experience working on issues of reproductive justice, racial justice, and queer justice.

A proud sister, aunt, daughter, and friend–Denicia couldn’t imagine herself without all the strong women and folks that have shaped her. As a former welder and sculptor, Denicia knows that some ways of knowing and understanding can only be expressed through art. Denicia holds a BA in History with a concentration in Diaspora Studies from Amherst College.

Esperanza Dodge, Mamas Justice Organizer

Esparanza Dodge1Esperanza is a proud New Mexican Hispanic, born and raised in ‘burque, New Mexico. Esperanza is YWU’s Mamas Justice Organizer. Being a mother to 8yr-old Julián has fueled her passion to work hard for justice for all families, including families living through addiction and incarceration.  She also serves as an active member in local and national breastfeeding coalitions in an effort to making breastfeeding advocacy more inclusive of families of color, LGBTQ families, young parents and low-income families. Esperanza enjoys offering personalized, culturally-relevant breastfeeding and postpartum support to new mamas and parents. Creativity and art is at the core of Esperanza’s well-being and is what helps ground and inspire her in doing this challenging, yet exciting work. Esperanza holds a BA degree in Sociology and a MSW in Bilingual/Bicultural Social Work.

Alicia Chavez, Youth & Community Organizer

Alicia Sofia Chavez is a Xicana reigning from Pecos, New Mexico. Alicia is YWU’s Youth & Community Organizer. In this role she organizes with young people to get them the knowledge, resources, and tools to make the changes they want to see in their communities. Through our sister circles she builds trust and relationships with our communities. She leads: Circle of Strength for young women 13-19 , and Panocha Pláticas, conversations on sex, sexuality, and women’s empowerment. Her life’s work has been dedicated to educating and empowering marginalized youth to succeed. Alicia is currently in pursuit of her Masters in Community and Regional Planning at The University of New Mexico.

Rachael Lorenzo, Policy Associate

Rachael Lorenzo is a pansexual and indigenous woman from the Pueblo of Laguna, a descendant of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, and a Xicana.  She was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico and has spend most of her life on the ancestral land of her father in Laguna, New Mexico.  Rachael is the Policy Associate for Young Women United (YWU), where she provides support to the reproductive health access, birth and parenting justice, and indigenous breastfeeding campaigns.  As an indigenous mother of two, she understands the need for parents to have access to evidence-based reproductive healthcare and education and culturally competent support.  She is dedicated to ensuring that policies at any level are inclusive of the most marginalized people in our state.  While Rachael is dedicated to her family and her work, she also loves literature and writing.  She graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BA in Political Science and a Masters in Public Administration, focused on public health and nonprofit governance.

Victoria Torres, Office Manager

 Victoria Torres is from Los Lunas, New Mexico and the proud mama of three.  As Young Women United’s Office Manager, she provides administrative support to all YWU staff and maintains and manages office systems.  She works hard to ensure that YWU is a safe and welcoming space for everyone who walks through doors.  In her spare time, she loves to watch and play soccer.




Young Women United Consultants

Keioshiah Peter

Yahaira Carreras

Micaela Cadena

Raquel Z. Rivera