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Arte Sana is honored to celebrate the 8th anniversary of ALAS Leadership and Cyberactivism!

We dedicate this issue to ALAS Co-Founder Dolores Gonzalez-Ramirez.
ALAS logo 
In this issue:
The ALAS Mission & Collective Leadership
The Alianza Latina en contra la Agresión Sexual (ALAS) is a national Latina-led membership network of victim advocates working to address and prevent sexual violence. Through collaborative efforts and cyberactivism, ALAS promotes the leadership of Latina victim advocates and develops models, resources and policies to empower communities and eliminate access barriers for survivors. ALAS honors the diversity of the Latin@ culture by respecting the similarities and differences of our languages and histories.

Though the ALAS listserv/working group was initiated on February 26, 2004 by Arte Sana, the collective effort to create a space for Latina victim advocates concerned with the many issues impacting Latin@ victim advocacy and community outreach, actually began in 2003. Having experienced firsthand the power of ciberactivismo through collaborations with Latina rights advocates such as Laura Asturias in Guatemala, Arte Sana proposed using the Internet as a possible forum for change through collaborations and resource development through an online creative process.

Prior to the creation of the working group listserv, email facilitated online discussions between state sexual assault coalitions and rape crisis center staff, immigrant and LGBT rights advocates, executive directors, consultants, professional trainers, artists, and university students who would come together to create ALAS. ALAS name proposals and logo designs were also voted on through this rudimentary email communication process.
 
The Symbolism in the Name  
The letters in the acronym "ALAS" spell out the word for "wings" in Spanish. A group discussion of the word pepó which in Guaraní (one of the primary native languages still spoken in Paraguay) means to "give your child wings" for development, independence, and advancement led to unanimous confirmation of the name.

Leadership Development 
ALAS members' collective experience spans over 50 years of anti-sexual violence work that includes national and international experience. The ALAS group has embodied diversity with member cultural identifications and origins in countries and territories such as Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Uruguay. In an effort to preserve and enhance our cultural identity and professional development, Spanish language communication is encouraged and information regarding Latin American human rights causes and perspectives are shared. ALAS members are encouraged to share their experience and are offered opportunities to participate in state and national training events, and as national advisory council members to represent Latin@ needs.

ALAS members have contributed to the topics and areas of focus for all four Arte Sana Nuestras Voces national bilingual sexual assault conferences and some have been key workshop contributors to the National Sexual Assault Conferences. Through its eight years of existence, ALAS has welcomed 70 Latinas and allies including the following notable former members:

Olga Trujillo (2004-2007)
Alva Moreno (2004-2007)
Kimber Nicoletti (2004-2007)
Lina Juarbe-Botella (2007-2009)
Ivonne Ortiz (2007-2010)

ALAS memberships have been influenced by the very conditions we work in, including a troubling turnover rate, changes in victim assistance agency or coalition affiliation, or the inability to actively participate in the group because of increased time constraints, yet our work has continued to impact on a national level.

From the development and national endorsements of timely position statements that address language, Latina advocate retention, and immigrant victimization issues, to the products created collectively and shared nationally such as those included in the Existe Ayuda Toolkit, and even the promulgation of the arroba or @ sign since 2002, to promote gender-inclusiveness in the documents that advocates create or translate into Spanish, all of these tangible results demonstrate the impact of ALAS collective leadership through action.

Laura E. Zárate
ALAS Co-Founder

ALAS Leadership by the Numbers
ALAS aniversario arbol70 Latina victim advocates, survivors and allies have joined ALAS since its inception in 2004.

13 The number of state coalitions that have had ALAS members:
        • Florida Council Against Sexual Violence 
        • Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault
        • Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence
        • Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
        • New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault
        • North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence
        • North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault
        • Oregon Coalition Against Sexual Assault
        • Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
        • Texas Association Against Sexual Assault
        • Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance 
        • Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs
        • Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault
4 The number of Arte Sana Nuestras Voces (our voices) national sexual assault bilingual conferences that ALAS members have actively participated in by providing theme development, planning, and bilingual workshop support.

7,985 The number of messages posted on the ALAS listserv since 2004; an average of 998 messages per year.

7 The number of position statements regarding sexual violence prevention, that ALAS members have collectively drafted and mobilized support for.

ALAS leadership has offered many key contributions to sexual violence awareness and prevention including:
ALAS Timeline 
ALAS timeline
View the interactive ALAS timeline 
  
The ALAS Experience
 
"Antes del grupo ALAS, me sentía sola trabajando contra la violencia sexual y doméstica por eso que cuando la oportunidad de tener un grupo ciberactivismo usando una computadora pensé "Sí puedo hacerlo" y ahora después de los mensajes de apoyo de una Comadre a la otra... fue una idea buena. Gracias a Arte Sana por la oportunidad de dar "VOZ" a nuestros asuntos, finalmente."
Clara Galván-Lindstrom, Co-Founder (Oregon)

"ALAS has allowed me to have a safe place to share my thoughts and ask for guidance and support from other advocates. It has been a great resource for me to grow as an advocate."
Melina Castillo, ALAS member since 2006 (Texas)

"Ser parte de ALAS no solo me ha dado coraje para seguir en la lucha, también me ha servido como una fuente de educación constante. Le agradezco especialmente al liderazgo y dedicación de Arte Sana a este movimiento, sin sus contribuciones ALAS no seria lo que es hoy."
Rosa Herrin, ALAS member since 2009 (Louisiana)

"Mi experiencia con ALAS ha sido edificante y fortalecedora, colaborando con mis herman@s luchando por la justicia por víctimas/sobrevivientes de la violencia sexual y doméstica. Somos un gran número luchando de parte de nuestra comunidad, pero a veces estamos aislados de nuestros herman@s y ALAS me ha proveído un enlace y apoyo muy necesitado. ¡Gracias a tod@s por su energía, esfuerzo y aguante!"
Pamela Zeller, ALAS member since 2011 (Minnesota)

ALAS provides a safe space for me to bring my whole self to the table where I can connect with other Latin@ leaders who see diversity as a resource, not a barrier. Our cyberactivism initiatives have helped bridge the digital divide across many Latin@ communities. Our collective efforts serve to uplift the issues at hand for the smallest voices and affect change for Spanish language access, advocacy and sexual health. I am proud to be a member of a long-standing, national Latin@ culturally specific group of action.
Gabby Santos, ALAS member since 2011 (Oregon)

ALAS word cloud
 
 
ALAS Members Speak Up Regarding Leadership
Observaciones sobre Liderazgo
Líderes Latin@s
  
Remembering Comadre Dolores
Dolores Gonzalez-Ramirez
We remember ALAS founding member Dolores Gonzalez-Ramirez who was Project Manager of LA VIDA, a domestic violence prevention, support and education program initiated in 2000 in Detroit, Michigan. Dolores passed on in 2011 after a long battle with lung illness. She was a true comadre who embodied sisterhood, activism, and leadership. In 2005, Dolores was nominated by her peers, and selected as a recipient of Arte Sana's first National Latina Victim Advocate Awards. She was honored with the SIN FRONTERAS - COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT AWARD for her community mobilizing efforts on behalf of Latina survivors of domestic violence in Southwest Detroit.

¡Nunca te olvidaremos Dolores!  

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Sunshine Darknews Looking Forward
 
On February 14, 2012 the membership of the Alianza Latina en contra la Agresión Sexual (ALAS) shared a position statement to articulate some of the critical issues that may place other communities across the nation at risk for an incident similar to the child sexual abuse tragedy at Miramonte Elementary School.

The Preventing Sexual Abuse of Latin@ Children received endorsements from the following local, state, and national groups:



A CALL TO MEN
Alianza por el Bienestar del Hogar (North Carolina)
Alma de Mujer Center for Social Change
Arte Sana (art heals)
Big Voice Pictures, producer of BOYS AND MEN HEALING
Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA)
End Violence Against Women International
Hollaback!
Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault (INCASA)
Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault (IowaCASA)
Mamas of Color Rising Collective
La Mariposa Enterprises (Oregon)
Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault (LaFASA)
Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women (MCBW)
Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition (MIWSAC)
Moving Forward Gulf Coast, Inc.
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV)
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence (NCDSV)
New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA)
North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA)
Latinas Unidas por Un Nuevo Amanecer (L.U.N.A.)
Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (OCADSV)
Rape Victim Advocacy Program, Iowa City, Iowa
Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern Connecticut
Sexual Violence Center (Minnesota)
Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA)
The National Compadres Network
Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (WCSAP)

As with previous documents drafted by ALAS, this position statement was an urgent attempt to give voice to some of the issues that continue to place our communities at risk. The families of Miramonte Elementary School are no different from those who reside in las colonias of "el valle" in Texas, or any other state that has large or growing Latin@ communities, especially in non-metro counties. Sexual violence will continue unchecked--in all of our communities--until our messages of prevention and support reach everyone.

The membership of ALAS is committed to bridging access barriers, and engaging marginalized and Spanish-speaking communities as agents of change in sexual violence prevention. Ours is a collective lucha (struggle) based on fundamental principles of human rights. Our actions are informed and guided by the communities we work with, and not dependent on grant funding. We sincerely appreciate the solidarity of those who have respected and supported our efforts these past eight years and we look forward to future collaborations.
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