Meet the Team: Kristiana Huitrón
Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Name: Kristiana Huitrón
Title: Project Coordinator, Research Team
Kristiana’s main focus is the Meaningful Collaborations project, which provides a toolkit for collaborations between mainstream organizations and culturally specific organizations to assure respectful, meaningful, and full participation and credit for all collaborators. Kristiana also coordinates the Research Team for webinars, the newsletter, the factsheets and for the regular meetings of both the Research Advisory Board and the Practitioner Council.
Where are you from?
I am a Colorado girl — Coloraduense de nacimiento y de corazón (Coloradoan by birth and heart) — from Denver, but I presently live in Colorado Springs, and spent four fabulous years in Columbus, Nebraska.
Where do you feel most at home?
I feel most at home close to my mother, close to my children, close to the mountains, doing community work and facilitating popular education, reading a book that engages my whole person, in my home town Denver, and in a group of friends who see me as the entire me. While I am adventurous in meeting new people, going new places, doing new things, I also love (really love) spending down time with no schedule, no expectations, and just doing whatever happens. That is a home feeling for me — just being alive in the moment.
What inspires you, professionally and personally?
Personally, my inspirations are the moments of beauty and levity that are strung in between the hard parts of the good fight.
Professionally, this personal inspiration reminds me of my lineage — the generations of women who carried on in spite of what they suffered, women who had no choice, no protection, no exit, and still survived in solidarity with the community that surrounded them. My matriarchs survived long enough for me to be born and helped build a world in which I have options and agency, and in which my daughter has more choices than my grandmothers ever did. I believe, with all of my being, that because of the work I do, my grandchildren will be the first generation in my lines to live free of violence in their homes of origin. That is worth it every day.
In terms of your work for the National Latin@ Network, what are your areas of expertise or what areas are particularly interesting to you?
I am so honored to join the National Latin@ Network. Casa de Esperanza has been a guiding light for me as an isolated Latina advocate for 15 years. The experience I bring to the work is what I have initiated over the years in community-based programming, youth education and advocacy, Promotora program development, organizational development, culturally generated and linguistically appropriate services for mainstream service providers, and of course, training and technical assistance for both cultural/linguistic specific and mainstream organizations. I also have experience in juvenile justice advocacy and in creative endeavors such as Chicano community theater and Chicana Artist collectives.
Share one thing you have learned, big or small, doing your work over the past year?
Over the past year, I have learned how necessary my sisters are in the work, and relationships with women of color are to sustaining my spirit, and how grateful I am for the wisdom and strength my soul sisters lend me when I thought I had none. I have also learned that taking up crochet can alleviate stress, but not necessarily lead to beautiful product. Overall, my lesson in 2016 was all about maintaining grace and momentum in the face of opposition to success.
Who inspires you?
My mother. I call her my first home, my first love. She lives her values with such joy and abundance. She is still, and forever will be, my rock. My daughter runs right next to her; she is grace under fire, smart and fierce, bounds over obstacles. My sons and my dad. My grandmothers and my immigrant grandfathers.
In my life, I have what I call Magical Circles of Women, which are my roots and my wings. This is what has changed my life, transformed me, brought my closer to my destiny than my fate, and shown me that self-actualization is possible thorough concientización (awareness) which all came through my work.
What do you do to relax, de-stress or recharge your batteries?
My main way to remind myself I am not just a worker/advocate, is by getting dressed up and dancing. On most weekends you can find me dancing norteño (with cumbia a close second) with my partner and admiring the best dressed folks in town: Latinos, por supuesto (of course). ¡Ajua! That, followed by reading, then comedy, in that order, are my ways of balancing my stress.
Why have you chosen to do this kind of work?
At first, I didn’t want to do this work. It scared me. It was too close to home and I thought it would depress and conquer me. My first job as a baby advocate was working with young women in high schools in rural Nebraska, facilitating closed educational groups for Latinas (and others) in Spanish and English. The education that I gained from my director’s training and the wisdom the girls shared with me in the mutual process of education changed my life. Walking down the path based in real life, anti-oppression, liberating education is what inspires me. Services help and are important, and at the same time, I personally believe that it is through the education and advocacy relationship that we as individuals, and as communities, find liberation from abuse and from generational and personal trauma.
Today, I choose this work. Through this work, I have a deeper understanding of my abuelita who had to prove she was beaten and get documentation from a medical doctor and ask permission from a judge in order to divorce her husband, who caused the death of their infant daughter. I now have a greater compassion for my other grandmother. She and her five children survived extreme violence at the hands of her husband, whom she stayed with until the day he died at the age of 65. Now, after all of this work and learning, I know that I do this work for the seven generations before me and the seven generations after me, for healing. I also do this for me and my own healing, to not atrophy with the weight of the world’s pain. I have no greater gift to offer the world and my family, than my life. Time is equal to life, and it is a limited resource. I choose to spend mine in this work and with my people, my family, because it is a worthy investment and is immediately beneficial for all of us.
What is your favorite food?
Chile Colorado al estilo Chihuahua with corn tortilla, or New Mexico style with a fried egg and raw white onion, or Colorado style green chile and a big, fat flour tortilla are comfort food. Good, strong Italian or Latin roast coffee is my daily companion, with an occasional macha or maté. Cacao (hot chocolate) is my relaxing buddy. And popcorn, but only the way my daughter makes it con limón y sal (with lime and salt).
What is your favorite book?
Just one?! Books that changed my life:
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien — my mother taught me to read on this before kindergarten.
- Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castañeda taught me that some things are true even before science can prove it, and that my ancestors knew truth.
- The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho taught me about trusting self and the alignment of timing.
- Paradigm Found by Anne Firth Murray taught me about learning as we do.
- Mitakuye Oyasin by Dr A.C. Ross
- This Bridge Called My Back by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa
- A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Martin Luther King Jr.
- Most recently, I’m in love with Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and This is Woman’s Work: Calling Forth Your Inner Council of Wise, Brave, Crazy, Rebellious, Loving Luminous Selves by Dominique Christina (Denver Author).