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Latina breaking ground from fighting for civil rights to protecting Arizona’s pets

Alessandra Navidad
Posted at 4:30 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 20:01:25-05

PHOENIX — March is Women’s History Month and all month long ABC15 Arizona will be profiling women making a difference in our community.

Alessandra Navidad is the first Latina to direct the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Arizona.

She's held the job for more than a decade and is now about to embark on a new journey as the first Latina to hold the position of President and CEO at the Arizona Animal Welfare League (AAWL).

For Navidad, it’s a full circle moment as she once dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.

“I used to be a reporter, like you, for the Miami Herald and I left my job as a reporter to pursue my dream of going to veterinarian school. I was really interested and wanted to become a vet and then my career took a different path when I started working for ACLU and 20 years later here, I am now,” said Navidad.

Navidad grew up in Florida and is the proud daughter of immigrant parents from Argentina and Brazil. She says she grew up speaking Spanish, Portuguese and English and looks forward to begin using her trilingual skills at the AAWL.

Alessandra Navidad

“I hope to be able to educate the community, especially the Latino community, about who we are so they see us at the organization where they can come to get care for their pets and to adopt.”

The AAWL’s mission to save homeless animals’ lives is what motivated Navidad to join the organization. She says she will continue giving voice to the voiceless just like she did during one of the most difficult times for the Latino and undocumented communities in Arizona.

“One of the biggest accomplishments during my 10 years at the ACLU was ending the discriminatory racial profiling practices by Joe Arpaio. We stopped those worksite raids, we took him to trial, we won and that ended those practices,” stated Navidad.

Under her leadership the ACLU of Arizona also fought for the rights to equal education for all.

“We were able to hold charter schools accountable for discriminatory enrollment practices.”

During the pandemic, the ACLU of Arizona has played a significant role in the fight for the rights of those incarcerated.

“Trying to release some of the vulnerable populations from immigration detention centers and from jails and prison systems. These prisons and jails are tinder boxes and we’re seeing very high COVID numbers and people are dying.”

For Navidad, the ACLU is home, a place she says she will miss dearly.

“I have most staff members of color and they’re the ones that are testifying and arguing in front of judges. I’m really proud of the inclusive and equitable diverse culture that I’ve been able to create at the ACLU.”

Her message to her ACLU family and the community as she gets ready for her new adventure: “We’ve gone through difficult times and we’ve also seen a tremendous amount in terms of policy, don’t lose hope, we’re a resilient community.”