State Rep Juana Matias
State Representative for Massachusetts' 16th Essex District
Service: Justice Americorps Legal Advocate
Juana is an AmeriCorps alumnus and State Representative from Lawrence, Massachusetts. She migrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States in the late 1980s. In 2008, Juana was selected as one out of 22 women to be part of the National Hispana Leadership Institute’s Latina’s Learning to Lead Fellowship Program. In 2009, Juana received a Bachelor’s Degree with a double major in Political Science and Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts-Boston. During college, Juana served as the Undergraduate Student Government President, advocating for student interests and overseeing a $900k student activity budget. After college Juana worked as a Social Case Worker serving the Lawrence, Lowell, and Haverhill communities, then attended law school at Suffolk University. After graduating law school, Juana continued her commitment to public service by working as a Justice Americorps Legal Advocate for Central West Justice Center and Affiliate of Community Legal Aid, a joint initiative of the Department of Justice and AmeriCorps. There, she served as an immigration advocate seeking humanitarian based immigration relief for unaccompanied children in removal proceedings.
As a State Representative, Juana has sponsored key legislation to make college affordable, increase the minimum wage, and expand opportunities for middle class Americans. When a horrific crime that included the kidnapping of a teenager and a lack of response shocked residents across Massachusetts, Juana stepped up to bring together local community groups, activists, and the local police department to find solutions and protect future victims. Importantly, she reached out to law enforcement leaders across the district to ensure that the response to the issue was comprehensive and took into account the day-to-day work of police officers throughout Massachusetts.