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Isabel Martinez Santos Named 2021 Recipient of the NNEDV DREAM Award

November 8, 2021

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) congratulates Isabel Martinez Santos, the recipient of the 2021 Diane Reese Excellence in Advocacy in the Movement (DREAM) Award. This award honors an individual who incorporates and demonstrates the spirit and promise of true advocacy in all aspects of life—one who emulates a commitment to clear and ethical communication, an eagerness to collaborate in the spirit of true partnership, and a deep respect for the dignity, worth, and humanity in each one of us.

Isabel is the co-director of the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s (ICADV) Legal Clinic and a Bi-lingual DOJ Accredited representative. Isabel has decades of experience in the victim services field, with a long commitment to advocacy on behalf of underserved survivors. In her current role, she provides legal services, resources, and support to survivors of intimate partner violence and technical assistance, mentorship to Spanish-speaking bi-cultural advocates, consultation, and training to ICADV’s network of 22 statewide victim service programs. Her training areas specifically focus on culturally specific programming; Know Your Rights and legal advocacy; and the intersections of violence, immigration, race/ethnicity.

“Isabel’s outstanding commitment, passion, and bridge-building encapsulate the essence of this award,” said Deborah J. Vagins, President and CEO of NNEDV. “We applaud Isabel’s commitment to survivors, tireless work, and dedication to meaningful change. On behalf of NNEDV, our Membership Committee, and the DREAM Award Selection Committee, we are proud to recognize Isabel with this year’s DREAM award and are grateful to work alongside her in the anti-violence movement.”

“Our entire team, community, state, and national partners have the privilege of working alongside Isabel and to learn something new from her every day,” said Dr. Maria Corona, executive director of ICADV. “Isabel certainly embodies Diane Reese’s activism and educator nature and has accomplished many small and extraordinary wins on behalf of survivors of violence. Her dedication and love for the work towards healing, justice, and the end of all forms of violence not only inspire this generation of antiviolence movement advocates and partners, but all of us.”

ICADV wrote that Isabel’s drive to empower, mentor, and support others extends far beyond ICADV. She is actively involved in social and racial justice movements that affect communities across Iowa and is recognized as a leader within the Latinx community. She is often the first to show up and support grassroots organizations and help elevate the issues, policies, and voices of others. Isabel is an active member of the Iowa Alliance for Immigrant Rights, Latino Service Provider Coalition, Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice Community Committee, and Nuevo Ciudadano Project. In 2017, Isabel formed Nuestra Danza Sin Fronteras (Our Dance without Borders), a folklore dance troupe that has become well-known and has performed at several events, festivals, and conferences across Iowa.

Isabel was named Iowan of the Week in recognition of her work. In a statement to the U.S. House of Representatives on October 14, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) said: “Isabel immigrated to the United States and has lived in Iowa for 28 years. Isabel has become a staple of advocacy within her community. […] Isabel hopes to be a role model and leave a legacy for her three children, her community, and immigrant women around the world by continuing to actively work to end the violence that exists in our world.”

NNEDV presented Isabel with the DREAM Award on November 8 during our virtual Annual Meeting. Learn more about the work of Isabel and ICADV at