Yessenia Echevarria is a community organizer focused on civic engagement, immigration policy, and education policies for BIPOC groups.
Her service started with the founding of Mujeres de Acción (Women of Action—formerly known as Mujeres de Éxito (Women of Success)) in 2014. Inspired by her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, she created an annual women’s event that shares health resources in both English and Spanish while engaging community leaders. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mujeres de Acción served as a voice for the hard-hit Latinx community, pushing for greater safety measures for San Luis Obispo County and helping families apply for rental assistance from the State of California.
The murder of George Floyd in June 2020 and other civil rights issues during the presidency of Donald Trump inspired Yessenia further. She co-founded Paso People’s Action with Carmen Bouquin, a grassroots progressive community focused on racial, civil, and educational issues affecting the Paso Robles community, including the proposed closure of Georgia Brown Elementary and planned housing of migrant children at Camp Roberts.
To succeed at her work in both organizations, Yessenia code switches between English and Spanish to translate official announcements, share news articles, or serve as a mediator between leaders and citizens. In a county where official resources are not readily available, her presence has helped maintain trust while helping non-Spanish speakers build inroads into otherwise ignored communities.
Her work has gained the attention of local leaders, and Congressman Salud Carbajal recognized Yessenia with the 2021 Congressional Woman of the Year award. Other leaders rely on her guidance as they build inroads into the Latinx community, run for office, and develop policies ahead of the 2022 midterm and 2024 general election cycles.