Meet the team: Ivette Izea-Martinez

In our Meet the Team series, we feature members of our staff who are making a difference in the domestic violence movement and in the lives of individuals leaving abuse. We see this series as an opportunity to honor their work and impact. This week, we feature Ivette Izea-Martinez, Esperanza United’s Co-Director of Family Advocacy and Community Engagement. 

Where are you from?

I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and I moved to MN when I was 16 yrs old.

Where do you feel most at home?

I feel home when I can be myself, no titles or cards attached: just a person. I feel home when surrounded by my family and close friends. My memories from Venezuela I will forever treasure but, it’s here in Minnesota where most of the important moments of my life have happened. Minnesota is my home.

In terms of your work for Esperanza United, what are your areas of expertise?

I don’t like to call myself and expert because I’m always learning something new, but I work in the area of community engagement and leadership development; I’ve been fortunate to have an opportunity to collaborate in almost every work area at Esperanza United. Having the best possible overall understanding of the organization, mission and work is extremely useful when working in direct contact with community members.

Share one thing you have learned, big or small, doing your work.

Evaluation strategies for community engagement are often a struggle, and, to me personally, numbers and graphs are not very exciting. However, I recently learned how to do a social network analysis extracting data from social networks like Facebook and YouTube; this will help us visualize the depth and breadth of relationships among the amig@s. This to me was super exciting.

What are some of the successes you are most proud of while at Esperanza United?

I have always been a little self conscious when speaking in public and for this reason, leading the leadership development training for Amig@s at Esperanza United has been one of my biggest accomplishments. But leading trainings is more than that: being able to witness some of those ah hah! moments with community members while having conversations about DV and healthy relationships and then seeing them take action has been priceless.

Who or what inspires you?

My daughters and husband, children in general, nature and the community I work with, but the two biggest inspiration in my life are my mom and my aunt Edicta, two strong women who raised their family on their own, never allowing the difficult times and struggles to over shadow their spirit. They taught me that as long as the sun comes out again, there will always be a new opportunity to start over; that there is no job too small for a men or too big for a woman; that the truth, for as hard as it may sometimes be, will always take me a step further in the right direction than a lie; most importantly, they taught me to always believe in myself and understand that there is no greater reward than knowing you have tried your best at whatever you are doing.

What do you do to relax, de-stress or recharge your batteries?For as long as I can remember dancing has been my biggest passion, during winter I enjoy ice skating and when my kids are not looking I try to snowboard; when looking to recharge batteries and organize my ideas, the ocean, mountains and rivers are my favorite destinations. I like to camp, and in the past few years I have fell in love with kayaking. Of course there is nothing like some cuddling time with my family while enjoying a good movie, but when all of this fails or is not possible, I can always count on a good cup of café con leche and an Arepa.