Isabel Martinez Santos

October 14, 2021
Iowan of the Week
Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence Representative, Founder of Nuestras Danzas sin Fronteras

Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor Isabel Martinez Santos as Iowan of the Week. 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 has committed herself to addressing the conflict that exists in our world through her position with the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence and with Nuestras Danzas sin Fronteras, a community-focused dance group she founded.  

Isabel started her very accomplished career as a member of a community group that worked directly with women who faced violence in different aspects of their lives. Through this, and the values that were instilled in her from her parents, Isabel began to amplify the voices of those in need. This year, Isabel was promoted as the co-director of Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Legal Clinic as the Bi-Lingual DOJ Accredited Representative. She provides legal services, consultations, resources, and support to survivors of partner violence. She also offers technical assistance, mentorship to Spanish-speaking bi-cultural advocates, and training. Her commitment to advocacy on behalf of survivors is evident in her extensive track record of 22 years in the victim services field. 

In addition to her role with the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Isabel found another way to give back to her community. Isabel founded Nuestras Danzas sin Fronteras almost six years ago hoping to create a place for self-care for other advocates. Since its opening, Isabel has welcomed a broader spectrum of members of her community to highlight individual cultures, have fun, and overcome the barriers of trauma. Through her group, Isabel strives to provide change that will last for generations. 

Not only has Isabel been an incredible advocate for the women of Iowa, but Isabel is also the 2021 recipient of the Diane Reese Excellence in Advocacy in the Movement (DREAM) Award from the National Network to end Domestic Violence. This national award is granted to individuals who incorporate and demonstrate the spirit and promise of true advocacy in all aspects of their life – one who emulates Ms. Reese’s commitment to clear and ethical communication, her eagerness to collaborate in the spirit of true partnership, and her deep respect for the dignity, worth and humanity in each one of us. 

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. It is my pleasure to name Isabel Martinez Santos Iowan of the week.