Catoya Roberts

Catoya Roberts
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin Cohort Start Year: 2018 Project Topics: Criminal Justice, Public Policy, Racial Justice Populations Served: Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, Children and Families, Incarcerated or Formerly Incarcerated Populations, Urban Communities
National Director of Movement Building
Children Defense Fund

Catoya Roberts’ focus area is racial equity, women, and children. She believes that women, particularly women of color, are central to healthy and strong families and communities. Women are infrequently regarded as leaders who can drive social, political, and economic change fundamental to promoting health and health equity. Healthy communities are created through healthy environments and people flourishing everywhere, despite their socioeconomic level, race, gender, or religion. Catoya often references her mother and grandmother, two women, who despite their circumstances raised strong independent women. Catoya grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she currently resides. Catoya is helping to raise her nieces and nephews, and they are at the center of her self- interest.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Creating Healthy, Affordable, and Safe Housing Opportunities With Returning Women
The FREE project has worked to organize women from and around Wisconsin who are directly impacted by incarceration. These women identify housing as a major barrier to health, wellbeing, and continued freedom for themselves and their families. Because housing barriers exist in local contexts and markets, we will be working at both local and state levels to address specific barriers to adequate housing. Directly impacted women’s lives exist at the intersection of policy regimes, including the Department of Child and Family Services, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Health Services, at local, federal, and state levels. This creates a patchwork of contradictions, catch-22s, and “benefit cliffs” that neither women nor their supposed advocates (including parole officers and social workers) are prepared to tackle.

Catoya is the National Director of Movement Building for the Children’s Defense Fund. Catoya has been organizing for over 12 years. Her work started locally in Milwaukee and has grown to a National Level. Catoya believes that people who are impacted by the issues should be the ones at the forefront of the work.

Click here to watch Catoya’s Legacy Project video.