“Land Back” art in photo by Roberta BitterWater (Navajo)
Carissa (Pueblo and Apache) returns to her ancestral lands to join the ACLU in Indigenous Justice (IJ) advocacy. She spent the summers of her youth working on her family’s lands, tortilla factory, and livestock ranches in northern New Mexico. She has a deep connection to tribal medicine work and is a life-long learner of Indigenous wisdom through her elders and matriarchs. Carissa’s role as the Nationwide Indigenous Justice Program Coordinator includes promoting awareness and support for IJ efforts across the ACLU, supporting affiliates and national programs in building capacity and launching IJ initiatives, supporting the IJ advocacy work for the ACLU of New Mexico, and cultivating authentic relationships between the ACLU and Indigenous communities.
Carissa served 8 years in the U.S. Army and is an Iraq and Afghanistan War Veteran. As a former software engineer, web developer, and project manager, she has worked with teams spanning many time zones and cultures. She spent the last 6 years as an anti-oppression and equity educator for youth, adults, and nonprofit organizations. Carissa joins the ACLU of New Mexico with 15 years experience as a community organizer, advocate, and activist around reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, policing and incarceration, homelessness and poverty, healthcare accessibility, education, Indigenous justice and BIPOC liberation.
Carissa is a working writer, poet, and performing artist. She is very connected to her inner child and a lover of art, music, gardening, camping, hiking, science fiction, and comic books. Carissa is dedicated to Black and Indigenous people’s liberation, and she is thrilled to be here!