MESA program director named National Social Worker of the Year


Nicoletti-Martinez (L) is congratulated by National Association of Social Workers president Kathryn Wehrmann (R).

Ten years ago, Kimber Nicoletti-Martinez (BA ’96, social sciences) established a program in the Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication to prevent sexual violence across the life span of farm workers, Latin American immigrants and other marginalized populations. Her ongoing work as director of Multicultural Efforts to End Sexual Assault (MESA) has earned her the National Association of Social Workers’ highest honor as National Social Worker of the Year.

For Nicoletti-Martinez, the award is meaningful in part because she is a survivor of child sexual abuse who overcame many hardships in her own life. The opportunity to raise awareness about these issues and help others drove her to create the MESA program.

Nicoletti-Martinez has been recognized as a pioneer in her field. She is credited with creating the first farm worker child sexual abuse prevention effort in the United States as well as being a passionate advocate in preventing sexual violence in migrant farm worker communities.

She is grateful for the generous support MESA has received from the College of Agriculture. “There’s an old Mexican saying: ‘Chiquito pero picoso’ — small but spicy. MESA is a small program, but we hope to have a strong impact.”