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MESA director wins national award for farmworker advocacy

Kimber Nicoletti-Martinez, director of Multicultural Efforts to End Sexual Assault (MESA), recently received the 2021 Jefferson Award Presented by Multiplying Good.

The national award recognizes individuals and organizations going above and beyond to serve their communities. Nicoletti-Martinez was one of two winners in the category of outstanding service by an employee.

Nicoletti-Martinez’s work with MESA, situated in the Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication (ASEC), involves engaging with farmworkers around the state. She works with underserved and underrepresented populations in Indiana, striving to provide education and culturally relevant tools to end sexual violence and promote healthy relationships. Through her nearly 20 years working within these communities, Nicoletti-Martinez has come to understand that many farmworkers and their families live in or on the cusp of poverty.

“Most farmworkers live in abject poverty. Almost 20 years ago it became clear to me that this was an issue as I saw farmworkers going without… I decided I wanted to something about it and so I started hosting drives to get supplies out to families,” she said.

Nicoletti-Martinez also raised funds and partnered with other organizations to increase access to education, healthcare and housing in farmworker communities. To date, Nicoletti-Martinez has raised over $2 million in support of American farmworkers.

Still, she says was shocked to win the award, which was previously conferred upon labor leader Dolores Huerta and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, personal heroes of hers.

Nicoletti-Martinez said she will continue to advocate for Hoosier and American farmworkers and amplify the importance of their work.

“If anything became clear to me during COVID, it is how essential farmworkers are to all of us, all of our families and all of our communities.”

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