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MEET CATALINA

CATALINA CRUZ

An experienced attorney and community leader for tenant protections, immigration reform, and worker’s rights.

Catalina Cruz is a DREAMer. She was born in Colombia, came to Queens at the age of nine, and lived here for ten years without documentation. Although her mother had an advanced degree in health care, she had to work menial jobs to make ends meet. As a single mother with four kids, she cleaned offices at night, sold tamales and empanadas at the soccer fields on the weekend, and worked long hours as a nanny during the week. Inspired by her mother’s perseverance, Catalina has committed her career to fight for our community – to ensure our workers, neighbors, and families can not only survive, but thrive.

Catalina Cruz is an experienced attorney and a leader for tenant protections, immigration reform, and workers rights. She most recently served as the Chief of Staff to the New York City Council Finance Chair. Catalina has worked to help pass key legislation protecting workers, women, and small business owners. She has previously served as the Director of the Governor’s Exploited Workers Task Force, helping New York become a national leader in the fight against worker exploitation. This first-of-its-kind task force conducted outreach and enforcement within key low wage industries statewide, including car washes, restaurants, and nail salons, where workers are often victims of wage theft and subject to unsafe work conditions, but do not come forward for fear of retaliation.

Catalina started her career as a housing attorney fighting to help keep low income tenants and seniors in their homes. She currently serves as the president of the Latino Lawyers Association of Queens County. For the past 5 years, she has coordinated the Association’s Street Law in Spanish program which mentors students from St. John’s and CUNY law schools and brings “Know Your Rights” presentations to underserved communities. Catalina holds BA from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a JD from the City University of New York School of Law. Catalina lives in Jackson Heights with her husband.