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Together 2021: Gladys Ortiz

In 2021, Legacy Place is again recognizing inspirational people through its annual TogetHER event. This year it selected heroes nominated by individuals in the broader community.

TogetHER 2021 received dozens of inspiring nominations for educators, philanthropists, essential workers, businesswomen, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and activists. From these earnest nominations and compelling stories, the Legacy Place team chose five fascinating people for the recognition.

Legacy Place hopes that TogetHER the community will celebrate all the people who positively impact our individual lives and our region, including Gladys Bilingual Court Advocacy Manager and Outreach Specialist for REACH, a program designed to support anyone who faces the complex and challenging path out of domestic violence.

A native of Colombia, Gladys Ortiz emigrated to the United States after receiving a nursing degree. Emboldened by her extensive effort to learn the language and navigate cultural differences, Ortiz found work that employed both her enthusiasm for empowerment and her sensitivity to others. As a caseworker at REACH she supported Spanish-speaking women in challenging domestic relationships. REACH services those caught in domestic crisis including men, women, and children. The intake process starts with an assessment of each client’s needs, challenges, and concerns. From there those needs are ranked, planned for, and supported in a way that allows anyone entering the program to find stability and safety. Besides servicing individuals and families, REACH also directs a range of outreach efforts, prevention education, and cross-collaboration with other agencies and organizations. While Ortiz began her career at REACH as a case worker, over time she worked with so many survivors from both  Central and South America that she developed a strong sense of the cultural differences between all Latinos, something she feels is often overlooked. This understanding has led to her current role as the organization’s Bilingual Court Advocacy Manager.

Inspired by the stories of survivors and the relationships she was building as an advocate in the community, in 2010 Ortiz worked through REACH to join forces with Greater Boston Legal Services. Together they founded Latinas Know Your Rights. Ortiz and those her organization represents are often called to advocate at the State and Federal level. She’s worked with lawmakers to develop legislation that protects immigrants and survivors in Massachusetts and has led survivors to lobby in Washington and at the Massachusetts State House. Ortiz also sits on several committees, including the Attorney General’s Advisory Council on New Americans. Her lifetime of passionate advocacy is inspiring, but if you ask Ortiz what inspires her, she’ll lead with “Freedom.”

Fun facts about Gladys Ortiz

College major: Psychology

Previous jobs: Nursing, receptionist, Dental Assistant, Community Educator

Children: Kimberly, 26, and Isabella, 11

Inspiration: Freedom!

Hobby: Salsa dancing, cooking, and hiking