Jess Torres

PACT Regional Coordinator (Southern California and Bay Area Cohort), Child and Family Policy Institute of California

Los Angeles, CA

Jess Torres (they/them) is a Trans Indigenous writer, educator and organizer dedicated to community building, direct action and policy work for the marginalized and criminalized. They are of Lenca linage born on the stretch of earth now called El Salvador; displaced on unceded Matinecock land in so-called NYC as an “undocumented” immigrant for twenty five years. Jess is a systems-impacted youth with lived experience of child trafficking.

Today, Jess resides on Tongva territory or colonially known as Long Beach, CA. They are a birth and abortion doula, prison abolitionist and harm reductionist whose activism centralizes community health based economic justice, healing justice, disability justice, Indigenous sovereignty , Trans liberation, and the dignity, and self-determination of people impacted by drug use.

Their autonomous organizing prioritizes unhoused QTBIPOC through the distribution of food, clothing, hygiene kits, condom/syringe/narcan/testing strips, and other harm reduction supplies. Holding healing circles for youth who identify as survivors of interpersonal, community and/or state violence They facilitate teach-in’s /skill shares, curate experiences of JOY, and provide mentorship to child trafficking survivors. They have also spent many years protecting first nation People’s rights to their connection to the land, our culture, language and ceremonies. They work to protect the fragile ecosystems and clean water that wildlife and people depend on and seek justice for MMIW.

Jess brings their knowledge of community control over land, community-serving land use, and water rights. In addition to this work, Jess has fifteen years of advocacy in the anti-trafficking and sex worker rights movement, serving in the following leadership roles: Training/Technical Assistance, Communications, Capacity Building and Policy and Program Development consultant and later, as the Artisan Relations and In-House Production team manager, lead product developer and social justice communications specialist with The Little Market, the Survivor Leadership Program Coordinator at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) co-coordinating a self-determination group for LA- based labor trafficking survivors and coordinating a national human trafficking survivor network organizing for social chafe rooted in labor rights, peer developed programming and outreach, displacement/im/migration protections, harm reduction, de/anti criminalization, racial, gender and sexuality equity. They are a Trainer and Communications Specialist with Rising Worldwide, a standing Consultant with Preventing and Addressing Child Trafficking (PACT), the former Community Liaison for the NYC Mayor’s Office to End Gender-Based Violence, a Qns/BK Farmers Market Manager with GrowNYC and Facilitator with Grow to Learn; creating dozens of sustainable gardens in NYC public schools and participating in various water rights actions and food sovereignty efforts.

Using an anti-oppression framework and a social justice lens, Jess serves as a guest lecturer in academic spaces, a keynote speaker, and as an independent trainer and consultant. They have won several awards and their work is recognized by the City of Los Angeles and the State of CA. They have also written and co-authored various human rights and public health-based state and federal legislation, reports, essays, articles, curricula, poetry, and more. Jess collaborate with various agencies and US-based/International nonprofits to build diverse anti-trafficking and harm reduction initiatives and programs, in addition to facilitating workshops at various conferences and symposia, including work with the TransLatin@ Coalition, the Women’s Foundation of CA, the ACLU, and the United Nations.