Jessica Peñaranda is a longtime social justice advocate, social service provider, and cultural strategist who values creativity and innovation to inspire social change. She currently serves as the Director of Movement Building at the Sex Workers Project, leading three key areas of growth and focus for the project: Community Engagement & Client Leadership, Training, and Public Policy and Advocacy. Jessica is passionate about leading this work through an intersectional, anti-oppressive framework with an emphasis on cultural humility, restorative justice practices informed by her lived experiences as a Latinx immigrant woman of color.
For over 10 years, Jessica has worked with communities impacted by structural oppression, trauma, gender based violence, workers justice, and immigrant rights and protections. Before becoming the Director of Movement Building, Jessica served as Special Project Coordinator, providing direct services to sex workers and survivors of trafficking after arrest, documenting best practices and collaborating on national research related to prostitution diversion programs and the intersection of the criminal justice system and sex work.
Prior to joining the Sex Workers Project, Jessica worked at Safe Horizon as an intensive case manager with Safe Horizon's Anti-Trafficking Program, where she provided direct services for survivors of human trafficking and spearheaded Voices of Hope, the first Adult monolingual survivor-led advocacy group program in New York City, NY. She also worked at Safe Horizon’s Domestic Violence Police Program as a case manager providing direct services to victims of domestic violence. In this role, she also conducted outreach to the New York City Housing Authority and surrounding community around the issue of domestic violence.
Jessica received her M.S. in Global Affairs with a concentration in Human Rights from New York University (NYU) Center for Global Affairs and her B.S. in Criminal Justice and Women and Gender Studies from the College of New Jersey.
Jessica is a true free spirit, a spoken word artist, a fan of her home country’s “Cafeteros” Colombian Soccer team, a proud member of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc., and committed to creating and sharing safe, radical, and inclusive spaces in our communities.