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Marilyn Ortega is a Xicana, Woman of Color, mother, community educator/organizer, prison abolitionist, social innovator, and visionary. Grounded in relational ways of knowing and her lived experiences, Marilyn's life work centers on a praxis of decolonial healing and an unwavering dedication to Indigenous sovereignty. Her primary objectives are to decolonize healing practices and build coalitions across lines of difference and borders created and maintained through settler colonialism.


As a first-generation college student, she received her Bachelor of Arts in American Ethnic Studies and Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies from Kansas State University, where she expanded conversations about the School-to-Prison Pipeline to understand the ways that the Prison Industrial Complex is a reproductive justice issue for communities of color. Marilyn pursued advanced studies at the University of Kansas, earning a Master of Arts in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, a graduate certificate in Indigenous Studies, and her Doctorate in American Studies, focusing on Women of Color feminisms, Critical Trauma Studies, and Critical Prison Studies.


With over ten years of progressive experience in diversity and leadership within higher education and community organizations, Marilyn brings expertise in transformative/social justice, abolition, healing work, and investment in building and nurturing coalitions across diverse communities through evidence-based strategies and decolonial praxis. Marilyn is honored to utilize her skills in service of Sovereign Bodies Institute and the work it does to empower Indigenous communities to end gender and sexual violence against Indigenous people.

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