Jesenia Santana serves as program officer for the NoVo Foundation’s Initiative to End Violence Against Girls and Women. Prior to joining NoVo, Jesenia spent a decade at STEPS to End Family Violence, where she worked with survivors of domestic violence and trauma. As the legal services coordinator for the STEPS’ Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) program—the only ATI program in the country designed specifically for survivors of partner violence—she helped lead defense-based advocacy efforts and provided trainings throughout the country on the unique barriers survivor-defendants face.
Jesenia went on to serve as STEPS’ manager of advocacy services and senior policy advisor, overseeing a team of counselors and advocates. In that position, she helped develop and manage three projects: community-based services, a re-entry program for formerly incarcerated survivors returning home, and innovative court-diversion programs for survivors charged with prostitution. She also worked closely with an array of community partners to develop policy briefs and reports that sought to impact institutional responses to survivors of abuse and trauma.
Jesenia is committed to advocating for systems that eliminate the criminalization of survivors of violence, and is currently the co-chair of the Violence Against Women Committee of the Coalition for Women Prisoners. She holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a Masters of International Affairs, with a concentration in Human Rights, from Columbia University.