We’re so excited to welcome Rocío González to Caring Across as our new senior state policy associate! Rocío brings a wealth of policy advocacy and community organizing experience to our campaign from her work across California to expand healthcare and reproductive rights for communities of color and immigrants. Read on to find out what it means to her to be a caregiver, how she came to this work, and what she’s most looking forward to once COVID-19 is over.
What drew you to Caring Across, and what does our work mean to you?
What drew me to Caring Across is that we have a strong mission and a multiethnic agenda. I really got the perception that it’s a high priority for the campaign to be centered around the needs of women, women of color, older adults, people who are disabled, people who need specific care, and their caregivers – this way of approaching issues around centering people first is not very common on the national level.
Care and caregiving is such an important topic for me personally and for a lot of people. I didn’t really realize, until I stopped to think about it, how much this issue impacts my life, but it really does. It’s common to see it as not really caregiving, but as just existing and loving our family members who need support – it’s just so ingrained in our culture and who we are. Realizing that it’s actually caregiving is mindblowing for me. Once we realize the value add of caregiving as an advocacy issue, we can fight for better policies in this arena.
What is your new role, and what are you most excited to dig in to?
I am the new senior state policy associate, but I’m also involved in federal work. I have lived in California all my life and worked in California policy and politics. I’m very excited to get to know a new issue area that is very important and personal to me, and I’m excited to pursue new partners and build upon our existing community partnerships, and support them in everything they’ve been fighting for and have already achieved.
Being able to be a part of this work and move it forward with the knowledge and expertise that I have is essential to who I am and what I believe in, and I am fighting for a community that I’m a part of that that my family is a part of. It feels kind of vulnerable to advocate for your community and your family, but it is necessary because no one else will do it. I’m excited to dig further into federal work, to work more on paid family and medical leave, and to expand my reach to other west coast states that I’ll get to work on.
What kind of work have you done in the past?
I worked in the California state capitol of Sacramento for a couple of years, mostly in health policy advocacy work. I worked with a nonprofit which advocated specifically to increase access to healthcare for low income communities of color. I learned a lot there and gained lobbying and advocacy experience, while being exposed to the impact of policy making and policies. I saw firsthand how effective these kinds of policies are in increasing the quality of life for Californians and people in general.
I also worked in community organizing in Oxnard, an area near my hometown. I led a campaign there for our community, and specifically the undocumented immigrant community, to improve access to healthcare. We also led a group of policy advocates to pass SB 320, a reproductive health bill championed by Senator Connie Leyva. It took three years to pass but we finally got it signed and now it is being implemented, which is very exciting. I did this work through a policy fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of California, and I also held a government affairs position at a federally qualified health center.
What is your experience with care, and how did it bring you to do this work?
I have a family member who I’ve taken care of for many years. It’s sort of the expectation because of my culture and my family that I would take on this role, but it’s also who I am and what I want to do.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m an aspiring dog mom! I also love watching thriller films and TV shows. I’m really enjoying Tell Me Your Secrets on Amazon Prime, and Big Sky on Hulu.
I also love to explore coffee shops and restaurants in LA. There’s always so much going on and so much to do in the city! I’m queer so I love going to West Hollywood, being with my chosen family, and going out to dance. I’m very excited for the LA Pride Parade to come back when the pandemic is over, and I’m looking forward to being with my friends and family and celebrating who we are.