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New Research Published on MUA’s Response to Community Needs During the COVID19 Pandemic

MUA leaders and staff have co-authored an article together with researchers Kathleen Coll of USF and Alison Cohen of UCSF which was recently published in the Journal of Social Sciences.   The article grew out of a multifaceted three-year community-led participatory research study involving members, staff, academics and graduate students, with project management support from former MUA Co-Director Andrea Lee.  

This project is, in part, an outgrowth of Lead Local, a research collaborative that was founded to analyze the relationship between community health and grassroots power-building.

Click here for more information about Community Research at MUA and to watch a new video on our research related to leadership development and domestic violence. 

Below is the abstract (a brief summary) of the journal article.  You can access the full article here.

It’s a Matter of Trust: How Thirty Years of History Prepared a Community-Based Organization to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Published July 25, 2023 in the Journal of Social Sciences

Authors: Kathleen Marie Coll, Juana Flores, María Jiménez, Nathalie López, Andrea Lauren Lee, Maria Carrillo, Laura Camberos, Ana Díaz, Enma Delgado, Hortencia Muñoz, Sylvia López, Veronica Nieto, Mirna Ruiz, Taina B. Quiles and Alison K. Cohen


The COVID-19 pandemic drew public attention to the essential work and vulnerability of low-income Latina immigrants. Less recognized were the ways immigrant community organizations mobilized under exceptional conditions to provide immediate support to their communities while continuing to work toward durable systematic change. This paper analyzes the approach of Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over three decades, MUA developed an organizing model that builds transformative relationships among peers and provides direct services and leadership development for civic engagement. MUA has a long history of research collaborations and self-study aligned with critical community-engaged research methods and values. In 2019, MUA formed a research team of its leaders and academics to analyze the impact of their model. Since data collection occurred between March 2020 and December 2022, the research also documented the organization’s response to COVID-19. This paper argues that specific organizational values and practices of liderazgo, apoyo, and confianza (leadership, support, and trust) proved to be particularly powerful resources for sustaining individuals and community work through the pandemic, enabling women who have experienced multiple forms of structural violence to perceive themselves as capable of healing themselves and their communities while working to address root causes of trauma and inequity.

Read the full publication here.

We are grateful to all of the staff, members, allies, and funders who made this project possible. 


Jenni Martinez

Communications Coordinator at MUA

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