“Living, working and leading in the District for over thirty years has taught me how to do the hard, but inspiring, work of tearing down barriers between neighbors and institutions so together we can preserve and protect what we love about our city. I bring a vision for DC that supports economic growth while honoring our values as a city: Respect, Inclusion, Equity, and Accountability to all our residents.”
Mónica stands ready to end the violence plaguing our neighborhoods, deliver more affordable housing, care for our seniors, and ensure schools meet the needs of all our children.
Appointed by Mayor Vincent Gray in 2014, and re-appointed twice by Mayor Muriel Bowser, as Director of the Office of Human Rights, Mónica established a successful track record as a leader who fights to make sure government systems work to meet the needs of our city’s residents. During her tenure, she rebuilt the Office of Human Rights to ensure the ongoing success of a mediation program that resulted in tens of millions of dollars paid to District residents. When hate crimes spiked in 2016, Mónica was entrusted to lead citywide response teams, providing support to churches, mosques, synagogues, LGBTQ leaders, and immigrants in our city.
Her story, and her family’s story, is one of the American dream fulfilled. Born in Bogota, Colombia, Mónica came to the U.S. as a young child and lived in New York City. There she was raised in rent-controlled housing and her family struggled to survive on her mother’s modest income as a nurse. Though she had big dreams of going to law school, there were many battles Mónica fought against the effects of prejudice and poverty in her own life. In 1990, the first step in her dreams came true when she moved to DC to attend Georgetown law school. Immediately she found a new home among our city’s leaders and advocates.
2013-19: Director, DC Office of Human Rights
Appointed under two Mayors to serve as Director of the District’s civil rights enforcement agency overseeing thousands of investigation into complaints of discrimination. Led groundbreaking educational campaigns and trainings on Transgender rights, Islamophobia, Immigrants, Street Harassment and Women.
2011- 13: Language Access Director
Transformed program and removed barriers for limited and non-English speakers to access government programs and services across 30 District agencies.
2000-11: Owner, Palacio & Associates
Provided technical support to social justice groups through training and organizational leadership projects such as race, equity, and inclusion, team building, leadership training, and strategic planning. Board member and master training with the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) and let Black-Brown Unity building workshops and projects.
2001-05: National Crime Prevention Council
National Training Director and worked in the DMV and nationally delivering training to address youth violence and gang violence prevention programs in historically under-resourced communities. Built coalitions and led training projects to address the break-down of trust between law enforcement and communities of color.
Co-Founded pioneering STEM program serving low-income middle school, high school and college students in the DMV based out of George Washington University and in the partnership with NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy.
1994-96 Meta Cultural Consulting
Co-Founded a small business providing training, program development, grant-writing and governance training to launch and sustain non-profits in DC and nationally such Kaboom, CAHSEE, Latin American Youth Center, and YouthBuild. Founding Board Member of DC Barrios Unidos a gang violence prevention project for young people in DC.
1993-1994: Public Allies-DC
DC program coordinator placing young adults of color ages 18-30 in leadership roles with local community organizations. Provided training on community organizing, policy analysis, and project management.
Georgetown Law Center, JD 1993 Fordham University, BA 1990.