Soon after graduating from college, Ana Moraga moved from her home in the United States to Guatemala City to help women sex workers recover their dignity and self-esteem through literacy and vocational training. Seven years later, this courageous women’s rights advocate and International Youth Foundation (IYF) Fellow has been honored by President Obama's Administration as a “Champion of Change.”

“The Champions that we recognize today have helped their countries and communities of origin, and in doing so have bettered our region as a whole,” said US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Affairs Roberta Jacobson in acknowledging the nine members of the Latin American Diaspora who were honored at a special ceremony in Washington on July 27.

In 2007, Ms. Moraga was selected by IYF as one of its Global YouthActionNet® Fellows in 2007 for her role in founding MuJER - Mujeres por la Justicia, Educación y el Reconocimiento (Women for Justice Education and Awareness). Its mission: to develop spaces of empowerment for women to become socially and politically active through programs that range from literacy and vocational training to violence prevention.

Since its founding, MuJER has created a multifaceted support system for over 500 women sex workers throughout Guatemala. “We recognize that these women are agents of social change, not just beneficiaries,” said Ms. Moraga, who emigrated with her family to the United States from Guatemala as a teenager.

“We are extremely proud of Ana and her many accomplishments,” said IYF President and CEO Bill Reese, “and pleased that the Obama Administration is acknowledging and celebrating the tremendous contributions of today’s young social innovators. Through the recent launch of YouthActionNet® programs in Costa Rica and Honduras, we aim to support many other young leaders like Ana in the region.”

Ms. Moraga is one of nearly 600 youth leaders in 57 countries to have received specialized training, networking, funding, and advocacy opportunities through YouthActionNet® since its founding in 2001.

The Champions of Change program was created as part of President Obama’s Winning the Future Initiative, which recognizes groups of Champions—ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders—for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.