ALWAYS Appoints Valentina Restrepo-Montoya as New CEO
Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services (ALWAYS) announced the appointment of Valentina Restrepo-Montoya as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer. Restrepo-Montoya will take the helm of ALWAYS from its founder and long-time CEO, January Contreras.
ALWAYS is a nonprofit community law center providing legal services that help vulnerable kids and young adults and human trafficking survivors remove legal obstacles to safety, stability and opportunity.
“Valentina has dedicated her entire legal career to serving the underserved,” said Mary O’Grady, ALWAYS Board Chair. “She embodies the values that are central to the work of ALWAYS, and we are confident the organization and its clients will flourish under her leadership.”
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to join such a dedicated, talented team to ensure access to justice for survivors of abuse and trafficking in Arizona,” Restrepo-Montoya said. “I am deeply inspired by everything ALWAYS does to uplift its community and I am confident that, together, we can expand services and maximize impact for our clients and their families. Our work is not done until all survivors have the resources and support they need to live safe and stable lives.”
Restrepo-Montoya is a native of Boston and the daughter of Colombian parents who emigrated to the U. S. in search of a better future. For the last 10 years, she has worked in the public service sector to represent and uplift her community. After graduating from Berkeley Law, Restrepo-Montoya joined the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. Eventually, Restrepo-Montoya became an Assistant Public Defender in Birmingham, Alabama. She then joined The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona, where she advocated for people unable to represent themselves in immigration removal proceedings.
ALWAYS Founder and former Chief Executive Officer, January Contreras, will continue as a board member of ALWAYS. With the support of the Hickey Family Foundation and the Arizona Bar Foundation, Contreras founded ALWAYS in 2013. Under Contreras’ leadership, ALWAYS raised nearly $3 million to ensure that victims and vulnerable young people have a lawyer standing next to them in cases involving victim representation, immigration, family law matters, and criminal history repair.
“Last week, I stood with a trafficking survivor as her criminal case was rightly dismissed,“ Contreras said. “She was distraught about going to jail and having no one to care for her child, but now she won’t have to go to jail at all. ALWAYS is here to ensure that victims and the most vulnerable Arizonans have their day in court, because justice should be possible for all of us. I’m grateful to our team and all who have supported our work. ALWAYS will be in excellent hands with Valentina.”
“From day one, January has been the driving force behind the ALWAYS mission to bring justice to vulnerable youth and trafficking survivors. We are grateful for her vision and leadership.” said Mary O’Grady, ALWAYS Board Chair.