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Paola  Mendoza

Paola Mendoza

Artistic Director for the Women’s March, Critically Acclaimed Director & Author

Paola Mendoza

Artistic Director for the Women’s March, Critically Acclaimed Director & Author


As a Latinx artist, film director, author and cultural organizer, Paola Mendoza’s storytelling takes many forms. She co-founded the Women’s March and served as its Artistic Director, has organized creative actions across the country, is a bestselling author, and an acclaimed film director. Mendoza uses art to disrupt and disarm, to change our thinking and to advance movements for immigrants, women and reproductive justice. Her work reflects an immigrant lens and sensibility that offers up a different way to see the world. She exposes the inherent violence of overly determined structures of government, borders, and unjust laws.

Her bestselling book, Sanctuary, was released to critical acclaim. The New York Times raved, “Mendoza’s descriptions of emotional trauma are heart-wrenchingly raw…A story of survival and hope, Sanctuary is a gripping work of fiction, with a message about xenophobia that’s rooted in a scarily real world.”

She also co-authored the New York Times best seller Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard around the World. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Glamour, InStyle, Elle and Teen Vogue just to name a few.

As a film director her films have premiered at the most prestigious film festivals around the world. Entre Nos, Free Like the Birds and Autumn’s Eyes have garnered multiple awards and critical claim. She is currently directing a feature-length documentary about domestic workers.

Paola is a Pop Culture Collaborative Gender Justice Fellow, a Race Forward Fellow, an Opportunity Agenda Fellow and a Pop Culture; Becoming America Fellow. She was named Glamour’s Woman of the Year in 2017 and one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film.

She is a co-founder of The Soze Agency, a creative social impact company. She is also a co-founder of The Meteor, a media company building a new home for feminist work.

She’s a co-founder of The Resistance Revival Chorus, the critically acclaimed women’s chorus that believes “Joy is an act of resistance.”

Speaker Videos

Artist… We Need You

UnidosUS Annual Conference Latinas Brunch

Speech Topics

Storytelling, Resistance & Disruption in Preparation for 2024

In election years, the lives and bodies of marginalized communities are often in the cross hairs – immigrants, women, people who can become pregnant, LGBTQ people. Paola offers unique insight into narrative building in hostile political terrain through art, storytelling and cultural organizing. Sharing her experiences of documenting the 2018 forced migration caravan, organizing Roe anniversary celebrations outside the Supreme Court, and putting on a Trans Prom at the capitol, among others, Paola discusses how we can’t win politically if we don’t win the cultural fight to build care and compassion for each other. And we can’t do that without art and storytelling. Learn more about Paola’s work, her vision, and how you can join these fights in the coming years.

The Role of the Artist in Times of Crisis

Without art, our movements suffer. Creating art alongside and in conversation with political movements is an essential organizing and resistance tool. Art helps us understand our world and each other. Drawing on her experiences as the Artistic Director of the Women’s March, and her decades-long career as a filmmaker and artist, Paola speaks to the role that art has played in her work in the immigrant and abortion justice movements. Weaving personal narrative with assessments of past and current political conditions, Paola brings her audience on a journey through the human experience of political crisis, the role of the artist, and the possibilities for moving forward.