Catarina Rivera has earned a BA in Psychology from Duke University with a scholarship from the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program; a Master of Science in Education (MSEd) degree from the Bank Street College of Education with a focus on Dual Language/Bilingual Education; as well as a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from Hunter College.
Catarina is an entrepreneur committed to social justice. She is the founder of the Washington Heights/Inwood Food Council, a food justice organization. She is the co-founder of ExplorEquity, a sustainable travel brand supporting local communities and connecting travelers to real social justice issues.
Catarina is also the founder of Blindish Latina, a platform smashing disability stigmas through storytelling, advocacy, and education. In addition to her entrepreneurial endeavors, she has over 14+ years of experience working in educational institutions and at nonprofit organizations. She has experience in program development/management, managing teams, capacity building, community organizing, community engagement, and diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI) initiatives as part of employee groups.
As a Latinx woman who has lived with disability all her life, she brings a deep understanding of intersectionality to conversations surrounding disability. She wore hearing aids from a young age but did not know why she had hearing loss. At 17, she was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome type 2, a combination of progressive vision loss due to Retinitis Pigmentosa and moderate-to-severe hearing loss.
Learning that she was losing her vision was very difficult for 17-year-old Catarina. As her disability journey progressed over the years, she describes her progression as moving through the following four stages: “From Denial to Acceptance to Self-Advocacy to Public Advocacy.” In her journey, Rivera has learned what it is like to have an invisible disability that one can make visible or choose not to disclose. She began using a white cane several years ago and noticed changes in how society viewed her. She now feels disability pride and is empowered by sharing her story.
Catarina is bilingual in English and Spanish. Her family is Cuban and Puerto Rican, and she is a first generation American on one side and second generation on the other.
Catarina shares her expertise, lived experience with disability, and passion on topics related to disability awareness, inclusion, digital inclusion, accessibility, allyship, and advocacy.