Rest in Power, Catherine Han Montoya

I'm off my game this week.  This is, in large part, due to the fact that social justice lost an incredible advocate this week.  I didn't know her well; I know her wife better, but still as not much more than a colleague.  Still, in the brief time I spent with her, it was immediately obvious that she was funny, loving, and full of life on top of being a compelling speaker and unceasing justice fighter.  She was lost to an unthinkable act of violence - the kind of event that reminds us that life can be taken from any of us at any time.  My heart is with her wife, her family, and her close friends, who must process this incomprehensible loss.

Many who are both more eloquent than me and who knew Cathy much better have created beautiful tributes to her life and work.  So rather than forcing you to endure more of my self-indulgence, I'll share those sentiments here.  If you are in a position to contribute to her fund, know that those monies will be used for good.

To know Catherine Han Montoya was to love her, because you couldn’t help but feel her love for us, for the people, and for the world.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Our family lost a vibrant champion for social justice this week with the tragic death of Catherine Han Montoya. Cathy, who was killed in her home in Atlanta under circumstances that are still being investigated, was an extraordinarily talented leader and skilled organizer, and leaves a legacy of building bridges of unity and opportunity across multi-ethnic communities. We mourn her passing, and our hearts and thoughts are with Cathy’s wife, Meredith Cabell, their families, and with all of those who had the good fortune to know Cathy and to be enriched by her all-too-brief time on this Earth. http://bit.ly/1b6QXaG

National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) 
Our NAPAWF family mourns the tragic loss and celebrates the life of Catherine Han Montoya, founder of NAPAWF Atlanta, the first chapter in the American South.  Catherine, a self-described Queer Chicana Korean Feminist (& Broncos fan), was dedicated to advancing justice in API, immigrant, and LGBT communities through her work with the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network, Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, ACLU, Leadership Conference for Civil & Human Rights, and National Council of La Raza.
Her life touched and inspired many. Rest in Power, Catherine Han Montoya.  "Let’s honor Cathy and step up and do our part now, and answer the call. Please donate to help support Meredith and their family. Funds will go towards helping with funeral costs and to supporting Cathy’s deepest loves: her family and the movement."

Catherine Han Montoya
1977 - 2015 | Obituary
MONTOYA, Catherine IN LOVING MEMORY Catherine Han Montoya Catherine Han Montoya passed away on Monday, April 13, 2015 in Atlanta, GA. She was born in Fort Huachuca, AZ in 1977. She attended Aurora Central High School in Aurora, CO and college at the University of Colorado at Boulder. A self-described "Queer Chicana Korean Feminist (and Denver Broncos fan)," Cathy's ability to empathize across difference moved her to dedicate her life to helping others celebrate and live wholly in their identities. Cathy became a tireless champion for civil and human rights, immigrant rights, Asian American women's rights, queer rights and racial justice. Cathy was greatly impacted by her mother's experiences as an immigrant in the U.S.

 As a teenager, she became interested in politics, and would debate fiercely with any opponent, but particularly with her father Joe. An ardent activist, she spoke truth to power with a smile and laughter, planted love in the hearts of everyone she touched and constantly challenged her family, friends and colleagues to channel their better selves. Cathy dedicated herself to working for justice, always bringing passion, humor, kindness and light to every endeavor and every relationship. She was a brilliant strategist, organizer, coalition builder and visionary who always stepped up to lend a hand.

Despite her numerous accomplishments, Cathy was humble, down to earth, and unassuming, treating everyone with deep respect, no matter what their position or experience. She was the type of person who wore sneakers to formal occasions and bow ties to weddings. She was stylish, but it was her exuberant joy and laugh that made her stand out. Cathy helped shepherd a new generation of social justice leaders and was seen as an older sister to countless activists across the US

Cathy co-founded the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network as well as the first National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum chapter in the South, and practically moved with her wife Meredith to Alabama in 2011 to help the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice organize against a law - HB56 - that she believed was morally wrong. She also worked at the National Council of La Raza, the Leadership Conference for Civil & Human Rights, and the ACLU.

Cathy will always be remembered as a loving wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She leaves behind her beloved wife, Meredith Cabell; her parents, Joe Montoya and Chong Hitchens; sisters Lynnette, Jennyfer and Rebecca; nieces and nephews Valerie, Kayla, Bobby, Josh, Brandon, Peyton, Justin and Ryan; and dog, Louie. The outpouring of support and love shown for Cathy since her passing has been immense, and is a testament to the enormous impact she had on so many. Her love, light and spirit will forever fill the hearts of all those she touched. A wake will be held Saturday, April 18th, from 4pm to 8pm at and the Funeral Service will be held on Sunday, April 19th at 1 pm, both at A.S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home located at 2773 North Decatur Road, Decatur GA 30033

A memorial service will be held in Denver, CO in the coming weeks. Contributions for the family can be made at: http://www.youcaring.com/memorialfundraiser/ honor-catherine-han-montoya-s-life-legacy/337884

Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Apr. 17, 2015

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