LUNA secures national certification

Was selected as one of 15 agencies in the nation to participate


Jodi Bowden-Fuentes doesn’t consider herself to be merely a social worker and advocate, but rather, a “social reform warrior.”

As program director at LUNA’s (Latinas Unidas por un Nuevo Amanecer) Marshalltown branch, she routinely undergoes continuing education training and certification in the realm of sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy outreach. She recently graduated from the Advocacy Learning Center, a national program through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

“LUNA was selected to participate as one of only 15 programs from across the country. As graduates of the ALC, we now join 207 programs and 507 advocates who have completed it,” Bowden-Fuentes said.

Through a series of webinars, team projects and in-person training sessions in Minnesota, she and fellow LUNA staff members, Executive Director Melissa Cano Zelaya, and Assistant Executive Director Belen Ceballos, completed this training.

The curriculum, using a method developed by Ellen Pence, P.h.D, seeks to help survivors of abuse become advocates for social change, and help those agencies entrusted with their care develop a more holistic approach to healing.

“We were taught to recognize ‘intersections,’ which is embracing people’s multiple identities and various needs,” Bowden-Fuentes said. “SA/DV doesn’t just break someone’s bones or heart, it also breaks lives and confidence and makes it harder to re-connect with all the pieces of your life.”

She said creating an empathic environment in which to counsel survivors and explain the resources available is key.

“So much of our work can feel adversarial,” she said. “We want to create an experience that’s liberating for the person coming into the office, whereas traditional models have offered a more dominant style — this is what you have to do, etc. [But now] it’s about meeting those people where they are in their lives and tailoring how we help, giving them autonomy to determine their own destiny.”

Instead of solely addressing a client’s immediate safety and emotional needs, she noted, the programming style is aimed at offering resources to clients that could enrich their lives in other ways.

“Maybe a woman comes to us, and she used to make dresses back in her home country, and doesn’t have the financial means to continue it here, so we go out and help find her a sewing machine. It’s looking at the bigger picture, not just the crisis situation. It’s a more time-consuming approach, but it’s also more complete,” Bowden-Fuentes explained.

LUNA offers culturally-specific programming for victims/survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, specifically the Latino community, and the LGBTQAI communities, although it is not an exclusive service provider. Services are confidential and voluntary.

“It’s not about just treating the problem of violence, it’s about making it stop,” she concluded.

LUNA’s offices, located inside the City Centre Building, Suites 150 and 190, are open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bowden-Fuentes may be reached at: 319-242-7536.


Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or