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MVeronica Figueroa Velez

Born in Isabela, Puerto Rico, Veronica Figueroa Velez was introduced to mural and 3D art at 14 at her hometown church. Art and creativity became integral to her everyday life from that moment on. In 1994, Veronica packed her suitcase and moved to Madison, WI, where winter's bone-chilling temperatures reminded her how much she missed her family and beloved island. Art spoke to her amid it all, and she found solace in art expression while igniting a desire to get involved in community work. 

While attending Madison College and working towards her Graphic Design Associate's degree, Veronica worked as a Customer Service Manager at a local store and as a housekeeper at a local hotel. These early job interactions with discrimination awakened her desire to support the Latine community on a bigger scale. In 2007, Veronica landed a job as a Bilingual Outreach Specialist at a Vera Court Neighborhood Center. This opportunity opened her eyes to social issues impacting communities of color. Her passion for supporting young people and their families grew, taking her to work for the Family Resource Center, Centro Hispano, and UNIDOS Against Domestic Violence. In 2014, Veronica's ability to skillfully address crisis management and community violence and develop and implement programs led her to become the Executive Director of UNIDOS, a nonprofit whose mission is to empower the community to break the cycle of domestic violence, end sexual assault and promote healthy family systems. Under her leadership, UNIDOS increased its capacity and implemented the first 24/7 Spanish Helpline to support Dane County, Wisconsin victims.

Because of her commitment, expertise, collaborative, and action-oriented approach, Veronica serves on nonprofit boards and city committees, including Community Shares of WI, Kind Lesli Ann Ambassadors, Peoples Law Center, Midwest Mujer, The Latino Consortium for Action, and the Crime Victim Council. In addition, in 2022, Veronica was Appointed by Governor Evers to the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision and appointed by Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway as a Madison and Police Fire Commissioner. She also served on the City of Madison Police Department Policy and Procedure Ad Hoc Committee and the Body-Worn Camera Feasibility Review Committee. 

After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, she worked tirelessly to establish the Puerto Rico Relief Fund of South Central WI, raising over $90K in the Madison area to support grassroots relief organizations on the island. Her community activism expands to creative expressions where she uses her artistic abilities to bring awareness to social issues and help community members heal. Currently, Veronica owns Art MVF Design and is the Executive Director of DAMA, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster youth development through collective art experiences and to train local artists to stabilize and sustain community transformation processes.

In 2003, she received an Associate Degree in Graphic Design and, in 2005, an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts from Madison College. In 2014, Veronica completed a Bachelor's Degree in Art Therapy at Edgewood College and will attend Edgewood in August 2024 to complete a Master's in Art Therapy. 

Through art-making and creative expression, she has promoted community art spaces where people, especially youth, can come together to build community, heal, connect, and draw positive change. She believes that artistic expression helps open our eyes to injustice, conveying powerful new visions and possibilities and that our originality helps us heal, survive, and thrive.
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