Valentina Morales designs and directs programming for specialized populations impacted by the criminal legal system. She has been a legal advocate for over 16 years practicing defense in state civil and criminal courts with a specific focus on women, Spanish language speakers in the Latinx community, people with chronic mental health needs and those with neurocognitive/neurodevelopmental conditions.
Prior to joining Fedcap, Valentina was a chief regional supervisor at the Mental Hygiene Legal Service (MHLS), where she supervised senior trial attorneys providing representation to persons committed to psychiatric hospitals, those receiving court-ordered care, and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She began her legal career at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem where she created and directed defensaNDS, a program aimed at providing quality holistic representation to monolingual Spanish-speaking clients. Her work included bilingual community education and outreach as well as direct representation.
Valentina is an active voice for culture change in New York City’s jails, hospitals and community programs.
As the pandemic began in early 2020, Valentina let efforts to put services and workshops online for The Women’s project. With courts closed, appearances and services for substance abuse and mental health have been offered online and are accessible to all participants, who are given cell phones. Women can also participate in a book club and workshops online covering topics on work readiness, resume writing, and managing grief and isolation. Hear from Valentina in this video.
In April 2020, Valentina was a guest speaker for the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability’s National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) lunch and learn series. View the video here.