Rachael Ortiz is an activist, improving the lives of women and youth in San Diego for over forty years. She has been actively involved in community organizing and development in Logan Heights and is the founder and executive director of Barrio Station, a youth center in Barrio Logan with several successful after-school programs that serve 2,500 girls and boys. It is for these reasons that she is being inducted into the San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame as an Activist.
Ortiz’s early career began in San Francisco where she volunteered for the United Farm Workers and implemented a work furlough program with the San Quentin State Prison Pre-release Unit. After returning to San Diego, Ortiz and her colleagues developed the Barrio Station Project in 1970; she soon became the Executive Director. As Executive Director of Barrio Station, Ortiz successfully secured 250,000 dollars for youth programs, allowing for the construction of the Barrio Youth Center, a 50,000 recreation center in the Barrio Logan area. The recreation center provides a variety of services including: sports, fitness, and the performing arts; a computer lab; a swimming pool; a children’s program; gang intervention counseling; and support services.
In addition to her work with children and youth, Ortiz has initiated numerous neighborhood revitalization and mobilization efforts across Barrio Logan. These efforts include: the clearance of neglected public lands, the removal of junkyards, new sidewalks, tree planting, housing rehabilitation, affordable housing units, and an updated elementary school. For her work in the community, Ortiz received an honorary degree from Southwestern College in 2004. Rachael Ortiz’s life-long commitment to at-risk youth; her work to prevent drug use, juvenile crime, and incarceration; and her varied and successful community reclamation and development projects make her an Activist.