We are a member-led organization of over 5,000 formerly and currently incarcerated and systems-impacted women and trans people of all genders, founded in 2017 at a convening of over 200 systems-impacted people in Oakland. We improve conditions for women and trans people of all genders by fighting for – and winning – policies and systems change that center the needs and experiences of communities most impacted by systems of exploitation, criminalization, and incarceration throughout the state.


We are impacted by incarceration, foster care, the child welfare system, immigration, social services, and other institutions and systems that control and criminalize us. We have survived violence, trauma, and underground street economies. We seek to have our voices heard and validated. We want to sit at any table where decisions are being made that affect us. We strive for concrete change in the material conditions of our lives and our communities.

Our Team:

Amika Mota

Executive Director (she/her)

Amika began organizing for reproductive justice and young mothers’ rights over 20 years ago, as a teen mother and midwife. Her passion for criminal justice reform and abolition is rooted in her own experience. She began advocating for women in prison during her incarceration, where she worked as a jailhouse lawyer, paralegal, firefighter, and mentor to many young folks on the yard. She was the Policy Director for Young Women’s Freedom Center where she led the ACA 3 campaign to end involuntary servitude in California. She also led successful legislative campaigns to end racist gang enhancements and a law supporting survivors of violence by requiring judges to consider a person’s survivor and trauma history in charging, sentencing and resentencing decisions, among other policy wins.

As executive director, and in partnership with the active chapters that make up the Sister Warriors Freedom Coalition, Amika spearheads policy and electoral strategies to shift power and lead local and statewide systems and policy changes.

April Grayson

Senior Policy Manager (she/they)

April is formerly incarcerated and spent a lot of time in systems that harmed her rather than helping her escape cycles of abuse, exploitation and the street economy. She understands first hand the criminalization of women of color for the ways they survive and the harm caused by various systems. Based on her own childhood experience and the lack of advocates, April is a strong advocate for children and youth caught in the pipelines to prison.

She works to shed light on mass incarceration as a modern form of slavery and the particular ways in which girls and young women of color are criminalized. April’s role is to build out Sister Warriors engagement in policy work and champion the bills we sponsor.

Niki Martinez

Deputy Director (she/her/we)

Niki Martinez is a seasoned social justice leader who is fueled in her work by her experience being incarcerated and serving twenty-five years in state institutions. Niki was charged as an adult at 17 and sentenced to 45-years-to-life in prison. Throughout her incarceration, she became a certified Drug and Alcohol counselor and the co-founder and director of an organization providing policy advocacy for young people in the juvenile legal system. Niki also received certifications in Relapse Prevention Counseling, Denial Management Counseling, Trauma-Informed Counseling, Motivational Interviewing, Domestic
Violence, Healthy Relationships, Anger Management, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Restorative Justice.

Since her release in March 2019, Niki has excelled in providing trauma-informed mentorship and practices in the community and has been involved in the Credible Messenger Movement working with system-impacted and formerly incarcerated people. As the Deputy Director of Sister Warriors, Niki, is working toward healthy and humane alternatives to terminate the endless harm created by punitive systems. She is dedicated to ending mass incarceration and the criminalization of women and trans people of all genders.

Emily Wonder

Advocacy Director (they/them)

Emily is a long-time advocate for women, girls, and trans folks and a firm believer in the transformative power and collective wisdom of community. Originally from the Midwest, Emily has a background in policy and communication and a history of organizing within the higher education system and at the local level. For the past several years, they have been in Sacramento, advocating for policies that recognize our shared humanity and bring greater support to those who have been most harmed by the many systems that perpetuate suffering.

Emily is part of the Sister Warriors policy team, encouraging community members to participate in the political process and advocating for legislation that will bring us all one step closer to freedom. They are also helping to lead the expansion of Sister Warriors' participatory defense work to support and empower folks navigating California's court systems.

Leana Lindsay

Advocacy Coordinator (she/her)

Leana is originally from Los Angeles, CA and comes to Sister Warriors with years of experience organizing and helping create spaces in Black and Brown communities where her people are safe, empowered, and have access to opportunity. With a background in Political Science, Sociology, and African American studies, she comes to Sister Warriors with experience in coalition building, advocating alongside system impacted communities, community organizing, and community empowerment. 

Leana is a committed abolitionist and is dedicated to fighting systems of oppression that systemically target and perpetuate harm to her community. Leana is part of the Sister Warriors Advocacy team coordinating direct advocacy for system impacted women and girls, their families, and communities. She also works on the participatory defense team empowering folks and their families navigating California’s court systems.