“Though I was born in the Bay Area, I grew up as a mixed race child in a Black family in a small racist town in Pennsylvania. In this segregated bastion of small mindedness and overt oppression I got hip quick and in a hurry to the fact that the world was not a fair place. Social injustice was apparent at every turn around the block. Luckily it was also the time of Malcolm X and Dr. King, Fannie Lou Hamer, and the Panthers, and the world was on fire. Early on I figured that I had to find a way to turn all the inrage that gets internalized, into outrage that would foster real change in the world. I’ve been riding that trajectory of outrage and the refusal to accept things because somebody says that’s “just the way it’s spozed to be” ever since. In the Civil Rights, Black Liberation, Gender and Queer and the Battered Women’s movements I have met others like me and realized I was in great company. It has been my honor to teach and learn with the best. And I will never turn back.”
Catlin is a veteran of a number of social justice movements, including the movement to end violence in the lives of women and girls, the HIV/AIDS movement, the youth development and youth organizing movement, and the gender, queer, and people of color liberation movements. During her 30 years of experience, she has worked as an organizer, policy advocate, organization and program builder, administrator, and researcher. Currently, she is focusing on integrating her work on the ground with her interest in participatory research, and her experience with organizational development and capacity building. A critical element of the work is the development of approaches to community involvement and constituency building through the development of an “activist inquiry” which includes participatory evaluation and action research. A primary emphasis of this research and organizing approach uses popular education and critical thinking to address violence and other social justice issues as they affect the lives of youth, families and communities working for social change.
In 1987 she founded the People of Color Against AIDS Network in Seattle, Washington, and served as its Executive Director for eight years. In New York she served as the Associate Executive Director of the Hunter College Center on AIDS, Drugs and Community Health for four years.
For seven years Catlin served on the Board of Trustees of the Ms. Foundation for Women. She served as a consultant to their youth led social change and community safety collaboratives. She co-authored the New Girls’ Movement: New Assessment Tools for Youth Programs and the monograph on Culture and Context: Capacity Building for Youth Led Social Change.
Catlin has continued to focus on developing the capacity of organizations working with community members to build leadership, tell their stories and create change using participatory research tools. While working in Chicago, Catlin served as the principal researcher and trainer for Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) a youth-led participatory action research and organizing collaborative project with six neighborhood organizing groups focusing on identifying and implementing solutions to the high dropout rates for youth of color in the Chicago Public Schools.
For the past 16 years she has been the Principal Consultant for On Time Associates providing organizational development and capacity building support to community based organizations. Catlin is a public speaker, trainer, activist researcher, educator and facilitator committed to individual and community building with those who working for social justice and social change.