Heidi Cerneka has lived in Latin America for over 20 years, and is currently living in Nairobi, Kenya, working with incarcerated women and refugees. Her journey with women and drugs, women in the streets, and most deeply with incarcerated women has made her a human rights advocate, an advocate for women’s rights and an advocate for justice. She claims to have been born with an extra “it’s not fair” gene, and a drive to create a more just world.
She honors the uniqueness of the story of every incarcerated woman she meets, while also identifying global truths about women and crime that stem from poverty, power imbalance, injustice, and oppressive systems. She has written numerous articles on women and justice in English and Portuguese.
Heidi has a Master’s degree in Pastoral theology. Additionally, after 20 years of advocacy for women and justice, she decided to return to school and to obtain a law degree. She is now a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois. She has served as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner (MKLM) for almost 20 years, and is on the MKLM board of directors. Maryknoll Lay Missioners is a lay Catholic organization inspired by Jesus and the Gospel to live and work for justice in communities around the world. (www.mklm.org)