National Public Citizen of The Year

Cynthia Herrera, JD

Cynthia Herrera

Cynthia “Cy” Herrera, JD, serves as Executive Director of ASHwell, a holistic sexual health and wellness center based in Austin, Texas. ASHwell offers stigma-free and radically inclusive clinical, integrated Eastern, and social wellness care to end Hepatitis C and HIV within the LGBTQ+ community and communities of color. Serving previously as CEO of Project Transitions, Cy (want to use last name throughout instead?) spearheaded a successful $3.5M capital campaign to build 101 units of affordable housing for people living with HIV in Central Texas. 

As an attorney with the Texas Advocacy Project, Cy relentlessly advocated for survivors of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. She founded the first medical-legal partnership initiative in Austin, collaborating with local health providers to identify and prevent ongoing intimate-partner violence against their patients. Through the initiative, hundreds of health providers at community-based healthcare organizations and major hospitals were trained on the upstream medical-legal partnership model of patient-client care and its efficiencies in saving time, money, and lives. In 2018, in partnership with Community Health Empowerment, she established a free legal clinic for LGBTQ+ community members and was published in the Texas Family Physician magazine. 

A graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law with a Juris Doctor and holder of a Certificate in Health Law from the nationally acclaimed Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy, Cy’s interest in public health began as a volunteer at The University of Michigan Law School Pediatric Advocacy Initiative. Also, as a student attorney in a groundbreaking medical-legal partnership clinic, Health Justice Project at Loyola, she worked with medical and social work students to prevent the eviction of renters and improve dangerous housing conditions. She was a member of the National Lawyers Guild and Officer of the Latino Law Student Association. 

In May 2022, Cy graduated from the 43rd Essentials Class of Leadership Austin. She serves as Treasurer and Chair of the Healing Fund for Contigo Wellness, a local nonprofit addressing equity in mental wellness through anti-racism and decolonizing community work. She serves as Chair of the VPI (Vision Plan Implementation) Committee of Pease Park Conservancy and as a member of The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC) Advisory Board, dedicated to the preservation, creation, presentation, and promotion of the cultural arts of Mexican Americans and Latino cultures. She also co-founded and Co-Chairs the ECHO Affinity Group where she helps coordinate and advocate for a more thorough community response to achieve functional zero homelessness for community members with HIV. 

NASW is proud to recognize Cynthia “Cy” Herrera as the recipient of the NASW National Public Citizen of the Year Award.