Irma Resendez founded Familia Unida- Family United Living with Multiple Sclerosis (FULWMS – Familia Unida), in the early 90’s and incorporated as a non-profit (501-c3) in 1998, after having endured her personal experience with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). FULWMS proudly stands as the first bilingual, English/Spanish, Multiple Sclerosis non-profit (501 c3) organization in U.S. history. In 1990, Ms. Resendez was diagnosed with MS, and experienced paralysis from the waist down with limitations of her upper extremities for almost a year. As she struggled through a difficult rehabilitation period, she was stunned to discover that culturally appropriate and expert information, as well as services and resources in the Spanish language were not available from local or national MS organizations. This was a shocking phenomenon, as Ms. Resendez began researching the growing number of Latinos affected by the disease. From then on, Ms. Resendez, diligently and selflessly, committed her life to serve the needs of individuals diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and other medical conditions and launched Familia Unida. Today, FULWMS makes it possible for diverse cultures and individuals living with MS and a disability to gain access to healthcare, educational and employment opportunities that encourage maximum quality of life. Under her leadership, FULWMS provides critical and culturally sensitive services at no cost throughout the Southern California region and contacted from all parts of the world.
A strong and effective leader, Ms. Resendez has become a pioneer for the Latino, MS and disabled community and continues being at the forefront promoting critical issues affecting the thousands of family’s served. She advocates for the improvement of human and civil rights. Ms. Resendez is a leading educator of various topics most notable, MS, health, culture diversity, identity, organizational development, disability and Family Unity. She engages audiences to take action and find creative ways to be a part of the economic development. She works diligently to bring awareness of the importance of respecting and preserving cultural identity, especially through her trainings, workshops and featured in multiple mainstream English and Spanish media outlets. Her tireless efforts have gained her international recognition.
A recipient of numerous commendations such as “Woman of the Year for the state of California,” and “Latina Leader” Awards, recognized by KABC7-CVS Pharmacy “Women of Courage” and recognized by La Opinion as one of the top 80 “Lideres del Futuro – Future Leaders”. A graduate of the HOPE Hispanic Leaders Institute, Ms. Irma Resendez stands as a Latina leader and serves as a mentor and role model to diverse groups representing the Country. Her position as a leader for the disabled earned her a special appointment by the County of Los Angeles’ Board of Supervisors and served as the Disabilities’ Commissioner for the County of Los Angeles. Ms. Resendez graduated as a zero-divide fellow, which is supported by The Community Technology Foundation of California. The Fellowship focuses on community technology resources and the advancement for social justice. Currently, is a Community Advisor to the National Civic League and a Board Officer for the Ed and Lucile Roybal Foundation.
In addition, Ms. Resendez has been acknowledged for her volunteer and community activism, and is a former Honoree of Hispanic Heritage Month by KCET/Union Bank of California. Her work and accomplishments have been featured in over 200 media and radio interviews, as well as in several Multiple Sclerosis publications. She was featured in Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center’s first-ever calendar (June 2000), which recognized her as one of the Center’s “Outstanding Patients.” She also produced the first-ever bilingual, English/Spanish, Multiple Sclerosis culturally diverse educational video titled, “You are not Alone / No Estás Solo” with the support of Gloria Estefan, Estefan Enterprises, Sony Records and USC school of film. She Published “Cultural Implications and Latinos living with MS”.
Ms. Resendez received her Master’s and Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work from California State University at Long Beach after her diagnosis of MS. She was awarded several Honors in Community Service and was also recognized by the National Association of Social Work (Region 1) on two occasions for her exceptional contributions in community advocacy. Her educational experience also includes counseling thousands of individuals and working with diverse populations, with a concentration in disabilities advocate, families and older adults. Ms. Resendez, is fluent in both English and Spanish, has acquired over 18 years of administrative, program development, and community organizing experience. . Her loving approach to serve is contagious and inspires partnerships and communities throughout the country and beyond.