Marles Recognized as YWCA Emerging Leader

Natalie Marles

YWCA Central Carolinas recognized Natalie Marles with the Emerging Leader Award during its Woman of Achievement Awards event Oct. 17 for her work ensuring marginalized people have access to health care, knowledge and justice. 

The annual awards event honors three generations of women who exemplify the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

An immigrant from Bogotá, Colombia, Marles is committed to social justice, merging her work life as a paralegal-advocate for Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and personal life working for the needs of the Hispanic and Latinx community with the goal of fostering inclusion within the greater Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.

Marles helps low-income individuals get their criminal records expunged through the Advocacy Center’s Community Redevelopment Project, which focuses on improving economic mobility, stable housing and entrepreneurship in targeted communities in the Charlotte area. Criminal record expungements expand economic mobility by clearing misdemeanor offenses that often prevent individuals from pursuing employment and housing opportunities.

Through the Advocacy Center’s Know your Rights and Power of Attorney community workshops Marles has helped immigrants understand their constitutional rights and worked to ensure these rights are upheld.  She has become a trusted face in the immigrant community through her professional and personal work.    

Marles joined Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy in 2016 as a health insurance navigator helping individuals and families, including immigrants and Spanish speaking residents, understand their health coverage options to enroll in plans that best fit their individual needs under the Affordable Care Act.

After finding limited health services for the Hispanic community in Cabarrus County, Marles established a nonprofit organization called El Puente Hispano (the Hispanic bridge) with other community leaders in 2017 to provide programs that provide support and improve physical and mental health for the Hispanic community in the Charlotte area.

Marles began her local volunteerism serving as a triage nurse and health promoter for Bethesda Health Center after moving to the area from Miami in 2009. She also spent two years volunteering as a Guardian Ad Litem, giving children impacted by abuse, neglect and abandonment a voice in Cabarrus County. 

Marles is a member of the Enlace Charlotte, formerly The Latin American Council, board of directors. She is also part of the Mecklenburg County Latino civic engagement and last year helped launch the campaign “Latino tu voto cuenta” (Latino your vote counts) encouraging people to understand the importance of civic engagement and participation in the democratic process. 

Action Alert: Let’s Give N.C. A Second Chance

For people with a criminal record, second chances are hard to come by.

But the N.C. General Assembly can change that narrative for more than 2 million North Carolinians living with criminal records.

The N.C. Senate unanimously passed The Second Chance Act (Senate Bill 562)earlier this month. The bipartisan legislation, which is now before the N.C. House, would expand eligibility for expungements, a court process that seals criminal records from public view.

“Our neighbors deserve second chances, and our community will be made stronger if we grant them.” 

Natalia Botella, attorney, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy



Why this matters

1 in 4 Americans has a criminal record, including 2 million+ North Carolinians These individuals spend YEARS trying to overcome past mistakes to lead productive lives as law abiding citizens.

Criminal records are barriers to jobs, housing, and opportunity because criminal background checks and stigma automatically exclude where people can live and work, even if an offense is a misdemeanor.

If our community is serious about addressing equity and access to opportunity, we must expand eligibility for expungements. Currently, more than 90 percent of expungements granted are for charges that never resulted in a conviction. 

Expungements expand access to a wider range of jobs and higher wages, which reduces the likelihood to turn to crime out of desperation.

N.C. will gain more tax revenue, make communities safer and reduce the costs of a revolving door criminal justice system.

What the legislation does

Automatic Relief: The Act would automatically expunge criminal charges that have been dismissed or disposed of as “not guilty” after July 1, 2020.

Expands Eligibility: It would also allow people to petition to have certain non-violent convictions expunged after 5- or 10-years good behavior, depending on the offense.

Relief for Juvenile Offenders: The Act would allow people with eligible convictions that occurred when a person was 16 or 17 years old prior to Dec. 1, 2019 to petition for an expungement, giving them the same rights as juveniles protected under the “Raise the Age” law.

Gives Prosecutors Discretion to Initiate Relief: Under the proposal, district attorneys would have the option to initiate certain expungement petitions, without relying on the individual to start the process.

What you can do

Thank your N.C. Senators! Contact your Senators and The Second Chance Act’s primary sponsors, Sen. Danny BrittSen. Warren Daniel and Sen. Floyd McKissick.

Tell your Representatives in the N.C. House to pass legislation that expands eligibility for expungements.

Learn about us. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s expungement project for ex-offenders opens the doors of opportunity for hundreds of Mecklenburg County residents. 

Share this message with your networks.

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