Born in Baja California, Mexico, Grace is Mexican, of Kumiai and Yaqui descent. Like many families in Mexico, Grace's mother and aunties used cultural remedies to help keep their families healthy. She grew up experiencing the curing of empacho through the abdominal sobadas that her mother gave her and watching her auntie cure neighborhood children of mal de ojo and caida de mollera. As a child she was particularly influenced by watching and listening to another of her aunties, a curandera, share stories about helping neighbors and friends with various spiritual illnesses as well as to her uncle who was a well-known sobador and huesero, bonesetter. However, it was until the mid-1990s, that she formally undertook the study of curanderismo and other healing traditions by undergoing rigorous training with healers in Baja California and the United States.
Married at 16 and divorced at 19, a single parent with two daughters, Grace left high school in order to support her family and later received her GED. She worked hard often holding two jobs which eventually lead to her becoming the administrator of a psychiatric partial hospitalization program for several years. In 1991 she started a consultancy practice specializing in public relations and cultural competency. In acknowledgement of her commitment to serving her community, in 1993 she became one of 26 women nationwide to be selected Fellow of the National Hispana Leadership Institute, a collaborative leadership project with Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. During that time she went on to become the founder of MANA of Imperial Valley which promotes advocacy and leadership of Hispanics, Latinas, and Chicanas. In acknowledgment of her work, she has been the recipient of many community and leadership awards including two commendations from the California State Senate. Most recently, MANA of Imperial Valley presented her with its Legacy Award.
Answering the Call of the Grandmothers
Grace was called to the medicine ways in dreams from early childhood, and beginning in her late teens through her 30’s, was visited in the dreamtime by a group of Indigenous Grandmothers dressed in the traditional clothing of various nations (tribes). They gave her teachings and urged her to return to the ways of the Ancestors, of the Medicine, in preparation for the days to come when she, and other women, would help usher in and support the return of the energy of the Grandmothers; the spiritual power that would be helping restore balance between the feminine and the masculine in the world. Congruent with these personal visions, Grace, in May 2006, attended the gathering of the 13 International Indigenous Grandmothers Council in Huautla de Jimenez in Oaxaca, Mexico.
During the early 2000s, one of her elders began to strongly encourage her to start sharing with her community what the Grandmothers in Spirit, and he, had taught her. In July 2006, she was invited by Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona to teach a course on the Native healing ways of the United States and Mexico. Following traditional protocols, Grace approached local Kwatsan elders for their permission to bring her medicine to their traditional territory. After receiving their blessings she accepted AWC's invitation to become adjunct professor and began teaching the course, "Exploring Native American Medicine Ways: Learning from, and honoring, Indigenous Healing Traditions."
As part of her community responsibilities she has been asked to participate in baby blessing ceremonies, offer opening prayers for gatherings, provide spiritual assistance to persons during end of life transitions, and house purification rituals, as well as family and community conflict resolution circles.
In addition to her curanderismo practice Grace continues to have diverse roles in community building and social justice coalitions, helping organize grass-roots advocacy groups. In 2013 Grace lead a successful social media protest to stop the Disney Corporation from trademarking the Mexican holy days known as Dia de Muertos.
An inspiring speaker, Grace has lectured on Curanderismo at the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energy & Energy Medicine Conference, Children’s Hospital-Denver, CO, CSU San Marcos, the University of Southern California - San Diego Medical Anthropology Department, SDSU School of Social Work, the 2013 Great River Symposium on Mesoamerican acupuncture and Curanderismo, University of Tampa, Florida, Iskotew Lodge and Kumik Lodge Elders-in-Residence Program (First Nations, Canada), and other institutions. Grace contributed to the book, "Meditations for InterSpiritual Practice: Practices and Readings Drawn from the World's Spiritual Traditions," which was published in 2012.
Most recently she contributed to the new book, Voice of the Ancestors: Xicanx and Latinx Spiritual Expressions and Healing Practices (Offerings, essays, poems, and prayers for everyday life), edited by Lara Medina and Martha R. Gonzales, which is scheduled to be released in October, 2019.
She is a provider of traditional healing services for Sycuan Inter-Tribal Vocational Rehabilitation which provides services to Native Americans who live in or near the 12 Kumeyaay reservations in the San Diego, California area, and a trainer with TribalSTAR whose mission is to ensure culture, community, and resources for Indian children in child welfare and to promote compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act.
Grace considers this path to be one of life-long learning, and is committed to continuing to deepen her understanding of health and healing as well as doing her own inner work in order to be of service to the best of her ability, to her community and to the areas where she is invited to share her medicine. She continues her work with emphasis in respectfully reclaiming traditional culture and healing practices.
She travels extensively and offers workshops and presentations on Mexico's healing traditions throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Grace lives near sacred Mt. Kuuchamaa in Southern California. She is married to Qigong Master and traditional healer, Ken Cohen. Their blended family includes three beautiful daughters and five grandsons.
Grace is available for consultations, workshops, and lectures.