Carmen was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in Harlem, New York. She is a graduate of the City University of New York with a Master’s in education. Among her many accomplishments, Carmen was the Founding Director of the Women’s Building in San Francisco, helped found the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center in San Francisco, and the LGBT Health & Human Services Network , a coalition of over 55 organizations and groups in New York advocating for LGBT Health and Human Services. The Network has secured over $54 million dollars in state funding for its members. She was a founder and principal author of Causes in Common (a national coalition of Reproductive Justice and LGBT Liberation activists) during her tenure as Director of Public Policy at the LGBR Community Center in NYC.
Her essays have been published in several anthologies and she has made scores of keynote presentations at conferences and college campuses across the United States. She has been honored for her activism and community intellectual contributions by the City University of New York School of Law with an Honorary Law degree in 2005. The Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College in Massachusetts Voices of Feminism Project conducted an oral history of her in 2005 and her papers are archived at the Sophia Smith Archives. Carmen is the Co-Chair of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation Board of Directors.