Kandace Vallejo is founding Executive Director of Youth Rise Texas, and in 2018 earned triple recognition for her work with Youth Rise as an Austin Under 40 award winner, a Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Leader, and a Hispanics in Philanthropy Next-Gen Líder. Youth Rise Texas is an Austin-based organization that uplifts youth harmed by the criminalization or deportation of a loved one, so that they may heal, learn, and lead. In 2017, Ms. Vallejo was awarded by the Open Society Foundation’s Soros Justice Fellowship Program. Ms. Vallejo is also the co-founder of the Texas Youth Power Alliance, where together with four other Texas based youth organizations, she is partnering to form the largest scale youth voter mobilization effort the Lone Star State has ever seen.
Prior to founding Youth Rise Texas, Ms. Vallejo spent 12 years supporting the immigrant worker rights movement building a diverse skillset while harnessing popular social movement energy for material improvement in immigrant’s lives. Through working alongside and co-leading groundbreaking efforts with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Student/Farmworker Alliance, and the Workers Defense Project, Kandace helped lay the ground work for those organizations’ worker led supply chain monitoring programs.
Vallejo, who holds a Masters in Education from University of Texas at Austin, was a Kellogg Food and Community Fellow from 2011-2013, while working to build a youth food justice program for Latinx and Latin American immigrant youth. Kandace has spoken and written widely on issues related to worker’s rights, food justice, and immigrant rights. She serves on the Board of Directors at Jolt Action and has been published in multiple digital and print platforms, including book chapters in Be the Change: Teacher, Activist, Global Citizen and AK Press’ Uses of a Whirlwind.