Elsa Iris Reyes is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and the eldest of three siblings. She was born in Chicago, and raised in Cicero, IL. She graduated from DePaul University and moved to Austin, Texas in 2016. As a child of immigrants, Elsa saw with the hardships her parents suffered at work because of their lack of education, language barrier, and economic status and felt something had to be done to support families like hers. In college she became heavily involved with organizing and civic engagement in Chicago. Her career in corporate finance and accounting has taught her what is possible with education y con las ganas that were instilled in her. Elsa believes that we deserve an equal access to prosperity and it is because of our strong work ethic that we will win the fight for better education and economic opportunities. Elsa first joined Jolt as a member, taking the organization’s leadership institute. Elsa believes, now more than ever Jolt has the opportunity to mobilize a generation who is tired of watching Latino families struggle.
Tzatzil LeMair is a bilingual cross-cultural marketer with a 20-year career including agency work at major advertising agencies in London and New York. She is currently Director of Accounts at Sensis, a cross-cultural advertising agency in Austin, TX. Before joining Sensis, LeMair ran an award-winning health promotion company serving women across Texas and served pro-bono as digital marketing consultant to nonprofits and Hispanic outreach strategist for political campaigns. She currently serves as Hispanic Caucus Committeewoman for the Texas Democratic party and is passionate about bringing out the Latino vote in 2020. She has a bachelor of fine arts from New York University and an MBA and a master of science in media management from Boston University. She is the mother of four boys.
Monica Pintado immigrated from Ecuador. She was raised in the South Bronx, New York, where she learned that to dream big was the only way for opportunities. Like many other young Latinas at the time, she was a young mother, but that did to stop her from working hard and attaining her dreams. Eventually her hard work paid off as she successfully worked in the hedge fund industry for 15 years. She decided to leave the challenging life of the Big Apple and relocated to Las Vegas, seeking a better quality of life for her family. In Las Vegas she worked as a controller in the hospitality and hotel industry. Although, most of her goals and dreams had been attained, Monica felt that there was still more to do in life, and she took on another challenge and eventually found herself in Austin. Austin has open new doors to Monica’s desire to be involved in her community. She became interested in encouraging young people to help them to be civically engaged and educated. She is currently a member of her church, where she teaches ELS classes to adults and Sunday Religion Education. Through all of Monica’s trials and tribulations, she has become an example of the struggle and hard work it takes to achieve the American Dream. Monica is an inspiration to young people, especially women of color to dream big. Her passion to travel inspires her to meet people from different cultures, interact and understand their challenges and way of life. Monica strongly believes that with a little sacrifice everyone can attain their goals, have a family and experience the joys of life. The secret is to be humble and stay true to who you are no matter the circumstances. Monica has a B.B.A. in Public Accounting from Pace University, New York and later in life she attained an M.B.A from the University of Phoenix, Nevada.
Dr. Denisa Gándara is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Southern Methodist University. Her research examines education policies and how they affect groups traditionally underserved in higher education. She is originally from the Rio Grande Valley. She earned a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.
Kandace Vallejo is the Founding Director of Youth Rise Texas, and has dedicated her life’s work to supporting immigrant rights organizations like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Workers Defense Project. Vallejo holds a Masters in Education from the University of Texas at Austin and has been published in Global Policy TV, Waging Nonviolence, Edible Austin and in Be the Change: Teacher, Activist, Global Citizen and Uses of a Whirlwind.
Perla Cavazos was born and raised in San Benito, a small town on the Texas-Mexico border, and moved to Austin over 20 years ago to take a job advocating for affordable housing for people with low income. Since moving to Austin she has developed expertise in public policy, advocacy and government affairs with a focus on improving the lives of Texans who are most vulnerable. She is the Deputy Administrator at Central Health, a local government entity that provides access to health care for individuals who are low income. Perla previously worked for Texas Legal Services Center, Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and in the Texas Senate as a Senior Policy Analyst and Legislative Director. Perla has a BA from Stanford University and a Masters in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.