Luis Avila was an advisor with 270 Strategies. Most recently he was the national program director at Stand for Children, a nonprofit grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to improving public school education, where he worked with immigrant parents to mobilize thousands of voters to protect funding for their children's schools. While at Stand, he was awarded its National Leadership Award for his work supporting, coaching, and developing organizers around the country.
Born in Culiacan Sinaloa, Mexico, Luis founded a youth publication in Queretaro at the age of 16 to give students a chance to voice their opinions on social and political issues. His passion for giving others a voice eventually brought him to the United States, where he has spent the better part of his career working to improve the quality of life for people in his community by expanding access to quality education.
Luis has worked as a writer, director, and actor in both theater and film, and hosted radio shows in Phoenix, AZ including the Spanish-language Sin Mordaza on 1190 AM and the bilingual youth show El Break on 95.1 FM. He enjoys volunteering at his local library in his free time and can be found on the weekends exploring his new neighborhood in Phoenix.
Blanca was born in Pachuca, Hidalgo Mexico. She migrated to Arizona in 1999 along with the rest of her family. Her parents' migration for a better future for her sisters and herself encouraged her to focus on her education. It became her dream to fulfill her parents' dream. Today she holds her Bachelors degree in Social Work from Arizona State University. She is currently working towards her Masters degree in Social Work at Arizona State University (go devils!). She comes from a big family and she is a proud mother of two boys. Her family has been the biggest supportive system that has enable her to achieve her dreams.
Blanca is a DACA recipient. She strongly believes in giving back to her community which geared her towards volunteering with organizations that helped with DACA applications since 2012. Today she continues to volunteer to help other young people apply for the DACA program through Aliento. Blanca also leads the Aliento PHX team, which is a group of youth whom she hopes to support them in their empowerment so they can become young leaders in their community. Blanca believes that working with youth is highly important because they are our present and future. On top of being a mom, a student, and a community leader, Blanca loves Harry Potter and spending quality time with her family!
Jenny Poon is an entrepreneur and founder of CO+HOOTS. Ranked #4 coworking space in the nation by Inc.com, CO+HOOTS currently houses 280+ scaling entrepreneurs and small businesses and has been an integral role in creating hundreds of jobs locally. She has led CO+HOOTS from its inception in 2010 to be the #1 most innovative coworking space in the world. Her background in business, design and marketing led her to build a place where she could connect with like-minded folks that believe business growth comes from collaboration between different industries. She speaks regularly on leadership as a millenial, the importance of nurturing innovation in the workspace and works tirelessly to bring visibility to coworking as an economic development tool for building vibrant and equitable cities.
Her background as an award-winning designer and strategist led her to build a shared work space where she could connect with like-minded, talented folks who believe collaboration between industries is where innovation flourishes. Jenny serves as an advisor for several startups, Chair of the CO+HOOTS Foundation, and mentors young entrepreneurs weekly.
Jenny was named Phoenix Business Journal’s 2016 Phoenix Businessperson of the Year. The first minority and the first woman to receive the honor.
Alfredo J. Artiles, Ph.D. is the Ryan C. Harris Professor of Special Education and Dean of the Graduate College at Arizona State University. Alfredo’s scholarship advances educational opportunities for marginalized students and addresses inequities related to disability intersections with race, language, gender and social class. Alfredo has worked with various agencies to advance inclusive education models, while his work also raises questions about the injustices that inclusive education can unwittingly create for various communities; some of this work was reported in his co-authored book Inclusive education: Examining equity on five continents (Harvard Education Press). In his 30-year career, Alfredo has addressed these issues in the US, Latin America, Africa and Europe. He co-founded the federally funded National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems that assisted states to address inequities associated with disability and its intersections with other areas of diversity. He has continued to lead this work with colleagues and graduate students through other sponsored projects, such as the Region IX Equity Assistance Center and various research and leadership training grants. Alfredo served in the White House Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (2011-2017) and was a Resident Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has been an advisor to the Civil Rights Projects at Harvard University and UCLA, the National Academy of Education, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation, and numerous projects housed at universities in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America.
Gabriela Muñoz is an interdisciplinary artist, arts educator, and arts administrator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and a Master of Fine Arts in Printmaking from Arizona State University. Gabriela’s work as Curatorial Associate in Contemporary and Latin American Art at Phoenix Art Museum allowed her to support the development of her peers. An artist in service of other artists, she is currently Artist Programs Manager at the Arizona Commission on the Arts where she leads the AZ ArtWorker initiative, facilitating dialogue and knowledge- sharing between Arizona artists, their national and international artist peers and residents of Arizona communities. Her collaborations with colleagues at various museums and cultural organizations have allowed her the opportunity to foster community through public programs, artist grants and creative partnerships.
Gabriela’s work as an artist is rooted in her experiences as a Latina living in the southwest and is concerned with movements of social justice and equality. Her installations and printed works function as a growing archive that documents alternate stories and histories ignored by the mainstream. As an active contributor to Arizona’s art community she is regularly engaged in artist residencies, serves as a juror and panelist, leads artist workshops and presents lectures for local and national audiences.