Alumni Changemaker: Adán Chávez

Alumni Changemaker: Adán Chávez

Building coalitions to build power in underrepresented communities

To honor our 40 years, we're celebrating our most valuable resource - our alumni - through 40 profiles highlighting their leadership. Alumnus Adán Chávez completed his fellowship at University of California, Berkeley in 2017.  

Adán is the proud queer son of Mexican immigrants, grandson of a Bracero, first-generation graduate, and product of the Inland Empire.

Growing up in what is home to some of the most under-deserved and under-resourced families in California, Adán’s life circumstances were limited: his parents only spoke Spanish and got an elementary-level education in their rural hometown. While his father struggled to keep a job as a construction worker, his mother would sell pots, jewelry, sweatpants — anything she could. Being the oldest of four children, he learned to sell goods before he even learned English.

At an early age, and after taking a course in Chicano Studies at the University of California, Riverside, he understood that he did not just want to help others, but that he had to. He learned about barriers—like redlining and other exclusionary policies—that pushed families like his behind for generations simply because of who they were and where they came from. He made it his responsibility to help empower those “disempowered,” so everyone – regardless of who they loved, what they looked like, or where they came from – was seen and heard.

As a result, Adán received the Eleanor Roosevelt College Dean’s Award of Excellence (2017) and the Thurgood Marshall Outstanding Senior Award (2018), for his contributions, involvement, and leadership in the University, and the Presidential Public Service Fellowship from the UC Office of the President. It is no surprise that in his free time, Adán sits as the youngest Board Member in the UC San Diego Alumni Board of Directors.

“Even though my parents did not have much, they wanted to give us everything, and always encouraged us to do the same for others. For example, my mother would always stress that “la persona que siempre se acomide, siempre íba tener un lugar” which meant that any person who always willingly offered to help, would always have a place at the table. But whether I was supporting my parents in the streets or in our own home, I wanted to do my part to improve our reality.”“

As the Deputy Director of Civic Engagement for the NALEO Educational Fund — one of the nation’s leading non-profit, non-partisan organizations that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service, Adán played a key role in supporting the implementation of the organization’s national ¡Ve y Vota! campaign — a nonpartisan, comprehensive civic participation strategy, designed to remove barriers to full Latino electoral participation and combat misinformation in Latino communities that lead to record-breaking Latino turnout in the 2020 Election — and the ¡Hágase Contar! and ¡Hazme Contar! campaigns — which sought to ensure a full count of the Latino community, including very young Latino children ages 0-5, in the United States in the 2020 Census.

This included fighting the addition of a citizenship question to the decennial enumeration, speaking on local and national Univision and Telemundo networks (including being quoted in the New York Times), and supporting the identification of community partners for the implementation of their national-train-the-trainer program that trained over 3,000 stakeholders across 15 states and 90 different cities, Twitter chats that reached over 2 million followers, Facebook townhalls that reached nearly 15,000 users, and weeks of action that mobilized Latino and LGBTQ+ communities nationwide.

Currently, Adán works for Facebook for Politics and Government Outreach, where he liaises with government officials, community stakeholders, government organizations, campaigns, and political organizations at the local government level in order to build out their presences on Facebook through best practices and understanding of new tools. Less than a year into his role, his team has already conducted the largest training series in their entire team’s history!

He has also supported the development and implementation of strategies to advance the statewide public policy agenda for other national civil rights organizations and has been named Inland Empire’s 30 Under 30 and a Latino Heritage Month Leader by Congresswoman Norma Torres. 

Adán is serving the marginalized communities by organizing resources in a way that empowers and includes all voices. By actively advocating for others, he is boldly paving a path for future generations.

Thank you, Adán for recognizing the inherent potential within all people and using your time and talents to further that. You are actively changing our social, political and economic landscape with your commitment to those who are underrepresented. By assuring that everyone is not only accounted for but has access to opportunity, you are a beacon of light for many.



Read more Changemaker profiles here and apply for the 2022 Junior Summer Institute here!