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  • Name: David Velazquez

    Job Title: Director, Education Business Coalitions, Smart Justice

    Company Name: UNITE-LA/Association of Chamber Executives

    Bio: David H Velázquez is an advocate for social justice. Born in Mexico, he immigrated to North Carolina as a child and endured many challenges as an undocumented immigrant growing up in the South. During that time, he developed a strong desire to see underprivileged youth succeed, pursue their dreams, and advance their education. Growing up in North Carolina, most of his childhood friends were originally from other big cities in the US. Their parents were looking to start a life in smaller towns where the threat of gang violence, drug use, and other social ills deemed more common in the big cities were not as prevalent. Unfortunately, these issues were already embedded in the experiences of many young people and the cycles of violence and drug use were often perpetuated in those smaller towns. He lost many friends to gun violence, gangs, and drug trafficking. He considers himself fortunate that he was able to escape the school to prison pipeline that plagues boys and men of color everywhere.

    Bio 2: David was the first in his family to go to college. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a Bachelor's in Business Administration, a Minor in Economics and a Certificate in Spanish for the Professions. However, after being involved in many advocacy student organizations, he saw the vast disparities among opportunities for immigrant children and children of color so he decided to change his professional track and focus on advocacy efforts. He spent seven years in Washington D.C. working on in different fields such as advocacy, government, and philanthropy. As Legislative Aide for Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez (a leader in Congress for social justice) he handled legislative issues such as healthcare, small business, and budgeting & appropriations, among others. As New Media Specialist, he coordinated his social media platform, one with the most followers of any other member of Congress.

    Bio 3: As a Policy Associate at the National Immigration Law Center, he educated bipartisan legislative staff about issues affecting the immigrant community. He served as a point of contact for national and international Spanish media, and worked with advocates on the border communities to address human rights issues. As Program Officer for TheDream.US, he was one of four staff members who helped manage the largest scholarship for DREAMers in the nation (over $100 million). He was able to work with organizations like the Gates Foundation and the Bezos Family foundation as well as dozens of colleges and universities nationwide to help undocumented youth obtain a college education. In his first year with the organization, David facilitated the enrollment of over 100 Dreamers to university and maintained a 100% retention rate throughout their first year.

    Bio 4: David has lived in Los Angeles since 2017 and now serves as Director of Education Business Coalitions and Smart Justice for UNITE-LA and the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). He works with chambers of commerce across the country to examine the ways that justice involved individuals can help local economies thrive. Within this work, there are opportunities for education, employment, mental health and addiction support, housing and social inclusion. Some of these strategies include corrections reform, diversion and prevention, justice reinvestment, Second Chance Hiring, Second Chance Pell, and community health and wellness.