Community Development, City of Des Moines
Johnny is the epitome of “actions speak louder than words.” Johnny does not take the conventional approach to advocacy: he doesn’t do social justice work in social justice spaces. He doesn’t preach to the choir. Johnny goes beyond the traditional spaces of advocacy, and focuses instead on creating spaces for people in places where they are not typically seen. He looks at transit equity, community development and planning, language access, and access to institutional processes, as spaces where consideration for people of different backgrounds does not exist.
Johnny was also a fellow of the New Leaders Council Des Moines Chapter, after which he joined their board to ensure the recruitment efforts were targeting communities who would otherwise not have access to leadership development. He also became a board member of the Bicycle Collective, now the Street Collective of Greater Des Moines, to advocate for access to alternative forms of transportation, as well as sidewalk equity and transit safety. He has participated in events with Al Exito youth, ensuring that first-generation students have the necessary support to succeed in applying for and attending higher education institutions. Johnny also volunteers with the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission and is active in the Refugee and Immigrant Advisory Subcommittee.
Johnny immigrated to the United States from Ecuador when he was a teenager. He moved to Iowa from New Jersey to attend ISU and graduated with a BS and a Master’s degree. Johnny remained in Iowa to apply his knowledge, skills, and background to ensure the opportunity to thrive for all members of historically marginalized groups, with a focus on the Latinx immigrant community.