Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Two Philadelphians Among National Champions of Change

modified press release:

On Friday, May 1st, the White House will honor “Champions of Change” that demonstrate how national service creates pathways to economic and employment opportunities. Through the longstanding AmeriCorps VISTA program and supporters of the Employers of National Service initiative, America is reaping the fruits of its commitment to national service.

Two Philadelphians are on this year's list:

Julia Hillengas, Philadelphia, PA
Julia began her career in city government as a SERVE Philadelphia AmeriCorps VISTA with the Mayor’s Office of Education, where she coordinated and grew the Graduation Coach Campaign. She has worked for more than a decade as an educator, coach, and community organizer through organizations such as YouthBuild Philadelphia, Fairmount Youth Soccer Association, and the YMCA of Philadelphia. Now as the City of Philadelphia's Deputy Service Officer, Julia builds national service and volunteer partnerships to increase impact across the city. She also manages PowerCorpsPHL, an innovative, new AmeriCorps program designed to address the city’s environmental stewardship, youth workforce development, and violence-prevention priorities. 

Brian Valdez, Philadelphia, PA
Brian Valdez served as an AmeriCorps VISTA from 2001-2003 in his home city of Philadelphia, PA. After a physical disability prevented him from joining the military, Brian saw VISTA as an opportunity to serve his country and the people of Philadelphia.  During his first VISTA term, Brian worked with administrators at various Philadelphia schools to address asthma triggers and other indoor environmental hazards that could negatively affect the health of students.  Brian then joined the National Nursing Centers Consortium (NNCC) where he served a second VISTA term. At NNCC, he helped to develop a plan to promote the growth and development of nurse practitioner-run health clinics serving medically underserved and uninsured patients around the country. After VISTA, Brian became a lawyer, passing the bar in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He continues to work with NNCC and its parent organization, Public Health Management Corporation. In 2014, Brian and a colleague founded Comunidades Philadelphia to increase funding for programs serving Latinos through community-driven philanthropy. 

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