Cristina Jiménez is Executive Director and Co-founder of United We Dream (UWD), the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country.
Growing up, Cristina always knew she was undocumented.
Originally from Quito, Ecuador, Cristina came to the United States at age 13. Her parents risked everything and fled poverty to give her family a better life here.
She grew up in Queens, New York, a place she still proudly calls home.
As an undocumented young person, Cristina and her family experienced poverty, abuse by police, wage theft from employers and fear of deportation.
From a young age, Cristina made a decision to fight back against unjust practices that plagued people of color and the immigrant community.
While in college, Cristina began organizing with other students. That’s when she found her voice, and realized immigrant youth have the power to transform this country by telling their own stories and developing their own political strategy.
Cristina’s work has helped change the national conversation on immigration and create a new youth-led model of social justice organizing and movement building.
Cristina was instrumental in organizing the successful national campaign that led to the creation and implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program (DACA) under President Obama. DACA is the most far-reaching and significant victory for immigrant communities in more than thirty years, and has enabled nearly a million immigrants to live without constant fear of deportation, go to school, pursue careers, and build stable lives here.
Under Cristina’s leadership, UWD has grown to a powerful network of 48 affiliates in 26 states and over 400,000 members.
The organization has supported and trained tens of thousands of immigrant youth leaders to find and express their voice, and inspired millions.
Ultimately, Cristina wants to transform the politics of the United States so that all people can thrive in this country and live without fear.
In October 2017, Cristina was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, also known as a “genius grant,” one of the highest and most prestigious honors that creative leaders can receive in the United States.
Cristina has received several other high-profile awards and honors while leading UWD. In 2014, she was named to Forbes’s “30 under 30 in Law and Policy;” She has also been named one of “40 under 40 Young Leaders Who are Solving Problems of Today and Tomorrow” by the Chronicle of Philanthropy; and one of “50 Fearless Women” by Cosmopolitan.
Prior to work at UWD, Cristina co-founded the New York State Youth Leadership Council, and the Dream Mentorship Program at Queens College. She also worked as an immigration policy analyst for the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and an immigrant rights organizer at Make the Road New York.
Cristina holds a master’s degree in Public Administration and Public Policy from the School of Public of Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY and graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. in Political Science and Business from Queens College, CUNY.
Cristina invites all people of conscience to join her and United We Dream in our youth-driven fight to pass a clean Dream Act and stop deportations. Text HereToStay to 877-877 to learn more!