Jolt Staff

Jolt is led by Latinas who have fought, marched and organized for our community. We’ve come together to build a movement in Texas that has the power to win our community the respect we deserve. Combined, our team has over 30 years of experience organizing, advocating, and defending the Latino community.

Cristina Tzintzún, Executive Director

Cristina Tzintzun is a nationally recognized advocate and leader in the Latino community. She was named “Hero of the New South” by Southern Living Magazine and hailed by the New York Times for her success with Workers Defense Project (WDP). At just 24, Cristina co-founded WDP and helped pass half a dozen local and state laws to protect the rights of hundreds of thousands of workers, guaranteeing them higher wages and safer working conditions. Cristina was also named a “changemaker” by the Texas Observer, and her work has been featured on NPR, USA Today, Univision and MSNBC’s Up Late with Alec Baldwin. Cristina is the author of the book “Presente! Latino Immigrant Voices in the Struggle for Racial Justice” and other works on race, class and gender.

Tania Mejia, Communications Director

Tania Mejia is a communications professional with experience working in traditional and new media. Before joining Jolt, Tania worked as the State Deputy Digital Director for Hillary for America in Florida. She also served in the Obama Administration as a Press Officer at the U.S. Department of Labor and Deputy Press Secretary at the U.S. General Services Administration. Tania holds a BA from the University of Texas at Austin in Government and an MPA from American University.

Board of Directors

Kandace Vallejo, President

Kandace Vallejo is the Founding Director of Youth Rise Texas, and has dedicated her life’s work to supporting immigrant rights organizations like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Workers Defense Project. Vallejo holds a Masters in Education from the University of Texas at Austin and has been published in Global Policy TV, Waging Nonviolence, Edible Austin and in Be the Change: Teacher, Activist, Global Citizen and Uses of a Whirlwind.

William Rivas Rivas, Treasurer

William Rivas has 15 years of experience raising philanthropic support for progressive causes. Rivas started his nonprofit career at PETA, where he created the organization’s first Spanish-language campaign rallying Spanish-speakers worldwide around issues of sustainability and health. He later served as Director of Development and Philanthropic Gifts for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, managing a multi-million dollar fundraising program. Rivas is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Texas Humane Legislation Network, and serves on the Leadership Council for the Workers Defense Project. Rivas also provides development counsel to the Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard Law School and Reading Village. Rivas is a veteran and former U.S. Naval Officer.

Lesley Nowlin Blessing, Secretary

Lesley Nowlin Blessing is a renowned photographer and proud mom. Her career encompasses documentary photography, curatorial experience, and fine art photography. After earning her BFA in Photography from the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford in 2000, Lesley traveled the world to document the life and struggles of Latin American migrants and worked with progressive organizations to lift up their stories. Lesley has served on the board of Austin Center for Photography and is a long-time supporter of progressive organizations and causes.

Leadership Council

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood
Dr. Hector Ruiz, Advanced Nanotechnology
Frank I. Sanchez, Needmor Foundation
Sara Gould, Smith College
Dr. Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California
Nona Niland, Niland Foundation
Bonnie Mills, Mills Family Foundation
Carmen Rojas, Worker’s Lab
Julene Perez-Gonzalez, Hispanics in Philanthropy (formerly)