Meet the 2022 Champions of Change | Rising Star of the Year Nominees

2022 Champions of Change Rising Star of the Year Nominees

Christina Bryant
Senior Program Coordinator, John L. Warfield Center
University of Texas

Christina L. Bryant loves to work with organizations whose missions align with her values: joy, support, and representation for communities of color. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Cinema and Photography from Ithaca College. Christina found a welcoming new home in Austin, where she gained valuable experience in project management and community outreach through the nonprofit world. She currently serves as a Senior Program Coordinator for the John L. Warfield Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Christina is an active volunteer with local organizations including Hearts 2 Heal, Austin Area Urban League Young Professionals (AAULYP), Fearless Leadership Institute (FLI) at UT Austin, Central Texas Food Bank, and Austin Film Society. She is an Austin Under 40 Awards 2021 finalist in the Youth and Education category. Her conference panel proposal on Black women in higher education navigating racism, sexism, and COVID-19 was recently accepted for SXSW EDU 2022.

Ashley Cheng
Rouser & Asian Texans for Justice

Ashley Cheng grew up in Austin, on the floor of her parents’ Chinese restaurants. Today, she leads Asian Texans for Justice, recently formed to mobilize and embolden the state’s diverse Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community to unite, train future leaders, and build solidarity across communities to advance equity, social justice, and civil rights for all. A typical Aquarius and Aries rising, she’s the co-founder of Rouser, a creative civic engagement company named a 2019 Organization of the Year by the Travis County Democratic Party. In 2020, she was ​the TCDP Anne McAfee Rising Star and a Tribeza Magazine Person of the Year, along with a 2021 Austin Under 40 finalist. She co-hosts The Rabble, a Texas politics podcast leaving a trail of cupcake crumbs to the pearly gates of civic engagement. While she pursues her masters in social work from the University of Texas at Austin, she serves as an elected Democratic National Committee member and beloved dog mom to Eleanor Roooosevelt.

Antony Jackson
Founder & CEO
We Can Now

Antony Jackson Sr. is the founder of We Can Now a Black Led Non profit geared towards restoring our people and communities. Growing up in East Austin (Rosewood Projects) he experienced the many levels of poverty, homelessness, lack of resources and opportunities, single parent household and unhealthy foods. Instead of complaining and blaming others, he often asked himself how he could make a difference? His very own experiences lead him to creating We Can Now, an organization that services the homeless population, youth, families in poverty, and building a felons program.

Monica Maldonado
MAS Cultura

Monica Maldonado is the founder of MAS Cultura, a nonprofit organization. MAS Cultura celebrates and advocates for the Music, Art, and Soul in underserved neighborhoods and we strive to create opportunities for underrepresented artists. Raised in South Austin by a single, undocumented, immigrant mother, Monica’s inspiration is fueled by early childhood struggles. As an Austin native, she has witnessed the city’s growth. It’s both her struggle and understanding of gentrification that drives her passion for culture preservation. All her efforts have been driven by the belief that art helps us remember who we are and unifies people. Her vision is to support and honor the Latino community, and that our stories should be reflected throughout our neighborhoods and city.

Rocio Villalobos
City of Austin Equity & Inclusion Program Manager & Blogger at Xicana Explorer

Rocío Villalobos is a Xicana Indigenous woman born and raised in East Austin whose transnational childhood shaped her understanding of community, family, migration, inequities, and borders. For over 15 years, Rocío has been involved in social justice work in Austin, covering education, immigration, and the outdoors/environment. For a number of years, Rocío coordinated a visitation program for Grassroots Leadership to the T. Don Hutto detention center ​where asylum-seeking women were being held. Most recently, Rocío managed the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin at Westcave, where she focused on racial equity and youth leadership development in the outdoors. Rocío received her B.S. in Applied Learning and Development and M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Cultural Studies in Education from the University of Texas at Austin. She volunteers her time as a Mentor with Explore Austin, and as a board member with Ecology Action of Texas.​