We’re thrilled to announce that Chandra Villanueva, previously one of our Senior Policy Analysts, is our new Program Director of the Economic Opportunity Team.
Chandra is widely acknowledged by lawmakers and education advocates as one of the state’s leading experts on school finance, which remains one of CPPP’s top policy priorities. In the past few years, Chandra has received an award for her legislative persistence, given invited testimony on multiple occasions, and built strong relationships with members of the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium (TEGAC) and other key allies.
“Chandra is a smart and talented leader who believes that all Texans should have a chance to succeed, regardless of their background or zip code,” said Ann Beeson, CEO of the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “She has the passion needed to fight for better policies and the strategic vision to get there.”
Chandra joined CPPP eight years ago as a State Policy Fellow, worked as a fiscal policy analyst with the Invest in Texas Team, and then joined the Economic Opportunity Team in 2014.
“My journey and my research are constant reminders that expanding opportunity is the key to empowering people,” Chandra said. “I am proud to lead a team that pushes for common-sense policies that allow all Texans to reach their full potential.”
Before joining CPPP, Chandra was the Manager of Advocacy and Public Policy at the Women’s Prison Association, where she led a team of full-time research associates. She has worked on a range of other public policy issues affecting low-income people as well, including food security, housing, and welfare.
Chandra’s passion for leading the Economic Opportunity Team is fueled by her own experience growing up in a low-income family, getting her GED after dropping out of high school, and benefiting from government programs that helped her succeed. She received her Master of Public Affairs degree from NYU’s Wagner School, and her undergraduate degree from Evergreen State College.
As Program Director of the Economic Opportunity Team, Chandra leads a three-person team that researches and promotes policies designed to expand economic opportunity for Texans from cradle to career, including:
- Well-funded public schools
- Quality education from pre-K through college
- Workforce development
- Living wages and economic mobility
- Asset building and financial security