Ximena Villa is a freshman at White Station High School in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the former co-chair and founder of the MICAH Youth Council, a youth-led organization dedicated to three main issues in Memphis: police and community relationships, environmental justice, and access to opportunities. Currently, the police and community relationships team is working hard on getting youth voices heard on the search for the next director of police, and holding Mayor Strickland to his past promises to do so. Other efforts include interviewing police officers to establish relationships, getting to know the police department on a more intimate level, planning town halls to speak up about youth injustice in the criminal justice system, holding forums speaking about the importance of nonviolence, and more. The environmental justice team is working on blocking the Byhalia pipeline, a pipeline that can damage the aquifer and is located strictly through predominantly black neighborhoods. In the past, this team has also partnered with various other organizations to hold forums speaking to the importance of environmental justice. Access to opportunities is working with teachers and the larger MICAH network to undermine a bill that discriminates against transgender students, as the nonprofit’s mission is always to promote equity in all spaces. Ximena is also currently a member of a design committee formed by Seeding Success to improve social and economic outcomes for residents who have historically been under-resourced and systemically disenfranchised. Participation in both of these especially means a lot to Ximena and has helped her grow as a person on a personal, professional, and academic level. As the proud Mexican daughter of activist immigrants, she has always believed in the equality of people and the equity that should be perpetuated by the systems put in place and she hopes to keep doing things like this for the rest of her life.
2021 – TENNESSEE (MEMPHIS REGION)