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New Leaders Council
Meet Heroes at Villains Honoree Sara Hernandez 
Sara Hernandez, who helped found HYPE (Helping Young People Excel) Los Angeles five years ago to provide opportunities for low-income students, is already a seasoned activist and community leader. Sara is strongly committed to improving opportunity through grassroots efforts. She believes that if you change the trajectory of one student's life, you can in turn shape the development of that student's community. 
A lawyer by training, Sara didn't follow the typical path into the legal profession. Passionate about education reform from a young age, she taught English and History for three years at Johnnie Cochran Middle School in Mid-City before going to law school. But Sara has always been inspired by her parents, both of whom were lawyers active in the farmworkers' rights movement. She learned from them that the law could be a powerful tool for advocacy and for effecting change. 
 
If farmworkers' rights was the civil rights movement of her parent's generation, Sara sees educational inequity as the civil rights movement of hers. Growing up in rural Salinas and attending public schools, she saw some students with a lot of potential didn't have the educational opportunities available to students in higher-income areas. Her commitment to fighting educational inequity first led her into the classroom. Then, with three years of teaching experience under her belt, she formed HYPE with a group of other teachers, and, after law school, she was named the Los Angeles Regional Director of Policy and Advocacy for the California Charter Schools Association. 
 
More recently, Sara has expanded the scope of her advocacy work as Downtown Area Director and Special Counsel for Council Member Jose Huizar, where she has worked  on various projects to revitalize the downtown community, which included an international design competition she launched as part of Pershing Square Renew. Sara has been a resident of downtown for six years, and her involvement in the community has cultivated a personal interest in its transformation. She is encouraged by the changes she's seen such as the explosion of restaurants and entertainment and says it's become "a real urban environment." She's excited to play a role in its continuing development and to keep looking for opportunities to give back to her community.
 
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