Vanessa Gonzalez is the associate director of Work and Family Advocacy at American Progress. In this role, she has the opportunity to bridge the intersections of policy and advocacy between early childhood and CAP’s Women’s Initiative, focusing on the areas of child care and paid family leave.

Vanessa most recently served as the director of outreach and engagement in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs for the U.S. Department of Education. While there, she helped to promote an agenda of excellence in education for all students, through access and equity with Members of Congress and their staff. Vanessa has first-hand experience and expertise at the national level on key issues that affect underrepresented communities. These experiences have helped Vanessa make informed decisions that have a positive impact on students and families across the country.

Prior to serving in the Obama administration, Vanessa was director of Latino leadership and engagement for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She also served as a key adviser for programs and affiliates nationwide, providing technical assistance in localized efforts to engage Latino communities across the country. Notably, Vanessa also helped lead the creation of the Raiz Program—Planned Parenthood’s Latino community organizing program in the Southwest that helps to build a pipeline of paid Latino organizers working to amplify their voices locally in key issues and campaigns.

Vanessa received her undergraduate degree from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. She earned her master’s in social work and public administration from Arizona State University.