Mercedes Elizalde was born and raised in Hayward California, a small city in the San Francisco Bay Area near Oakland California. She relocated to Seattle in October of 2010. Mercedes was the first in her family to gain a bachelor’s degree and earn a master’s degree. She carried a passion for social justice, equal opportunity and compassion throughout her life.
Mercedes started working when she was 14 as a peer educator and summer camp counselor. Later during college she started working as an after school program youth leader and eventually went on to run an after school program with the same organization. Mercedes was drawn to youth development work because of the great benefits she gained from the inspiring youth leaders who took an interest in her. Mercedes will be the first to tell you, the youth leaders from her childhood where the people that led her to the path that would lead to her own stability and success.
After successfully building an after school program for over 150 children with a dozen staff and volunteers in Oakland, CA, Mercedes decided to try a new adventure and moved to Seattle, WA. In Seattle, Mercedes continued her work with direct service organizations.
It was during this time she began volunteering with advocacy based organizations and developed a strong desire to address systemic causes of poverty and inequity through policy engagement.
This passion continued to grow and culminated in Mercedes running for the Seattle City Council in 2015. Although her bid for election was not successful, she was offered a job with one of the newly elected councilmembers. Mercedes is now the Policy and Engagement Strategist for Councilmember Debora Juarez. In this position Mercedes has been able to combine her passions for direct service, community engagement and addressing root causes of social issues through public policy.