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In 2019, driven by a deep concern for our community's future, Founder Candace Leos Valdepena embarked on a mission to make a difference. Recognizing the pressing issues within our local infrastructure, Candace took it upon herself to become well-versed in the intricacies of local politics. Her journey began with extensive research, active participation in council meetings, and heartfelt conversations with fellow residents. It quickly became evident that the challenges facing Compton were deeply rooted, spanning decades of history and governance. These issues were often passed down from one administration to the next, perpetuating a cycle of neglect.


Fueled by a passion for positive change, Candace realized that the time had come to break this cycle of stagnation and adversity. Armed with the belief that transformation begins from within, she founded Compton Advocates. Our organization stands as a beacon of hope, dedicated to unwaveringly engaging, educating, activating, and empowering every member of our community. We firmly believe that by arming individuals with knowledge and encouraging active participation, we can collectively redefine the trajectory of Compton.


At Compton Advocates, we firmly hold the conviction that changing the narrative starts with a united effort. We are committed to fostering productive relationships with our elected officials, working collaboratively to address the pressing concerns of our city. By creating a platform for open dialogue and constructive engagement, we aim to bridge the gap between governance and the governed. We understand that a healthy community is the cornerstone of progress, and we're dedicated to laying that foundation through our tireless advocacy efforts.


The question isn't whether change is possible—it's whether you're ready to be a part of it. Join us in shaping the future of Compton. Become a catalyst for transformation, an advocate for progress, and a voice that can no longer be ignored. Whether you're a long-time resident or new to the community, your involvement matters. Together, we can overcome the challenges of the past and create a vibrant, thriving Compton for generations to come.

Connect with Compton Advocates today and be a force for change. Together, we are Compton's advocates for a brighter tomorrow.



Candace Leos Valdepena 

Founder & Executive Director


Candace Leos is a proud Compton native. Growing up, she witnessed the devastating impact that drugs and gangs had on her city. In 2019, she began studying local government, holding community meetings, attending Council Meetings, and got to know her elected officials. She found her purpose and it was to be a community advocate. 


She formed Compton Advocates Coalition in 2019, serves as the Women’s Commission Chair for the 64th Assembly District, Chair for the City of Compton’s Homeless Task Force subcommittee for Housing Development Opportunities and serves on the Board for Alma Backyard Farms. She was a speaker at TEDx Compton Blvd Women in 2020 and is a student at Pacific Oaks University, majoring in Community Psychology.



Veronica Clanton-Higgins

Associate Director


Veronica Clanton-Higgins, CEO of VCH Prosperity Consulting, created the Compton Wellness Collective (CWC) in order to increase the amount of people that she was able to provide socio-emotional wellness services to. She recognized that living in a pandemic was having a profound impact on community residents. It is important to Veronica that culturally appropriate services are provided by individuals from the community.

Veronica is a Registered Associate Clinical Social Work, providing clinical services as a therapist for Chapman University. She received her Bachelors in Sociology, with a minor in Psychology, from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Currently, she is completing her PhD in Clinical Sexology. Trained in various modalities, Veronica uses an eclectic approach to clinical care which includes mindfulness-based therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and trauma-focused interventions. She specializes in intersectionality related issues, anxiety, depression, sexual issues, PTSD, and stress-related disorders. As a certified life and sexuality coach, Veronica uses her skills to help clients with improving self-care, increasing self-esteem, and setting appropriate boundaries.

As a community activist and advocate, Veronica serves as Associate Director of the Compton Advocates Coalition, Board Member for the Compton Girls Club, a member of the CA 64th Assembly District Women's Commission, and a community collaborator with the Yetunde Resource Center. She previously served on several School Site councils, Parent Teacher Associations, and African American Parent committees throughout Compton Unified School District. Veronica created TEDxComptonBlvd and the Intentional Healing Podcast to amplify the voices of Compton folx in order to change the narrative of how people view Compton residents. She recently received the Compton Champion award from the City of Compton and the Women's Leadership award from the California State Assembly, 64th District. Veronica is dedicated to improving the mental health and socio-emotional wellness of her community, and utilizes all of her skills to do so.

Mercedes Flores 

Secretary | Compliance


Mercedes is a Compton native and first-generation college graduate. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Family Life Education and a Master’s degree in Recreation Administration, both degrees from California State University Long Beach.

Mercedes currently works as an Instructor/Facilitator for Project HEARTS (Healthy Exploration of Adolescent Relationships Training and Strategies) at EntreNous Youth Empowerment Services teaching a Healthy Relationships curriculum to youth between the ages of 14 and 19. 

As a community leader, Mercedes serves as the Secretary of Compton Advocates, a member of the CA 64th Assembly District Women's Commission, was the recipient of the 2019 Positive Coach of the Year Award through the Dodgers RBI program and Positive Coaching Alliance, and was a speaker for TEDxComptonBlvd Women, Fearless. You can find her TED talk, “It Takes A Community,” on YouTube. 

 In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband, going to concerts, spending time with family, and visiting Universal Studios as an Annual Pass Member. 



Iliana Rodriguez  

Director, Communications


Iliana Rodriguez provides communications support for Compton Advocates. She currently works as a Communications manager and holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration from California State University, Long Beach. 

In her free time Iliana enjoys volunteering, practices roller-skating, and enjoys spending time with her family.

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