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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 is a therapist, adjunct professor, certified life coach TEDxComptonBlvd Founder and CEO of VCH Prosperity Consulting. She is known for her community advocacy, including addressing the disparities in mental health care for black and brown communities. 

VCH Prosperity Consulting was created to ensure that people are provided the tools necessary to navigate the complexities of life, whether at home, in the community, or in the workplace. 

Veronica earned her Master's in Social Work from the University of Southern California and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Social Work. Trained in various modalities, Veronica specializes in intersectionality related issues, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and stress related disorders.

Mercedes Flores 

Secretary | Compliance

Mercedes Flores is a certified, provisional Family Life Educator, who works with youth and organizations to promote positivity, unity, and community engagement. She is a Compton native and first-generation college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Family Life Education. Mercedes is currently studying for her Master’s degree in Recreation Administration. 

In 2019, she received the Positive Coach of the Year award, as well as the Regional Double-Goal Coach award through Positive Coaching Alliance and Dodgers RBI Foundation. She was a TEDx Compton Blvd Women’s speaker in 2020 and serves Compton Advocates as the Secretary and Compliance Officer. 

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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