Silvia A. Canales

Betsy Hernandez


Since childhood, Silvia A. Canales has had an innate passion for helping her community. Her parents, both immigrants, believed in the transformative power of education, and while their expectations for Canales were high, the resources available to them were limited. Canales navigated much of the education system alone, “determined, persistent, and resilient to push through regardless of the obstacles faced and the mistakes made along the way,” she says. Her persistence paid off: she became the first in her family to earn a graduate degree. Now with over 30 years of experience as a cultural/ youth worker, Canales has elevated others in her community through education, wellness, and leadership development. She currently serves as the Director of College, Career & Wellness at The Brotherhood Sister Sol, a New York City-based youth organization where “Black and Latinx youth claim the power of their history, identity, and community to build the future they want.” Canales has created various programs that empower youth to challenge and address issues regarding race, culture, and sexism while supporting them in academics, social enrichment, and community involvement. Canales’ experiences and her multiple identities as a bisexual, first generation, Afro-Latina of Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage have made her a powerful and necessary leader within the social justice organization. Her commitment to her community and her passion for helping others make her an inspiring figure and a force for positive change. As she puts it, “¡Palante, siempre palante—mi gente!” (“Forward, always forward—my people!”)

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