Vanessa Hernandez, Director of Statewide Policy

As a child welfare advocate, Vanessa is most passionate about honoring the commitments made to underserved populations through practice, policy and legislative change.

Vanessa currently serves as California Youth Connection’s Director of Statewide Policy. California Youth Connection (CYC) is a youth led organization that creates positive impact on a local and statewide level to improve the Child Welfare System. Vanessa is responsible for shepherding the organization’s legislative package to actualization while developing youth into leaders who harness the power of their voices and experiences.

Before CYC, Vanessa worked for Riverside Department of Social Services where she worked alongside extended foster care youth, social workers and local policy makers. In that role, she helped implement extended foster care, supported transition age youth, developed trainings for child welfare professionals, mentored youth and collaborated on designing county-wide system improvement plans.

Vanessa is currently appointed to:

  • California Child Welfare Council (Secretary Diana Dooley-CA Health and Human Services Agency)
  • Keeping Kids in School and Out of Court Initiative (Chief Justice of CA Tani Cantil-Sakauye)
  • Student Mental Health Workgroup by Superintendent Tom Torlakson (CA Department of Education)  

Vanessa also serves as a steering committee member of Sacramento Latina Leaders Network, New Leaders Council Alumni and serves as the current curriculum co-chair for the Sacramento Chapter.