Daniel Leon



Location: Sanford, FL, United States

    Issues Areas:
  • Economic Justice

Campus: Seminole State College - Sanford, FL

Fellowship Class Year: 2010

Blueprint: Move Your Feet, Feed the Need

Daniel's Blueprint, Move Your Feet, Feed the Need, addresses the problem of domestic poverty in the United States. By identifying that the structures, practices, and policies that contribute to the institutionalization of this problem are a lack of jobs, systematic issues with class, lack of a proper education, and increasing standards in job opportunities, Move Your Feet, Feed the Need embraced the arts community to provide relief to those in need of meal while also advocating domestic poverty alleviation in the United States. Through dance, music, theater, and visual arts, Move Your Feed, Feed the Need was able to fund the feeding of many mouths while taking a slightly different approach to a problem societies have faced for centuries.

Featured Fellow Spotlight

What do you stand for?

I stand for justice and equality. I believe that when the citizens of our communities and our nation are treated equally we will be able to build to provide justice for the citizens of the world.

I care deeply about poverty alleviation and education. I believe that it’s a cyclical situation: poverty tends to lend to access to poor educational institutions and those who receive a better education are usually able to better themselves financially.


And how did you come to YP4?

In 2010 I was a member of the Clinton Global Initiative University(CGIU) and during the conference at the University of Miami I met Rebecca Thompson, Director,  and Sakeena Gohagen, Fellowship Associate & 2009 Alumnus. It was actually one of the few tables I stopped at during our networking section! Little did I know that moment would eventually change my life.


What has been your greatest achievement so far?

My greatest achievement thus far has been organizing and completing my blueprint for social justice “Move Your Feet, Feed the Need.” The development of this project began with CGIU but I was able to expand it thanks to all the skills and resources that I received from YP4.


What motivates you?

Being an immigrant in this country my family and myself  had to face various struggles get where we are today. I get energy from seeing social justice in action. Just as YP4 believes, I truly believe that to create change we must enact the younger generations and make them aware that change is necessary.


Is there someone you’ve met or worked with that’s really inspired you?

There are so many people that continuously inspire me through my life, but I can say that there are a few that have made a significant change in me.

First would be my professor, mentor, and friend Marisabel Irizarry. She helped me fight for what I believed in on my campus and showed me that I could make a change. It is because of her that I kept my faith in our education system, knowing that there are teachers that realize that the students must come first.

Secondly would be my amazing YP4 mentor Sakeena Gohagen. She helped develop me into the leader I am today. She challenged me to become a better listener and focused my passion. Sakeena will always  tell me when I do something wrong in a way that few people are willing to do. I hope she knows she has been assigned as my mentor for life.

Finally I would say my mother has been a huge inspiration. It is her struggles that helped me come to this work. Her determination and willingness to make a change for her community modeled for me what a good leader should look like. She is the love of my life and it is because of her that I do this work.


What is your one main life goal that you want to accomplish? (What is your vision for the world?)

I want to develop other leaders to make a change in this world. I know that providing people with the resources to make their own change is one of the biggest changes you can make in this world. I want to create a network of leaders that continue growing as the years progress to make a true change in our world. So basically, I would like to become the Director of YP4 someday.


Tell me about your work.

Although all the work I do it important for me, the most important was my blueprint for social justice, “Move Your Feet, Feed the Need.” Through this project I was able to use the arts to create a direct service for non-profit organizations that focus on poverty alleviation. As a part of my project I taught various dance classes on my campus and asked that the attendees bring clothes, canned foods, or money depending on the day. I also organized concerts whose profits went directly to my project and thus directly to the non –profit organization I provided help to.

The work above is just the beginning of the various changes I hope to make not only in my community but in the world we all live in.

This last year I was able to organize and develop a seminar series about privacy rights in the United States at Seminole State College of Florida. The series brought together experts to speak about constitutional, academic, workplace, and personal privacy.

As a finale to the series we brought progressive leader Daniel Ellsberg to come speak about the displacement privacy rights as an avenue to create a social justice in our society.

More recently, after meeting YP4 Fellow Luisa Santos the summer of 2010, I became involved in work around education access for immigrants.


What is a struggle that you’ve faced or are facing in your work?

I hope to use the arts to make a change in this world. I am often challenged about my approach to this work and how it makes a difference in the community. It often feels that what we’re working to overcome is overwhelming and that the change you are trying to make is very small. I’ve come to realize how much power this work truly holds.


What advice do you have for others dealing with those struggles?

Use the push back you receive as inspiration and motivation for your work. Learn to stay positive and don’t let the negativity wear you down or affect your work. Stay calm and rely on self-sustainability & care.


How can other fellows get involved or find more information about the work you’re doing?

I would advise you all to get involved with YP4 as a Fellow or reengaged with the network as an alumnus. This organization is making a tremendous change in our world by developing amazing leaders that are willing to fight for social justice. If you are not a fellow – please consider applying to what was, for me, a life changing experience. If you are a current or past Fellow you should get involved in the YP4 Alumni network and help create a community of resources to build a stronger progressive community.


What advice would you give to the incoming class of Fellows?

As a recent graduate of the YP4 2010 Fellowship Class. When you attend the conferences: come with open ears and willing to put into practice all the information you learn. You will be surprised at the connections between the issues and how easily you could help each other in your work.


Is there anything else that you want to say?

I would have never thought that becoming a part of YP4 would make such a major change in my life. It is because of YP4 that I have come to realize what I want as a career, which is to do leadership development work at a non-profit. I received the most amazing support from all the fellows and staff members and can truly say that YP4 has been a true determining factor in my life. THANK YOU ALL for everything that you have done to create such a change in me.