My advice to girls: "If you want to pursue a career in an industry where you don't see someone that looks, talks, and thinks like YOU, be the FIRST one!"

Rising Star Award: A person who shows great promise for success and is growing quickly in importance in a particular field.

Cindy Villegas joined the NFF in March 2023 as the California Regional Development Coordinator. In this role, Cindy is enthusiastic about raising funds to support conservation, restoration, and preservation projects across California for the NFF through strategic partnerships and community engagement. 

Prior to working at the NFF, Cindy worked for the California State Assembly, Elizabeth Warren’s Presidential campaign, Florida State House races, and various nonprofit organizations, including TreePeople, the oldest and largest environmental movement in Southern California.

She joined the Board of Directors of the Latino of Los Angeles in 2019 and at age 22, Cindy became the youngest person and second Latina to serve as Board President of the organization. She continues to serve on the Board of Directors, where she leads fundraising efforts and the endorsement process. During the pandemic, she worked as the Public Affairs Coordinator for Shared Harvest, where she secured sponsorships to provide 15,000 free COVID-19 antibody tests and vaccines to Black and Brown uninsured and underinsured community members in Los Angeles County. 

Cindy brings her community organizing, fundraising, and cross-sector experience to the NFF. Her passion for the environment grew most when living among redwoods while obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in Politics from the University of California Santa Cruz. She currently lives in Los Angeles, enjoys challenging physical activities and solo hiking in Big Sur.