National Public Elected Official of The Year

Council Member Vanessa Fuentes

Vanessa FuentesVanessa Fuentes is the proud representative of District 2 on the Austin City Council, which includes the diverse neighborhoods of Dove Springs, Del Valle, Pleasant Hill, Dittmar, Easton Park, and Goodnight Ranch. It also encompasses Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Circuit of the Americas and McKinney Falls State Park.

It has been noted by one of her endorsers, that Councilwoman Fuentes is dedicated to service and is a leader who models integrity. Through her leadership she has advanced public policy that addresses the needs of vulnerable populations. Since taking office in 2021, Councilwoman Fuentes has fought for improved health and livability, affordability, creative arts, and quality of life for her constituents. In addition to tackling these community challenges, she has advocated for health equity as Chair of the Public Health Committee by sponsoring legislation on displacement prevention, reproductive justice, community health workers, vaccine distribution, mental health services, and healthy food access.

Born and raised in Central Texas to an immigrant mother from Mexico and military veteran father, Councilwoman Fuentes understands the unique challenges her District 2 communities face. Since the beginning of her career in the public sector as a legislative aide, she has focused on criminal policy reform, to healthcare advocacy and policy, and has demonstrated her passion and commitment to advocating for healthy communities and racial justice.

Councilwoman Fuentes has also focused on economic justice. She introduced and passed legislation to increase the living (minimum) wage for City Employees (Austin, TX) to $20/hr. Additionally, she is also ensuring that the littlest Austinites have a strong start in life by expanding access to childcare and dual-language, and full-day pre-K for families in the eastern crescent. She also ensured that library cards were made available at no cost to all youth in Travis County.

Being committed to environmental justice and understanding the impact of climate disasters on marginalized communities that often bear the brunt of climate change, Councilwoman Fuentes co-sponsored the implementation of the Austin Climate Equity Plan with a special emphasis on building resilient communities. Her efforts include connecting residents with affordable flood mitigation opportunities. Following a major ice storm in 2023, she immediately sought the passage of a policy to start the analysis of burying power lines in city-funded projects.

Councilwoman Fuentes is Chair of the Public Health Committee and the Community Advancement Network Board of Directors. She is also serves as a committee member of Audit and Finance, Mobility, and the CAMPO Transit Policy Board. 

NASW proudly recognizes Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes as the recipient of the National Public Elected Official of The Year Award for her advocacy and for demonstrating social work values.