Javier Valdes is a left-of-center operative working as the U.S. director of civic engagement and government at the Ford Foundation. He is the former head of Make the Road New York and Make the Road Action.
Valdes has been credited with limiting the enforcement of federal immigration laws in New York City and helping to create the most widely distributed municipal identification card in the United States.  He has also served in numerous key advisory roles in New York City and was a member of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force’s Immigration Team.
After graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in international studies and environmental design, Javier Valdes volunteered with the U.S. Peace Corps in Guatemala. He then served as director of information technology at the Federacion de Municipos del Istmo Centroamericano for a year where he built a virtual teaching tool for local governments. Valdes then attended New York University for a master’s degree in urban planning. While at school, Valdes interned at the United Nations Capital Development Fund.  
From 2002 to 2004, Valdes was a consultant for the United Nations Capital Development Fund. 
In 2004, Valdes worked as a program officer at the Synergos Institute, a hub for major philanthropic foundations. From 2005 to 2008, Valdes served in numerous roles at the New York Immigration Coalition, ending as director of advocacy. 
Make the Road
In 2009, Javier Valdes became deputy director of Make the Road New York, an immigrant organizing group with ties to labor unions and the city government. In 2012, he became co-executive director of Make the Road New York and Make the Road Action, and would remain in the roles until 2021. Since then, Valdes has worked as U.S. director of civic engagement and government for the Ford Foundation. 
At Make the Road, Valdes helped pass the New York State DREAM Act, which expanded access for illegal immigrants to state grants and scholarships. He expanded the organization into New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.  He ran a successful campaign to pressure JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and the New York Pension Fund to divest from private prison companies, which operate most illegal immigrant detention facilities. 
In 2017, Valdes launched a program to train illegal immigrants on how to respond to encounters with U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agents. 
Under Valdes, Make the Road played a key role in passing a 2019 New York state bill that permitted illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. 
While working at Make the Road, Javier Valdes served numerous advisory roles in New York City. From 2013 to 2021, Valdes served as secretary of the Working Families Party in New York State. In 2013, Valdes was a member of New York Mayor Bill De Blasio’s (D) transition team for housing, and the transition team for New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D). 
In 2015, Valdes was a member of the New York City Council’s Task Force for Economic Development Tax Expenditures, and the state’s Workforce Exploitation and Abuse Task Force. 
In the summer of 2020, Valdes was a member of Mayor De Blasio’s Task Force for School Reopening. 
Valdes was been a member of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force’s Immigration Team. 
Javier Valdes has sat on the boards of the Center for Popular Democracy, Popular Democracy in Action, the Action Lab, the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement, Movement of Immigrants of America, and the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development.