Julissa Arce is a best-selling author of "My (Underground) American Dream" ("Entre Las Sombras del Sueño Americano") and "Someone Like Me" ("Alguien Como Yo"). She was named one of People en Español’s 25 Most Powerful Women of 2017 and 2019 Woman of the Year by the City of Los Angeles. She is a leading voice in the fights for social justice, immigrant rights and education equality.
Julissa is a contributor for TIME, Buzzfeed News, Crooked Media, CNBC and one of the hosts of Crooked Conversations. Her book, "My Underground American Dream" is currently being developed as a television series with producer and actor America Ferrera.
Her commitment to education for all young people led her to co-create the Ascend Educational Fund (AEF) where she serves as chairwoman of the board. AEF is a college scholarship and mentorship program for immigrant students in New York City, regardless of their ethnicity, national original or immigration status. Since its founding in 2012, AEF has awarded over $500,000 in college scholarships.
Prior to becoming an advocate, she built a successful career on Wall Street working for Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, and had seemingly achieved the American Dream—yet she was not part of what defined American.
Julissa immigrated to America from Mexico at the age of 11 and was undocumented for almost 15 years, some of them spent rising to prominence on Wall Street. She made national and international headlines when she revealed that she had achieved the American Dream of wealth and status at Goldman Sachs while undocumented.
Julissa now uses her inspirational story to change the conversation around immigration. A sought after speaker and political commentator, she gives talks at college campuses across the nation and events such as Tedx, the White House Latino Policy Summit, the Democratic National Convention, Politicon and the Forbes Reinventing America Summit (alongside Nancy Pelosi, Jessica Alba, and Gayle King).
She has appeared on Oprah’s Book Club, CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC, NPR, Fox Business News, Telemundo, Bloomberg TV and Univision among other networks. Her writing has been published on TIME, The New York Times, Vogue, BuzzfeedCrooked, Media, Huffington Post, Fusion, CNN, CNN en Español, The Hill and Univision. She serves on the board of directors of the National Immigration Law Center.
She has received the Los Angeles Times Latinos de Hoy Emerging Leader Award, the NAHREP's Vanguard Award and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Inspira Award.
In August of 2014, Julissa was officially sworn in as an American citizen. Her story has a joyful ending and she fights so more people can say the same. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two cats, Nikko and Pancho.