Michelle Castillo is the Deputy Director for the Children’s Defense Fund – Texas, where she supports the organizational growth, development, and management of the Texas office. She guides the strategic campaigns for our health care, immigration, and youth civic engagement teams to partner with Texas families and children in transforming Texas to care for, center, and serve all of our children.
Before rejoining the CDF-TX team, she was the Chief of Staff for Texas State Rep. James Talarico where she built and managed a team whose legislative victories included capping insulin copays and enacting historic early childhood legislation such as the creation of the first Early Childhood Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives. Under Michelle’s leadership, Rep. Talarico’s team put the first limits on pre-K class sizes in Texas history, passed legislation to give all incarcerated minors a full high school education, fought classroom censorship legislation, introduced ambitious climate justice legislation, and freed millions of state dollars for social-emotional learning programs in Texas schools.
Prior to her time at the Texas Capitol, Michelle started the youth engagement work of CDF-TX by building a base of young people, providing training and guidance to affect the state legislative process on issues like common-sense gun reform, health care, voting access, and ending family detention and separation. Michelle has worked in the White House, Texas Senate, and returns to CDF-TX with vast experience in leading and executing statewide-advocacy campaigns for public education, voting rights, immigrant justice, and health care. She has previously served as Deputy Director of Advocacy at the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) where she led efforts to create a free resource hub for educators and students to access culturally-sustaining lesson plans and tools for the accurate teaching of history and to combat classroom censorship policies. While at Young Invincibles, a nonprofit advocacy group for Millennials, she was the Southern Policy Director and led the development of the regional office’s state legislative and policy advocacy strategy to improve higher education, healthcare, and economic opportunity for young Texans.
Michelle is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University. She lives in Austin with her partner, Emmanuel, and daughter, Eleanor, where they like to search for bichos and shaded playscapes.