Juan Ardila is a lifelong Queens resident with a heart and soul for public service. As a first-generation American and New Yorker, the son of a Colombian father and Honduran-Cuban mother, Juan understands the hardships of working-class families in this city. Juan’s journey to public service started when the system failed him and his family.
When Juan was 17, his mother, Lesly, was unjustly denied her residency and nearly deported. A few years later, Juan’s grandmother, aunt, and young cousin faced persecution from gang violence in Honduras. Rather than lose hope, Juan resolved to channel the fear and trauma of almost losing his mother to deportation and his family to gang violence into a career of public service. That’s why Juan is committed to protecting other families and vulnerable communities so that no one has to face the fear he endured.
Juan is no stranger to public service. He worked as a staffer for Brad Lander in the New York City Council. There, Juan learned about the policy making process, how city government functions, and how to serve constituents. Juan then worked at the International Rescue Committee, providing at-risk communities the services his family had been denied.
One of Juan’s proudest achievements is helping institute one of the largest and most successful public education programs in the city’s history. As a consultant at the NYC Department of Education, Juan supported the expansion of universal pre-K and the historic 3-K for All program, working to ensure that New York City’s youngest learners had access to free high-quality education. In particular, Juan focused on the expansion of pre-K Dual Language programs to promote bilingualism throughout the city and serve children and families who speak languages other than English at home. That’s because education, especially early childhood education, is vital for setting up children for success and addressing socioeconomic inequality at its roots.
From the conference rooms of City Hall to the streets of Maspeth, Juan has dedicated himself to connecting people with the help and services they need. Most recently, Juan was at the Legal Aid Society, where he worked to ensure that New Yorkers have access to the legal representation they deserve for every issue that matters, from benefits, to disability, to employment.
Juan earned his B.A. in Political Science from Fordham University, and his master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Policy Analysis from NYU.