Youth Changemaker: Adam Lopez Falk

"Staying true to his roots and giving back to his community, Adam demonstrates a young person who benefits from the system and turns around to give the next generation a hand—that's true leadership."


- The Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council

Adam Lopez Falk is a fifth-generation Arizonan who is committed to community service. Through his leadership work on numerous boards, committees and initiatives in Phoenix, AZ, Adam has worked to improve access to education for all students regardless of economic background or national origin.

As a student in the diverse Phoenix community, Adam was a first-hand witness to the growing number of students becoming disaffected and disengaging from the educational system. He decided that he needed to be part of the solution—not just stand back and watch it happen.

In recent years, the Arizona Legislature cut nearly 4 billion dollars from the education system. These cuts prevented the expansion of education programing, led  community schools to close and made it harder for Arizona students to attend college. Adam felt like he was watching as the public education system crumbled around him and his classmates.

So, at the age 19, Adam ran for and successfully won a seat as a governing board member of the Alhambra Elementary School District in Phoenix, Arizona in 2008. He was re-elected in 2012 and continues to dedicate his energies to elevating the voices and needs of students and parents.

"The community I represent is a blue collar area, one that is often overlooked by politicians and bureaucrats alike," Adam says. "I believe that education is the key for our students to become tomorrows leaders, and I wanted to dedicate myself to being a community representative in the process."

He has advocated for adequate education funding, a fair immigration process, and for greater citizen activism in the political process. Yet Adam says his proudest achievements are fundamental: being a fair, transparent, and accessible member of the governing board, and ensuring diverse voices are adequately represented.

A Family Matter

Young leaders take on positive change efforts in their community for all sorts of reasons. Adam’s motivation runs particularly deep. For him, it's a family matter: as a fifth-generation Arizonan, his family has been in the community for over 80 years. His family history in the area drives Adam's desire to provide local students with a quality education and safe environment in which to learn.

"My family history is very important to me," he says. "My mother's family came to what was then territorial Arizona over a 140 years ago, and have been in present day Phoenix for nearly as long. They've worked in the mines, on railroads, as laborers and artists. I am lucky enough to have deep roots in Arizona, and I strive to make a difference to honor them."

"Part of the reason I wanted to serve the community was to improve the state they loved so much," he adds.

A Force in Phoenix

"We are not just leaders of tomorrow—we are leaders of today and we deserve a chance to be heard."

In addition to his governing board duties, Adam serves as a member of the City of Phoenix General Plan (PlanPHX) leadership committee of the Alhambra Village Planning Committee. In this role, he has worked worked with other community stakeholders to implement education policy initiatives.

His leadership has been recognized by the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation and Pro's Ranch Market. In 2012, he was honored with the City of Phoenix Martin Luther King Jr. “Living the Dream” award for his commitment to making Phoenix a better place.

He is a passionate advocate for genuine youth input in decision-making. “It seems that today our federal and state leaders often justify their votes on an issue by saying they did it for their ‘children and grandchildren,” says Adam. “More often than not, they say these statements without actually consulting young people as to their feelings on the issue. It is high time that politicians take notice of the influence and intelligence of today's young people. Young people are not just leaders of tomorrow—we are leaders of today and we deserve a chance to make our voices heard."

“Adam serves as an inspiration to his friends and family, but most importantly to students who come from the same rough neighborhoods where he grew up,” says Adam’s friend Samuel Madrigal, who nominated him for the Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemakers.

On being named one of the winners, Adam says: “I am honored to be named one of SparkAction’s 24 under 24. SparkAction is an impressive organization doing important work for young people, and I am honored to be recognized by them on a national level. Even with all its flaws, I love my home state of Arizona and I am committed to continue working to make it a better place for all.”

This profile is one of the Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemakers, a series hosted by SparkAction and the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council to recognize young changemakers influencing policy and practice at the local, state and national levels.

The members of the youth-led Campaign chose the 24 youth who are featured in this series, from entries submitted by peers and mentors. Read about the selection process.

We’re always looking for more profiles of young people making a difference, so submit one of your own!

Alhambra Elementary School District