Donald De Leon was chosen for the award over seven other finalists. The annual award, presented by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, honors young Catholics who demonstrate leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States.
The Catholic Campaign is a national program of the U.S. bishops’ conference that provides grants to community-based, self-help groups that are addressing the root causes of poverty.
De Leon has staffed the Interfaith Council on Religions, Race, Economic and Social Justice in San Jose, California, since 2002.
In that capacity, he has been involved in numerous campaigns to support workers and their rights, including Justice for Janitors 2003 (healthcare benefits); the Truth Commission (2004) for Cintas workers (low wages, on-the-job injuries); and the Grocery Workers Campaign (2003-2004) (health care).
De Leon holds an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame. He received a master’s degree in theological studies in 2002 from the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley. Born to Filipino parents, De Leon’s first language was Tagalog.