Leonardo is a lifelong resident of the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago and has been working as a youth advocate over the last 14 years. He has held the roles as substance abuse counselor, street outreach counselor, youth court advocate and program consultant. Leonardo has been responsible for city-wide programming ranging from talent shows, IOP treatment, and life-readiness development programs. He has kept his grassroots approach to organizing as a staple to his work to ensure he’s aware of community concerns around critical issues like public safety. He has been a volunteer violence interrupter, helped establish treaties between local fractions to ensure peaceful summer events, and has co-founded the Peace In Pilsen initiative, along with others, to work towards actively curbing community violence.
The Peace In Pilsen initiative was awarded the 2022 Trauma Informed Care Champion Award from the Chicago Department of Public Health and was named 2022's Best Youth Initiative by Southside Weekly. Leonardo has worked alongside leading restorative justice leaders and professors across the city to establish new approaches to the current justice system, and re-imagining what public safety can be.