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San Rafael education, career development director named among North Bay Forty Under 40

April 25, 2023

By North Bay Business Journal| Order Article Reprint

Air Gallegos, 35, education and career development director for Canal Alliance in San Rafael, is a 2023 North Bay Business Journal Forty Under 40 Award winner. The winners will be recognized Tuesday, April 25 at an event from four to 6 p.m. at Saralee and Richards Barn at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.

Air Gallegos has a deep love for animals, but when she realized being a veterinarian wasn’t a career option, she turned her passion to social justice, community and education.

Ultimately, that decision led to her role as director of Education and Career at Canal Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the low-income Latino immigrant community in Marin County through youth and adult education and workforce development services.

Gallegos believes the key to social transformation lies at the intersection of education, healing, and justice.

“At this age, I feel uniquely positioned to see and appreciate that leadership spans ages; I can see powerful leadership in youth I work with and in my elders,” she said. “Leadership and wisdom, for me, transcend age.”

Gallegos added that the biggest challenge and accomplishment of her career, thus far, has been serving in a leadership role during the difficulties and uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic forever changed my leadership (style). It pulled forward and out what has always existed within me but was quieter: integrity, justice, advocacy and adaptability,” she said. “The last two years have been an incredible practice in change and have pushed me to stay true to myself and the community I work in partnership with, while holding the dream of a more just future.”

In a business sense, what is the greatest thing about being under 40; and then what is the worst?

“I suppose one of the challenges I have encountered is ageism; it is true that not everyone I encounter is able to recognize the wisdom inherent in each of us,” Gallegos said.

What’s the one thing you want to accomplish by the time you turn 40?

“My goal is to balance my professional life and my family life, making wellness and equity work central.”

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