LBJ School honors outstanding graduates with 2020 alumni awards | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Recipients are YWCA CEO and President Alejandra Castillo and TNOYS Public Policy Director Lauren Rose

(AUSTIN) — Two public affairs graduates will be honored as outstanding alumni of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin on Monday, Dec. 14. Alejandra Castillo, a 1998 public affairs graduate and president and CEO of the YWCA, is the recipient of the school's highest alumni honor, the Distinguished Public Service Award (DPSA). Lauren Rose, a 2010 public affairs graduate and public policy director at the Texas Network of Youth Services, is the recipient of the Rising Leader Award (RLA).

The DPSA honors an alumnus whose career and public service record best represents the values on which the school was founded: action-oriented leadership, dedication to public service and courage. A self-proclaimed product of Head Start, Castillo has emerged in recent years as a high-profile national leader due in part to her dedication to and influence in expanding and creating opportunities for society's most vulnerable. As the first Hispanic-American woman to lead the Minority Business Development Agency she helped minority-owned firms obtain $15 billion in contracts and capital, creating or saving 33,000 jobs in the wake of the Great Recession. In her current role as president and CEO of the YWCA, Castillo leads its mission-driven work focusing on racial justice and civil rights, empowerment and economic advancement, and health and safety, serving over 2.2 million women through 205 associations with 12,500 staff members and 52,000 volunteers.

In Castillo's nomination letter, LBJ School Assistant Dean for Civic Engagement Victoria DeFrancesco Soto wrote, "Ms. Castillo's resume speaks for itself. However, what makes her a standout is her core grounding in being a servant leader. She is a successful and outstanding leader, yet at the same time a humble leader that wants to lift future leaders up."

Castillo has remained engaged with the LBJ School, having recently co-published research on COVID-19’s economic impact and served as keynote during the school’s 2019 Hispanic Heritage Month event.


"What makes Alejandra Castillo a standout is her core grounding in being a servant leader. She is a successful and outstanding leader, yet at the same time a humble leader that wants to lift future leaders up." — Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, LBJ assistant dean for civic engagement

Previous DPSA recipients include Fair Fight Action founder Stacey Abrams (2019), Austin Chamber of Commerce CEO Laura Huffman (2016), Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir (2002), and former Governor of Colorado Bill Owens (2000).

Rose is the recipient of the 2020 Rising Leader Award, which recognizes the efforts of a recent alumnus who improves the quality of public service in the United States and abroad at all levels of government and civic engagement. Rose has spent her career fighting for better outcomes for Texas children. As public policy director for a statewide network dedicated to strengthening services for Texas youth and families, more than 60 youth organizations rely on Rose for her critical analysis and expertise. In less than two years in this role, she has already made an impact. She led TNOYS's efforts to secure Texas’s first state appropriation specifically to support services for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. Rose also secured numerous pieces of legislation to support young people experiencing homelessness and foster care — notably working to launch and facilitate conversations regarding the ages that govern the way Texas youth are treated within the justice system. Her work to raise the age in Texas has sparked a growing movement nationally to make meaningful change for children involved in the justice system.

"Lauren is not afraid to have the tough conversations that bring opposing viewpoints together, which has resulted in better public policy for Texas and more favorable outcomes for Texas youth," wrote several of her classmates in the award nomination letter. "As Lauren's classmates and colleagues, we strongly believe that Lauren embodies the true spirit of LBJ, through not only words, but actions. Due to her steadfast dedication and commitment to positive change, vulnerable but resilient Texas youth have and will continue to have a more equitable shot at brighter futures."



"Lauren is not afraid to have the tough conversations that bring opposing viewpoints together, which has resulted in better public policy for Texas and more favorable outcomes for Texas youth." — Nomination letter

Previous RSA recipients include Pflugerville city councilmember and community advocate Rudy Metayer (2019), Policy Director of the Ronald Reagan Institute Rachel Hoff (2018), and President and CEO of the Dallas Foundation Matthew Randazzo (2017).

The LBJ School will honor Castillo and Rose during an invitation-only virtual ceremony on Monday, Dec. 14.