Alex Mabanta is a double major in Political Science and Rhetoric and minor in Human Rights from Saratoga, California. With a huge passion for Berkeley, both the university and the city, he splits his time between class and City Hall on a mission to "bring human rights home."
At age nineteen Alex was appointed to the Peace and Justice Commission, a legislative body charged with crafting human rights ordinances for the city of Berkeley. As the youngest commissioner in the city’s history, together with law professors and disability stakeholders he crafted a law to enable Berkeley to observe the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The law passed unanimously. Today Alex serves as Berkeley’s Vice Chair of the Peace and Justice Commission, monitoring the smooth execution of this innovative bill by government agencies. This work ensures that Berkeley remains at the forefront for protecting the rights and dignities of the disabled.
On campus, Alex directs the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, training 70 Berkeley students each fall as IRS-certified tax agents. In the spring, the students provide pro-bono tax assistance to low-income families across the San Francisco Bay Area, a service that saves the region hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Over the past two years, Alex has expanded the student directed organization from Berkeley and Oakland to San Francisco and Merced – it is now the largest volunteer tax assistance network in Northern California. Leading this organization inspired Alex to found the Financial Literacy and Economic Justice Conference, the first campus-wide student-organized and student-oriented financial literacy conference of its kind. The conference is the 2015 winner of the Big Ideas contest and its inaugural run will take place in April of 2016.
Together, Alex is drawn to public service and empowering people. Through advocacy in the city and mentorship of fellow students, he hopes to play a role in cultivating the next generation of Berkeleyans — in every sense of the word.