Sixto Cancel,
Founder & CEO

I believe that the fundamental architecture of the system must be redesigned, and that supports must be rooted in lived experience. Though many people succeed despite the system, it’s our job to create innovations that make this the rule rather than the exception.

Sixto Cancel

Sixto Cancel is a nationally recognized leader driving systems change in child welfare, working across tech, service delivery, research and data, and state and federal policy to improve outcomes for youth and families. He has a proven track record of mobilizing cross-sector partnerships and lived-expertise to drive effective innovation at the local, state, and federal levels to solve both entrenched and emergent challenges.

As CEO, Sixto is responsible for creating and leading organizational strategy to drive fundamental systems change in child welfare systems across the country. This includes advising state and federal government leaders and bodies to adopt best-practices and improve policies, partnering with private-sector providers and state agencies to design and build novel technological and practical solutions, creating and managing direct service programs to improve resource accessibility, and directing a research center innovating participatory research practices to address historical knowledge gaps. 

Sixto incorporated Think of Us in 2017 as a tech nonprofit, initially designed to use virtual storytelling to shed light on the experiences of foster youth. He led Think of Us through a rapid evolution, creating the Think of Us app in 2018; assisting the Federal government and 44 states in disbursing $400M in Federal pandemic relief funds to former foster youth in 2020-21 through the Check for Us campaign; building the Lived Experience Network, the nation’s largest virtual community of lived-experts in child welfare in 2021; and launching the Center for Lived Experience to center lived-experience in research and national policy making in 2022.

Sixto’s recognitions include:

  • Aspen Ideas 2022 Fellows
  • Schmidt Innovation Fellow
  • Advantage Foundry Network, LLC (AFN)
  • Resilient CEO of the Year
  • Children’s Bureau Champion
  • Peace Center Peace Hero
  • Jim Casey Young Fellow Award Recipient
  • Children’s Rights Fostering the Future Award Recipient
  • Young People For- Innovation Award Recipient
  • National Council for Adoption Waren and Marie Alice Babineaux Award
  • Young Fellow at the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
  • White House Champion of Change
  • Top 24 Changemakers in Government Under 24 (Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council and SparkAction)
  • NewProfit Social Entrepreneur Accelerator Initiative Alum
  • Juvenile Law Center Leadership Prize Recipient
  • Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative Young Fellow
  • Fostering the Future Award, Children’s Rights
  • Forbes Under30
  • Lister Board Member
  • Forbes Top 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur
  • FastForward Alum
  • Clinton Global Initiative University Alum
  • BET Millennial Maker
  • Ashoka Fellow

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