Dr. Juan J. Sánchez is the founder and CEO of Southwest Key Programs, one of the largest providers of shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children in the United States and a leader in the fields of youth justice, immigrant youth care and education. Dr. Sánchez founded Southwest Key in San Antonio, Texas in 1987 with a staff of five, and led the company to open its first immigrant refugee shelter through a cooperative agreement with the Community Relations Service in 1989 when Southwest Key took over operations for the American Red Cross at the Rio Grande Valley Alien Shelter Care Program in Brownsville, Texas. This family shelter remained open until 1992 and, at its peak, served 1,000 people on a daily basis, providing educational services, family programming, counseling, medical care, and legal advocacy. In 1997, Southwest Key opened its first immigrant youth shelter in El Paso, Texas. Today Southwest Key employs over 2000 people in six states including at the company’s 23 immigrant youth shelters located in Texas, Arizona and California where they hold the capacity to serve nearly 3000 immigrant youth a day.
In addition to devoting his life’s work to creating opportunities for kids, Dr. Sánchez has served on the boards of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, as well as an advisor to the Vera Institute of Justice and the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. In 2015, he was named to Hispanic Business Magazine’s Top 50 Influentials list. In 2013, Austin Business Journal named him Non--‐Profit CEO of the Year. He is the recipient of the Ohtli Award from the Mexican Consulate, the Freddy Fender Humanitarian Award, the Rising to the Challenge Social Justice Award from LULAC, and the Leading Voices Award from American Gateways for his work on behalf of immigrant children.