As a child, Juanita Valdez-Cox, who was born into a migrant farm worker family, labored in the fields throughout the country, from Florida to Idaho. She later received a G.E.D. and, while working full-time, earned one of the first Child Development Associate degrees from Texas' Pan American University. She then earned a bachelor's degree in Mexican American studies and sociology.
While serving as a Head Start teacher and center director, Valdez-Cox began volunteering with the United Farm Workers. She moved to Austin, Texas to work as a community organizer with ACORN, and dealt with a variety of issues, including utility rate reform and traffic control in minority neighborhoods.
After returning to the Rio Grande Valley, Valdez-Cox's volunteer efforts helped farm workers with a variety of government assistance programs. She also helped coordinate their participation in important political campaigns. These activities established the UFW as a major player in the political life of South Texas.
Valdez-Cox helped establish two new organizations in 1989 and 1990, Centro 16 de Septiembre was developed to provide services to farm workers and Proyecto Azteca, a project that makes very affordable houses available to low income families with the requirement that one family member participate as a worker in the crew that builds the house, thereby gaining employable skills.
Valdez-Cox was elected as a national UFW vice president and supervised union operations in South Texas. She helped promote more diverse activities in the area such as community organizing and voter registration and education.
She currently serves as state director of La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), a Texas non-profit organization.