Carlos Cruz

I am a community leader focused on building opportunities for underrepresented communities. I have a goal to advance the importance of radical joy and inclusivity involving technology, research, and equitable opportunity in games. This is by putting myself in spaces that involve creative expression and grassroots community building; or I create them.

I'm an artist and a podcaster. I work in education. I love working with the next generation and inspiring their biggest aspirations.

Some of my favorite art styles are that of Kiana Khansmith, Ken Sugimori, and Bryan Lee O'Malley. I enjoy streaming many different games, traveling to see new places, and following basketball.

Learn more about my own life journey below. If you are interested in any of my work, feel free to contact me at:

Latinx in Gaming

Moderator and Guest Speaker

PAX East Online 2021 – The Artist’s Journey

@atanqi, @firizarryart, @LaMalaMuerte, @milagresart, @MiriamKarina, @YeseniaAticum. Panel curated by Carlos Cruz and Yesenia Aticum.

PAX South 2020 – Self Care as a Latinx Game Dev

Cristian Guzman, Carlos Cruz, Jasmine Aguilar, Michelle Garza

PAX West 2019 Building Community

Carlos Cruz, Sarai Osborne, Kate Sánchez, Rabecca Rocha, Diana Moon

343 Industries visit – Carlos Cruz, Juan Vaca, Cristina Amaya, Fernando Reyes Medina, Sarai Osborne


I mean it literally when I say I was lucky to have even found Latinx in Gaming in my life. In 2019, I won a contest to attend PAX East in Boston, MA. On the last day just hours before my flight back to Cleveland, I attended a panel titled Latinx in Gaming: You Belong Here. I thought to myself, "Well, I'm Latino. I love video games. Of course I belong here!" Since then I've become a moderator and guest speaker with the organization. I've participated as a moderator and panelist for Latinx in Gaming: Building Community at PAX West 2019, curator and moderator for Self-Care as a Latinx Game Dev at PAX South 2020 in the first ever PAX Latinx Lounge, and curator for Latinx in Gaming: The Artist's Journey for PAX East Online 2021.

I help to maintain community guidelines in our Discord server of over 2,300 users. I love engaging with new members in the community, especially those that are serious about getting into the games industry. I'm on my own journey chasing my dreams. I want to mentor those on a path similar to mine.

City Year Cleveland

Impact Manager at Alfred A. Benesch

City Year Alfred A. Benesch 2019 – 2020 Team

City Year Midyear Summit – Carlos Cruz leading reflection activity where AmeriCorps members would draw themselves or something important to them. Then draw icons around the center symbolizing the path that led them there.

Carlos Cruz – Impact Manager at Alfred A. Benesch

City Year Alfred A. Benesch 2020 – 2021 Team

2020 – 2021 Benesch Team meeting with Principal McDowell and Site Coordinator Daniels for team check-in and mentoring meeting.

2020 – 2021 City Year Benesch Team supporting drive-by kindergarten promotion and 8th grade graduation.


I joined City Year Cleveland as an Impact Manager in August 2019. At this point in my life, I made a decision to stay dedicated to community and education. I never served as an AmeriCorps member, but I did something similar with Freedom Schools while I was in college. I wanted to pursue a career that focused on underserved youth and addressing inequities in the U.S. education system.

I get to coach young professionals taking a gap year to further their careers while they get to work with the children attending Benesch in grades K-8. I enjoy working with the scholars every day and getting to know what their aspirations are, then letting my team know how they can tailor their mentorship to make the best out of their experience. Together we’ve been able to serve over 200 scholars.

I serve as a Site Equity Point for City Year Cleveland and get to work collaboratively with other SEPs across the City Year network. The purpose is to ensure my site is approaching our work with true intentionality for the benefit of our scholars.

Race to the Finish

Founder and Host

Current Race to the Finish logo

Episode 16 – Exploring Spirituality w/ Tyra West cover art

Episode 15 – Fight for a Safer Heights w/ Safer Heights cover art

Episode 14 – Black Testimony feat. Chris Marvel, Tyra West, Mannie, Zachary Thomas, Chance Emad, J Scxtt, Ash Rotta, Tatyana Atkinson, R.D. Johnson, Giselle Coleman-Martinez, Nichelle White, JesseParadice, and E-S0$a cover art. (names not in order)

Episode 13 – Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic w/ Priscilla Flores cover art

Episode 4 – The Prose of Poetry w/ Angelica Brewer cover art

Episode 3 – Are You Cursed? w/ Mannie cover art

Original Race to the Finish cover art (2018)

Race to the Finish original 5 episodes and their promotional material


Race to the Finish is a podcast that aims to center individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to talk about the topics most meaningful to themselves. Originally, RTTF was a assignment for my media literacy class while I was in college. The original assignment only had to be a single 10 min long episode. I had just finished my term as president of the Latin American Student Association and I wanted to find a different way to continue my advocacy.

I purposefully brought guests on who were passionate about a topic I did not know too much about. We also talked about topics we felt listeners across many backgrounds needed to listen to. The original five episodes centered around the individual rather than the topic itself. I wanted to keep the same vision but change the episodes focus around a topic rather than just the person.

In 2019, Race to the Finish rebooted to the new formula and currently has 16 episodes available wherever you find your podcasts. This project showed me how I can disseminate radical information to listeners around the world. It challenged me to be mindful of my own platform and privileges in my walk of life. It has also taught me so much about every single one of my guests and how we all have so much to offer to this world.

Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools

Servant Leader Intern at Mayfair Elementary

2015 East Cleveland Neighborhood Center Freedom School Team

Freedom School National Training, Knoxville, TN

Servant Leader Interns Kaneesha Lee and Carlos Cruz

Our last staff potluck


The Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools program stems all the way back to the original Freedom Schools in Mississippi in 1967. Today, Freedom Schools exist all over the country. I was offered the opportunity to become a Servant Leader Intern and serve with the East Cleveland Neighborhood Center team at the Mayfair Elementary Freedom Schools site. Without this program, I would not be the person I am today. Freedom Schools radicalized my view on the American Education and Justice systems. It showed me that public schooling doesn't have to operate in a conveyor belt fashion. That it is intentionally set up to engage students from backgrounds that are already privileged while leaving those who are underserved to the side. My service through Freedom Schools taught me that it's essential to have materials relevant to the scholar's walk of life be relatable and fun in order to be truly engaging. We promoted guiding values to the scholars such as I can make a difference in myself, my family, my school, my community, country, and world with hope, education and action. However, those values weren't just for them, but for us as well as we move on with our leadership in life.

Freedom Schools showed me that in order to bring true, grassroots, and revolutionary change, we need to believe in the next generation and inspire our young leaders in our communities. Reading, learning, and making a difference can be fun if we approach it with that intentionally and remove our own egos from the equation. Before my time with Freedom Schools was finished, I was challenged to take Freedom Schools everywhere with me that I go. That it never leaves you. I've found that to be true as it informs my service every single day.