Nalleli Cobo, 21, grew up in South Los Angeles and launched her activism as a nine-year-old after noticing foul smells emanating from the oil well across the street from her home. Over the years, she endured headaches, nosebleeds, and heart palpitations caused by pollution from the well. She began attending meetings and rallies with her mother and, at the age of nine, gave her first public speech on the issue. Even as a child, her skills as an orator caught others’ attention and paved the way for her to eventually become the leading spokesperson for banning oil extraction in Los Angeles. She co-founded People not Pozos (wells), which aims to secure safe and healthy neighborhoods, and the South Central Youth Leadership Coalition, which focuses on environmental racism in the community. She is also a member of STAND-LA, a coalition of community groups seeking to end urban oil extraction and protect the health and safety of Los Angeles residents.
In March 2020, Nalleli led a coalition to permanently shut down a toxic oil-drilling site in her community — an oil site that caused serious health issues for her and others. Her continued organizing against urban oil extraction has now yielded major policy movement within both the Los Angeles City Council and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, both of which have voted to end new oil exploration and phase out existing sites.