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A belated introduction to our “newest” team member!

José Manuel Vasquez, Community Engagement and Programs Specialist

¡Hola! I am so honored to have recently joined the amazing team here at the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. (I actually joined at the end of 2018. But I hit the ground running so quickly that I haven’t been able to write this until now!)

It is a great pleasure to join a department so dedicated to improving the lives of Seattle’s immigrant and refugee communities. As an immigrant myself, who came to this country at the young age of seven, I know firsthand the many challenges and barriers that our immigrant and refugee populations face. My family has been in this country for generations, dating back to my late grandfather who came to work the fields in the early 40’s through the Bracero Program. Yet, I still grew up living in the shadows most of my life due to an extremely complex and inaccessible immigration system.

Despite not having been born here, I still consider myself a Seattleite. I grew up in the neighborhood of South Park, next to the banks of the Duwamish River, where many of our immigrant communities call home. This city is what made me the person that I am today, and I owe big thanks for the many leaders, mentors, and ancestors that have come before me. Now thanks to DACA, I can pursue a career in public service working towards enhancing how local government works with our immigrant and refugee populations and building trust amongst each other.

Prior to joining OIRA, I spent the last ten years working in community organizing, leadership development, and nonprofit management as the Director of Leadership Development and Programs at the Latino Community Fund of Washington State. My time there brought me many joys of working with front-line communities addressing the diverse challenges that our communities face. I had the honor of helping establish and grow the Alianza Youth Leadership Development Network, Healthy Latino Families Initiative, Economic Empowerment Initiative, and the Latinos in Tech Network. My passion is to create better opportunities for our future leaders in the nonprofit, public, and corporate sectors.

Through OIRA I now have the privilege of overseeing and ensuring the success of the nationally recognized Immigrant Family Institute, working towards building stronger relationships and trust amongst our diverse immigrant populations and local law enforcement. I also spend much of my time advising City departments on how to enhance services to our immigrant and refugee populations. I enjoy spending time engaging with community members and learning about the needs and priorities of our diverse constituents. If you see me around a community event or working out of a local community coffee shop, feel free to stop and say hi! I’m always happy to meet new folks and help you navigate our local City services and programs.

And one last thing, I’m a die-hard fútbol fan! ¡Vamos Sounders!