Marcos Vargas is the founding Executive Director of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), a community-based social movement organization for social, economic and environmental justice serving the California Central Coast.
Marcos’ experience in the non-profit sector include Executive Director of El Concilio del Condado de Ventura, a Ventura County Latino community advocacy and multi-service organization (1986-1995), the founding chairperson of the Ventura County Living Wage Coalition (1997-2001) and the Director of Planning for the United Way of Ventura County (1984-1986). He currently serves on numerous local, regional and national boards, including the McCune Foundation, the Common Counsel Foundation and the Partnership for Working Families. Marcos has received numerous awards in recognition of his community work, including the 2014 Outstanding Citizen Award from the California Federation of Teachers, the Cesar Chavez 50 in 50 Leadership Award from the United Farm Workers of America, 2007 El Concilio Latino Leadership Award, and 2004 Earth Summit Leadership Award from the Ventura County Citizens for Peaceful Resolution (CPR). His work on behalf of the rights of low-wage working women, including his publication of the 2001 report on the Feminization of Poverty in the California Central Coast, won him the 2003 Leadership Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus of Ventura County.
Over 14 years, Marcos lead the growth of CAUSE from a small research and policy advocacy center into a powerful grassroots force for social, economic and environmental justice throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. Under his leadership, CAUSE fought poverty by passing a series of living wage ordinances, protected the voice of underrepresented communities by leading redistricting for county, state and federal representatives, and defeated the largest mining company in the world to stop an offshore liquefied natural gas terminal that would have been the largest source of pollution in the region. In 2013, Marcos carried out a successful merger between the Ventura County based CAUSE and its Santa Barbara County based sister organization PUEBLO, to ensure the continuation of over a decade of work to raise wages, expand public transit, protect renters, defend immigrants’ rights and improve environmental sustainability in Santa Barbara County. Since then, Marcos has served as the executive director of both CAUSE and CAUSE Action Fund, an affiliated 501c4 nonprofit organization that educates and mobilizes working families, immigrant communities and young people to vote.
A strong commitment to the life-long practice of social learning, Marcos has sought to inform his work through decades of community organizing and policy advocacy, as well as the study and application of both social science and Native American indigenous teachings. A Sundancer in the Lakota Native American and Mechica traditions, Marcos is actively involved in efforts to expand the knowledge and application of these indigenous teachings and ceremonies in all levels of social change work.
Having earned his doctorate degree in urban planning from the University of California at Los Angeles, Marcos’ 2004 dissertation addresses the theory and practice of community transformation and the expanding public policy and community development role of racial and multi-racial community based organizations in California. A father of three, Marcos lives in Ventura, California with his wife, Robin Jacobs and his two daughters, Maya Esperanza (age 14), Julianna Citlali (age 11). His son Canek Pena-Vargas (age 30) is a high school history teacher in Los Angeles. Marcos’ wife, Robin, is a third grade bilingual education teacher with the Ventura Unified School District.
Learn more about Marcos joining the Fund in our press release.