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The Fund for Santa Barbara Names Marcos Vargas Its Executive Director

The Fund for Santa Barbara is pleased to announce that Marcos Vargas will be its new executive director.

Vargas
Marcos Vargas

In this role, Vargas will lead The Fund in its ongoing efforts to drive economic, environmental, political and social change throughout Santa Barbara County. This appointment marks the successful culmination of a four-month search by the FSB board.

Vargas is the founder and executive director of Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), a community-based social movement organization serving the California Central Coast. He has worked at CAUSE since 2001.

He serves on numerous local, regional and national boards, including the McCune Foundation, the Common Counsel Foundation and the Partnership for Working Families.

Vargas 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 and the 2004 Earth Summit Leadership Award from the Ventura County Citizens for Peaceful Resolution.

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, Vargas built CAUSE from a small research and policy advocacy center into a powerful grassroots force for social, economic, political 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.

Two years ago, he 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.

“I’m honored to join The Fund for Santa Barbara team,” Vargas said, “and proud to continue to carry out the decades of positive change the Fund has brought to Santa Barbara County through tackling the root causes of our community’s social, economic, environmental and political challenges.”

“We are very excited to have Marcos become The Fund’s new executive director. His deep passion for social and environmental justice and longtime experience in community organizing and with grant-making foundations is a perfect match with our needs,” said Geoffrey Slaff, board president for The Fund for Santa Barbara. “The Fund is in a strong position with a highly capable and committed board, a remarkably talented staff, and large and growing donor base that believes deeply in the Fund’s mission. Combining these assets with Marcos’ leadership makes me confident that the future of The Fund and of our work is secure.”

Vargas will officially start his new position in mid-June, allowing time for a smooth transition at CAUSE. Nancy Weiss will continue as the FSB interim executive director until that time.

— Javier Moreno is the administrative coordinator for The Fund for Santa Barbara.

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