Refugio “Reg”, founder of Project Economic Refugee, is originally from the world-renown city of San Miguel De Allende in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. He moved to Southern California when he was 14 years old, barely knowing how to say “how are you?” in English. As a son of Mexican immigrants, Refugio quickly picked up the new language and worked his way through college. He held full-time odd jobs ranging from assembly lines to coffee shops to homeowner insurance administration gigs. He graduated from CSU, Northridge with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with a cultural emphasis and was a Naval Reservist at Port Hueneme and San Diego.
After college, he spent some time volunteering abroad at community centers designed to help underserved children in Peru and Mexico. He then went on to join the Santa Monica (CA)-based environmental organization Heal the Bay where he co-founded their “Healthy Communities Initiative” as a re-branding effort to revamp their environmental justice-oriented “Urban Programs”. Through Heal the Bay’s “Healthy Communities Initiative”, Refugio has managed greening beautification projects in the South Los Angeles area (particularly in Watts and Compton) and expanded the Spanish language outreach to the Latino community, recruiting Latinos to help fight the pollution of our streets, rivers, oceans, and marine life.
Always a fan and student of communications management and “framing” strategies, Refugio has been an avid activist for immigrant rights through his award winning “Project Economic Refugee”, which seeks to humanize the debate about immigration issues in the United States. Now proudly a naturalized U.S. citizen, Refugio strongly believes in those words uttered by some of our more enlightened political leaders who have declared in the past that “in America, together we rise and together we fall”. During panelist appearances and presentations that Refugio has participated in, he has consistently affirmed that “ultimately, we are all in this together, whether we have a ‘legalized’ status or not. Whether we live up to those declarations and fight racism and xenophobia is up to each one of us. We have to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to realize the American dream.”