Nora E. Vargas is a dynamic and accomplished leader with broad experience in non-profit management, executive management, government, politics, and public policy. Ms. Vargas serves as the vice president of community & government relations at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW) where she is responsible for leading the development and implementation of the overall vision and plan for the agency’s Community & Government Relations department through community engagement, outreach, education and advocacy. In addition, she also oversees the organization’s 501(c)(4) Action Fund, including the Action Fund’s special issues campaigns and 527 Political Action Committee.
Prior to joining PPPSW, she served as Executive Director of the Latino Issues Forum, a statewide non-profit public policy and advocacy institute dedicated to advancing new and innovative public policy solutions for a better, more equitable and prosperous society. Ms. Vargas was the founding director of the City of Los Angeles Office of Immigrant Affairs, appointed by Mayor James Hahn. She also served as an aide to a U. S. Representative in San Diego. Government service later took her to Washington, D.C., where she was a Schedule “C” Presidential Appointee to the United States Selective Service in the Clinton administration.
An accomplished political consultant, Ms. Vargas has directed successful campaigns at the federal, state and local levels, including work with Sacramento-based Kaufman Campaign Consultants. She was a member of the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign team in 1996 and has also served as Vice President of Community and Government Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, where her portfolio included public policy advocacy and overseeing the organization’s political action fund.
Ms. Vargas was appointed and later elected to the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board, the only institution of higher education in the South Bay. Most recently, she was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve on the 12-member California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) Board. Committed to community service, Vargas also serves as a champion of Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE), as a boardmember for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), and a boardmember for Run Women Run.
Fully bilingual and bicultural, fluent in Spanish and English, Ms. Vargas is a sought-after speaker and has appeared in news stories in California and around the nation. She continues to be a passionate advocate for women and the Latino community, and ensuring they are included in the public dialogue about important issues like health care access, civic engagement, and education.
Ms. Vargas received her B.A. in Politics from the University of San Francisco and completed graduate work in Public Administration and Latin American Studies at San Diego State University and Women’s Studies at Claremont Graduate University.
Most recently, she was presented with the California State Assembly District 80 “Woman of the Year” Award by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez. In 2015, she received a Marylin Lassman Lifetime Achievement Award from the South County Economic Development Council. In 2014, Ms. Vargas was recognized by SD Metro with the “20 Women Who Impact San Diego” award and was a finalist for the UT “Latino Champions Award.” In 2013, she was nominated by MANA de San Diego for the San Diego Magazine “Latinos Making a Difference” award and was a finalist for the San Diego Magazine “Woman of the Year Award.” In 2010 she received the SD Business Journal Health Care Champion Award for Community Outreach and in 2009 the San Diego Metropolitan Magazine’s 10th Annual “40 Under 40” awards. In 2005, she received the “John F. Kennedy, Jr. Award for Outstanding Public Service” from the California Democratic Party. In 2004, she was recognized for her exceptional leadership with the “Women Who Make a Difference” award from State Senator Joe Dunn.
A native of the San Diego-Tijuana Border Region, she is happy to call San Diego, CA her home. Selected to participate in Summer 2019 Executive Seminar.