A window into my educational & professional journey

I chose to study public policy at Occidental College to help me understand how to drive politics, policies, and investments in affordable housing, economic opportunities, and education through organized people and community power building. I coupled this initial training with more technical tools and public affairs by earning a Masters degree in Public Affairs and Urban & Regional Planning at Princeton University. But, why don’t I share the Cliff notes version of my journey to date?

  • B.A in Public Policy (Occidental College) and MPA in Public Affairs and Urban & Regional Planning (Princeton University).
  • Leadership Fellow, Coro of Southern California.
  • Redevelopment Analyst, Rosenow Spevacek Group.
  • Five years in local government as City Management Fellow, Housing Development Specialist, and Community Coordinator at the City of San Jose, California.
  • Legislative analysis for then-US Congressman Michael Honda in D.C.
  • Presidential campaign organizing in Nevada for 2012 Obama re-election.
  • Public affairs, editorial ghost writing, program development & management, community & civic engagement and power building for climate justice and clean energy.

For a more detailed overview, I invite you to check out my Linkedin page.

My on-ramp to climate change

I was inspired and humbled by the chance to work with countless Latinx parents, youth, small business leaders, and religious leaders in Reno and Las Vegas, NV in 2012. I brought these experiences to the work of elevating the leadership and voices of Latinx leaders from the public and elected office, academic, environmental justice, science, and business sectors in the fight to transition out of fossil fuels and into clean energy. This on-ramp has helped me explore roles and enhance my knowledge and voice in the larger movement to gain racial and economic justice for black, indigenous, people of color, and other frontline communities.

Rather than write you a novel, allow me to share a couple of highlights of the work I’ve been blessed to be part of or create over the past seven years.

  • Leadership Fellow at Voces Verdes – I had the chance to double the number of leaders from public health, business, academia, environmental justice, and elected officials who support the transition away from fossil fuels and to clean energy. I provided public relations, media and communications engagement, Op-Ed and Letters to the Editor ghost writing, policy research and analysis, GIS thematic analysis, and staffing support (talking points, briefings, etc.) for national and local leaders who testified at EPA hearings and press events.
  • Los Angeles Coordinator for Urban Solutions at NRDC – I partnered with community-based and people-of-color led organizations in advocating for more equitable investments in mass transit, walking and biking land-use policies and development, transit-oriented and affordable housing, and integrated mobility options from the emerging transit networking company industry.
  • California Manager, Climate-Smart Cities at TPL – I created and facilitated collaborative working groups comprised of experts in transportation and transit, land use planning, storm water and flood prevention, parks and urban forestry, environmental justice, and communities of color as well as municipal staff from the Cities of Los Angeles, Richmond (CA), and Dallas. The efforts led to Climate-Smart Cities Los Angeles, Climate-Smart Cities Richmond, and Smart-Growth for Dallas. A reporter at the Southern California PBS affiliate described my identity and approach in the environmental and climate space as “Working Together as a Community: the Activism of Fernando Cazares.
  • National Director, Chispa at LCV – I was blessed with the chance of working with and supporting dozens of mostly Latinx organizers and program staff who themselves organized and trained hundreds of high school and college students, mothers and fathers, and community leaders to demand clean water, clean air, equitable and quality transit, and equitable access to clean energy. We worked together to advance a national campaign to replace polluting harmful diesel school buses with battery electric school buses that can also enhance a community’s capacity to ramp up storage of solar energy.