Mark’s parents immigrated to California to build a better life and provide new opportunities for their children.
Growing up in a working-class immigrant family, Mark learned the values of hard work and the importance of a good education from his parents. Every morning, Mark’s dad would wake him up at 6am and take Mark and his brother to school. His parents worked all day, and at the end of their shifts, Mark’s mom would pick up Mark and his brother from school and their dad would head to his second job, working at a large printing company in East LA until midnight.
Thanks to the support of his parents and teachers, Mark devoted himself to academics supplementing his high school education with community college coursework on evenings, weekends, and summers. This work allowed Mark to enter USC as a transfer student. Balancing his part-time job, an unpaid internship for Supervisor Gloria Molina, and extra community college coursework, Mark graduated college in two years to reduce the financial burden on his family.
After college, Mark was called to public service. With a deep passion to help others and make a positive contribution to the world, he moved to Washington DC, taking an unpaid position for former Congressmember George Brown and working nights as a waiter to make ends meet. Mark later took a job as an organizer for Mark Ridley-Thomas’ Days of Dialogue organization, where he helped organize discussions about race relations in 20 cities across the country in the wake of the LA Riots.
After that, Mark moved to Sacramento and served as Special Assistant for Governor Davis. He worked with a team of policy makers to implement a series of Life Sciences Initiatives by first organizing policy discussions to identify and recommend key strategies for attracting, supporting and strengthening life sciences interests in California. He was also involved in the development of special trade missions to Mexico, helping to repair California’s damaged relationship with one of our largest trading partners after eight years of Republican Governor Pete Wilson. Through a special appointment by Governor Davis to serve as liaison to the Mexican governments of Baja California and Baja California Sur, Mark developed joint projects for cooperation between state agencies, and produced cross-border conferences to bring together key stakeholder interests for special topics of mutual importance, such as energy production, environmental conservation strategies, and much more.
After six years working in state government, Mark made the transition into the private sector, working at a minority-owned construction management firm based out of Solano Canyon. Mark oversaw work on projects such as the school construction bond program at LAUSD and LACCD, and other projects with South Coast AQMD and Metro.
Building on his experiences, Mark now works as an entrepreneur and social investor in projects in Latin America and the United States. While working in the private sector, Mark has continued to give back to the community, serving on nonprofit boards such as the YMCA, Grand Performances, and Ciclavia and on the LAUSD Personnel Commission. On the state level, Mark has served on California’s Scholarshare Investment Board and on the State Little Hoover Commission. Currently, Mark serves on the California Coastal Commission, where he has fought hard to ensure that the coast was accessible for ALL Californians, not just the wealthiest Californians who live directly on the coast. He has also fought to preserve open spaces in and bring millions of dollars to build campgrounds for underserved youth.
Now, Mark Vargas is running for the State Assembly, bringing proven experience as a public servant and in the private sector, to fight for stronger schools, new jobs and economic investment, and ensuring that all Californians have the opportunity to succeed.