Magdaleno Rose-Avila is executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. This is a Seattle based organization that protects the rights of immigrants and their families.
He has spent his lifetime working on behalf of civil and human rights. Rose-Avila’s activism began at the University of Colorado in 1968 when he joined in the protests around the death of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. The protests led to many changes on campus including the development of the first programs for minorities as well as coed dorms.
Organizing for Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union in 1970, Rose-Avila learned the art of organizing and how to live a life of non-violence. This helped him when he founded Homies Unidos, a binational organization for gang members and youth at risk. Homies Unidos currently has offices both in El Salvador and Los Angeles.
While a senior in high school in 1963 Rose-Avila attended his first Conference on World Affairs.
He has been a Peace Corps country director in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Micronesia. He has worked for Amnesty International, the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation, Moratorium 2000, the Department of Labor, the Colorado Migrant Council, and the Democratic National Committee. He currently serves on the national board of Amnesty International.
Rose-Avila has had his poetry published in Los Cuatro 1969 and recently published a book of stories and poems entitled Looking for My Wings. He is currently working on a second book. The pen name that he has used since age 11 is Juan Valdez, long before the coffee icon began using the same name.
Among Rose-Avila’s many awards is the Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award given to him by the Human Rights Commission of the City of Seattle.