Board Service: 2021 – Present
Belen Vargas is Senior Director of Los Angeles County Programs for Harbor Freight Tools for Schools, the flagship program of the Smidt Foundation. In this role, Belen leads a philanthropic effort to advance excellent skilled trades education in L.A. County public high schools. Most recently, she served as the Associate Vice President for Operations and Chief Mission Officer at Cal State LA, where she led and managed community partnerships and government relations in the President’s Office. A first-generation college student, she grew up in East Los Angeles and received her B.A. in Communication from Cal State LA, and a J.D. from USC Gould School of Law. She served almost twenty years at the Weingart Foundation, where she assumed the role of Senior Vice President. Prior to philanthropy, she worked in the Los Angeles nonprofit sector for almost a decade, providing greater resources and access to individuals and communities that have been historically underrepresented and underserved. Throughout her career, Belen has been guided by her commitment to advancing racial, social and economic justice, particularly in low-income communities of color. Belen serves on the Boards of New Village Girls Academy and InnerCity Struggle.