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Photo: United Way
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United Way of Central Iowa welcomes first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Rubén Vázquez

Vázquez will support and continue the organization’s initiatives internally and externally.

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Rubén Vázquez is United Way of Central Iowa’s first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Officer.

Vázquez is a member of the LGBTQIA+, Latino and immigrant communities. He emigrated to the U.S. with his family 40 years ago from the capital of México and with 20-plus years of experience in social justice, advocacy, civic engagement, community-based initiatives, and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion at personal, institutional, and systemic levels. 

He has dedicated his career to advocating for underrepresented populations and engaging them to become primary stakeholders in their communities. 

“My philosophy is that diversity makes us different. Inclusion is how we incorporate those differences to yield stronger communities of belonging,” Vázquez said.

Vázquez will join United Way of Central Iowa’s senior leadership team beginning Sept. 19, 2022, and he will be tasked with supporting and continuing the organization’s initiatives internally and externally in the newly created role.

“We are so excited to welcome Rubén to our community and team,” said Mary Sellers, United Way of Central Iowa President. “Creating and filling this role was the first action I asked of our Board of Directors when I came on as President in 2021. This work represents a central priority for our organization, and we are confident that Rubén’s combination of expertise and leadership is exactly what our organization needs.”

Vázquez joins United Way of Central Iowa after a national search led by a committee of board and community leaders. United Way partnered with Koya Partners, the executive search firm with a focus on recruiting senior leaders for mission-driven roles to search.

“We felt strongly that the process of filling this role needed to be thorough,” said Sean Vicente, United Way of Central Iowa’s board chair. “The role reflects our commitment to equity in all we do, and we are very excited to welcome Rubén and look forward to what he will bring to our team and community.”

In 2016, Governor Mark Dayton appointed Vázquez to the Minnesota Council of Latino Affairs and was a candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives. 

In 2021, Vázquez was recognized by the Twin Cities Business Journal as a notable LGBTQA executive in the Twin Cities.

The central Iowa community welcomes Vázquez and his significant other, Sarah, who have been together for more than 20 years, as well as their two sons, Isaiah and Jasmine.

For more than 100 years, United Way of Central Iowa has gathered nonprofits, businesses, government, leaders, volunteers and people across the community to identify the needs in central Iowa. For more information about United Way of Central Iowa, visit www.unitedway.org.

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