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Profile: Magdaleno Rose-Avila

Magdaleno was born September 7, 1945 in Las Animas, Colorado. He attended Las Animas High school and after graduating attended Palomar College and The University of Colorado he graduated in 1966 and received a degree in Communications. The son of immigrant parents and one of 12 children, Magdaleno Rose-Avila began his working life in the onion fields of southeast Colorado at the early age of 11. By 13, he was traveling the migrant stream picking fruits and vegetables. Today, he serves as Director in the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs for the City of Seattle.

The road from the dusty ‘campos’ of the Southwest to international advocate for human rights was not an easy one. It was a journey filled with countless obstacles, great faith and the support of numerous friends and family. The difficult work of thinning onions as a child provided the background and impetus needed to advocate for workers rights at a very young age. After spending several years organizing workers in Colorado, Rose Avila took on the position of lead organizer and spokesperson for the efforts of Cesar Chavez’s United Farm workers Union in the state of Colorado. He was a leading voice and figure in the Chicano Movement of the 1960′s and ’70′s and ran for public office for La Raza Unida Party.

Throughout his career, Rose-Avila has been a United States Peace Corps Country Director in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Paraguay and Micronesia. He has run congressional campaigns and worked for the Democratic National Committee, worked for Colorado Legal Services and The Colorado Migrant Council, taught theatre and sociology at the University of Colorado, and sociology at Colorado College. Between 1985 and 1993 he worked in a variety of administrative and leadership positions for the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights organization Amnesty International USA. He was the Western Director for Amnesty International’s Campaign to Abolish the Death Penaltyand served as the inaugural Executive Director for the Cesar E Chavez Foundation.

A gifted public speaker, he has inspired thousands throughout his career speaking at high schools, colleges, universities, meetings, conferences, and various public events. With Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, author of Dead Man Walking he founded The Moratorium Campaign. He also co-founded The Ahora newspaper and bookstore in Colorado, and is the founder of Homies Unidos, a gang intervention program with offices in San Salvador and Los Angeles. He holds a degree in communications from University of Colorado in Boulder.

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