About Jose Antonio Vargas
Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and a leading voice for the human rights of immigrants. He is the founder and chief executive officer of Define American, the nation’s leading nonprofit media organization that fights injustice and anti-immigrant hate through the power of storytelling. He is the author of the memoir Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, published by HarperCollins in Fall of 2018.
In 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay he wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant. A year later, he appeared on the cover of TIME magazine worldwide with fellow undocumented immigrants in a follow-up cover story. He then produced and directed Documented, a documentary feature film on his undocumented experience. Broadcasted on CNN and streamed on Netflix, the film received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary. In 2015, MTV aired White People, an Emmy-nominated television special he produced and directed on what it means to be young and white in a demographically changing America.
Among accolades he has received are: The Salem Award from the Salem Award Foundation, which draws upon the lessons of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692; the Freedom to Write Award from PEN Center USA; and honorary degrees from Colby College and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Passionate about the role of arts in society and promoting equity in education, Vargas is a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee, and serves on the advisory board of TheDream.US, a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrant students.
A product of the San Francisco Bay Area, he is a proud graduate of San Francisco State University (‘04), where he was named Alumnus of the Year in 2012, and Mountain View High School (‘00).