J. Andrew Rodriguez served as the Director of Commitment to Community for three and a half years. Commitment to Community is an unconventional, neighborhood capacity building program in Walla Walla, Washington. The program focuses on building capacity in people through grassroots organizing in low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhoods. The program emphasizes resident-led and resident-driven initiatives.
Andrew incorporated a capacity building philosophy singularly focused on helping people realize that they possessed the power to be change agents, to be leaders of not only their families, but of their neighborhoods. The program and its team opted not to deliver direct social services to this population, choosing instead to use a grassroots organizing model (as opposed to a top-down model). The purpose of the model is to trust and guide residents to find and use their voices to advocate for themselves, and marshal community resources for their neighborhoods. Through testimony at city council meetings, one-to-one engagement with local government officials, attending community forums, organizing festivals, jointly hosting potlucks with community members and other activities, people from these marginalized parts of town transformed themselves, and their neighborhoods.
Andrew is a former lead trainer for the annual Sherwood Trust Community Leadership Program in Walla Walla. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law, and the University of Texas at Austin. He completed professional mediator training at the University of Washington School of Law. Andrew is a former Director of the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs, where he developed and wrote policy, advised the Governor's Office on public policy issues, drafted legislation, testified before House and Senate committees of the Washington State Legislature, and trained communities in legislative advocacy.
In the 1980s, Andrew served as the Legalization Director in a seven-state region for the U.S. Catholic Conference administering IRCA, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. IRCA was the last comprehensive, nationwide program in the United States to legalize eligible undocumented immigrants.
Andrew started his career practicing law as the Director of the Farmworker Law Center for Legal Aid of Western Oklahoma, responsible for farmworker legal issues for the entire state of Oklahoma. He received a Human Rights Award from the Governor of Oklahoma for his efforts to improve the lives of seasonal and migrant farmworkers, and immigrants.
Originally from the Texas Gulf Coast, Andrew has lived in Washington State since 1990, and in Walla Walla since 2009. Andrew is the former chair of the board for The Salvation Army of Walla Walla, where he led the board’s efforts to build a new $800,000 food bank and social services center. He has served on numerous Walla Walla community task forces, principally pertaining to youth. Andrew is the author of two books of poetry, and his work is included in anthologies of Pacific Northwest poets.
Andrew’s passion is the enduring legacy of the American Story.
Contact J. Andrew Rodriguez at:
Phone: (206) 938-6707