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Saturday, Jun 10, 2023

Center Doubles in Size Under Director

Center Doubles in Size Under Director Non-Profits Best Executive Director: Roberto Barragan, VEDC By BRAD SMITH Staff Reporter Roberto Barragan (right) grew up in the Orange County suburb of Fountain Valley, earned a BA at Princeton and an MBA at the University of California, and could have had a career with any one of a number of Fortune 500 companies. Instead, after a series of internships and interviews with potential employers, he made a choice. “When I was at Berkeley I saw both sides of it, the non-profit vs. for-profit world, and I came to the decision the non-profit world would give me an opportunity to do what I wanted to do,” Barragan said. So he went to work for the Mission Economic Development Corp., a non-profit charged with alleviating poverty in San Francisco’s depressed Mission District. From there, he was hired after the 1992 Los Angeles riots to head up the South Los Angeles Community Financial Resource Center. From there, he was hired by the Valley Economic Development Center, which works to encourage small- and minority/women-owned businesses in the San Fernando Valley. Barragan has been the agency’s president, or executive director, for five years, during which the client and budget load more than doubled. “Roberto is a rarity in the area of non-profits; he not only has the ability to manage but he runs a very tight ship an excellent ship,” said Los Angeles businessman Marvin Selter, a former chairman of VEDC’s board. “He is attuned to the public, both the public that needs our services so desperately and the banking community, which is the backbone of VEDC,” Selter said. “You cap all of that (with) his ability to talk with elected officials, and have them involved in, and participating in, and believing in, what he is doing and what VEDC is doing.” Along with small business development, Barragan, who lives in North Hills with his wife Silvia and their two children, said the quality of local public schools has become a top priority for his organization. “How do we create new jobs if the future of the labor force (is) dropping out in the 9th and 10th grades, and never even graduating from high school?” he asked. “We need to do everything we can to keep them in school to get an education.”

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