Richard Barrera has spent more than 20 years as a community and labor organizer, helping working families build power to win economic, political and social justice. As a community organizer with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Consensus Organizing Institute, Richard worked with residents of neighborhoods from San Diego to Chicago to Little Rock and Las Vegas to build affordable housing; improve schools and public transportation; establish job training programs and increase voter participation. As a union organizer with the United Domestic Workers of America, SEIU United Healthcare Workers, and the California Nurses Association, Richard helped home care providers and service workers in hospitals win new organizing drives; negotiate higher standards in wages, benefits and patient care protections; and build political power.
In 2008, Richard was elected to the San Diego Unified School Board, representing the communities surrounding San Diego and Hoover High Schools. During a period in which public schools in San Diego faced historic budget cuts from the State of California, Richard helped build coalitions of parents, students, teachers, classified workers, administrators and community leaders to protect the outstanding work going on in neighborhood schools. This process of community-based reform - distinct from top-down corporate reform - has produced unprecedented gains in student achievement, narrowing of the achievement gap, and reduced dropout rates in San Diego's public schools. San Diego Unified is now recognized as one of the top performing large, urban districts in the nation, and has received prestigious awards for its groundbreaking work in science instruction, arts and music education, career technical education, and classroom technology. Under Richard's leadership, San Diego Unified has also passed two bond measures totaling nearly $5 billion in taxpayer investment. Richard was re-elected to the School Board in 2012 with 100% of the vote.
Richard is a first generation American who's father immigrated from Colombia and who's grandparents immigrated from Europe through Ellis Island. Both of Richard's parents are retired educators who taught in public schools, community colleges, and at San Diego State University. Richard grew up in El Cajon, graduated from El Cajon Valley High School, and went on to receive a Bachelor's Degree in History from UC San Diego and a Master's Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. Richard lives in South Park with his wife Kim, who works for the Women, Infants and Children Program at the American Red Cross, and his sons Jeff and Jesse. Jeff attends Stanford University and Jesse is a high school student in the San Diego Unified School District. Richard currently serves on the boards of the United Way of San Diego and the Cesar E. Chavez Service Club, is an Adjunct Faculty member at San Diego City College, and coached both of his sons for seven years in the North Park Little League.