Jose Antonio Vargas

Writer, Producer, Director; Founder, Define American

Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and Tony-nominated producer. A leading voice for the human rights of immigrants, he founded the non-profit narrative change organization Define American, named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company. His best-selling memoir, “Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen,” was published by HarperCollins in 2018. His second book, “White Is Not a Country,” will be published by Knopf in 2024.

In 2019, he co-produced Heidi Schreck’s acclaimed Broadway play “What the Constitution Means to Me,” which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play and is streamable on Amazon Prime Video. His second Broadway production, a staging of David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s groundbreaking musical “Here Lies Love,” will open at the Broadway Theatre in summer 2023.

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 wrote a follow-up story and appeared on the cover of TIME worldwide with fellow undocumented immigrants. He has produced and directed two documentaries: “Documented,” an autobiographical documentary feature film that aired on CNN and received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary; and White People, an Emmy-nominated television special for MTV on what it means to be young and white in a demographically-changing America

Passionate about promoting equity in education for all students, he serves on the advisory board of TheDream.US, a scholarship fund for undocumented immigrant students; and, in 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed him to the Board of Trustees of California State University, the largest four-year public university system in the United States.. An elementary school named after Vargas opened in his hometown of Mountain View, California in August 2019.