To honor our Hispanic and Latino members during Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re shining the spotlight this month on four leaders whose work embodies what it means to give everyone in our communities a chance at economic justice.
José Antonio Ramírez is the city manager for Livingston, California. Livingston is an economically and ethnically diverse small city in the center of the state, with a significant agricultural industry. José was the youngest city manager in the state of California when he first became city manager of Orange Grove at the age of 28. He has spent 25 years working to improve affordable housing options and community life to enhance economic opportunity for his cities and community. Here is what Jose had to say about his lifetime of work lifting up the Latino community in and around Livingston and what brought him to the table for a career advocating for a just economy.
1) How did you come to work in the education and housing space?
I knew early on in my life that I wanted to be a social entrepreneur! I met the right people that became my mentors, which ultimately led me to pursue a career in city management. Community development is a very broad field with many virtues. I have a passion for helping people so advocacy and community development became the perfect space to elevate my aspirations.
2) How long have you been involved with NCRC?
I became involved with NCRC in 2016 because I began to see several bank closures in Fresno County and the impact that it was having on small- and medium-sized rural communities.
3) What types of events or actions have you taken with NCRC?
My partnership with NCRC has revolved around addressing bank closures and Community Reinvestment Act evaluations on banks. In addition, I participated in the development of a white paper on bank closures and opposing Square’s application to obtain an Industrial Loan Corporation Charter.
4) Tell us a little bit about yourself (background, education, passions etc.)
I have been engaged in city management for 18 years and currently serve as the city manager for the City of Livingston. I became the youngest city manager in the State of California in 2000 at the age of 28. In my previous capacities, I served as program manager, international affairs coordinator and security engineer and emergency management coordinator for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Fresno. I obtained a B.S. degree in Construction Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at California State University, Fresno.
I have graduated from a number of leadership organizations and I love to get involved in a plethora of community issues. I’m a Rotary International Scholar, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund alumni, American Political Science Association Fellow, I-LEAD Scholar, McNair Scholar, San Joaquin Valley Civic Leadership Alumni, GoCreate Alumni and an American Leadership Forum Alumni. I currently serve on the Greenlining Institute Board, Latino Community Foundation Board, Two Hundred Board, Fresno Latino Rotary Board, Regenerate California, Inc. Board and the Central Valley Community Foundation CORE Advisory Board.
5) What do you like to do for fun?
My pastime activities include reading, gardening, traveling and experimenting with gastronomy dishes.
Photo of José Antonio Ramírez at a community meeting. Courtesy of José Antonio Ramírez.