Until January, 2017, Vargas served as the Deputy Director at the Center for Faith Based & Community Initiatives (CFBCI) at the U.S. Agency for International Development—engaging faith-based organizations and civil society to further the USAID mission. There he led public diplomacy and partnership engagements to support USAID’s humanitarian and development priorities, including the 2014 Central American migration surge of unaccompanied children, protection of religious minorities in the Middle East, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge.
Before his appointment in the Obama Administration, Vargas served as elected Director to the UN DPI/NGO Executive Committee—representing over 1,300 NGOs worldwide at the UN—where he championed greater regional representation and access for NGOs in the UN. Prior to that, he led a variety of refugee programs, development assistance projects, and advocacy campaigns with Caritas Internationalis, Intersections International, and the Global Alliance for Community Development.
Vargas has led interreligious forums and Track II delegations in Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, and Syria to bridge divides between Islam and the West. For this work, he was honored with the “Many Are One” Alumni Service Award from his alma mater, Seton Hall University, for leadership in international peacemaking and diplomacy. Vargas is an author and speaker on a wide variety of public policy issues. He was selected by Huffington Post for the 40 Under 40: Latinos in Foreign Policy, and has been featured on CNN, Foreign Affairs, FOX News, and Telemundo, among other outlets. He holds BS and MA degrees in Public Health/Business Administration and International Relations, respectively.