Aguilar Spent 20 Years with Greenlining; Organization Begins National Search for New Leader

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The Greenlining Institute’s Board of Directors announces that after nearly two decades with the organization, the last eleven years as its President, Orson Aguilar will transition out of this role at the end of April.

“Watching Orson emerge from Greenlining’s Leadership Academy as a young man two decades ago and go on to take a variety of roles and eventually become Greenlining’s leader has been remarkable,” said Board Co-Chair George Dean.

Under Aguilar’s leadership, Greenlining has grown significantly in size and impact. Greenlining has helped draft and pass critical legislation bringing new resources into communities of color, graduated over 150 Leadership Academy participants, established the Greenlining 360 Center as a hub for community organizing in Oakland, and seen its annual budget grow from $3.5 million to $7.3 million.

“Orson’s leadership has helped Greenlining become a powerful and influential organization, successfully mainstreaming racial equity,” said Ortensia Lopez, the Board’s other Co-Chair.

With Aguilar at the helm, Greenlining’s team of advocates have played a lead role in framing key economic decisions with a racial equity framework.

“Today, people look to Greenlining for bold, race-forward ideas and action to address economic inequality. I am so proud of the organization we have advanced together, and of our collective work to build a nation where communities of color thrive and race is never a barrier to economic opportunity,” Aguilar said.

During Aguilar’s tenure as President, Greenlining:

  • Worked in coalition with key allies to pass vital legislation bringing resources into underserved communities, including CA Senate Bill 535 (De Leon) and CA Assembly Bill 1550 (Gomez), which direct cap-and-trade funds to underserved communities; CA Assembly Bill 53 (Solorio), which created a system of reporting and transparency designed to encourage major California insurers to contract with diverse small businesses; and CA Senate Bill 1275 (De Leon), jumpstarting California’s effort to make the benefits of electric vehicles available to low- and moderate-income Californians.
  • Launched the Greenlining 360 Center in downtown Oakland as a hub for community gathering. Over half the building is leased as long-term affordable office space for community nonprofit tenants or provided as affordable community meeting space. In less than two years the building has provided free or low-cost meeting and event space for some 250 events put on by over 100 different organizations.
  • Graduated 43 Fellows and 114 Summer Associates from its Leadership Academy, and has seen Academy graduates rack up achievements including an appointment to the California Supreme Court, winning local government seats, running nonprofit organizations, and securing influential positions in all sectors.
  • Negotiated community benefit agreements with banks such as City National, Cathay Bank, Union Bank and Flagstar Bank to bring tens of millions of dollars in investment into communities of color.
  • Worked with the California Public Utilities Commission and regulated utilities to protect low-income consumers from power shut-offs, provide PG&E billing in Spanish and Chinese, and create electric vehicle charging infrastructure in disadvantaged communities.
  • Challenged multiple corporate mergers that could harm communities of color, including playing an instrumental role in arguing against the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile Merger in 2011.

Aguilar has also been asked to serve on numerous advisory boards to institutions such as Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, BBVA Compass, and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Aguilar has not yet decided what will come after Greenlining. For now, he looks forward to spending time with his wife and three children before deciding on a next step in his career. “Although I am transitioning from Greenlining, my mission and Greenlining’s mission remain the same,” Aguilar said. “I am committed to fighting injustice and inequality throughout my career.”  The community will celebrate Aguilar at Greenlining’s 26th Annual Economic Summit, happening April 26, 2019 in Oakland.

The Greenlining Board of Directors has begun a nationwide search for Greenlining’s next president and is committed to finding a successor who will continue the organization’s mission to build a nation where communities of color thrive and race is never a barrier to opportunity.


A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research, Advocacy and Leadership Development Institute