A community of optimists hosted by Melinda French Gates

Greg Garcia has worked with young people of color since 1996, working in nonprofits serving youth in California and Washington state. Most recently, he was a Community Impact Manager at United Way of King County. He was also a past executive director for a youth drug treatment center in South Seattle. At Washington Asian Pacific Islander (WAPI) Community Services, he introduced hip hop music art and culture into program services in order to make the organization youth-friendly and to destigmatize behavioral health issues.

Now with citiesRISE, Greg is leading the work to transform mental health both in Seattle and Sacramento. With his colleague Nissana Nov, Greg is eager to help create the environment where youth can design equitable and innovative mental health interventions. He is excited to combine all of his collective knowledge and experience under the mission of citiesRISE.


What inspires you to do the work you do?

The young people and their families that are going through the same thing that my family and I go through are what inspires me to do the work. I see young people innovate and create their own pathways everyday and I want mainstream systems to learn from them. I also do this work for my own kids and everyone else’s kids so they don’t have to go through what I went through learning how to acculturate to our society. Right now, any marginalized group – especially immigrant and refugee youth and families – are under attack. We are at backwards time in terms of civil rights and divisiveness in our nation.

If you could go on long walk with anyone, who would it be?

I would go on a long walk with my wife because while I’m out here trying to change up the world, she keeps me grounded and makes sure I’m taking care of my own health and well-being. I feel like I am a counselor to the world sometimes and she’s the one I confide in.

On Sunday afternoons, you can find me...

At the park with my family either riding bikes, or walking and listening to music as we go.