Andrea L. Delgado joined Earthjustice’s Policy and Legislation team in May 2012 to develop and implement legislative and administrative strategy for Earthjustice’s environmental health issue priorities, working with Congress and federal agencies to strengthen our national chemicals policy and protect the public from hazardous waste, chemicals and pesticides that threaten their health and well-being in the workplace and within their communities.
Andrea also serves on the Advisory Board of Voces Verdes (Green Voices), a growing coalition of Latino organizations and leaders calling for climate solutions.
Prior to joining Earthjustice, Andrea served as Senior Policy Analyst and Communications Manager for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), a nonprofit affiliated with the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win federation. Andrea’s work on environmental issues started in 2008 when she was selected to serve as the first Fellow of the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC), a nonprofit where she led research initiatives, national and regional outreach and education efforts to engage Latinos in a dialogue about climate change and the nexus of environmental issues and public health.
For her work on labor and environmental issues, in 2011, Andrea won the MillerCoors Líder of the Year Award, a national competition among 12 outstanding Latinos nominated for their leadership and contributions to their communities.
Andrea is Ecuadorian-Colombian and attributes her love for the environment to her upbringing in the Ecuadorian Amazonia. When she’s not running around Capitol Hill you can find her salsa dancing, testing her tolerance for spicy food or unwinding at the archery range.
My grandfather, my grandma and my father were teachers and union organizers, so they were very actively engaged and always organizing and monitoring what the government was doing at local and national level. And if there was any malfeasance, they were not ones to grumble discreetly and keep it to themselves.
When I was younger, my father and uncles would tell me about how my grandfather was retaliated against for speaking out against Ecuador’s military regime of the 1970s. He lost his job and was kept captive in a really remote area of the Ecuadorian Amazon away from his family. My father was in the leadership of the teacher’s union in the state and my uncle was president of the national federation of university students in Ecuador. So at an early age I learned that speaking out and standing up for what’s right was fundamental because silence is a breeding ground for injustice.
I always saw my uncles and my father as fearless, and that inspired me because I feel like I’m so fortunate to be here, in this country, where it’s easy for people to speak out, whether it’s calling out a member of Congress or participating in a demonstration.
Growing up in Ecuador, speaking out comes at a cost and a lot of my politically-active family members were not able to secure jobs out of political retribution, so we moved around a lot, but you become adaptable. And the most important thing for my siblings and I was that we had a very strong, solid family foundation. And looking on the bright side, meeting a lot of new people definitely helped me foster my people skills because I didn’t want to be a loner.
I also always saw my grandmother, father and uncles reaching out and engaging people. And if I was around I would be in serious trouble if I did not introduce myself to everyone that was there. It was disrespectful not to. I would’ve never imagined myself as a lobbyist, but now when people are afraid to go to meetings, or events, or receptions by themselves, I just don’t even think twice about it.
I really care about being in touch with my clients and the impacted communities that we’re working with because I feel like that’s the lifeblood of our work. Whether you’re talking to someone on the phone, via email, or meeting with them at events and hearing their stories, it fuels your passion for what you’re doing and just reminds you why you wake up every day. When you’re having frustrating meetings with people in Congress, you have to remember that it’s not about you. It’s about those affected individuals and communities. It’s about the principles of what we’re fighting for.
When I hear our clients’ stories, it angers me and then it will give me chills. It puts a face and a name to an issue. Knowing that there’s someone that I care about that’s being affected can only make you be a better advocate. So you’re not just some random paper pusher. You may not be directly impacted, but talking to the people reminds you who it is that you’re advocating for, like you’re an advocate of advocates.
"The most powerful thing that you can share is your story … That’s the most genuine, most natural thing. It’s the most impactful. These people are hearing from industry lobbyists left and right—but hearing the story of a family, of a worker, of a faith leader … There’s no money you can put on that."