Portrait by Devi Pride Photography.
Jorge Savala grew up in a migrant labor camp north of Santa Cruz. His mother asked the owner to address the inhospitable conditions, but he refused. Having learned activist strategies through her participation in the United Farm Workers, she organized the families who were living there. She was threatened and harrassed, but with some help, she won a small lawsuit, thus ensuring that the families started afresh in Santa Cruz while she moved to Live Oak.
After graduating from Soquel High School, Jorge briefly attended Cabrillo College before switching to a computer training school because both of his parents lost their jobs. He received an IT license and began his career at the school. By age 21, he was managing locations in Capitola, Watsonville, and Marina. He then spent four years as a human resources manager with Community Bridges. He began volunteering at the Live Oak Family Resource Center a month after starting and discovered his passion.
For the next 15 years, Jorge was a leader with Communities Organized for Relational Power in Action (COPA). His tireless organizing alongside others led to the expansion of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Activity League and the development of a family resource center, a healthcare clinic, and the Day Worker Center of Santa Cruz. Jorge’s most recent role as the community outreach director with Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks increased the diversity of park staff and helped connect underserved community members to California State Parks over the past five years.
Jorge is now focused on building a larger statewide strategy that will advocate for policies and funding that truly meet the needs of BIPOC communities, building power in the Central Valley and the Bay Area. Organizing is a passion of Jorge’s, and he is now embarking on a career that he loves.