Jose Antonio Vargas

Founder of Define American

Jose Antonio Vargas, an award-winning multimedia storyteller, is the founder of Define American, a campaign that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration.

Born in the Philippines, Vargas immigrated to the United States at age 12. In the summer of 2011, his New York Times Magazine essay “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” stunned media and political circles and attracted worldwide coverage. A year later, he authored (and was the subject of) a cover story for TIME magazine titled “We are Americans — just not legally.”

A journalist for over a decade, Vargas has written for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country. Most recently, he was a senior contributing editor at the Huffington Post, where he launched the Technology and College sections. Prior to that, he covered tech and video game culture, HIV/AIDS, and the 2008 presidential campaign for the Washington Post, and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech. His 2006 series on HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C. inspired a feature-length documentary, “The Other City,” which he co-produced. It world-premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival and aired on Showtime.

The evolution of news media, and the breakdown of barriers between print and broadcast journalism, has guided Vargas’ reporting career. He’s written for daily newspapers and national magazines, and has appeared on CNN, ABC News, and PBS NewsHour. On HuffPost, he created the blog Technology as Anthropology, which focuses on tech’s impact on people and how we behave. He taught a class on “Storytelling 2.0″ at Georgetown University and served on the advisory board for the Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism, housed at American University.

A very proud alumnus of Mountain View High School and San Francisco State University, Vargas loves jazz, can’t get enough of Ben & Jerry’s, and worships at the altars of Pedro Almodovar,  Joan Didion, and especially James Baldwin.

Vargas lives in New York City.



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