The Change-Maker

by | Jul 1, 2022 | 0 comments

Christopher Peguero is a Wisconsin Native—of the Menominee Nation, to be specific, on his mother’s side. She recently retired as the Principal for the Oneida Tribal School in Oneida. Christopher’s father is Mexican-American from Laredo, Texas and worked with immigrant farm labor communities there.

Christopher grew up in Green Bay and completed his undergraduate degree at UW-Stevens Point in 1999. He then moved to the Pacific Northwest to start his career where he worked in the environmental non-profit sector (often at the intersection of environmental justice and equity). He met his first partner Kelvin who helped him come out to his family and friends. Tragically, Kelvin passed away a few months prior to Christopher turning 30 after a long fight with HIV/AIDS in 2004. 

Along with Christopher’s early experiences of homophobia and racism, this tragedy inspired Christopher to connect more deeply with the LGBTQIA2S+ community as well as social and racial justice movements in Seattle. Christopher became an outspoken leader of uplifting an intersectional liberation perspective from both the mainstream LGBTQIA2S+ and BIPOC communities at the time when marriage equality was at the forefront. That work continues for Christopher to this day.

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In 2008 Christopher established SEqual, The City of Seattle LGBTQ Employees for Racial Equity. The employee resource group centered the employment experiences of QTBIPOC employees at the City of Seattle. SEqual was a professional leadership network that worked to identify opportunities to enhance anti-discrimination and anti-racist efforts in labor practices in partnership with human resources. SEqual successfully advocated for establishing transgender health benefits, produced a City of Seattle “It Gets Better” video to address LGBTQIA2S+ youth bullying and suicide, and held regular trainings for city employees.

On Barack Obama’s first election night in November 2008, Christopher met his future husband Anthony. In May of 2013, their daughter Adela was born. The following May, they welcomed their son Alexander.  

In 2015 Christopher prepared a proposal for, and established, Seattle City Light’s Environmental Equity Program. The program centers opportunities for community-led and co-designed engagement efforts to inform the electric utility’s environmental programs and policies. The program’s foundation builds green job pathways for environmental justice communities while increasing education and access to the outdoors.

Through Christopher’s leadership, Seattle City Light’s Environmental Equity Program sponsored over $2 million in sponsorship funds to regional BIPOC led environmental organizations to leverage community capacity for sustainable wealth development and power, helping to mitigate gentrification and displacement.

Again, Christopher’s personal experience in the environmental non-profit sector influenced him to establish an annual environmental equity trip to the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center in North Cascades National Park, bringing members of several BIPOC organizations and community youth interested in learning about careers in the outdoors.

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At the City of Seattle, Christopher was a CORE (City Organizers for Racial Equity) Team member and racial equity lead. The programs developed community advocates to understand and analyze City of Seattle policies and build strategies to mitigate unequal impacts on BIPOC and marginalized communities.

In 2018, seeing ongoing racial and economic disparity, gentrification, displacement, and a rising homelessness crisis in Seattle, Christopher decided to run a political campaign for Seattle Council in Seattle’s most diverse city council districts. Although he did not win the election, the experience provided an opportunity to build trusting relationships with immigrant and refugee, BIPOC, environmental justice, low-income, and homeless communities. After the election, Christopher continued to advise City Council members and executives to better understand unintended impacts of policy while centering community-based solutions to mitigate those impacts.

In 2021 Christopher and his family moved to Fitchburg to be closer to family in the midst of the pandemic and the illness of his younger brother. Christopher is now the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Communities of Belonging Program Manager at Promega. Prior to his current role, Christopher was the Assistant Superintendent for the City of Madison Parks Division where he was the executive sponsor of Park’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Change Team.

Christopher says, “In all the leadership roles I have held, I have promoted the transformative power of collaborative, community-driven solutions versus extractive relationships with BIPOC communities. I believe that communities closest to the struggle of systemic racism and oppression are experts in knowing the solutions to overcome those struggles. When everyone in our community is able to thrive—we are all collectively stronger, healthier, and better for it.”

Christopher is happy to be home once again, bringing his work experience of LGBTQIA2S+ and BIPOC community liberation and justice. He hopes his perspective can bring new insight to the work happening in Wisconsin—especially at the intersection of racial, queer, and environmental justice.


2022 Pride in Color

The Change-Maker: From his time with the City of Seattle to his new role at Promega, Christopher Peguero has always advocated for equitable change.

The Pastor: Cameron Overton (he/him) is the executive pastor at Zao MKE Church and a Black transman called to build the church into an intersectional and queer liberated space committed to the liberation of all people.

The Ancestral Flame: Maria Paula Lujum is the Youth Programs Manager for Centro Hispano of Dane County.

The Educator: Stacy Clark is a Community Health and Equity champion whose mission is to provide services and education to others that he may not have had as a young, black, gay male.

The Good Foot: Al Poliarco is the force behind Barefoot Hands Bodywork

The Dynamo: Clyde Mayberry is the CEO & Founder of the first African American Performing Arts Center in Dane County.

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