JUAN PABLO JARAMILLO

Political Director
Environmental League of Massachusetts

Heritage: Colombian

By: Frank Morris Lopez

Awards & Recognitions

  • 2018 Latinx Amplifier - Amplify Latinx

  • 2016 Distinguished Colombian American: Colombian Festival Boston 

  • 2022 Citation from the Massachusetts State Senate in recognition of his contributions to the Latinx and Colombian Community

Born in Colombia, Juan Pablo Jaramillo came to the United States with his parents in 2000, and from a young age, was already seeing injustices in this country.

“My dad and my mom both worked two jobs and they were never home, and they still found it hard to make ends meet,” he recalled. “That never made sense to me — that people who worked so hard still struggled to keep the lights on.”

This, coupled with his own experiences having previously been undocumented, prompted Jaramillo’s career in advocacy. In high school, he served as a student representative to the Revere School Committee, advocating for immigration rights for students, healthier foods in the district, and organized a 1,000-person march against drug and alcohol use. 

 

After graduating, Jaramillo made his first run for public office at age 19 — for a seat on the school committee — becoming the first BIPOC person to run for elected office in Revere.

He’d go on to work as the legislative director in the office of State Senator Joe Boncore, working on issues of criminal justice and pushing for the hiring of more BIPOC staff. He also became a political coordinator for Service Employees International Union (SEIU), organizing 400 security guards to help them secure more rights as workers.

 

In 2021, Jaramillo made history once again as the first BIPOC person from Revere to run for state elected office — a special election for the 19th Suffolk state representative seat, which he narrowly lost.

Still, Jaramillo’s progressive stances on transportation issues, workers’ rights and the environment caught national attention and earned him the support of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu.

“Previously, other Latino candidates were written off or largely ignored,” Jaramillo said. “Our race showed we could run, we could win, and we could build infrastructures to win. We threw a pebble that made a crack and people really started paying attention.”

After the race, Jaramillo worked for the City of Lawrence, where he expanded the city’s childcare program and led efforts to take Lawrence from having the slowest COVID-19 vaccination rate in the state to being the top vaccinating city in Massachusetts for seven months. “We were literally saving lives,” he said.

Jaramillo now serves as a Democratic State Committee person and political director for the Environmental League of Massachusetts, where he’s raised more than $750,000 to help elect climate champions to government positions across the state.

“We’ve really put out good BIPOC candidates who share our values, who can win or get very close to winning,” Jaramillo said, adding “I have a young kid. I want to hand him off a good planet.”