Fenton Names Valarie De La Garza as CEO
De La Garza brings 25 years of experience at the highest level of progressive communications to role
NEW YORK, N.Y.—Fenton Communications, the largest public interest communications firm in the country, today announced that Valarie De La Garza has been named CEO of the company effective immediately. She is both the first woman and first person of color to lead the organization in its nearly 40-year history. De La Garza will oversee Fenton’s four offices which serve nonprofit, government, education and philanthropy clients dedicated to social justice and equity. She brings 25 years of communications experience to the position and had previously served as the managing director of Fenton’s west coast offices.
“Fenton’s work in service of creating a more just and equitable world is unparalleled, and I am honored to lead the company into its next chapter,” said De La Garza. “I see the faces of my grandparents — farmworkers, janitors and seamstresses — in the work we do on behalf of our clients. Their struggles inspire me to fight for the progressive policies Fenton advocates for each day that make our country fairer and stronger.”
Raised in South Gate, a working class Latino community in Southeast Los Angeles, De La Garza’s personal history is the driver to her commitment to advancing social impact. As a child growing up near the industrial Vernon corridor — a region infamous for its pollution — De La Garza understood early on the nexus between inequity and access to opportunity based on zip code. As the first first member of her family to attend college, she was drawn to uncovering truth as a writer and was eventually named the editor-in-chief of the UCLA Daily Bruin, the first Latina head in its 60-year history. Her journey in public relations began in the 1990s when she worked for some of the nation’s emerging Latino PR firms. At the time, Latino PR was in its infancy and still considered “niche.” Today, Latino communications is the expectation vs. the exception and she is a respected leader in the field.
“Valarie De La Garza’s ascension to CEO is the natural culmination of her many years of successful leadership of the firm. Her passion, judgement and communications acumen are unmatched — she truly embodies the best of Fenton,” said James Marcus, Fenton’s owner. “With Valarie at the helm, Fenton is poised to expand its leadership position within the social change community through the continued development of new and innovative tools and methods that tell our clients stories, raise awareness and drive tangible action. As a woman of color, her perspectives and life experiences make her well suited to meet the communications challenges of our time. She will inspire many others on their professional journeys and help us further our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
De La Garza’s deep expertise in marketing, media relations, community outreach and public affairs has helped Fenton clients across the country build their brands and achieve their goals. The list of her accomplishments at Fenton is long and includes spearheading “We Count LA,” one of the most comprehensive efforts in the country to ensure Black, Latino and Asian American Pacific Islander communities that are traditionally undercounted in the nation participate in the U.S. Census. She also played a key role in the conception and execution of “Every Vote In,” a historic effort to get out the vote in the 2020 election in Los Angeles County.
Prior to joining Fenton, De La Garza led the communications and marketing for the California Community Foundation (CCF), one of the largest and most prestigious community foundations in the country. She led a massive rebranding effort for the 100-year old foundation and spearheaded CCF’s Centennial Communications Campaign, which contributed to a record year in the foundation’s history. She has also worked for agencies of all sizes — from boutique to global in scale.
De La Garza has served on the board of directors for a number of organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles and is proud to play a major role in the renaissance of Chicano arts center, Self Help Graphics & Arts, for nearly 15 years. She is the proud mother of three teenage sons.
Since its founding nearly 40 years ago, Fenton has taken on some of the most intractable progressive fights — and won. Its client roster is a who’s who of leading organizations working towards a better future, including Amnesty International, Black Voters Matter Fund, Center for Popular Democracy, Color Of Change and New Georgia Project. Over the past year, Fenton has helped over a dozen of its clients navigate their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, from supporting frontline health workers to attacking racial inequality issues to helping worldwide relief efforts.