Ario Salazar is the Executive Director of Communities in Schools (CIS) Whatcom-Skagit. Ario has a long and rich non-profit engagement trajectory that spans a diverse breadth of experience in international human rights advocacy, education, youth development, affordable housing development, adult and youth peer-education, along with family self-sufficiency case management experience. His involvement in education and youth development started during his years in college at San Carlos University, in Central America, where he earned his bachelor’s in philosophy and literature, prior to permanently moving to the U.S. He gained valuable experience mentoring African American & Latin American “in-risk” youth at the famous Latin American Youth Center, in Washington D.C. His further training and education in counseling (Montgomery College, MD) allowed him to work with court-involved, homeless, absconded and runaway kids who transitioned into permanent housing through the Washington D.C. “Encuentros” (Connections) Outreach program and the Community Transition Program.
Ario is steeped in training and research in order to maintain asset-based and innovative approaches and praxis conducive to supporting historically underserved communities. He has worked with extremely low-income adult and youth populations across the U.S., and has served academically underachieving students (K – 12), English Language Learners (Mission Graduates, San Francisco), refugee youth and their families (Refugee Women’s Alliance, Seattle), and most recently Section 8 and seasonal farmworkers through HUD and USDA-RD programming administered at the Housing Authority of Skagit County. In 2009 he completed a Certificate Program in Adult Peer Education from UC Berkeley, and in collaboration with UC Berkeley’s Center for Educational Partnerships developed the Logic Model, curriculum and training modules for the “Believing the College Dream” (BCD) Pláticas (community conversations) approach to increase college completion rates among Latinos and other minorities in the Mission District, San Francisco, CA. He has a national HUD/NanMcKay certification as a Family Self-Sufficiency case manager (navigator) and has participated in national research initiatives developed by the Department of Labor to create best-practices and solutions in Skagit County to transition youth and families from chronic homelessness into employment engagement and permanent housing (WorkSource Skagit – Community Action of Skagit County).
He is the author of three volumes of poetry in Spanish (“Ariodicciones,” 1997 [Editorial Horizonte 21, Washington D.C.]; “El amor de los padres y otros poemas,” 2014 [Editorial Ala de Colibrí, Seattle]; & “En la posada del Arcángel” 2018 [to be published]). He is a member of the Iberoamerican Academy of Poetry, based in Madrid, Spain, and a Poet In Residence with the Skagit River Poetry Foundation, with whom he partners to teach poetry in Skagit County public schools during National Poetry Month (April of each year.) His essays, short stories, and poetry have been published in the U.S., Spain, and Latin America. A proud two-term AmeriCorps Alumni (VISTA & Public Allies), Ario is a strong believer that given the right set of tools, resources, and supports, youth can succeed against all odds, and can achieve the goals and aspirations they have set for themselves and their future.