Joseph Villela is director of government relations at The California Wellness Foundation. In this capacity, he directs a government relations program addressing local, regional, state, and federal issues and opportunities. In addition, he leads foundation engagement on public policy issues.
Villela joined Cal Wellness in September 2022. Previously, he worked as policy director at the Sunita Jain Anti-Trafficking Policy Initiative, an initiative at Loyola Law School, developing and implementing strategies to cultivate relations with government officials and establishing policy and advocacy programs. He also has managed policy advocacy campaigns, many of which have led to reforms in the California criminal justice system; strengthened immigrants’ rights, including access to health care; and directed investments toward underserved communities.
Prior to that, Villela also worked at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA). In addition to developing programmatic strategies and priorities for policy advocacy at CHIRLA, he mentored and supervised a diverse and talented team and oversaw contract lobbyists to support CHIRLA’s advocacy efforts. While at CHIRLA, Villela was also involved in the enactment of more than 55 proposals at the local and state levels, to strengthened immigrants’ rights, increase access to justice, open economic opportunities, and provided access to education.
Villela is a member of the board of directors to The Campaign for College Opportunity. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and minor in Chicano studies from UCLA.