In the fall of 2005, Luis Ortega visited his high school to speak to a small group of students about his journey as an immigrant student and the many barriers he had to overcome to get to college. He didn't have any plans to ever return to speak at a school again, but after this first presentation more invitations followed. Ten years later, after speaking at over 1,000 schools, colleges, and community events across the nation, Luis is now widely recognized as a social entrepreneur, a youth and immigrant rights advocate, and powerful storyteller.
Luis Ortega is the founder of Storytellers for Change, where he works motivating youth, educators, and community leaders to tell and share their stories for positive change. At S4C, Luis specializes in story-based strategy for community engagement, youth leadership development, and racial equity. In addition, Luis also works as a strategic consultant on a variety of projects, including youth leadership programs with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leading the Latino Leadership Connection initiative with the Bellevue School District’s Department of Equity, and access and support for undocumented students at the University of Washington. Luis is also currently serving as the interim Executive Director of Engage Now, an initiative focused in increasing the civic engagement of youth in North Central Washington. Luis also serves in the board of Eastside Pathways as a Co-Chair of the City of Seattle’s Immigrant and Refugee Commission.
Over the years, Luis has learned that there are few things as powerful as our ability to connect with other people through our stories. Whether Luis is speaking in front of a large audience or sitting right across from you having a conversation, his gift for storytelling will invite you to share your story for change with great courage, but most importantly, to listen softly to the stories of others. The greatest thing we can do for another person is to listen with our hearts so we can tell them: your story matters.