Brian Marroquín is a dynamic strategist with a track-record of sparking teams to action and elevating underrepresented voices. Prior to his selection as a National Urban Fellow, Brian served as a Senior Director at LIFT, a national nonprofit that works to break the cycle of poverty for families. At LIFT, Brian started as a volunteer and then AmeriCorps member, gaining valuable direct service experience in social services and economic empowerment that has informed each role he has held since. He was promoted several times, first to lead LIFT’s three offices in Washington, D.C., managing a team of nine staff and 40+ volunteers. In that role, Brian designed the family coaching model that LIFT adopted as the centerpiece of its last strategic plan. Then in director roles at headquarters, Brian operated in a matrix structure to support regional staff with program design, operations, and talent planning. This included delivering in-person and virtual on-boarding training to coaches on a range of topics including family goal setting, debt reduction, credit building, career and education planning, and more.
During Brian’s time at LIFT, the organization served more than 1,000 families annually across four markets, most recently with 92% of families demonstrating progress on financial indicators. Due to this success, LIFT was selected as a demonstration project for a randomized control trial (RCT) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to inform practices for application to the TANF system. Brian has presented on findings-to-date several times, including as a panelist at the 20th Annual Research and Evaluation Conference on Self-Sufficiency (RECS) hosted by HHS. He has regularly represented LIFT externally, including a 2021 Inauguration Day of Service webinar on how the social safety net can better serve families, and for Mathematica’s “On the Evidence” podcast on the promise of coaching and navigation models for advancing economic mobility.
Outside of LIFT, Brian engages in work to support immigrants. As a first-generation immigrant from Guatemala, he developed his advocacy skills early on as his family navigated hardships and opportunities and as his parents worked tirelessly to provide a better future for him and his sisters. This included barriers when it came time to apply for college due to his family’s petition for political asylum being unresolved for 14+ years. Brian and other community leaders organized and fought these unjust practices, with Brian serving as the lead plaintiff in the federal case Equal Access Education, et. al., vs. Merten, et. al. The lawsuit was successful at changing admissions policies at several colleges in Virginia. Since then, thousands of undocumented DREAMER students have attended those colleges, and arguments from the suit were used in other cases, including by the Obama administration to fight anti-immigrant policies in Arizona. Brian earned his U.S. citizenship in 2011, and graduated magna cum laude from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), where he earned awards for Outstanding Political Science Student and Excellence in Research. More recently, he has served as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor at Casa Chirilagua, a faith-based organization in Virginia.
Through National Urban Fellows, Brian seeks to develop skills to make him a more effective advocate for economic mobility and social justice. He aims to elevate underrepresented voices, and to speak truth to power with intellect, persuasiveness, and heart.