Hispanic Heritage Month Employee Spotlights: Rebeca Villegas

Rebeca hiking with friends at The Poconos in Pennsylvania.

This Hispanic Heritage Month, members of the Latinx, Hispanic, and Multicultural Employee Resource Group at National Wildlife Federation are coming together to share our stories — in our own words. Join us as we explore the complexities of our identities throughout the month.

Name: Rebeca Villegas

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Position: Senior Environmental Justice Program Manager

What interests you about conservation?

The ability to both center and protect wildlife, including people. The conservation movement is currently going through an important transformation, which includes confronting our past to create a more equitable and inclusive future. I look forward to the continued movement’s evolution, which will be detrimental in an effort to advance justice and address the climate crisis.  

How would you describe your cultural identity? How do you identify yourself? Why?

I identify as Mexican-American and a daughter of immigrants. My family migrated from Mexico to the United States a year before I was born and I grew up heavily influenced by both cultures. I also identify as first-generation American and a first-generation college student. Although my family and I have had to overcome several obstacles, I’m grateful for my upbringing and each of my identities that have shaped the person I am today.

How did you end up at the National Wildlife Federation?

I first learned about the Federation in 2015 when I was looking for job opportunities in the environmental, non-profit sector. I was hired as an Administrative Assistant and I was later promoted to Coordinator of Affiliate and State Engagement. After working with the Federation for over 2 years, I fell in love with the people and overall mission of the organization. And after leaving the organization for 3 years to pursue graduate school, I immediately looked into open positions in hopes of returning.

Rebeca at the end-of-year ceremony for the Professional Development Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Certificate Program. Photo by Rackham Graduate School.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

An opportunity to celebrate the Latinx/Latine culture and its wide range of diversity. And it’s also a time to reflect about our people’s accomplishments, hopes, and dreams.  

Rebeca and family playing Lotería, a traditional Mexican board game.

What is one thing you want others to know about Latinidad?

We’re complex and people shouldn’t overgeneralize. Latinidad is made up of a variety of cultural differences, racial backgrounds, and every country that we come from, including the United States, has a rich history that has impacted our families and our identities.