Deepak Bhargava is Distinguished Lecturer in Urban Studies at the School of Labor and Urban Studies (SLU) at the City University of New York (CUNY). Mr. Bhargava brings more than 25 years of experience in social justice advocacy, organizing and non-profit leadership to SLU. He is a policy expert on issues of poverty, economic justice, racial equity, and immigration and has extensive practical experience in community organizing, leadership development, social movements, progressive strategy, issue campaigns, coalition building and voter mobilization.
Prior to joining SLU, he was for 16 years President and Executive Director of Community Change and Community Change Action, two of the premier national organizations supporting grassroots community organizing in low-income communities of color in the United States. As a frontline activist, Mr. Bhargava has played a major role in several national efforts to bring about change through collective action. He played a major role in creating national coalitions and winning federal campaigns to achieve expansions in refundable tax credits for low-income families, enact the Affordable Care Act, and fight for immigration reform. He has strengthened the field of community organizing in the U.S. and nurtured the modern immigrant rights movement. Under his leadership, Community Change and Community Change Action ran some of the largest voter mobilization programs focused on voters of color in the country in 2016 and 2018 and organized two signature Presidential debates in which grassroots low-income leaders directly asked questions of the candidates. He has trained and mentored hundreds of leaders who play key roles in progressive organizations and social justice movements, and he established new programs to train emerging leaders of color. He has worked to establish important labor-community partnerships at the national level on issues such as immigration reform, health care, and fiscal policy.
He is the co-founder with colleagues at CUNY a new proposed institute (currently pending approval from CUNY trustees) called Leadership for Democracy and Social Justice which aims to train and support early and mid-career people of color, women, people from working class and low-income backgrounds in careers in social change.
He has written extensively about community organizing, public policy related to poverty and economic justice, progressive strategy, civic engagement, and racial justice among many other topics for The New York Times, The Nation, The American Prospect, and Huffington Post, Democracy Journal and he has been featured in major news outlets such as National Journal, The Washington Post, Politico, National Public Radio and MSNBC. He is co-editor of Immigration Matters: Visions, Movements and Strategies for a Progressive Future with Ruth Milkman and Penny Lewis (New Press, April, 2021). Together with Harry Hanbury, he edits a weekly substack newsletter The Platypus that covers politics, ideas, spirituality, and social change.
He has testified before Congress and regulatory agencies on numerous occasions. Mr. Bhargava is Chair of the Board of 350.org and currently serves on the boards of the JPB Foundation, Open Society Foundations (US), the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center, 350.org, the SLU Foundation and the editorial board of The Nation magazine. He serves as a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute where he does research and writing related to economic justice, climate migration and organizing. He serves as a Fellow with Social and Economic Justice Leaders group, a utility that supports groups in progressive social change movements.
He has received awards from CASA, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), National Korean Education and Service Consortium, US Action, Campaign for America’s Future, Merage Foundation for the American Dream, Make the Road NY and Center for Community Change. He is the 2021 recipient of the Roosevelt Institute’s Freedom from Want award. He was named one of America’s 50 leading progressive activists under 40 by The Nation magazine.
He is married to Harry W. Hanbury, a documentary filmmaker. He was born in Bangalore, India and grew up in New York City where he currently resides.