Meet Amber Rodriguez

Meet Amber Rodriguez

Amber with her two kids.

Amber with her two kids.

A well-known community member in the Tri-Cities, Amber Rodriguez has nearly done it all. She’s been a technical writer, bilingual radio talk show host, corporate account executive, Zumba instructor, outreach coordinator, and owner and operator of her own small business, Amberliveswell. Amber has always found ways to get involved and connect people and, in every position she’s found herself in, it’s been kismet.

For example, after years of volunteering with the Tri-Cities Womxn’s March, Amber became the lead organizer, so when racial justice protests spurred by the police killing of George Floyd began to unfold across the country, people turned to her for leadership. Before long, Kennewick became the largest protest site in the region, and the group with whom she organized became a space for education and case management. Now, she serves as the steering committee member of the statewide Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance.

“It all took me by storm. I had no idea what I was doing,” Amber says. “But, I’m really good at connecting people and resources.” By the end of last summer, she had learned to pull cases, coordinate information at a large scale across multiple platforms, and build a hub of mutual aid that fundraised for small businesses and supported domestic violence survivors, among other things.

While the context may have been new, Amber’s personal and professional career arc has been defined by her ability to self-teach quickly. A consummate organizer, she’s constantly looking for new tools that better order and disseminate information—whether it’s setting up a software system for a workplace’s organizational infrastructure or using multiple platforms to connect day laborers who’ve been injured on the job with advocates providing direct relief.

“I’ve been thrown into the fire quite a few times. Usually people are hiring when they’re in a crisis,” Amber describes. “And I’m always the person, for whatever reason in those spaces, people hire in a crisis. They don’t have time to train me. They say, ‘There’s your book. There’s your desk. Figure it out.’ And, I always have to pick up the pieces.”

Since growing up in Yakima as an Afro-Latina, Amber has been navigating complex identities and systems. She is deeply motivated by turning her experiences maneuvering systems into real, material resources for people who face structural barriers every day. This model of listening closely and converting lived experiences into grantmaking is what brought her to Group Health Foundation.

As a program associate, Amber will help ensure the grantmaking team functions efficiently and effectively to support community-based, equity-focused organizations throughout Washington. She will work out of our Tri-Cities office in Pasco once it opens later this year.

In line with her health and wellness interests, Amber looks forward to going dancing when it’s safe to visit a club again—and it doesn’t matter what kind. “If it has to do with physical movement and endurance, I’m in,” she says. “And, if it’s salsa night, I’m killing it.”