Cesar Cardenas is a first generation American. He grew up in South Florida and is a product of Miami-Dade and Broward public schools. As a young teen Cesar spent a year living in Cali, Colombia, where his family immigrated from. The ritual of home-cooked dinners with his parents and two siblings is a fond and recurring memory from his youth.
His early post-graduate experiences included two years as a Congressional Aide followed by law school in New York City – with the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath as a backdrop. He found a local public service niche at Fordham University School of Law, where he began focusing on employment discrimination law and public interest policy in the school’s Community Economic Development Clinic. Among other projects in law school, he helped shape a community benefits agreement negotiating jobs and other issues related to Columbia University’s expansion into the Hamilton Heights neighborhood. One of the aspects he enjoyed most about his time at Fordham was helping low-income residents organize around city planning processes to help them advocate for themselves and their communities effectively.
That commitment to social equity and justice led him to pursue a career in public service. During 2 years in corporate legal roles, Cesar remained focused on national politics. He was a volunteer field operative for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign in Midwest and Southern states and later worked on local municipal campaigns in 2009. He later held government relations and policy roles in New York City’s mayoral administration from 2010 to 2014 and then as a government affairs professional from 2014 to 2019. Notable representations as a governmental affairs professional included lineup identification and bail reform groups, immigrant advocacy groups, public and community health advocates, and groups seeking incarceration alternatives for people with mental illness and substance use disorder.
In December, Cesar joined the Bloomberg 2020 presidential campaign where he was a senior environmental justice policy aide and worked closely with the campaign’s Black and Latino coalitions teams. After the campaign and before joining Hip Hop Caucus to lead Coalitions and Issues work, Cesar returned to political consulting, including environmental justice policy advisory for a 2021 mayoral candidate and designing a voter protection initiative in partnership with two national Latino organizations.
Cesar is a native Spanish speaker and loves a good Salsa party.