Introducing our new associate project manager, Randy Rodriguez Jr.

Learn about his research tracking climate action in South Los Angeles

January 30, 2024

By Mara Elana Burstein

The California Transformative Climate Communities Program (TCC) empowers underinvested communities to design and implement local climate projects. The Luskin Center for Innovation (LCI) has been evaluating the progress and supporting the success of five TCC communities, and we’re excited to add South Los Angeles (LA) with a new partnership with the South LA Eco-Lab. 

The mission of the South LA Eco-Lab is to facilitate economic development through climate action, and transform South LA into a healthier, more thriving neighborhood. A community with lush green spaces, clean air, renewable energy infrastructure, and dynamic mobility options for pedestrians, bikers, and public transit riders. With a TCC grant of $35 million and harnessing the leadership and vision of local residents, small businesses, community-based organizations, nonprofits, and public agencies, the South LA Eco-Lab coalition will plant thousands of shade and fruit trees, install solar roofs and electric vehicle charging stations, expand car-sharing and e-bike accessibility, provide free Metro passes and tenants rights workshops, and more.

To support this mission, we hired Randy Rodriguez Jr. as our new associate project manager and researcher. He brings to this role his professional background in evaluation and education equity as well as research and academic experience in geography from UC Berkeley, with an emphasis on racial geographies and political economies.

We asked Randy a few questions to get to know him better. Read on to learn more about him!

Why is climate action research important to you?

Having been born and raised in Los Angeles with lived experiences in South LA and Southeast LA, I’ve witnessed both the positive affectations and disproportionate burdens that underinvested, marginalized communities bear. Climate action research serves as a crucial tool in bringing visibility to these inequities and towards taking action to ensure all communities have the chance to thrive.

How did you first get interested in climate action?

My interest in climate action was ignited while working on Assembly Bill 3121, which was created to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans. This work exposed me to the profound impacts and evidence of race-based historical injustices with a focus on spatialized inequality and environmental racism.

What are you most looking forward to in this role?

I feel this role is unique because it encompasses environmental equity, action-based research, and project management. I’m really excited to engage in these passions, support the South LA Eco-Lab’s mission, and build relationships with the communities we serve. I feel the enormous privilege of engaging in work that truly centers equity in advancing local climate action.

What types of research do you most enjoy?

I’ve found immense fulfillment in community-based participatory research. Connecting with communities on a personal level allows me to understand their unique perspectives, challenges, and aspirations. I value the richness that comes from involving the community in the research process to foster self-agency and collaborative engagement.

What drew you to UCLA and the Luskin Center for Innovation?

I was drawn to UCLA and LCI specifically because of its equity-oriented approach. LCI’s robust portfolio on climate research projects drew me in because of its focus on highly impacted communities and populations.

What are a few things people should know about you?

Prior to completing my geographic training at UC Berkeley, I worked on educational equity by assessing and helping transform early education programs in underinvested communities across Southern and Central California. Additionally, as a visual learner, I often look towards instructional design concepts and theories to inform my work around telling stories with data.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy preparing and eating a variety of traditional Peruvian dishes with my siblings, reading a good non-fiction book, and catching up with friends over Al pastor tacos at our favorite taco stand here in South Central.

To get in touch with Randy, contact him at