Chelsea Chism-Vargas is a first generation Iowan and the child of a single, Peruvian immigrant mother. She is proud to have been raised on the south side of Des Moines where she attended St. Anthony’s Catholic School and still attends Sunday mass in the same church she was baptized. A graduate of Dowling Catholic High School, Chelsea continued her studies at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. During this time she accepted a college internship program at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Upon completing the program, she followed her love of adventure by transferring to Naropa, a private Buddhist university in Boulder, Colorado. There, Chelsea continued her religious studies and also studied women’s and gender studies. While studying, she provided humanitarian aid at the southern US/Mexico border, was a meditation leader, and helped organize an occupy protest on campus against institutionalized racism, amongst other contemplative experiences. Returning to Des Moines, Chelsea was determined to continue in social justice work.
She began working for Wells Fargo, and also committed her time to volunteering for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. Through her almost three years with Wells Fargo, she gained countless professional skills and was the Diversity and Inclusion Advocacy Outcomes Chair for Latin Connection Iowa, Wells Fargo’s Team Member Network. However, the need for reproductive justice was immense in the state of Iowa, and her leadership skills she gained from Planned Parenthood were an easy transfer when she accepted the role of Iowa Outreach Coordinator for NARAL Pro-Choice America. When not working, Chelsea stays informed on issues impacting the Latinx community and is also a champion member of Catholics for Choice.