Even before he became the newest member of Congress from the Inland Empire, Mark Takano worked to improve the lives of young people as a teacher at Rialto High School. Born and raised in Riverside, Mark's commitment to public service began at an early age.
His family roots in Riverside go back to his grandparents who, along with his parents, were removed from their respective homes and sent to Japanese American Internment camps during World War II. After the war, these two families settled in Riverside County to rebuild their lives.
Mark attended La Sierra High School in the Alvord Unified School District, where he played football and wrestled at the junior varsity level. In 1979, he graduated as the school's valedictorian. Mark attended Harvard College and received his bachelor's degree in Government in 1983. As a student, he bused tables to help make ends meet. During his senior year, he organized and co-founded Ride for Life, a transcontinental bicycle ride to benefit the international development agency Oxfam America.
Upon graduation, Mark worked as a substitute teacher for various public school systems in the Boston area. He observed first-hand the disparity between well-funded and acclaimed suburban schools in Brookline and the beleaguered inner-city Boston schools.
Mark returned home to Riverside and obtained his secondary teaching credential in Language Arts and Social Studies at the University of California at Riverside. He began teaching in the Rialto Unified School District in 1988 in schools serving predominantly Latino and African American students. Since 2009, he has served as advisor to the Rialto High School Gay Straight Student Alliance. As a classroom teacher, Mark confronts the challenges in our public education system daily.
In 1990, Mark was elected to the Riverside Community College District's Board of Trustees, finishing first among eleven candidates competing for two seats. At RCC, Mark has worked with Republicans and Democrats to improve higher education for young people and job training opportunities for adults seeking to learn a new skill or start a new career.
Mark was elected Board President in 1991 and helped the Board and the District gain stability and direction amid serious fiscal challenges. As a Trustee, Mark helped oversee the transition of the District's Norco and Moreno Valley campuses to become independent colleges. He has won re-election to the Board in 1995, 1999, 2004 and 2008.
Mark's long history of public service in Riverside County includes roles on the Community Advisory Board of the Children's Spine Foundation and the Board of the Chancellor's Asian Pacific Islander Community Advisory Center at the University of California, Riverside. He has served as chairman of the Riverside Mayor's Task Force on the Digital Divide, Chairman of the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus of the California Democratic Party, a charter member of the Association of Latino Community College Trustees, a member of the Association of California Asian American Trustees and a member of Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education. He is a recipient of the Martin Luther King Visionaries Award.
Today, Mark Takano represents Riverside, Moreno Valley, Perris and Jurupa Valley in the United States Congress. As the Congressman from District 41, Mark works with members of both parties to advance local priorities: creating good-paying jobs, keeping local families in their homes, improving public education, cutting taxes for small businesses and hardworking Americans, and honoring the service of our veterans. He continues to fight to protect Medicare and Social Security, strengthen America’s middle class, and honor the service of our veterans.
In Congress, Mark is a member of the Veterans' Affairs and Science, Space and Technology Committees. You can learn more about his service to the people of the Inland Empire by visiting his official House website.