20 Under 40: Caitlin Vargas

Leasing Manager, Obie Companies

Age: 35

“Working together in LES, I was truly impressed at her skills, knowledge, willingness to help others, and dedication to helping young professionals thrive in our community. Caitlin takes advocacy seriously – she knows that the only people who can make an impact are the ones who actually show up!”

  • Valerie Sharr, Imagination International


Caitlin Vargas works smarter – and in doing so helps more people, more quickly. During her time as development director for the Eugene Mission, Vargas helped the nonprofit reach its five-year plan of a $3M budget in only three years. She was involved in rebranding the organization in 2015 and starting the Eugene Food Truck Fest in 2016, which drew 13,000 people the first year. She has recently joined the team at Obie Companies where she can further develop her talents for community development as the Leasing Manager for the 5th St Market.

An outspoken advocate, Vargas brings together nonprofits to collaborate on the issue of homelessness. An active community volunteer, Vargas helps FOOD for Lane County, Volunteers in Medicine and volunteer to support the inaugural year of Market Fest. She serves on the YP Summit committee and Eugene Young Professionals Board – all while parenting four young children.

Get to know them

Q: What have you been most motivated by in your career?

According to the Strengths Finder Assessment, achievement is one of my top strengths. I don’t know whether I was wired that way from the beginning, or my propensity toward achievement came out of my upbringing. Nevertheless, I have been most motivated in my career by the drive for the achievement of not myself, but for those in my community.

I like to move things, drive progress, have an impact. I love to see others win but also am motivated by the journeys we enjoy together as a team, the experiences we make, the obstacles we overcome, the things we get done, the laughs we have, and the achievements we celebrate. I am motivated by the joy of being a team pursuing a purpose and the thrill to strive for a common goal – with success. As Cesar Chavez said, “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”


Q: How would you describe yourself as a leader?

To me, a leader is someone who is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, adaptable, and open. A leader wants to nurture others to their fullest potential, and it is something I have enjoyed since childhood. I love to be an example to follow and help guide others to bettering themselves and their careers. I’m also great at delegating and finding the strengths of other team members. I try to give each person a chance to do what they’re best at and create a team effort that delivers a result that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Overall I think my leadership style is very flexible because I focus more on facilitation than on leading from the front. I try to make sure every team member knows what he or she needs to know to make sure the piece fits. I also put the task and the results before doing things in my own particular way so everyone is comfortable presenting their ideas in their own style and I encourage people to discuss things until either a consensus emerges or a decision simply needs to be made.


Q; What would you like to say to future 20 under 40 award winners?

My first words to future 20 under 40 award winners would be Congratulations and keep striving! As one of many recognized young community leaders, it is crucial to keep up the momentum and passion for change. Capitalize on your energy and take this time to get invested in the progress of the community. One of the best things about being under 40 is that you still possess eternal optimism as a result of still being early into your career. Take that optimism and be the person in the room that believes in the creative solutions, the contemporary approach and the next-to-impossible method to move the needle.